Over the past few months, ASAN-NJ has worked with other organizations to support the Stephen Komninos Bill, which would significantly improve reporting requirements for caregiver abuse within group homes located in New Jersey.
Much progress has been made since we last posted about the bill.
The bill passed the State Assembly 76-0, a unanimous vote. However, the bill has now faced a significant challenge from the State Senate. The Bill, now officially S516, has been blocked from the agenda for the Senate Health and Human Service Committee by one of its sponsors.
Though the Stephen Komninos Bill is only a first step towards an accountable and ethical group home system in New Jersey, it appears that there is opposition even to reporting requirements, let alone further steps.
There are many ways to ensure the bill makes its way into law, but none of those paths is open unless the state’s leadership knows that it’s important to us.
We strongly urge everyone who can to call and e-mail Sen. Stephen Sweeney to urge him to release the bill to the Health and Human Services Committee. Contact information is:
Senator Stephen M. Sweeney
District Office: 935 Kings Highway, Suite 400, West Deptford, NJ
Ph: (856) 251-9801 E-mail: SenSweeney@njleg.org
Below is a script of what you can say: (If you can’t use the phone, you can ask someone to call on your behalf, or send an e-mail using this template or your own wording).
Hello, my name is _________ and I am a constituent from _______ [city/town], and I vote. I am calling to urge you to release the Stephen Komninos Bill (S516/A2503) to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. This bill requires that caregiver abuse in group homes be reported to parents and to the state promptly, allows actions to be taken against repeat abusers, and requires random inspections of group homes. This is not a controversial bill, and was passed by the State Assembly unanimously, and Senator Sweeney is one of its sponsors. When Senator Sweeney sponsored this bill, he promised to fight not only for this bill, but also for even stronger protections for New Jersey’s disabled community. I urge Senator Sweeney to back up that promise with actions by allowing the bill a committee hearing. Thank you.”