GOP lawmakers pass sponsorship of bills to Sen. Norcross in order for them to get a hearing

TRENTON – In order to protect children and families, and due to Senate President Stephen Sweeney’s ongoing ban on Republican representation, Sens. Christopher “Kip” Bateman (R-16) of Neshanic Station and Steven Oroho (R-23) of Sparta said today they have passed their sponsorship of two key bills to Sen. Don Norcross (D-5) of Camden, in order for them to be heard at committee hearings.

The bills are:

* S884 – A bill requiring anyone who has suspicion a child has been sexually assaulted to immediately notify law enforcement officials. The legislation, added to Thursday’s Senate Law and Public Safety Committee agenda, upgrades the penalty for failing to report the suspected abuse from a disorderly persons offense to a fourth-degree crime. Bateman originally sponsored this bill.

*S2604: A bill establishing “Kimmie’s Law.” The bill, which Oroho initially sponsored, calls for establishing a zero-tolerance law making it illegal to drive under the influence of any amount of a prohibited inhalant, such as glue or aerosol. The bill is named after Kimberly Goupil, a 16-year-old Hampton Township teen who was killed in a car crash by a driver who was under the influence of inhalants.

Lawmakers said they are willing to give up getting credit for the bills in order for them to at least get a hearing.

“There is nothing more important than protecting innocent children,” Bateman said in a statement about the move. “It’s a shame that this bill to safeguard children and hold adults accountable has been blocked because the Senate President was playing politics. But it should finally start advancing tomorrow, now that a Democrat can take credit.”

Oroho also said the legislation he originally sponsored is too important to not be heard .

“Kimmie’s Law enacts strict safeguards to ensure that no other family has to deal with the tragedy of losing a loved one to the reckless and illegal behavior of getting behind the wheel while high,”  Oroho said. “Public safety should never be trumped by politics. This law should be enacted immediately, no matter which senator’s name is on the bill.”

The move, they said, is a result of Senate President Steve Sweeney’s (D-3) withdrawal of several Republican-sponsored bills a few weeks ago.

The bills have yet to be heard by the Assembly.