Senator Gopal Works to Protect New Jersey’s Non-Profits
Senator Vin Gopal introduced Monday a bill to strengthen prosecutions against individuals who steal from non-profit organizations.
The bill (S3224) establishes a presumption against admission into a pretrial intervention program for persons who commit theft against nonprofit organizations.
“Crimes committed against community-minded non-profit organizations are particularly egregious,” said Senator Vin Gopal. “Our local non-profit organizations exist solely to serve the residents of our great state and uplift some of our most vulnerable populations. When an individual steals from a non-profit, they are actually stealing from those who need the support and resources provided by these organizations the most. We cannot allow these despicable crimes to go unchecked. Individuals who steal from these vital organizations must be convicted to the fullest extent of the law in order to ensure justice has been served and deter others from committing these deplorable crimes.”Read more
Senator Gopal Looks to Reduce Property Taxes Through Municipal Consolidation
In an effort to address New Jersey’s extreme property tax rates, Senator Vin Gopal has introduced a bill requiring the consolidation of some of New Jersey’s smallest municipalities.
The bill (S3226) would require the consolidation of municipalities with populations of less than 1,000 persons into more highly populated municipalities.
“New Jersey’s property tax rates are absolutely out of control, placing an undue burden on our hardworking homeowners,” said Senator Vin Gopal. “Drastic steps must now be taken to ameliorate this major issue. While I don’t expect this bill to be the sole solution to our property tax and municipal spending problems, I am confident that this is a step in the right direction. If we don’t take drastic measures soon, New Jersey will continue to lose residents to less expensive states. We can do this through attrition and a human way so we fix the system long-term but not allow public employees to lose their jobs.”Read more
Governor Signs Gopal Bill to Include Monmouth & Atlantic Counties in ‘Common Sense Shared Services Pilot Program Act’
A bill sponsored by Senator Vin Gopal that would include Monmouth and Atlantic counties in the state pilot program that makes it easier for municipalities in participating counties to enter into shared services agreements was signed into law by Governor Phil Murphy. The bill would make Monmouth and Atlantic counties the sixth and seventh counties in the program.
“While many towns and cities across the state have taken steps to cut costs through shared services, the Legislature provided additional tools under a pilot program enacted several years ago that included five counties,” said Senator Gopal (D-Monmouth). “Making Monmouth and Atlantic counties part of this program will ease the process for towns and cities that want to share services where it makes sense and reduce taxpayer costs making the counties more affordable for residents.”
The law would add Monmouth and Atlantic counties to the list of counties permitted to operate under the pilot program. The bill authorizes the sharing of services for a municipal clerk, a chief financial officer, an assessor, a tax collector, a municipal treasurer or a municipal superintendent of public works without regard to the strictures of tenure rights that persons who hold those positions may have.
In 2013, New Jersey implemented the “Common Sense Shared Services Pilot Program Act” with the purpose of removing impediments to the sharing of services in order to provide more efficient, and less costly local government services. Atlantic and Monmouth will now join Camden, Morris, Ocean, Sussex and Warren Counties as “pilot counties” under the law.
Senator Gopal Tours Local Manufacturing Facility
Senator Vin Gopal, Chair of the Bipartisan Legislative Manufacturing Caucus, joined his fellow caucus members Tuesday for a bi-partisan tour of Commercial Metals Company.
The Senator was joined by his fellow caucus members Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling (D-Monmouth) and Assemblyman Joseph Howarth (R-Burlington) at the Sayreville mill, which is the only steel mill still operating in the state.
“The Commercial Metals Company steel mill is the last of its kind here in New Jersey,” said Senator Vin Gopal. “These specialized workers rely on this mill for employment, and it is imperative that we work with the staff to ensure its continued success."Read more
Gopal, Houghtaling and Downey Congratulate Long Branch Superintendent Salvatore
Senator Vin Gopal and Assembly Members Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey join the community in congratulating Dr. Michael Salvatore, Superintendent of the Long Branch School District, on earning the title of as the Region II Superintendent of the Year.
“We would like to offer our sincere congratulations to Dr. Michael Salvatore on this well-earned recognition and thank him for all he has done for the Long Branch School District,” said Senator Vin Gopal.
“We are extremely proud to have an educator like Dr. Salvatore leading the staff and students in Long Branch. Congratulations on this wonderful achievement,” said Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling.
“Dr. Salvatore’s commitment to his district and his students is extremely noble. We are proud to see his efforts have been recognized,” said Assemblywoman Joann Downey.
Dr. Salvatore is one of three regional winners for the award from the New Jersey Association of School Administrators that recognizes outstanding leadership in education.
Dr. Salvatore was honored specifically for his work with personalized learning for students and putting a focus on transformational education.
Senators Gopal and Oroho Emphasize Importance of Bipartisanship
Senator Vin Gopal and Senator Steven Oroho put party lines aside to meet with students at Rutgers University’s Eagleton Institute of Politics on October 23, where they discussed the importance of bipartisanship.
The Senators were the featured speakers at Rutgers’ Talking Politics, a new seminar being piloted this fall that emphasizes the premise that citizens must be able to communicate in honest and civil political discussions in order for democracy to work.
The Senators discussed the importance of building relationships across the political aisle and working with colleagues in both parties to pass legislation as well as the need for civil political discourse.Read more
Pintor Marin, Gopal, Houghtaling and Downey Celebrate Portuguese Culture
Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin, Senator Vin Gopal, Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling and Assemblywoman Joann Downey introduced legislation designating March 15 of each year as “Peter Francisco Day” in New Jersey.
The proposed holiday recognizes Peter Francisco’s many acts of bravery and contributions during the Revolutionary War.
“Peter Francisco is an iconic figure within the Portuguese-American community and is entirely deserving of a holiday recognizing all of the contributions he has made to our country. We are so extremely proud to represent all cultures and ethnicities here in New Jersey and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to celebrate Portuguese-American residents,” said Assemblywoman Pintor Marin.
“We have a large community of Portuguese-Americans in my district who proudly celebrate their rich culture. Peter Francisco is a great source of pride in this community and should be for individuals of all cultural and ethnic backgrounds. His contributions to this country are well deserving of recognition and we are honored to be champions of this holiday,” said Senator Gopal.Read more
Senator Gopal Supports Local Breweries With New Bill
Senator Vin Gopal, an avid supporter of New Jersey’s small business community, has introduced a bill amending current law governing local breweries.
“As a small business owner, I understand first-hand how important it is that we support our local business community. From hosting Small Business Roundtable Discussions with local business owners to introducing legislation designed to support the business community, I have dedicated my efforts to supporting our mom and pop shops which play such an integral role to our local economy,” said Senator Vin Gopal.Read more
Senate Approves Gopal, Van Drew Bill for the EDA to Provide Financial Assistance to Wineries and Vineyards
Legislation sponsored by Senator Vin Gopal and Senator Jeff Van Drew that would provide financial assistance to wineries and vineyards in New Jersey was approved by the full Senate Monday, concurring with Governor Phil Murphy’s Conditional Veto.
The bill, S-1057 requires the Economic Development Authority (EDA), in consultation with the Department of Agriculture, to establish a loan program for certain vineyard and winery capital expenses. Its purpose is to increase the size and output of both wineries and vineyards.
“The wine industry in New Jersey has the opportunity to become well-known around the country,” said Senator Gopal (D-Monmouth).
“Not only will this help to spur economic development in these counties, it will also allow us to increase tourism to the Jersey Shore as well. The Jersey Shore is arguably one of New Jersey’s most striking features, and tourists will want to come to our state to enjoy both.”Read more
Senate Passes Gopal, Singleton Bill to Include Monmouth & Atlantic in ‘Common Sense Shared Services Pilot Program Act’
A bill sponsored by Senator Vin Gopal and Senator Troy Singleton that would include Monmouth and Atlantic counties in the state pilot program that makes it easier for municipalities in participating counties to enter into shared services agreements was passed by the full Senate Monday. The bill would make Monmouth and Atlantic counties the sixth and seventh counties in the program.
“While many towns and cities across the state have taken steps to cut costs through shared services, the Legislature provided additional tools under a pilot program enacted several years ago that included five counties,” said Senator Gopal (D-Monmouth). “Making Monmouth and Atlantic counties part of this program will ease the process for towns and cities that want to share professionals where it makes sense, and reduce taxpayer costs.”
The bill, S-1586, would add Monmouth and Atlantic counties to the list of counties permitted to operate under the pilot program. The bill authorizes the sharing of services for a municipal clerk, a chief financial officer, an assessor, a tax collector, a municipal treasurer or a municipal superintendent of public works without regard to the strictures of tenure rights that persons who hold those positions may have.Read more
School Bus Safety Package Clears Senate
A series of school bus safety bills sponsored by Senate Transportation Committee Chair Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr. and Senator Joseph Lagana as well as Senator Vin Gopal, Senator Linda Greenstein, Senator James Holzapfel and Senator Kristen Corrado cleared the Senate Monday.
The package aims to improve bus safety and accident response, make bus drivers and companies more accountable and require every student to carry an identification card at school-sponsored, off-campus activities.
“All members of the public have a vested interest in making sure school bus drivers are driving safely and paying close attention to their surroundings,” said Senator Gopal (D-Monmouth). “Placing a contact number on the back of the bus will help hold bus drivers accountable for reckless driving, giving the public the ability to easily report if they see something concerning.”Read more
Sen. Gopal Introduces "Marissa's Law"
Senator Vin Gopal introduced “Marissa’s Law” Monday, Oct. 15 in an effort to make New Jersey’s roads safer and hold negligent drivers accountable.
The bill (S3127) provides for a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment for leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death or serious bodily injury, except if the operator reports the accident. The bill also increases the mandatory minimum term for reckless vehicular homicide.
“When a driver leaves the scene of an accident, that act of extreme negligence is not only irresponsible but it could be the difference between life and death for the other individual or individuals involved in the crash,” said Senator Vin Gopal. “The tragic loss of Marissa Procopio shows just how severe the consequences are when a driver leaves the scene of an accident. We have an obligation to prevent these types of tragedies from occurring in the future. No one should have to receive that call.”Read more
Gopal, Houghtaling and Downey Respond to NJ Familycare Audit
In response to an audit revealing the New Jersey Department of Human Services lost millions over a three year period due to the mismanagement of NJ FamilyCare accounts, Senator Vin Gopal and Assembly Members Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey issued the following statements:
“It is utterly unacceptable that the state’s NJ FamilyCare accounts were grossly mismanaged throughout the Christie Administration,” said Senator Vin Gopal. “Due to poor oversight, the State paid out $177.5 million in false claims, in addition to $720,000 in payments and fee-for-service claims for individuals who were deceased. New Jersey cannot afford these costly mistakes.”
“I sincerely hope the Department of Human Services takes swift action to correct these egregious errors and fulfill the responsibilities of the NJ FamilyCare program,” said Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling. “We are confident the Murphy Administration will see the severity of this issue and work quickly to get the DHS and NJ FamilyCare program back on course.”
“There are far too many hardworking New Jerseyans who rightfully deserve these funds to carelessly fulfill fraudulent claims,” said Assemblywoman Joann Downey, Chair of the Human Services Committee. “The extreme lack of care in the management of this program during the Christie Administration is appalling and has led to the waste of valuable resources. Our residents deserve better and we look forward to working with Governor Murphy to right the ship.”Read more