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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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Sen. Gopal Applauds Suspension of Brewery Restrictions

In response to The Attorney General’s announcement that it will suspend enforcement of the “Special Ruling” issued on September 21 regarding limited brewery licenses, Senator Vin Gopal issued the following statement:

“I am extremely pleased to see the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office is not moving forward with the restrictions placed by the ABC on breweries,” said Senator Vin Gopal.

“Our local breweries play a key role in our economy, employing numerous hardworking residents and bolstering our tourism industry. Our focus needs to remain on supporting small businesses like local breweries, not stifling them with unnecessary and inane regulations. I was proud to speak out on behalf of the local business owners within my district when these restrictions were first announced, and I look forward to continuing to work with these business owners to ensure these facilities thrive here in Monmouth County.”

These regulations included a limit of 25 “special events,” such as paint and sip nights, trivia nights, live televised sporting events and live music nights; a limit of 12 special permits a year to sell products off the brewery premises such as festivals, athletic events, and other civic events; a limit of 52 private parties (birthdays, weddings, anniversaries) a year; and a requirement to electronically notify the ABC 10 days prior to holding the event.


Sen. Gopal Offers Reward for Arrest, Prosecution of Jewish Cemetery Vandals

Senator Vin Gopal has offered a $1,500 reward, funded through the Vin Gopal Civic Association, for any information that leads to the successful arrest and prosecution of the vandals who desecrated a Jewish cemetery in Freehold.

Four headstones, including one of a World War II veteran, were found toppled the morning of Aug. 26 at the Congregation Agudath Achim Cemetery.

While the incident has not yet been labeled as a hate crime by authorities, several instances of vandalism and hate have occurred throughout Monmouth and Ocean counties. In August, Klu Klux Klan flyers were distributed in Red Bank.

In Lakewood, a synagogue on Route 9 has been vandalized twice. A cloth banner with an anti-Semitic slur was hung up in July 2017 and a black "666" was spray painted on a stone Holocaust memorial in March.


Senator Gopal will join the Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America in offering a reward for the arrest and prosecution of the guilty parties.


Sen. Gopal Supports Gov. Murphy's Economic Plan

 

In response to Governor Phil Murphy’s plan to build a stronger and fairer state economy, Senator Vin Gopal issued the following statement:

“I commend Governor Murphy on taking positive and innovative steps towards moving New Jersey’s economy forward,” said Senator Vin Gopal.

“While I plan to dig deeper into his proposals, I strongly support his sentiment in getting New Jersey’s economy back on track after eight years of stagnant economic policy. I am extremely pleased to see education and workforce development at the center of the Governor’s plan.”

“As State leaders, supporting the economy must be among our top priorities. I look forward to working with the Governor to execute a plan that is in the best interest of New Jersey residents.”

 


Sen. Gopal Calls for Continued Women's Health Funding to Combat Spike in STD Rates

Sexually transmitted diseases, specifically chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis, are on the rise in New Jersey, prompting renewed emphasis on the importance of fully funded women’s health care centers.

According to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cases of gonorrhea increased 15.6% from 2016 to 2017, with a 34.6% increase from 2013 to 2017 while cases of syphilis increased 15.2% from 2016 to 2017 and 92.8% from 2013 to 2017. Cases of chlamydia rose 2% from 2016 to 2017, with a 24.4% jump from 2013 to 2017.

“These statistics are absolutely staggering,” said Senator Vin Gopal. “With the frequency of STDs increasing at such an astronomical rate here in New Jersey, where funding for family planning services was gutted in the previous administration, it is critical that we continue our efforts to support vital healthcare facilities.”

Senator Vin Gopal was instrumental in working with the Murphy Administration to restore $7.5 million in funding to Planned Parenthood that was previously slashed by the Christie Administration.

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