Current Legislation - Jan. 24, 2012
MARRIAGE EQUALITY: S-1 (Weinberg, Lesniak, Sweeney). This bill, titled the “Marriage Equality and Religious Exemption Act,” which would authorize same-sex marriage in the State, passed the Senate Judiciary Committee by a vote of 8-4. 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: S-157 (Singer, Vitale). This bill passed the Senate Education Committee with unanimous support. “Janet’s Law,” is in memory of Janet Zilinski, an 11-year old who died of sudden cardiac arrest following a cheerleading squad practice. The bill applies to athletic events and activities that take place through public and nonpublic schools, recreational departments, youth serving organizations and youth camps. The bill requires public school districts and nonpublic schools that include K through 12 to ensure that an automated external defibrillator (AED) is readily available and within reasonable proximity of the school athletic field or gymnasium, as applicable, at which a school-sponsored athletic event or team practice is taking place. The bill stipulates that a team coach, or other designated staff member if there is no coach, who is present during the athletic event or team practice, is trained in cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the use of an AED. NJEA secured amendments to the bill taking out the requirements mandating the teaching of CPR and the use of an AED in the statewide Core Curriculum. We did not take a position on the bill until further review. It heads to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.
STUDENT SURVEYS: S-454 (Turner, Vitale). This bill passed the Senate Education Committee 3-1-1. This legislation permits a student to participate in a voluntary survey if the school district sends prior written notice to parents or guardians of the students. The bill establishes that “passive permission” from parents (in other words parents do not respond to a written notice) is sufficient. NJEA supports this legislation which moves to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.
NJ STARS AND NJ STARS II PROGRAM S-874 (Cunningham). This bill revises the NJ STARS and NJ STARS II program. It passed the Senate Education Committee unanimously and is referred to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. The bill makes a number of revisions to the NJ STARS and NJ STARS II programs. It changes the NJ STARS program, limiting coverage to only the cost of tuition (not the cost of tuition and fees), and encouraging county colleges to host an annual recruitment day and invite representatives from each State four year public and independent institution in order to offer an opportunity to recruit students for the NJ STARS II Program. In the case of the NJ STARS II Program, students will be permitted to use the scholarship to attend a New Jersey independent four-year institution of higher education, whereas currently the program applies to only four year public institutions. Finally other revisions to NJ STARS II include: the elimination of the provision that calculated the amount of the scholarship based on the student’s GPA; and the cost of the scholarship, which would be paid 100% by the State, not 50% by the State and 50% by the institution of higher education as provided under current law. NJEA did not have a position on this bill.
“TEEN DATING VIOLENCE AWARENESS & PROTECTION MONTH”: SJR-24 (Codey)
. This legislation designates February of each year as “Teen Dating Violence Awareness & Protection Month” in New Jersey. This bill passed the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee and will now go to the full Senate for a vote. NJEA supports this legislation.