Bill requires more suicide prevention training for teachers

October 27, 2014
Kevin McArdle
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The latest statistics compiled by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in 2010 indicated New Jersey had the third lowest suicide rate in the country, but that doesn’t mean suicide isn’t a serious issue.

The same data revealed there were 719 suicides in the Garden State that year, a rate of 8.2 per 100,000 people, which is the highest New Jersey has seen since at least 1999. A bill (A-3224) approved Monday by the Assembly Education Committee is designed to improve suicide prevention training in public schools.

Under current New Jersey law, public school teachers are required to receive two hours of suicide prevention training over the course of their five-year professional development period. Assemblyman Troy Singleton (D-Mount Laurel) doesn’t feel this is adequate enough. His legislation would require teachers to get two hours of instruction every year, for a total of 10 hours over the course of the professional development period.

“What we want to do is make sure that there is some training happening every year because to me, two hours over five years doesn’t seem like enough in this very important area,” Singleton said. “New Jersey is unique because it requires training to be done by a mental health expert.”

N.J. Assembly panel backs paid sick leave bill

The Record
October 27, 2014
Hugh Morley
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Strong opposition in New Jersey's business community to a bill that would require employers to give their workers paid sick leave failed to prevent the Democrat-backed legislation from moving ahead Monday.

The state Assembly Labor Committee voted 6-3 along party lines to approve the bill, rejecting the criticism of some of the state's biggest business groups, who testified at the committee hearing in Trenton.

The bill would require employers to grant workers an hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. Workers at companies with fewer than 10 employees would be able to accrue up to 40 hours sick time that ccould be carried over from one year to the next. Employers with 10 or more workers would be required to allow workers to accrue and carry over up to 72 hours of sick leave.

Bill supporters say 1.1 million people in the state are unable to take paid sick leave. But opponents say it will hurt businesses.

"We are concerned about the lack of flexibility in this bill," Mary Ellen Peppard, a lobbyist for the New Jersey Food Council, a Trenton-based group that represents food retailers, told the committee. "Our members do things differently. Our members provide paid time off, but they don't necessarily call it sick time. This imposes a one-size-fits-all standard."

N.J. Assembly committee delays vote on bill to offer all workers paid sick days
October 9, 2014
Matt Friedman
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The state Assembly Labor Committee is delaying a vote on high profile, controversial legislation that would allow all workers in New Jersey to earn paid sick days.

The committee had been planning to vote on the bill today, and dozens of supporters and opponents showed up to testify on it.

But at the beginning of the committee’s hearing, which lasted more than two hours, the bill’s top sponsor, Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt (D-Camden), requested that the committee hold off on the vote and merely discuss the proposal while she considers amendments.

“This continues to be just the beginning phase of earned sick leave. My hope is that over the next few months we continue to hear from all aspects about the employees/employers about the requested amendments to this piece of legislation,” Lampitt said. “I apologize for having to do this twice… But I also thought it was fair to you as all of the members to not vote on a piece of legislation that was not actually fully completed.”

Lampitt did not say what amendments she plans to introduce, but suggested they would involve whether the size of businesses the law would apply to, take into account whether the businesses operate on a fiscal or calendar year, and whether employees should be required to supply doctors' notes.

Bills to Prevent Animal Cruelty Gain NJ Assembly Panel Approval

Planet Princeton
October 9, 2014
Krystal Knapp
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Five animal welfare bills sponsored by Assembly Democrats Reed Gusciora, Daniel Benson, Gilbert Wilson, Pamela Lampitt and Bob Andrzejczak to crack down on animal cruelty were unanimously approved by a New Jersey Assembly panel on Thursday.

A-201, sponsored by Gusciora, Benson and Wilson, would authorize the courts to issue an animal protection order against anyone found guilty of abusing an animal or otherwise violating the state animal cruelty laws. The animal protection order would require the person to refrain from interacting with an animal permanently or for a period of time specified by the court.

“As a humane society, we should not tolerate abuses against animals any more than we would against a person,” said Gusciora (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “Sadly, there have been a number of high-profile animal abuse cases in recent years, a good number of which arise from domestic disputes, lending even more support for this legislation. Whether it’s indirect abuse, like starvation, direct abuse such as physical violence or the anger of a disgruntled spouse or partner, this bill will help protect innocent animals.”

Assembly panel takes testimony on paid sick leave, but does not vote

October 9, 2014
Andrew George
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The Assembly Labor Committee turned its attention to statewide paid sick leave legislation Thursday, drawing testimony from business owners and groups on both sides of the issue.

Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt (D-Voorhees), the bill’s sponsor, announced at the start of the committee hearing that the day’s purpose was solely to gather testimony, and no voting on the legislation would take place.

“This continues to be just the beginning phase of earned sick leave,” Lampitt said.

The bill, as currently proposed, would permit full- and part-time employees to earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked. There is a 72-hour-per-year cap for businesses with 10 or more employees and a 40-hour-per-year cap for businesses with nine or fewer workers. Employees would begin accruing sick time 90 days after being hired unless an employer chooses to begin providing paid sick days beforehand.

The push for statewide paid sick leave legislation, long in the works, comes on the heels of similar ordinances drafted and passed at the municipal level in cities like Jersey City, Newark, East Orange and others.