24 Feb: Measure To Provide An Additional $15 Million In Rent Assistance To Working Families Gets Final Legislative Approval

TRENTON – Senators Shirley K. Turner and Ronald L. Rice hailed the final passage of their bill by the Assembly today to appropriate an additional $15 million to bolster low-income rental assistance programs that were devastated by Bush budget cuts.

“For so many New Jersey families, the first step to realizing the American dream is finding a permanent home they can afford,” Senator Turner, D-Mercer. “For many of our poor families, it is difficult to find and keep a quality job, concentrate on schoolwork and maintain their personal health without a safe and permanent home. The myriad of ways the State supports its residents are vastly more effective when the recipient has a home of their own.”

24 Feb: Sacco To NJ Transit : ‘Not A Cent More Than Necessary’

TRENTON – Senator Nicholas J. Sacco, D-Bergen and Hudson and Chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, made the following statement today in regards to NJ Transit’s public hearings over a potential 15% fare hike:

“As Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, I know just how much work and money go into maintaining our transportation infrastructure. New Jersey Transit is a vital part of this infrastructure which moves hundreds of thousands of residents around the State each day. As painful as it may be, I understand that it is inevitable that fares for our commuter rails, buses and light rails will increase. However, we must do everything in our power to make that increase as small and equitable as possible.

24 Feb: Madden/Girgenti ‘Sex Crime Victim Treatment Fund’ Receives Final Legislative Approval

TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senators Fred H. Madden and John A. Girgenti that would establish the “Sex Crime Victim Treatment Fund” to collect and distribute funding for victim counseling received final legislative approval today in the Assembly.

“Traumatic events like sexual assault can cause years of pain and anxiety for victims and their families,” said Senator Madden, D-Camden and Gloucester. “By requiring sex offenders to fund counseling for their victims, the State is forcing these predators to take responsibility for their actions. Though a monetary value cannot be placed on the damage caused as a result of sexual assault, this measure is a step in the right direction toward helping survivors and their families begin the healing process. “

24 Feb: Madden / Sweeney Measure To Help Safely Recover Lost Alzheimer’s Sufferers Receives Final Legislative Approval

TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senators Fred H. Madden and Stephen M. Sweeney that would establish training guidelines and require State and local law enforcement to work with the national Safe Return program when locating lost Alzheimer’s patients received final legislative approval today in the Assembly.

“Imagine suddenly realizing that you have no idea where you are; your surroundings are unfamiliar, you’re scared and you don’t know how to get home,” said Senator Madden, D-Camden and Gloucester. “This is an experience that often happens to Alzheimer’s sufferers and others with related conditions. This measure would require police to create guidelines for the safe recovery of these individuals, and help ease the fears of lost individuals and their families.”

24 Feb: Vitale Bill To Expand Powers Of State Commission Of Investigation Receives Final Legislative Approval

TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Joseph F. Vitale which would amend and expand the duties and powers of the State Commission of Investigation (SCI) to facilitate greater scrutiny of New Jersey State government was unanimously approved by the Assembly today, receiving final legislative approval.

“Given the reports this week of rampant corruption in Monmouth County, it’s obvious that we need stronger watchdogs to ensure governmental integrity,” said Senator Vitale, D-Middlesex. “The SCI was designed to be a watchdog agency, charged with keeping government ‘for the people’ instead of for greedy politicians looking to trade their office for personal enrichment. This bill would empower the SCI with the tools needed to accomplish their mission of public scrutiny of officeholders in New Jersey.”

23 Feb: Rice Continues To Fight For Small Businesses In Immigrant Community

NEWARK – Senator Ronald L Rice announced today that his fight against the indoor smoking ban “has just begun” because he feels a ban will destroy many small businesses and those in the immigrant communities of Newark.

“Newark is home to many locally run restaurants and bars that will be forced out of business if a indoor smoking ban takes effect,” said Senator Rice, Chairman of the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee. “A smoking ban will ruin small businesses in urban communities that rely on tobacco using clientele to keep afloat.”

16 Feb: Smith Bill To Provide Funding For Wildfire Preservation Approved

TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Bob Smith which would provide $381,715 in State funds and free up more than $1 million in federal funds was approved by the Senate Monday by a vote of 35-0.

“The saying goes that you cannot make money without first spending money,” said Senator Smith, D-Middlesex and Somerset, the Chairman of the Senate Environment Committee. “With this bill, we are investing a small sum, in the larger scheme of government expenditures, to qualify for over a million in federal funds for wildlife preservation. Those funds will go a long way towards protecting wildlife habitats and ensuring that many of the endangered species that call New Jersey home are not vulnerable to extinction.”

15 Feb: Vitale Emergency Contraception Bill Approved In Senate

TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Joseph F. Vitale which would require hospitals to inform sexual assault victims about emergency contraceptives and provide them upon request was approved by the Senate yesterday by a vote of 33-0, receiving final legislative approval.

“Victims of sexual assault are already robbed of their right to choose a sexual partner, but in cases where the victim becomes pregnant as a result of an assault, they are also forced down a life path that many may not be ready for,” said Senator Vitale, D-Middlesex, the Chairman of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. “Motherhood should be a blessed event, but for sexual assault survivors, it can be a reminder of their worst nightmare. By requiring emergency contraception when requested, we can allow victims of sexual assault to reclaim at least an aspect of their former lives.”

15 Feb: Vitale Minimum Wage Increase Approved In Senate

TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Joseph F. Vitale which would increase the State’s minimum wage from $5.15 an hour to $7.15 an hour over the next two years was approved by the Senate yesterday by a vote of 26-10.

“Working class New Jerseyans are struggling under the current minimum wage to realize the American Dream, when the sad reality is that many cannot even meet their basic human needs, working more than 40 hours a week,” said Senator Vitale, D-Middlesex. “We cannot allow the hardworking people of our State to continue to toil away without being able to afford decent shelter, food and health care costs. We must establish a minimum wage that, at the minimum, addresses the cost of living in the Garden State.”

14 Feb: Sweeney’s $2 Minimum Wage Increase Clears Senate

TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senator Stephen M. Sweeney that would increase the State minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.15 received approval today in the Senate.

“It’s time that the State stepped in to ease the burden on working families,”said Senator Sweeney, D-Gloucester, Cumberland and Salem. “A meaningful increase in the State’s minimum wage is the only real way to allow the State’s working poor to make ends meet without having to burn the candle at both ends. It is simply the right thing to do.”