Valerie's Voice: Summer Edition


New Jersey Adopts New Laws


Thank you Governor Phil Murphy



Prohibits Smoking at Public Beaches and Parks

Protecting the public from the health hazards caused by smoking has been an issue I have been passionate about for years. Not only is second hand smoke an enormous health risk to non-smokers, but also the discarding of cigarettes can damage the environment and is a fire hazard. A3798 would expand the New Jersey Smoke-Free Air Act, which currently forbids smoking in indoor public places and workplaces, to apply to public parks and beaches throughout the state as well. The smoking ban would apply to any state park or forest, county or municipal park, or state, county, or municipal beach. The ban would not apply to any parking lot that is adjacent to, but outside of, the public park or beach; any golf course; or any area of a municipal or county beach, not exceeding 15 percent of the total area, which is designated as a smoking area. Prohibiting smoking reinforces our efforts to protect the public against health risks like asthma, lung cancer, and strokes, and makes our parks and beaches a safer, more enjoyable experience for New Jersey families. 

Gestational Carrier Agreement Act

In May, A1704, the Gestational Carrier Agreement Act, was signed into law by Governor Murphy. The law allows intended parents in New Jersey to create legally binding surrogacy contracts with surrogate mothers who have no genetic connection at all to the children they are carrying. The Gestational Carrier Agreement Act places protections for the surrogate, the intended parents, as well as the child. Now, more than ever, this bill is even more meaningful as more couples, including same-sex couples, look to gestational surrogacy as a way to have children. After years of tirelessly working on this bill, it’s finally time for the law to match today’s technology. 

Chronic Absenteeism

A2192 requires that if 10 percent or more of the students enrolled in a public school are chronically absent, the school must develop a corrective action plan to improve absenteeism rates. Every day a student misses school sets them back in their learning process. When it’s a chronic occurrence, it can set them up for academic failure. Developing a corrective action plan to identify and address the reasons why students are not going to school can help get these students back on track before it is too late. Now enacted, schools can tackle chronic absenteeism head on, so all students can have the opportunity to a healthy and safe education.

Revised State Medical Examiner Act 

The revised state Medical Examiner Act will provide much needed reform to the Medical Examiner system. A1709 establishes the Office of the Chief State Medical Examiner in the Department of Health, removing a similar office from the Department of Law and Public Safety, yet allowing the new office to be independent of any supervision or control by the Department of Health.  New Jersey deserves a functional, modern medical examiner system. This legislation will further increase accountability, enhance transparency, establish uniform procedures, and ensure a well-equipped staff.

Article: Let's end NJ's disgrace in the medical examiner's office

In Trenton with Babs Siperstein in the Assembly Chambers


Transgender Civil Rights Bills

Transgender individuals face considerable challenges in society, often face harassment, and are forced to jump through hoops for what are perceived to be basic human rights. At the beginning of July, Governor Murphy stood by the LGBTQ community by signing the remaining three Transgender civil rights bills. 

The first, A1718, the “Babs Siperstein Law,” acknowledges that individuals do not necessarily undergo gender reassignment surgery when transitioning genders. It revises the process for obtaining an amended birth certificate to reflect the change in current practices. This law updates a standard state procedure to be more inclusive and reflective of our changing society. 

Additionally, A1726, which stipulates that the sex of a decedent is to be recorded on a death certificate to reflect the decedent’s gender identity. This law also provides a legal process to address conflicting information regarding the gender of the decedent, ensuring that transgender individuals have access to documentation that reflects their lived experiences. Antiquated policies and attitudes towards transgender individuals have led to discrimination, violence, depression and suicide. This bill is another step in the right direction in combatting the inequality.

Lastly, the Transgender Equality Task Force, A1727, was signed into law. While New Jersey has made tremendous strides 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. The 17 member task force that is being formatted will assess legal and societal barriers to equality thereby providing recommendations to the Legislature. This will ensure that New Jersey continues to make strides towards equality. 

Tourette Syndrome Awareness Day


AJR44 designates June 4th as Tourette Syndrome Awareness Day. Tourette Syndrome is a neurological disorder characterized by repetitive, involuntary physical and vocal tics that occur many times a day. Creating an awareness day will help improve the quality of life of all people touched by the syndrome by educating physicians, other health care professionals and school personnel.


Outreach and Events

Equal Pay Bill signing with Lily Ledbetter, Governor Phil Murphy, 

Speaker Craig Coughlin, and Assemblywomen Pamela Lampitt and Joann Downey



Time is Now Action Coalition with First Lady Tammy Murphy and Helen Archontou 


Proud to have served as Co-Chair of the 2018 NJ Legislators’ Study Mission to Israel and supporting the New Jersey - Israel relationship. Congratulations to Roberta Abrams incoming president of Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey and thank you to Gordon Haas for your service as Immediate Past President.


The New Jersey Chamber of Commerce 21st Annual Open House



Young Women's Leadership Program in Trenton with Speaker Coughlin



The Housing and Community Development Network of NJ

Legislative Advocacy Day in Trenton- Build a Thriving NJ



Assemblymembers Thomas Giblin, Ralph Caputo, and Clinton Calabrese

tour the new Hackensack Meridian Health School of

Medicine at Seton Hall University with CEO Robert Garrett



Coffee and Conversation with Tenafly Seniors during Older Americans Month



WEDO Blue Dress Gala- women supporting women



Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at the Bergen Family Center

in honor of the Shelley and Ira Taub Classroom