Valerie’s Voice: Governor Christie Takes Action on Pending Legislation

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Last week Governor Christie acted on dozens of pieces of legislation 

NJ third state in the nation to raise the tobacco purchasing age to 21

The signing of A2320 makes New Jersey the third state in the nation for improving public health and for saving lives. This legislation raises the minimum age for purchase and sale of tobacco products and electronic smoking devices from 19 to 21. More than half of smokers start between the ages of 18 and 21 and smoking is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths annually in the United States. Raising the purchasing age gives teens a chance to mature more before making this potentially life-altering decision.

Transgender Civil Rights Bills signed into law

Transgender individuals face considerable challenges in society, and are often the targets of bullying and harassment. A4652 requires the Commissioner of Education to develop guidelines for school districts regarding transgender students. These guidelines will ensure that transgender students can safely be themselves without fear of being persecuted, and can help promote a culture of understanding and acceptance that will hopefully influence how students treat each other in and outside of school.

Additionally, the Governor signed A4568, which prohibits health insurers from denying coverage and services based on gender identity. Transgender individuals just like any other individual need proper healthcare. While tremendous strides have been made in recent years to advance equality for members of the ‘LGB’ community, much more still needs to be done to help protect our brothers and sisters in the ‘T’ community. This legislation ensures there is no discrimination on the basis of a person's gender identity, or on the basis that the person is a transgender individual.

PANYNJ Transparency Bill signed into law

SJR113/AJR165 provides that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey be deemed a public agency and treated as such. The bill increases transparency by subjecting PANYNJ to New York's Freedom of Information Law and New Jersey's Open Public Records Act (OPRA). These provisions will help ease the process by which individuals from either state can request records.

Joan’s Law signed into law

This bill requires life imprisonment without parole for persons convicted of the murder of a minor under the age of 18. A373 was dubbed Joan’s Law in memory of a 7-year-old Girl Scout in Hillsdale who was brutally raped and murdered in 1973 selling Girl Scout cookies. Raising the maximum age of victims from 14 to 18 eliminates an irrational discrepancy in New Jersey. Joan’s Law ensures that no family member is ever subjected to the painful reminders of such horrifying events.

Concussion Awareness Day signed into law

Concussions are serious injuries that need to be identified and properly diagnosed, or they can disrupt the normal functioning of the brain causing significant neuropsychological impairment. The resolution designates every third Friday in September of every year as Concussion Awareness Day. AJR115 will raise and increase athletic safety measures for our youth. 

Educating parents on prescription opioid use bill signed into law 

A3944 requires school districts and nonpublic schools that participate in interscholastic sports or cheerleading competitions to distribute fact sheets every year to parents or guardians of student-athletes and cheerleaders. The law directs the New Jersey Departments of Education to work with the Department of Health to develop the fact sheet, with information about the use and misuse of opioid drugs in the event students are prescribed drugs for sports-related injuries. This law is about effective prevention and it begins with awareness.

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For additional legislation signed by the Governor click here

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Valerie Vainieri Huttle

Assemblywoman, District 37