Legislative Process in New Jersey
The legislative process in New Jersey consists of eleven steps that start with the development of a new idea and end up with the initial idea becoming law. This process implies the involvement of multiple legislative bodies to make sure that the bill is suitable for the jurisdiction where it is passed as well as that it is well-received by the public. Importantly, the Assembly and the Senate should approve the bill, which means that complications associated with disagreements are inevitable. 41 votes in the Assembly and 21 in the Senate are needed to pass a bill. When either households sessions on reviewing the proposed legislation, members usually debate some points of the bill to amend them; however, such amendments should also be approved by another house to reach reconciliation. This means that there may be two different versions of the same bill with amendments made in each house, which subsequently leads to further deliberations to have a mutual consensus in the end. On the other hand, when there are identical bills being passed through both houses, one bill may be substituted for another in the Senate or the Assembly to facilitate the quicker approval of the legislation. After a bill passes in both houses, it then goes to the governor’s desk where it is signed, vetoed (conditionally or absolutely), or sent back to the Legislature for making further amendments. It is important to mention that the two-thirds majority in the Senate (27 votes) and the Assembly (54 votes) can override the governor’s veto.
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The rationale for the Legislation
The legislation chosen for this assignment is the Act concerning child abuse amending P.L.1971, c. 437 enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey. The bill will be evaluated because of its significance in characterizing child abuse as a range of activities such as sexual assault, neglect, exploitation, physical abuse, willful isolation, all of which are serious crimes that ought to be reported. The Act requires all citizens who witnessed a case of child abuse or had some reasons to believe that it took place to “report the same immediately to the Division of Youth and Family Services by telephone or otherwise” (“Act concerning child abuse amending P.L.1971, c.437,” 2018, p. 2).
Impact on the Public
The legislation’s impact is expected to be large because it is targeted at raising awareness of the pervasive issue of child abuse and encouraging the public to stay active and not to disregard any signs of minors being subjected to aggression and mistreatment. If to look at the bill from a broader perspective, it should eliminate or at least reduce the adverse impact of the bystander effect, which causes people to avoid helping a victim. Because ambiguity and the unclear distribution of responsibility are likely contributors to citizens’ lack of action, the legislation on child abuse laid out the most important points regarding this problem and appealed to the public about the need for avoiding being passive since inaction also has severe consequences.
Benefits and Limitations of the Legislation
The benefits of the legislation exceed its limitations if to give a critical analysis of it. A clear explanation of what citizens should do in cases when they have witnessed child abuse is a benefit of the bill because such information should be accessible to the general public to avoid any confusion. Also, the bill is beneficial because it also mentioned that a failure to report actions of child sexual abuse would result in an individual being found guilty of a crime in the fourth degree, which is a significant point to consider for citizens who have doubts on whether they should report child abuse to the authorities. Lastly, the bill emphasizes the fact that citizens should have reasonable cause to believe that a child has been abused or mistreated to report the offense. On the other hand, the Act was not specific enough in laying out what should be the characteristics of reasonable cause and whether citizens should take immediate action to intervene with the child abuse or neglect before notifying the authorities. This means that further amendments are in order for making sure that all possible points associated with the issue of child abuse are laid out in a comprehensive manner so that the public of New Jersey has all the information necessary.
When it comes to the financial impact statement, the bill included some mentions of the fines that may be imposed as penalties for offense apart from imprisonment. For citizens who were found guilty of a disorderly offense can pay a fine between $1,000 to $15,000 depending on the degree of punishable crime that they have committed. Overall, the bill’s monetary consequences are expected to be vast. Raising awareness of the public about the problem of child abuse and the subsequent reporting and prevention of cases can decrease the spending on both state and federal levels.
Views on the Legislation
Despite the fact that the bill can be improved even further, it is an important document that is particularly relevant in the current situation with child abuse statistics in New Jersey. For instance, the latest data collected in 2016 showed that in 2015, the state had 57,180 total referrals for neglect and child abuse, all of which were referred for investigation (CWLA, 2017). The legislation’s role is essential to take seriously because it has the potential of positively influencing the mentioned statistics and improving the situation with child abuse and neglect.
Position of Healthcare Stakeholders
From the perspective of relevant healthcare stakeholders, the legislation is viewed in a positive light because it is targeted at the reporting and prevention of malicious acts toward children that lead to adverse mental and physical health outcomes. Ensuring the wellbeing of growing generations is a responsibility that healthcare providers take very seriously, which means that addressing the issue of child neglect and abuse will potentially relieve that pressure. In addition, being well informed on the problem is expected to increase awareness among medical personnel and encourage them to look for signs of possible child mistreatment among patients that they serve. If one is to request an impacted stakeholder to get an opinion regarding the legislation, it may be beneficial to contact the New Jersey State Nurses Association (http://njnurses.org/), which stated to be “committed to the prevention of child abuse and neglect in its many forms. Acting as advocates for children and families, nurses in all settings will identify children at risk and initiate appropriate responses” (NJSNA, n.d., para. 1). It is expected that relevant healthcare stakeholders will support the legislation on child abuse and neglect because it provides the general public with information on how to act in cases of suspected mistreatment and holding the bystanders accountable for ignoring the signs that point to emotional or physical abuse of minors.
Impact on Nurses and Nursing Profession
The legislation will directly impact nurses and the nursing profession overall because healthcare providers interact with children and their families on a regular basis and therefore have higher chances of suspecting possible abuse and neglect by assessing the health condition of their patients. It is essential to note that the accountability of nursing personnel to report cases of child abuse and neglect is high on the agenda since they have more opportunities to ask their patients who show signs of physical or emotional abuse whether they would like to report an offense. Importantly, patients are more likely to trust nurses than the general public, which suggests that the implications of the child abuse legislation for the nursing profession will be vast.
Contact Information of Representatives
The North Bergen municipality is represented by Senator Nicholas J. Sacco (http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/members/BIO.asp?Leg=140), Assemblyman Vincent Prieto (http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/members/BIO.asp?Leg=247), and Assemblywoman Angelica M. Jimenez (http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/members/BIO.asp?Leg=344). Citizens should contact their representatives to provide feedback on the legislation or ask any questions regarding it. A two-way discussion is essential to ensure that the bill benefits the community as well as contributes to further improvements in the sphere of preventing child abuse and neglect in the state of New Jersey.
Act concerning child abuse amending P.L.1971, c.437. (2018). Web.
CWLA. (2017). New Jersey’s children 2017. Web.
NJSNA. (n.d.). Child abuse and neglect. Web.