Freshman Senator Vin Gopal has been appointed to serve as Chairman of the Senate Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
“I am honored to take on this new and important role as Chair of the Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee,” said Senator Gopal.
“As a State Senator, I have striven to support veterans both in my district and throughout the state. I look forward to continuing my support of the service members in New Jersey who have fought for our state and our country. These men and women deserve the utmost care from our communities and I plan on facilitating that as best I can.”Read more
In an effort to support New Jersey’s long-term care facilities and the patients they serve, Senator Vin Gopal has introduced a bill providing corporation business tax credits for these businesses.
The bill (S3319) allows long-term care facilities licensed by the State to claim a credit against the corporate business tax if it pays for the training and certification of an individual to become a certified nurse aide.
“New Jersey’s long-term care facilities provide vital care for some of our most vulnerable residents,” said Senator Vin Gopal.Read more
As personal drones continue to grow in popularity, Senator Vin Gopal is working to ensure the privacy and safety of his constituents.
On Monday, December 17, Senator Gopal introduced his bill (S3318) to amend current law to clarify that the crimes of invasion of privacy and trespassing include the use of drones.
“After speaking to a number of concerned constituents, I became extremely concerned about the privacy and safety of New Jersey residents,” said Senator Vin Gopal.
“Residents can easily purchase and outfit a drone with recording equipment. The accessibility of this equipment causes concern. While I am confident that the average drone user is not utilizing this equipment to violate anyone’s privacy, it is important that we protect our residents against the small minority who may feel tempted to misuse their drone.”
Senator Vin Gopal is working to increase awareness for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and protect New Jersey residents living with this pervasive condition.
On Monday, December 17, Senator Vin Gopal introduced a bill (S3300) establishing a Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Police Awareness Program that allows licensed drivers to self-identify as having been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
“Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a severe mental illness that affects more and more New Jerseyans each year,” said Senator Vin Gopal.
“Symptoms of PTSD can, at times, present in ways that law enforcement officials may interpret as aggressive. This system allows law enforcement officials to understand the unique needs of individuals with PTSD and respond accordingly. By removing any unnecessary fear from an interaction between an individual with PTSD and a police officer, we can keep both our civilians and our law enforcement officials safe.”Read more
Senator Vin Gopal is urging all eligible donors to donate blood to the American Red Cross.
The American Red Cross is facing a dangerous national blood shortage and is in urgent need of blood and platelet donors to avoid delays in administering life-saving medical care to patients. Donors who schedule an appointment with the American Red Cross now through December 19 will receive a $5 Amazon Gift Card.
“If you are an eligible donor, please seek out the nearest American Red Cross and make a donation today,” said Senator Vin Gopal.
“I urge everyone here in Monmouth County, and throughout the state, to answer this dire call to action. Your donation could be the difference between life and death for a patient battling an illness or injury. It is imperative that we ensure the American Red Cross has fully stocked stores of blood so that patients across the country can receive the treatments and surgeries they need. This holiday season, give the gift of life. Donate today.”Read more
The latest internet trend is pushing children to perform violent challenges, resulting in panic, injury and, in some instances, death.
The trend, known as the “Momo Challenge,” instructs social media users to contact one of the many "Momo" accounts over Facebook, WhatsApp or other networks. The users are then challenged to accept violent instructions or be killed. The "Momo" accounts are said to urge people to perform self-harming acts, such as swallowing poison, or suicide through threats and violent imagery, according to recent reports.
“This deeply disturbing online challenge has already claimed the lives of several young people around the world,” said Senator Vin Gopal.Read more
In an effort to support both New Jersey’s deserving workers and mom and pop small-business owners, Senator Vin Gopal will introduce legislation to raise the minimum wage to $12 over three years followed by a state study to determine its impact on small business owners.
The bill would set an initial minimum wage increase to $10.10 as of 2019. The bill would then increase the minimum wage as much as $1.25 in both 2020 and 2021, culminating in a $12 minimum wage.
The bill also provides for a number of exemptions designed to support local and seasonal businesses and requires annual economic studies to be conducted to evaluate the impact of the minimum wage increase over a five year period.
“Nearly 10 percent of New Jersey residents live in poverty, and many New Jersey workers rely on one or more minimum wage jobs to support themselves and their families,” said Senator Vin Gopal.
“New Jersey’s workers deserve a reasonable wage. Transitioning to a $12 minimum wage is a strong start. Should we see the economy improving after reaching a $12 minimum wage, we will then have ample evidence to support increasing the minimum wage further. Gradual, measured steps are key to implementing this shift successfully.
“However, we must also consider the constraints on small and seasonal businesses who often rely on minimum wage workers. Our local mom and pop shops will not be able to afford the short-term $15 minimum wage that some of my colleagues are pushing for. While I certainly support New Jersey’s workers, as a small business owner myself I understand the demands and limitations of running a small business. That is why I have fought for exemptions that will allow workers to earn a better wage without putting small businesses out of business, which would ultimately provide a blow to our economy and contribute to the unemployment rate.”Read more
Legislation authored by Senator Vin Gopal and Senator Paul Sarlo that would provide critically-needed support for racetracks and the horse breeding industry in New Jersey was approved by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.
The bill, S-2992, would provide an annual appropriation of $20 million for five years to the New Jersey Racing Commission to be used for horse racing purse subsidies and track operations, allocating the amounts equally between the thoroughbred and the standardbred industries. In addition, the revenue from sports betting at the tracks will be shared with the breeders and owners.
“This will be a huge help for the horse racing industry that is an important part of New Jersey’s heritage and culture and a key source of jobs and economic activity,” said Senator Gopal (D-Monmouth). “There are tens of thousands of jobs impacted directly or indirectly by the racing industry, including the long-term survival of Monmouth Racetrack.”
The industry supports 13,000 jobs directly and preserves 176,000 acres of open land in the state.
Senator Vin Gopal blasted 101.5 radio host Judi Franco over callous remarks made about a fallen police officer and legislation relating to the cause of his passing.
Franco’s opinion piece, entitled “NJ’s Move-Over Law: Dead Cops Make Bad Laws,” inaccurately portrayed New Jersey’s “Move-Over Law” as a kneejerk response to the passing of Trooper Marc Castellano, who was struck by a passing vehicle while at a traffic stop. The original Move-Over Law was signed by Governor Christie 18 months before the incident and passing of Trooper Castellano.
Senator Gopal blasted Franco’s remarks: “The lack of common sense and common decency displayed by New Jersey 101.5 host Judi Franco has surpassed even my lowest of expectations. To use the loss of a brave State Police Officer as click bait in order to prove her misguided opinions trivializes the tragic death of Marc Castellano. ‘A dead cop is sad,’ is how she trivializes this law - this is disgraceful and disgusting. 101.5 owes all of law enforcement an apology. If this bi-partisan bill saves the life of one law enforcement professional, it is well worth it.”
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
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 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