YUUR Voice in Trenton: June 2014

Save the date for our 2014 Fall Issues Conference!  Udi Ofer, Executive Director of ACLU of New Jersey will be our Keynote Speaker on September 27, 2014.  This year’s conference will be held at Central Unitarian Church in Paramus, NJ.

June has been a very busy legislative month.  Here is a brief look at some of the Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of NJ’s activities:

  •  After first being introduced to the Assembly on January 16, 2014 and to the Senate on January 27 bill A 2006 was passed by both houses on May 22, 2014 by a vote of 44-34.  The bill introduced sought to reduce maximum capacity of ammunition magazines from 15 to 10 rounds. Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee reported favorably March 13, 2014 and was passed by a 46-31-0 vote on March 20, 2014.  It was then referred to the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee where it was reported favorably after a 3-2 vote on May 5, 2014, with amendments.  The amended bill also designated a semi-automatic rifle with a fixed magazine capacity exceeding 10 rounds as a prohibited assault firearm. The amended bill was passed by the Senate on May 12, 2014 by a vote of 22-17.  The 2nd reading was presented to the Assembly on May 15.
  • UULMNJ is also working with New Jersey Together, urging municipalities to only purchase guns from safe and responsible manufacturers and distributers.  For more information contact Diane Finn, task force chair, finnflynn@verizon.net.
  • An important bill for our new Criminal Justice: End the New Jim Crow task force, A1910/S946 was passed by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee on June 5, 2014.  This bill implements a constitutional amendment providing for pretrial detention of certain criminal defendants; establishes non-monetary bail alternatives for release; and authorizes Judiciary to revise fees for certain legal programs and services.  The bill was passed out of the Assembly Judiciary Committee on June 12th. A number of amendments are expected and the bill will be on its way to the Governor’s desk.
  • Senate Bill 2124, better known as “The Opportunity to Compete Act,” passed the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee on June 5, 2014.  As amended “The Opportunity to Compete Act” provides job applicants who have a criminal record with certain protections when they seek employment.  The bill specifically prohibits employers from inquiring about a job applicant’s criminal record during the initial employment application process.  1 in 4 New Jerseyans has a criminal record, many for non-violent crimes.  It is time to “ban the box” and give these citizens an opportunity to compete.
    Both A1910/S946 and S2124 bills have support in both houses and there is a strong possibility that they could be passed through this session.  For more information contact Task Force Chair Al, Stawsky alynways@gmail.com.
  • The time to visit your legislators regarding affordable housing is NOW!  June 5 was lobby day for poverty and affordable housing in Trenton.  Current key issues include the distribution of Sandy Relief Funds to help renters and to deal with vacant homes and homes on the verge of foreclosure.
  • June 12 was Fracking Waste Ban lobby day, with events taking place in Trenton all day. UULMNJ Exec. Dir. Rev. Craig Hirshberg was the opening speaker at the rally on the State House steps.   Contact Assembly Speaker Prieto at 877-844-5384 and urge him to make bill A2108 to ban the transport of fracking waste through NJ a priority before the end of this session.


UULMNJ Welcomes New Administrator and Summer Interns

  • UULMNJ is excited to announce the hiring of a new office administrator.  Laurice Grae, a member of the Montclair congregation, joined the staff June 1.  Laurice brings a great deal of talent and energy to the position.  She can be reached at admin@UULMNJ.org.
  • UU College of Social Justice has coordinated two interns for UULMNJ this summer.  Richelle Perry, from Missouri and Elana Cohen from Washington state will be living with local families and will be working on  task force research, rapid response development, and the development of an educational public access TV series.

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