Buono, Greenstein want domestic violence bills heard

TRENTON – Two state senators say they want to use technology to help prevent and stem domestic violence in New Jersey.

Sens. Linda Greenstein, (D-14), Plainsboro, and Barbara Buono, (D-18), Metuchen, hosted a Statehouse news conference Thursday to bring attention to a trio of bills they say will use technology to combat abuse.

“We all live in a society where technology impacts every aspect of our lives. Technology can be a powerful tool,” said Buono, adding it “can also be a deadly weapon.”

The bills have floated through the Statehouse halls for multiple sessions, but now the lawmakers say they want to see action taken on the proposals and intend to step up efforts to get them heard in committee.

S148, sponsored by Buono and Sen. Joseph Vitale, (D-19), Woodbridge, would require cell phone companies to inform customers that the GPS capability in their phone may be turned off. The proposal would also require cell phone providers to provide step-by-step instructions for deactivating the located-based service.

Cell phone companies would be fined up to $10,000 for the first offense and up to $20,000 for any additional offenses if they fail to comply with the proposed rule, according to the bill.

The proposal would not disable emergency 911 location services, which federal law mandates cannot be deactivated, the lawmakers said.

S331, dubbed Heather’s Law, sponsored by Greenstein and Buono, would give courts authority to order people found guilty of domestic violence offenses to wear electronic monitoring devices. The rule would apply when a condition of sentence forbids the convicted person from  having contact with the victim.

S1031, sponsored by Greenstein and Buono, would make it a fourth-degree crime to prevent someone from attempting to communicate with others in order to seek assistance. It would also add impairing communications to the list of crimes that constitutes domestic violence.

Buono said she has made personal requests to committee chairmen Sens. Ray Lesniak, (D-20), Elizabeth, and Nicholas Scutari, (D-22), Linden, to get the bills heard.

Buono explained that progress on her legislation that would require cell phone companies to inform customers how to turn off GPS capability has been slowed by the cell phone companies themselves, saying she offered to work with them and “had several meetings, (but) they just stalled.”

“So, I’m moving forward,” she added.

The lawmakers offered little insight into why the bills haven’t advanced, but promised to renew the push to get them heard.

“Many times the bills that seem the most innocuous are the ones that are held up,” Greenstein said.

Buono, Greenstein want domestic violence bills heard