I have throughout my blogs expressed how I develop the legislative initiatives I undertake as an elected official. I typically ask myself three simple questions: (1) Does it benefit my constituents and other New Jersey residents? (2) Will it work? and (3) Can we afford it? These are straight-forward, reasonable tenets that serve as a guidepost for me when proposing any legislation.
Which is why I’m dumbfounded, yes, even a bit angry, over Governor Christie’s recent veto of bipartisan legislation (A3806) I introduced with my friend and Republican colleague, Assemblyman Ron Dancer. This proposal, known more commonly as Lisa's Law, would establish a four-year pilot program in Ocean County which would electronically monitor domestic violence offenders and allow for notification of victims. We call this initiative “Lisa’s Law” to honor the memory of Letizia "Lisa" Zindell of Toms River, a domestic violence victim murdered by her former fiancée. The bill would set aside $2.5 million to fund this legislation.
If there was ever a piece of legislation that we need and one upon which most people could agree, it was this bill. Both the House and the Senate passed it unanimously.
According to the Governor's office, he’s committed to helping victims of domestic violence. Then he slams home the pocket veto, by failing to sign the legislation, thus killing the bill for the second time.
"After an extensive evaluation, the attorney general determined that the requisite technology is significantly limited and that uncertainties about the operation of the program could give victims a false sense of security," the Governor explained in a news report.
"I continue to applaud the sponsors’ attention to both the need to protect victims of domestic violence and the possibilities for using new technologies to create safer communities; however, this avenue is not yet reliable enough to journey down.”
The Governor has it all wrong. This is one of those laws that causes me, other legislators, numerous newspaper editorial boards and the public in general to wonder: How could you veto it, given its goals and low cost?
Cost? The pilot program's cost are based on figures that his administration submitted in its 2014 report on this issue. Over reach? The proposal was revised down from its original statewide reach to be a localized pilot program in one county so that its effect could be studied before expansion statewide. Unreliable technology? We already essentially use the technology the Governor questions for the monitoring of those on permanent parole supervision. This is not some new, “maybe it’ll work technology” but rather a system that’s virtually identical to what we use currently.
While I’ve expressed my astonishment at the governor’s action, I do have a very strong idea of what the next step is. I will reintroduce the bill until it becomes law, and continue the fight to turn more victims of domestic violence into survivors. There is no partisanship in this purpose. Just a fervent and passionate desire to make sure that we all know that love shouldn't physically hurt. That’s my take, what’s yours?
Join me in signing the following petition letting Governor Christie know that signing Lisa's Law needs to be a top priority.
- Every 9 seconds in the U.S., a woman is assaulted or beaten.
- On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men.
- 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been victims of [some form of] physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime.
- 1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men have been victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
- 1 in 7 women and 1 in 18 men have been stalked by an intimate partner during their lifetime to the point in which they felt very fearful or believed that they or someone close to them would be harmed or killed.
- On a typical day, there are more than 20,000 phone calls placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide.
- The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation increases the risk of homicide by 500%.