TRENTON – The Senate passed bills Monday involving laser pointers, shared services, and a bill of rights for residents of assisted care facilities.
An attempt to override a veto of a bill that dealt with workers compensation for first-responders fell short.
S116: Passed 34-1. This bill establishes a commission to study issues affecting minorities with disabilities.
It creates the Disparity in Treatment of Persons with Disabilities in Underrepresented Communities Commission.
The idea is that minorities often have less access to healthcare, educational opportunities, and treatment for disabling conditions, and this panel will study those kinds of issues.
S418: Passed 36-1. This bill would prohibit the sale of laser pointers that exceed one milliwatt in output power. Current federal regulations allow for the sale of laser pointers that have an output power of up to five milliwatts.
Violators shall be subject to a penalty of up to $500 for the first offense and up to $1,000 for each subsequent offense.
An amendment removed from the bill laser pointers affixed to firearms. Another amendment excluded healthcare practitioners who use such lasers.
S533: Passed 35-0. This bill, the “Common Sense Shared Services Act,” ensures that certain municipal officials who earn tenure in their positions – such as clerk, assessor, engineer and others – do not stand in the way of a shared service agreement.
S717/A691: Passed 36-0. This bill requires the Motor Vehicle Commission to designate on a driver’s license that the individual is a military veteran.
S1778: This vote to override a veto was 21-15 and fell short. This bill creates a presumption of workers’ compensation coverage for any death or disability, including post traumatic stress disorder, if it arises from a terrorist attack, epidemic, or other catastrophic emergency.
Sponsor Sen. Linda Greenstein called for the override of the governor’s veto. The act assures heroic first-responders would received needed help, she said.
She said the governor’s concerns about fiscal responsibility and reduced standards for disability shouldn’t prevent providing first-responders with a level of care commensurate with their sacrifice.
S2040/A2161: Passed 37-0. This bill moves “Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month” from February to September in order to conform with the nationwide observance.
S2052: Passed 37-0. This bill establishes a “Bill of Rights” for residents of nursing homes and retirement communities.
The rights involved include occupancy, transfers, financial issues, termination of service, and penalties for facilities who violate the provisions of this bill.
This bill would require the facility to provide each new resident with a copy of the disclosure statement and a copy of the facility’s rules and regulations. Each new resident would also have the option to cancel the continuing care agreement within 30 days of signing, and the option to wait 30 days to occupy the new unit.
S2100: Passed 21-13. This bill expands the definition of a health care service firm to include firms that place personnel to provide companion services in the home of a person with a disability or senior citizen 60 years of age or over.
The definition in current law only includes firms that place or arrange for the placement of personnel to provide health care or personal care services.
S2448: Passed 37-0. This bill allows public and independent institutions of higher education in New Jersey to develop a policy for the emergency administration of epinephrine to a member of the campus community for anaphylaxis when a medical professional is not available.
S2800: Passed 26-8. This bill amends the compact between Delaware and New Jersey that created the Delaware River and Bay Authority. The bill provides that Authority employees are to be subject to the provisions of the “New Jersey Employer – Employee Relations Act,” and have all of the rights provided to employees by that act, including the right to form a union and engage in collective bargaining.
The enactment by Delaware of substantially similar legislation is required, and approval of Congress may be required, before the bill’s provisions may become operative.
A718: Passed 35-1. Requires Department of Education to biannually distribute a letter to school districts reminding districts of requirement to enroll resident students regardless of immigration status.
A732: Passed 34-0. Makes it a crime of the third degree to practice psychology or as a chiropractor without the appropriate license or certification. The penalty would be a jail term of three to five years or a fine of $15,000, or both.
Family and marriage therapy was removed from the original bill, as were some provisions related to psychoanalysis, which requires certification, not a license.
Further amendments stipulated that only persons who are required to be licensed or certified under the law are subject to criminal prosecution.
A2593: Passed 37-0. This bill, conditionally vetoed, requires a designated fire command structure in municipal emergency operations plans involving mutual aid responses to fires.
Gov. Chris Christie issued a CV because of concerns the bill may not afford municipalities and fire districts sufficient flexibility to establish plans best suited to their individual needs.
He recommended that the Director of the Division of Fire Safety conduct a review of the law concerning such mutual aid plans, and then develop recommendations of whether revisions are necessary.
A2596: Passed 31-3. This bill, conditionally vetoed, would remove the requirement for one- and two-family residences to be equipped with a portable fire extinguisher.
“This laudable goal must never cede to issues of public safety,” Gov. Chris Christie said in his CV message.
Instead, Christie recommended that the Department of Community Affairs conduct a study of the law toward possible revisions.
A2648: Passed 34-1. This bill prohibits employer retaliation against any employee who discloses information regarding the job title, occupational category, and rate of compensation of any employee for which it is a violation of law to discriminate against an individual.
In his conditional veto message, Christie said, “This bill is part of a patchwork of proposals that were passed together ostensibly to aid gaps in gender pay through increased reporting and notice requirements.”
This bill would not help accomplish that. “Instead, the bill will burden countless employers with onerous reporting requirements, thereby driving up the cost of public contracts, which are ultimately shouldered by the taxpayer,” Christie said.
He recommended among other things that the changes under Conscientious Employee Protection Act are more consistent with the Law Against Discrimination, so the language should be removed from the former and incorporated into the latter.
A2878: Passed 36-0. Prohibits employers from requiring disclosure of an employee’s personal computer user name or password.
Gov. Chris Christie conditionally vetoed the bill, saying privacy needs must be balanced an employer’s need to hire appropriate personnel. In some cases, an employer’s innocuous question could lead to litigation, he said.
He suggested several changes to tighten the bill that he said would provide protections for employers as well as employees.