Democrat bill outfits police with body cameras

State Sen. Donald Norcross, D-Camden, and Assemblyman Paul Moriarty, D-Gloucester, introduced new legislation Thursday to outfit all patrol officers with body cameras.

“Body cameras are the next logical step in public safety,” Norcross said. “We laid the groundwork with the dashboard bill.”

The key provision of the dashboard camera law is that every newly purchased municipal vehicle primarily used for traffic stops be equipped with a mobile video recording system.

The new bill expands the law to include outfitting county, state and municipal police officers who are primarily assigned to patrol duty with a mobile video recording system.

Vet donations

The Assembly Thursday approved legislation co-sponsored by Assemblyman Gilbert “Whip” Wilson, D-Camden, to allow New Jersey taxpayers to make donations to nonprofit veterans’ organizations via their gross income tax return.

An annual grant program drawing from contributions to the fund would assist private nonprofit veterans’ organizations in providing programs and services.

“Veterans organizations provide ways for those who served to connect with one another,” said Wilson, a U.S. Air Force veteran who served in Vietnam and Thailand.

ALS donations

Legislation sponsored by Assemblymen Herb Conaway Jr., D-Burlington, and Troy Singleton, D-Burlington, and Assemblywomen Celeste Riley, D-Cumberland, and Gabriela Mosquera, D-Camden, to make it easier for taxpayers to donate to the ALS Association passed Thursday in the Assembly.

The bill requires gross income tax returns to include a provision to allow taxpayers to make voluntary donations to the Greater Philadelphia and Greater New York Chapters of the ALS Association.

“The mission of the ALS Association is to lead the fight to treat and cure ALS through global research and nationwide advocacy, while also empowering people with Lou Gehrig’s Disease and their families to live fuller lives,” Singleton said.

College aid bills

The Assembly on Thursday approved seven key bills that are part of a larger 20-bill package aimed at addressing the factors pushing more and more New Jersey students into the real world saddled with debt and without a college degree.

The package includes legislation co-sponsored Riley, Moriarty and John Burzichelli, D-Gloucester.

Riley unveiled the package, which included college readiness, completion rates, cost, data collection, accountability, and pathways to success.

“This might be the first proposal of its kind to be so all-encompassing,” said Riley, chair of the Assembly Higher Education Committee. “While visiting colleges during my legislative tenure we were able to hear what’s working and what’s not at many of our schools. This is a chance for us to take those success stories and make them a reality for every school and student.”

Minority disabilities

The Assembly Human Services Committee Oct. 9 approved legislation co-sponsored by Mosquera to study the impact of disabilities on individuals in minority and underrepresented communities.

“Overall, members of racial and ethnic minorities have less access to job opportunities, education, health care, housing and other vital services, and unfortunately, studies show that those with disabilities face even greater challenges in these areas,” Mosquera said.

Libation licenses

The Senate Law and Public Safety Committee advanced legislation Thursday from Norcross and Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt, D-Camden, to create a cidery and meadery license in New Jersey.

“As the Garden State, New Jersey should be leading the way when it comes to developing products from fruit and honey, not getting left behind by our draconian liquor laws,” Norcross said.

The bill permits the license holder to manufacture a maximum of 25,000 barrels of hard cider and 25,000 barrels of mead and to sell these products to wholesalers and retailers in New Jersey and other states.

“In New Jersey, we’ve done a great deal of legislation to encourage our New Jersey-based wineries and craft breweries, which has created jobs and economic stimulus for our region,” Lampitt said. “This bill builds on that momentum by updating outdated laws.”

Child crime witness

Sen. Jim Beach, D-Camden, Tuesday introduced legislation making an act of domestic violence committed in the presence of a child an aggravating factor for the court to consider in determining the appropriate sentence for a crime. Such factors can result in more jail time.

In New Jersey, a domestic violence incident occurs the equivalent of once every 8 minutes and 6 seconds. There were 65,060 domestic violence offenses reported by New Jersey police in 2012, and children were involved or present for 29 percent of the cases, according to statistics from the New Jersey State Police Crime Reporting Unit.

Reach William Sokolic at (856) 486-2437 or [email protected] or @WilliamSokolic on Twitter

Original article