OCEAN TOWNSHIP - Aiming to prevent non-law enforcement officials from using police-style badges to garner favor, evade tickets, or avoid fines, legislation that would prevent state and local officials from obtaining such badges that was sponsored by Senator Vin Gopal (D-Long Branch) and Assembly Members Eric Houghtaling (D-Neptune) and Joann Downey (D-Freehold) was signed into law Friday by Governor Phil Murphy.
The legislation was inspired by a 2018 incident in which the former Port Authority Commissioner verbally attacked two Tenafly Police Officers during a routine traffic stop and attempted to leverage her authority for personal gain by utilizing her badge.Read more
OCEAN TOWNSHIP - Last year, a new law extended New Jersey’s sales and occupancy tax to short-term rentals. A measure rolling that tax back for private homeowners who use classified ads and other traditional platforms to find renters - and especially those on the Jersey Shore - was signed into law this Friday. The measure was sponsored by Senator Vin Gopal (D-Long Branch) and Assembly Members Eric Houghtaling (D-Neptune) and Joann Downey (D-Freehold)
Last year’s tax, which established an 11.625 percent levy in most towns for short-term rentals lasting fewer than 90 days, was intended solely for transactions brokered by online property rental site AirBnB, rather than traditional week-long summer rentals. However, while the law specifically exempted rentals booked through licensed real estate brokers, it failed to exempt homeowners who rent out their property through informal means such as Craigslist, Facebook, or word-of-mouth.Read more
OCEAN TOWNSHIP - This Monday, Acting Governor Sheila Oliver signed legislation sponsored by Senator Vin Gopal and Assembly Members Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey that would expand the veterans’ property tax exemption program to include veterans living in continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs). Tinton Falls Borough President and retired Air Force veteran Gary Baldwin lauded the move, calling it a major step forward for veterans Across New Jersey.
“This tax relief program is one of the many ways in which we show our appreciation for the men and women who have fought and sacrificed for our nation,” said Gopal (D-Long Branch), who chairs the Senate Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “Our soldiers fight for fairness, equality, and justice. It’s only right that we treat them with those same ideals when they return home.”Read more
OCEAN TOWNSHIP - Today, Senator Vin Gopal and Assembly Members Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey announced that Monmouth County school districts in New Jersey’s 11th Legislative District will receive nearly $10 million in extraordinary special education aid following the victory of their #EveryKidCounts campaign this summer.
This additional state funding will go toward the high costs of extraordinary special education in Monmouth County schools, reducing the burden on local property taxpayers. The three 11th District legislators credited the win to the hundreds of Monmouth County residents who supported and signed the #EveryKidCounts petition, raising awareness of the issue and fighting to include an additional $55 million for extraordinary special education aid in the State budget - ten times the increase originally proposed.Read more
EATONTOWN - Senator Vin Gopal will join Assembly Members Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey to host a Community Health Fair to provide residents with information and resources on housing assistance, food bank access, addiction resources, disability resources, blood pressure screenings, and more.
The health fair is free to the public, and will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, August 10 in the Eatontown Community Center, located at 72 Broad Street in Eatontown. Anyone interested in attending is asked to RSVP by calling the 11th Legislative District office at (732) 695-3371.Read more
OCEAN TOWNSHIP - Senator Vin Gopal released the following statement in response to an announcement that the New Jersey Supreme Court had concluded the recall to temporary judicial service of Superior Court Judge James Troiano and entered an order to file a complaint for removal from office for Judge John Russo:
“Chief Justice Rabner made the right call in taking clear and positive action toward the removal of Judge Russo for his unacceptable comments toward a survivor of sexual assault,” said Gopal (D-Long Branch).Read more
OCEAN TOWNSHIP - More than one in 10 New Jersey households don’t have reliable access to food, leaving thousands of children hungry every day. To combat this, Senator Vin Gopal is joining Assembly Members Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey to host a Food Drive benefiting the Backpack Crew, a program providing healthy meals and snacks to students in the greater Red Bank area.
Donors are invited to bring non-perishable food items to the 11th Legislative District office at 802 West Park Avenue, Suite 221 in Ocean Township during normal business hours from July 15 until August 31. Suggested donations include granola bars, mac and cheese, soup, fun-sized cereal boxes, small plastic jars of peanut butter, crackers, spaghetti and sauce (no glass jars), instant oatmeal packets, and small cans of fruit.Read more
OCEAN TOWNSHIP - Though organizations and agencies throughout New Jersey offer programs helping veterans deal with healthcare access, housing costs, or finding a career, many veterans don’t know how to apply for them - or even that these programs exist.
That’s why Senator Vin Gopal, Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling and Assemblywoman Joann Downey are teaming up with the Monmouth University School of Social Work to host their second annual “Coming Home Project,” a veterans’ claims clinic that will empower Monmouth County veterans learn about the benefits and services available to them and obtain guidance in applying.
“Our veterans make tremendous sacrifices in service to their country, showing outstanding courage and loyalty in the face of extraordinary danger and life-threatening situations,” said Gopal (D-Long Branch), who chairs the state Senate Military and Veterans Affairs Committee. “When they return home, though, too many veterans fall through the cracks and find themselves facing mental illness, unaffordable bills, or other challenges completely alone. The Coming Home Project is here to tell them that they’re not alone, and to help them get right back on their feet.”Read more
OCEAN TOWNSHIP - Senator Vin Gopal (D-Long Branch) released the following statement in response to a report by the Asbury Park Press that Judge John F. Russo “knows it was wrong for him to ask an alleged rape victim if she kept her legs closed” but “wishes to return to hearing cases”:
"I'm glad to see Judge Russo admit his wrongdoing in this case, but we cannot let his or any similar case slide. We need to root out this dangerous and harmful bias from our judicial system in order to truly support survivors in their path towards justice and recovery. Survivors need to be confident that our judicial system will hear them.Read more
OCEAN TOWNSHIP, NJ - In response to vile comments made by Judge Troiano in a case involving the alleged rape of an underage girl, including remarks that there was “distinction” between “a sexual assault and a rape”; that the alleged crime did not resemble “the traditional case of rape”; and that the accused perpetrator should not be overly penalized because “this young man comes from a good family,” and “he is clearly a candidate for not just college, but probably for a good college,” Monmouth County Senator Vin Gopal issued the following statement:
“The comments made by Judge Troiano are despicable and beyond the pale. They have no place in our courts. Commentary and thinking like Judge Troiano’s cause further pain and suffering for survivors and put the legitimacy and fairness of our judicial system into question.Read more
OCEAN TOWNSHIP - Senator Vin Gopal released the following statement lauding the signing of the “Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act” this Tuesday in Freehold:
“I’m so glad to see this vital legislation finally signed into law. As a co-sponsor of this session’s original legislation expanding access to medical marijuana, I know how much this new law means to sick patients and anyone living with chronic pain across New Jersey. I’m deeply grateful to the Honig family and my colleague Assemblywoman Joann Downey for their devoted efforts to push this law through - your leadership and dedication will make a true difference for children and other patients throughout our state."Read more
TRENTON - Acting to improve health care access for New Jersey residents, Governor Phil Murphy last week signed legislation sponsored by Senator Vin Gopal establishing a State-Based Health Exchange in New Jersey. Under this law, New Jersey will have greater control over its health insurance market and the ability to establish stronger protections against the Trump Administration’s sabotage of the Affordable Care Act.
"This new law is an important step forward in making sure that families can access more affordable health coverage," said Gopal (D-Long Branch). "Right now, the federal government has done serious damage to the national exchanges, cutting enrollment periods, and slashing funding for critical outreach and advertising. By creating new health insurance exchanges based right here in New Jersey, we can keep our local health insurance market stable, protect residents from disruption to their health or insurance, and make sure that we can keep premiums low and coverage high."Read more
OCEAN TOWNSHIP - Senator Vin Gopal, Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling, and Assemblywoman Joann Downey announced the securing of an additional $55 million in extraordinary special education funding on Sunday following Governor Murphy’s signing of the state budget.Read more