New Jersey Lawmakers Push for New Domestic Violence Laws

NBC Philadelphia
September 11, 2014
Geoff Mulvihill
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New Jersey lawmakers advanced a series of bills Thursday designed to cut down on domestic violence, with the case of a former football star punching his then-fiancee in an Atlantic City casino in the backdrop.

The Assembly Women and Children Committee unanimously advanced five bills, including one to require counseling for people convicted of domestic violence. Now, counseling is often a condition for those who strike plea bargains, but not for those convicted by a judge or jury.

"We're saying to those who are offenders, to those in homes where there have been offenders that we're taking this seriously," said Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt, a Democrat from Cherry Hill and the chairwoman of the committee. "It doesn't end when somebody is incarcerated. It continues when they get out on parole."

She noted that the committee scheduled the hearing on the package of bills before this week's disclosure of a video showing Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice punching his then-fiancee in the Revel Casino Hotel in Atlantic City earlier this year. Rice, who has since married the woman he was seen hitting and dragging out of an elevator, was released this week by the team and suspended indefinitely by the NFL.

Students would have a say in lunch menus under bill to be considered by N.J. Assembly panel
September 10, 2014
Matt Friedman
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When Madeline Ferraro and her high school senior daughter Brooke had a meeting with her school’s cafeteria staff at Wall Township High School to discuss vegetarian options, she said it didn’t go well.

“They told my daughter she could eat a fruit cup and chips for lunch. That was their offer to her,” Ferraro said. “They weren’t mean. There was no malicious intent. But they were not able to understand what the heck vegetarianism, let alone veganism, was.”

So Ferraro, who works as a New Jersey lobbyist, and her daughter met with state lawmakers to give them some food for thought.

The result: a bill that will be considered by lawmakers Thursday that would ask middle and high schools to set up advisory committees that would recommend school breakfast and lunch dishes that would “better reflect the cultural food preferences of the student body.”

That could mean offering more vegetarian options. Or tailoring a district’s menu to serve food that reflects students’ ethnic backgrounds.

“We are strongly encouraging – no mandate – strongly encouraging all school districts to develop a school advisory committee so they can talk about their specific population needs," said Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt (D-Camden), the sponsor. "So if it is ethnic, there’s an ethnic sort of flare to the foods."

Prieto: Statewide paid sick leave an Assembly priority

September 3, 2014
Kevin McArdle
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The New Jersey Assembly Labor Committee is set to consider legislation this month that would require New Jersey employers to provide paid sick leave to their workers. Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Secaucus) said getting the legislation passed is a priority.

Under the bill sponsored by Assemblywoman Pam Lampitt (D-Voorhees), workers would accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked.
“My bill requires mostly all employers to offer some form of paid sick leave policy,” Lampitt said.

Newark, Jersey City and Passaic have adopted paid leave policies, with Passaic’s council approving its ordinance late Tuesday night, and several other New Jersey towns are considering following suit. Lampitt said a statewide policy is needed because there are businesses with offices in places like Newark and Jersey City that are offering paid sick leave to employees in those cities, but not in other Garden State municipalities where they also have offices.

“People should be able to stay home and not feel that their job is threatened if they don’t come in when they’re sick,” Lampitt said.
Prieto said there are about 1.1 million workers in the state who do not have paid time off.

“It’s this simple – earned sick leave means stronger families, stronger workplaces and stronger communities. It should become law,” Prieto said in an emailed press release Aug. 6.

'Gold Alert' legislation pushed following case of missing Woolwich man

South Jersey Times
August 21, 2014
Rebecca Forand
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In the wake of a two-day search for a mentally challenged township man who went missing this week, legislation introduced regarding a "Gold Alert" system similar to the Amber or Silver Alerts that currently exist is receiving positive feedback.

Michael Lawton, 35, walked away from his group home on Viereck Road Monday night. He was missing for nearly two nights before a passerby spotted him walking down Oak Grove Road around 7 a.m. Wednesday.

Introduced by Assemblywoman Pamela Rosen Lampitt (D-6 of Cherry Hill), the Gold Alert bill, which would provide information to the public for help finding missing individuals with developmental or intellectual disabilities, passed the Assembly Human Services Committee in May. It is modeled on the Silver Alert system, which provides similar information for missing senior citizens.

"I am deeply thankful that this individual was found quickly and was safely returned to his living facility. Fortunately, this story had a happy ending, but in such situations, that is not always the case. That's why New Jersey needs the legislation I have proposed to create a 'Gold Alert' to assist the public and public safety officers in finding missing persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities," Lampitt said.

New Jersey would be the second state with a paid sick leave law under a new bill

Washington Post
August 7, 2014
Niraj Chokshi
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New Jersey’s state assembly next month will take up a bill that would require employers to provide paid sick leave, Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto said in a statement on Wednesday.

The bill, introduced by Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt (D), would allow workers to earn one hour of sick leave for every 30 worked. Two New Jersey cities and New York City already have such mandates.

“I support every local effort to adopt this pro-worker policy, but I also feel strongly that this must be a statewide policy that helps all workers,” Prieto (D) said in the statement. “This would especially benefit workers in the health, education, social services, hospitality and retail industries and provide needed assistance to part-timers.”

The fight for paid sick leave requirements has picked up steam since San Francisco passed the nation’s first local paid sick leave policy in 2006. D.C. followed suit two years later, according to the National Partnership for Women and Families. Seattle passed a similar policy in 2011, the year that Connecticut became the only state to implement such a law. Last year, Portland, Ore., New York City, and Jersey City, N.J., also implemented paid sick leave. Newark joined that group early this year.