Current Legislation - Feb. 2, 2012
MARRIAGE EQUALITY: A-1 (Gusciora, Oliver). This bill, titled the “Marriage Equality and Religious Exemption Act,” which would authorize same-sex marriage in the State, passed the Assembly Judiciary Committee 5-2. The bill defines “marriage” as the legally recognized union of two consenting persons in a committed relationship. The bill provides exemptions to performing the marriages for clergy who object on religious grounds and exemptions to instruction for students whose parents object based on religion or their conscience. NJEA supported this bill. It will ensure that all NJEA members, including those in same-sex marriages, are not denied their rights, particularly as it relates to health benefits and child care leave.
JANET’S LAW: A-1608 (Bramnick) “Janet’s Law,” in memory of Janet Zilinski, an 11-year old who died of sudden cardiac arrest following a cheerleading squad practice, requires that public school districts and non-public schools ensure that an automated external defibrillator (AED) is readily available and within reasonable proximity of school-sponsored athletic events or team practices. The bill stipulates that a team coach or other designated staff member trained in cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the use of an AED be present. NJEA secured amendments to the bill which removed a mandate to teach CPR and the use of an AED in grades 9-12. NJEA did not take a position on the bill, which is currently under legal review. The bill passed out of the Assembly Education Committee and has been referred to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
COMPULSORY SCHOOL ATTENDANCE: A-1411 (Watson-Coleman, Wilson) NJEA supported this bill which passed the Assembly Education Committee and has been referred to the Assembly Appropriations Committee. This bill raises the requirement for compulsory school attendance from 16 to 18 years of age. Students who graduate from high school prior to their eighteenth birthday would be exempt from this requirement. This bill is part of the NJEA education reform agenda.
IMPROVING ACCOUNTABILITY OF CHARTER SCHOOLS: A-2147 (Coutinho, Jasey, Watson Coleman) The Assembly Education Committee released this bill, which improves oversight of charter schools. The bill would apply NJQSAC to charter schools, would require students to be selected for a charter school through a lottery, and would require public charter school waiting lists and annual demographic information. Furthermore, the bill would adjust the per pupil tax levy amount that a district of residence must send to a charter school if the district's budget is defeated and the tax levy is reduced. The bill would also establish numerous grounds for revoking a charter and would require disclosure of various private donations and contributions to the school. The bill now goes to the full Assembly where it may be posted for a vote at the discretion of the Speaker. NJEA supported the bill.
COMMUNITY VOTES ON CHARTER SCHOOL OPENINGS/EXPANSIONS: A-1877 (Diegnan, Barnes, Wisniewski, Caputo, Gusciora, Jasey)
The Assembly Education Committee released the bill, which would require voter approval at the annual school election, or by the board of school estimate, before opening or expanding a charter school. The Assembly Education Committee also amended the bill to tighten the requirement that a charter school obtain voter approval from any and all districts where students may enroll in the charter school. The bill now goes to the full Assembly where it may be posted for a vote at the discretion of the Speaker. NJEA remained neutral on the bill.