Upcoming before Senate panels: Violence commission, Good Samaritans, more

TRENTON – Senate committees on Monday will take up a variety of issues: education, marriage licenses, Good Samaritans, even laughter.

No joke.

A Senate committee is scheduled to consider a resolution on Monday about designating a day for laughter.

SJR52, sponsored by Sen. Linda Greenstein, D-14, Cranbury, would designate the first Sunday in May as World Laughter Day.

The Assembly companion, AJR43, is sponsored by district mate Dan Benson, D-14, Hamilton.

The idea, according to the bill, is to promote fellowship and laughter, and states that the medical benefits of laughter have been well documented.

The bill goes on to state that World Laughter Day was created in 1998 by Dr. Madan Kataria, in India, and was introduced to the United States by psychologist Steve Wilson in 2001.

Greenstein, who said she is aware that some will consider the resolution frivolous in light of all of the serious issues facing the state, said the idea was brought to her attention by a woman in Hamilton who lost a son during 9/11 and who found the World Laughter Day concept helpful.

“Psychologists tell us that when people laugh they feel better,’’ Greenstein said. She said that there already is such a designated “laughter day’’ in Hamilton, and that there are thousands of similar clubs or movements under way in 65 nations.

The bill will be before the Senate State Government Committee.

Good Samaritans

S2314, which is up before the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee, would free up so-called Good Samaritans from having to pay ambulance fees.

The bill, sponsored by Christopher Bateman, R-16, Somerville, and Donald Norcross, D-5, Camden, would give immunity to someone who is injured while rendering emergency care to another and then requires ambulance service as a result of giving aid.

Causes of violence

S2430, also up before the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee, creates a commission to study violence: its trends, impact, treatment methodology, and more.

The bill, promised earlier by Sens. Ray Lesniak, D-20, Union, and Shirley Turner, D-15, Trenton, in the wake of the Connecticut school shootings late last year, declares that violence has risen to the level of a public health crisis.

Their legislation also seeks expansion of mental health programs and federal adoption of gun control measures.

The commission would have nine members, including the Attorney General and Commissioner of the Health Department, and seven public members.

Educational issues

The Senate Education Committee has invited Commissioner Christopher Cerf to provide a general update on the department.

Marriage or civil union licenses

S2399, which will be before the Senate Judiciary, would allow for the immediate issuance of a marriage or civil union license when an application is made, with exceptions including when minors are involved.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Nicholas Scutari, D-22, Linden, would do away with the 72-hour waiting period.