Task Force Current Priorities: May

Environmental Justice: The prime focus of the Environmental Task force through June, 2014 is the bill to ban the transportation of fracking wastes in New Jersey. The bill (S-252) was voted out of the Senate Environmental Committee by a 4-1 vote and was passed by the full Senate on May 12 by a vote of 32-5. The bill (A-2108) has yet to be heard in the Assembly Environmental Committee. All of the major environmental groups will be sponsoring a Lobby Day on Monday, June 12th when it is possible that the committee will meet. The full Assembly meets on June 15th when a final vote is also possible.

Criminal Justice Reform: Ending the New Jim Crow: The priority of the Task Force at the present time and foreseeably through June 2014 is activity supporting the passage of two current NJ legislative actions.  These are a real and meaningful Bail Reform Bill and an effective Opportunity to Compete Act.  Both of these are expected to make some measurable improvement in the NJ criminal justice system and its effects.

Economic Justice: Economic Justice continues to monitor the disbursement of Sandy Relief funding and support the Sandy Bill of Rights, with letters to our State Representatives and local newspapers. We will make comments on the new COAH Rules by the deadline of July 2nd. We will advocate for the preservation of the Realty Transfer Tax, which helps to fund affordable housing. At the Federal level, we will consider how best to support a proposed Constitutional Amendment to counteract the Supreme Court’s “Citizens United” decision.

Immigration:The Immigration Task Force priorities over the next several months extend into the fall.  At the state level, we are participating in a coalition’s determination to push legislation that would allow undocumented persons the legal ability to drive, either through drivers licenses or a driving privilege card.  We support other efforts as they arise — especially access to state aid for undocumented students and improved legal options to pursue wage theft.  At the national level, we are re-strengthening efforts to get the House of Representatives to pass some form of comprehensive immigration reform.

Gun Violence Prevention:The gun violence task force’s top priority at this time is working with New Jersey Together to get New Jersey municipalities to use their buying power to get gun manufacturers to stop selling to rogue dealers and invest in smart gun technology.  We are also conducting public education, primarily by showing the documentary Shell-Shocked, and supporting legislation that would limit the size of magazines to 10 rounds.

Reproductive Justice: The Reproductive Justice and Healthcare Task Force is focused on gathering continued support of buffer zones and clinic escorts, as well as planning congregation trainings in reproductive justice. We are also actively seeking support for exploration into New Jersey’s healthcare system and access to health services.

Join Us for Upcoming Coalition Lobbying Days:

June 5: Affordable Housing, 9-4, State House
            contact Lorraine Wearley or Rev. Craig Hirshberg for more information

June 12: Environment and Fracking 9-4 State House
            contact Rohn Hein or Rev. Craig Hirshberg for more information

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