Troy Talk

You Have Only Three Days to Protect Your Health and Your Family’s

tt48.jpgThis is serious business. There appear to be 216,000-plus New Jersey residents who have enrolled in the Affordable Care Act, but about 500,000 who have not. (Some estimates place the number at 900,000 New Jersey residents who are eligible and uninsured.)

The deadline for 2015 enrollment is Feb. 15, a short three days before the deadline. You can sign up NOW by visiting www.HealthCare.gov.

Please enroll. It is your right under the law. If there has ever been a reason for participatory democracy, I can hardly think of a better one than participating in the Affordable Care Act.

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Black History Month: The Color of Everyone

tt47.jpgThis month is Black History Month. Throughout this period, we will be exposed to the dreams, struggles and achievements of African Americans, often highlighted by their quest for truth and justice. (We should note that Canada and the United Kingdom also have a Black History Month.) However, Black History Month is much more than a historical reflection for African Americans. It is a reminder that it is history for all of us. While I’m certainly proud of the individual achievements of my ancestors, as a legislator who represents people of every color, creed and ethnicity, this month points to an even greater reason to celebrate.

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When’s the Last Time You Mentored Someone?

Jantt46.jpguary is National Mentoring Month. This is an ideal time to think about the impact that each of us can have on one another by giving our time to offer guidance and counsel. Too often, we shy away from the chance to do this simple act of positive encouragement. When I was young, my parents had a picture of a man reaching back over a wall pulling someone else up to achieve the same goal he had done. This picture embodied this ideal perfectly. It's not enough for one to "make it" themselves. It is our responsibility to bring someone else to the same achievement.

Research shows that young people who interact with mentors on a consistent basis are less likely to abuse drugs and engage in violent behavior, and more likely to graduate from high school and continue their education through college. Furthermore, a mentor's position as a positive role model can inspire children to strive for success, and instill a sense of confidence that will allow them to achieve their full potential in school, their communities, and in their future careers.

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Safeguarding Our Child: The Evolution of Megan's Law

Itt45.jpgn New Jersey, we adhere to Megan’s Law. It is named after Megan Kanka, a 7-year-old New Jersey girl who, in 1996, was raped and murdered by a neighbor, a convicted sex offender. Megan’s law is the informal name that some states use for laws requiring sex offenders to register with authorities. It is a good law, one that I support and that I believe may have deterred possible attacks by repeat sexual predators. However, I believe we can strengthen its provisions.

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Martin Luther King: A Peek Into the Promised Land

tt44.jpgAs we celebrate Martin Luther King Day on Monday, Jan. 19, I can’t help but think about the tumultuous times we seem to find ourselves in lately. We could certainly use his steady hand, implacable courage and profound faith to lead us in meeting these new challenges. They seem to be everywhere, whether it’s an issue of race relations, continued economic inequality or terrorism emanating from some misguided interpretation of religion.

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Civics Class: Is This the Time for a Resurrection?

tt43.jpgSometimes a simple test of basic knowledge gives a person insight into whether they know something that most of us would consider obvious or fundamental. If you have a high school student (or older) at home, ask your child if they know who is the vice president of the United States. Then ask them to name at least ONE of the two U.S. senators from New Jersey. Finally, ask them who their state representative is. If they answered all correctly, fabulous. One or two correct answers is a positive sign … but if your child failed completely, well then, a civics lesson just might be in order. Indeed, as a parent, you might consider taking the same test. I won't ask how you did though.

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