(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Troy Singleton, John J. Burzichelli and Reed Gusciora to prevent the misuse of disability identification cards and placards received final legislative approval Thursday and now heads to the governor’s desk.
“Instances of abuse involving individuals with disability parking tags were first brought to my attention by a concerned constituent with a severe disability who had firsthand experience with the problem,” said Singleton (D-Burlington). “After listening to her concerns and talking to my colleagues, we came up with what we think is a simple, yet effective, way to address the problem.”
Singleton said he was especially proud of the bill because it was inspired by a “citizen-legislator” who shared the idea through the “There Should Be A Law” section of his website, www.TroySingleton.com. “This bill was a direct result of the partnership between my office and our constituents, and really underscores how we have tried to open Trenton up to our neighbors in the 7th legislative district to allow them to be active participants in our democracy,” added Singleton.
Under current law, “handicapped” placards issued to individuals with a disability do not have an expiration date. This has led to situations in which individuals who received a tag while temporarily disabled continued to use the tag – and the privileges it confers – even after it is no longer needed.
Under the Singleton/Burzichelli/Gusciora bill (A-2947), the following changes would be made concerning the issuance and renewal of temporary and permanent identification cards and placards for individuals with disabilities:
- The term “handicapped” would be replaced with “person with a disability” in keeping with current state law that requires offensive or outmoded terminology be replaced with more acceptable, current language;
- All disability windshield placards would be issued with a prominently printed and displayed expiration date;
- Permanent person with a disability identification cards and placards would be required to be renewed every three years; and
- The certification of a medical professional would be required for the issuance and/or renewal of a person with a disability identification card or placard.
“We’ve all walked into a restaurant or grocery store at one time or another and seen high-performance sports cars parked in parking spots reserved for people with disabilities, or watched on a rainy day as an individual parked in a disabled parking spot leapt nimbly from their vehicle and sprinted to their destination,” said Burzichelli (D-Gloucester). “Making these common-sense changes to the law will ensure that we see less of these types of scenarios in the future.”
“Providing tags to access parking dedicated for people with disabilities is a small way to make daily activities a little less challenging for individuals with disabilities and their families,” said Gusciora (D-Mercer). “So when these tags are abused or misused, it can cause a disruption that cascades throughout the person’s whole day. Adding prominent, visible expiration dates to these tags will help eliminate some of the abuse.”
Several states, including Florida, California, Pennsylvania, Oregon and Wisconsin have some or all of these restrictions already in place.
The bill was approved 39-0 by the Senate on Thursday and 79-0 by the full Assembly in June.