Tag: Caroline Casagrande

Casagrande calls for slot machines at race tracks to help sagging racing industry

Source: Asbury Park Press -

Showplace Farms, a training center here that houses more than 400 horses, will close on Oct. 1, officials said Tuesday in an announcement that clouded what was supposed to be a celebration this week of New Jersey’s horse-racing industry.

Caroline Casagrande

“There is bipartisan support for expanding gaming in New Jersey,” Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande, R-Monmouth said in a statement, favoring slot machines at Monmouth Park, Freehold Raceway and the Meadowlands. “The Legislature needs to act now, before another horse farm closes for good and the future of this critical industry is further jeopardized.”

 

The move prompted industry and elected officials once again to call on New Jersey to allow gambling at racetracks. That would help increase the purses, attract more thoroughbreds and stabilize New Jersey horse farms, they said.

Showplace Farms sprawls out over 150 acres in Western Monmouth County. Started 35 years ago, it includes racetracks, paddocks, a therapy swimming pool and a blacksmith and tack shop.

Its closing comes as all eyes are on Monmouth Park this weekend, where American Pharoah, racing’s first Triple Crown winner in 37 years, is scheduled to compete in the William Hill Haskell Invitational.

The race horse industry in 2009 was estimated to generate $780 million a year and account for 7,000 jobs, according to a Rutgers University study.

But the state stopped enhancing purses in 2010, and the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority handed over horse-racing operations to the private sector, the authors said.

The total purses paid dropped from $47.5 million in 2010 to $22.7 million in 2013, and total wagers dropped from $480.7 million in 2010 to $266.4 million in 2013, according to the report.

The closing of Showplace renewed calls from some lawmakers for New Jersey to expand gambling beyond Atlantic City and the Internet.

“There is bipartisan support for expanding gaming in New Jersey,” Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande, R-Monmouth said in a statement, favoring slot machines at Monmouth Park, Freehold Raceway and the Meadowlands. “The Legislature needs to act now, before another horse farm closes for good and the future of this critical industry is further jeopardized.”

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CASAGRANDE SAYS CLOSING OF ANOTHER HORSE FARM SHOULD SOUND A WARNING BELL TO LAWMAKERS

Assembly Republican Press Release -

Caroline Casagrande

Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande said the recent announcement of the planned closing of Showplace Farms should serve as a wakeup call to Trenton. The Millstone-based Standardbred farm is home to 425 horses, a first class training center and a swimming pool for rehabilitation.

“The horseracing industry has been warning us for years that it is getting increasingly difficult to compete with neighboring states that offer higher purses fueled by racinos,” said Casagrande, R-Monmouth County. “The closure of Showplace Farms is further proof that New Jersey must act now to protect this vital industry.”

“Horseracing is a billion dollar industry that provides close to 12 thousand jobs,” explains Casagrande. “Losing those jobs would be devastating to the Monmouth County Economy, and would trickle down to veterinarians, tack shops and the pleasure-riding community.

“Our beautiful horse farms are also an important part of open space preservation,” the Assemblywoman points out. “Every farm lost is a loss for the environment.”

Casagrande is a strong advocate for slot machines at the Meadowlands, Freehold Raceway and Monmouth Park.

“The state needs to do more to create a climate where higher purses can attract quality horses to all our tracks,” said Casagrande. “The popularity of Triple Crown-winner American Pharoah and excitement for the Haskell Invitational is drawing national attention and shows there is still great interest in horseracing in New Jersey.”

New Jersey already lost Perretti Farms, and Showplace Farms will close in October, explained Casagrande. “There is bipartisan support for expanding gaming in New Jersey. The Legislature needs to act now, before another horse farm closes for good and the future of this critical industry is further jeopardized.”

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Casagrande: State should create domestic violence courts

Source: Asbury Park Press [Op-Ed by Caroline Casagrande] -

Caroline Casagrande

Two recent tragic cases of domestic violence in Monmouth County should serve as reminders that such brutal acts occur everywhere. No community is immune. In Middletown, a mother of two was murdered by her husband when beaten to death with a frying pan.

In Neptune, a mother of nine was gunned down by her ex- husband in front of one of their children. Sadly, there are many more similar stories that go untold.

A Bureau of Justice Statistics Crime Data Brief indicates that a domestic violence victim is abused 35 times before actually calling the police. It’s difficult to comprehend the pain and misery an individual and family endure before finally finding the courage to call for help.

Much can be learned by looking at how other jurisdictions have dealt with domestic violence in a more comprehensive way. In Sacramento, Calif. the district attorney’s domestic violence unit is located within the Domestic Violence Home Court. The unit is comprised of a team of attorneys, victim advocates, investigators and support staff who are all involved in the prosecution of domestic violence cases.

Also in California, Orange County domestic violence courts have a comprehensive treatment program for victims, their abusers and children. The program is a successful partnership developed with superior court, county probation, social services, local battered women’s shelters, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and the county’s Health Care Agency. This gives victims easier access to whatever help they need.

In Washington, D.C., the courts have a domestic violence unit that specifically handles cases involving restraining orders. Unit judges also hear cases alleging violations of those orders and all misdemeanor criminal cases involving families. Its Superior Court also hosts domestic violence intake centers that provide a single access point for victims.

While high-profile cases like that of former NFL player Ray Rice shine the national spotlight on the issue, here in New Jersey there is much we need to do to further protect victims and their families.

Last year, the Assembly Women and Children Committee heard testimony from individuals on the front lines of this issue that the Ray Rice case wasn’t rare. Even though common sense dictates that knocking someone unconscious is an attempt to cause serious bodily injury, these charges are frequently downgraded. Reducing charges that allow a violent act to go unpunished trivializes the seriousness of this crime.

The committee also learned that the majority of domestic violence cases, which numbers about 32,000 annually in New Jersey, currently go through municipal courts. Therefore, it’s not uncommon for a victim of domestic violence to sit alongside individuals waiting to see the judge for a traffic offense. The terrified victim could also be waiting with her angry abuser with little, if any, protection. The case is then heard by a judge, who may have only 90 minutes of training in handling domestic violence cases. As a result, 80 percent of cases referred to municipal court are dismissed.

To help combat this issue, I have introduced legislation, A-3801, which creates a three-year domestic violence court pilot program in Monmouth and Camden counties. Any case involving domestic violence could be referred to the domestic violence court. Judges assigned to this court will be required to have extensive knowledge and experience in criminal law, procedure and sentencing.

Two other measures include A-3802, which calls for a mandatory three-year prison term for domestic violence assault, and A-3803, which establishes a minimum level of domestic violence training for judges and judicial personnel. It directs the Administrative Office of the Courts to develop and approve a training course and a curriculum consisting of at least three hours. This will ensure that judges and judicial personnel at all levels will receive this vital training.

There is strong bipartisan support for the idea of domestic violence courts. Sens. Stephen Sweeney, Loretta Weinberg, and the Assembly chairwoman of Women and Children are all sponsors of this legislation. This issue is too important to delay any longer. The Legislature should not wait for another life lost before we fix a broken system.

Caroline Casagrande, R-Monmouth, is an assemblywoman representing the 11th legislative district.

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Republicans react to surprise pension resolution in Assembly

PolitickerNJ -

Launching lawmakers into last-minute debate prior to the close of an otherwise subdued budget season, Assembly Democrats introduced and voted up a resolution at their voting session today urging Gov. Chris Christie to make a an upfront $1.3 billion pension payment at the start of the coming fiscal year.

Leaders in the Senate and Assembly authored the surprise concurrent resolution this morning, announcing the measure in a press release prior to voting sessions in both houses. The measure calls on Christie to use the state’s line of credit to make that payment sooner than later — in July of this year rather than June of next year — in order to save some $90 million in additional investment income for the pension system.

At their 11 a.m. hearing, which was expected to see little more than the passage of a modified increase on the state Earned Income Tax Credit, the resolution fueled 11th hour debate over the budget, focusing largely on the $1.3 billion pension payment included in the $33.8 billion budget Christie signed last week. Lawmakers argued over the fiscal and economic merits of making that payment sooner, which would force the state to borrow more money now, rather than later, as is custom.

The debate also offered certain glimpses into the overall divisions among Republican and Democrats on the state’s fiscal future, with members of the former party opting for fiscal restraint and responsibility.

Caroline Casagrande

“Once again we’re here sticking our finger in a dam, when there is water already coming over the barricades,” said Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande (R-11), lamenting the legislature’s failure to come together on a long-term solution to the pension system.

Democratic sponsors of the bill, including Prieto but also Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3), say that the upfront payment would help assuage the retirement fund’s fiscal squeeze, which involves some $80 billion in unfunded liabilities. They say tapping the state’s line of credit to make the $1.3 billion pension payment early next month rather than waiting until next June is simply an extension of normal state Treasury practices — and that each year, the state borrows about $2.5 billion in July to cover an annual cash flow shortfall, and the cost of the interest payments is included in each year’s budget.

But Republicans in the Assembly today expressed skepticism over the veracity of those estimates, wondering aloud whether an upfront payment might cost the state more than it saves. Some argued that it would be more fiscally prudent to wait for projected taxes revenues to come in before funding the payment, while others slammed the surprise nature of the measure’s introduction, which they said was dropped by Democrats prior to the voting session with little notice.

Several Republicans at one point motioned to table the measure in favor of gleaning more information from the State Treasurer, though the Democratic majority easily defeated the move.

Jon Bramnick

“Keep in mind that this resolution did not come through a committee,” said Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-21), who sparred with Assembly Budget Officer Gary Schaer (D-36) over what savings an upfront payment might have. “This was, I am assuming, a last minute idea to borrow money. We did not ask to have this rushed through on the morning or afternoon of the budget.”

Still, others supported the potential to shore up the system and save taxpayer money in the short term — but stressed that such efforts must also be coupled with other, long-term reforms to the system. Republicans want Democrats to join them in working on a second overhaul to the fund, incorporating recommendations put forth by the governor’s bi-partisan pension commission.

Jay Webber

“This has to be part of a larger solution. Not how do we get to FY2016, but how are we going to do this for our kids,” added Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-26), who said he would abstain from a vote on the issue.

Declan O'Scanlon

“One thing that should have been embarrassingly clear from today’s debate is that the Democrats didn’t do their homework on this idea,” said Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon (R-13) in a statement following the vote. “The fact that the Democrats didn’t reach out to the treasurer to discuss the dynamics and ramifications of such a move make it abundantly clear that this is all about politics and nothing at all to do with thoughtful policy. It is outrageously irresponsible not to have done that essential homework.”

Ultimately, the resolution passed 45-6-18 in the Assembly; it later passed in the Senate as well.

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Asbury Park Press calls for debate on Casagrande domestic violence bills

Asbury Park Press Editorial -

The deadly actions of Neptune police Sgt. Philip Seidle, who shot and killed his ex-wife, Tamara Wilson-Seidle, while she was sitting in her car, has rightly focused the state on domestic abuse in general and by law-enforcement personnel in particular.

We hope the investigation into the shooting and the circumstances that led up to it will help shine a clearer light on the prevalence of police domestic abuse and whether more must be done by the state attorney general, county prosecutors and local police departments to prevent future tragedies.

Sgt. Seidle apparently had a history of domestic abuse. According to a divorce complaint filed by Tamara Wilson-Seidle, he was physically and emotionally abusive to her throughout marriage, and some of the “incidents involved police intervention.”

How many times the Neptune police were called to the house, and under what circumstances, and whether they followed proper protocols in dealing with any complaints should be a key focus of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s investigation into the shooting.

No one knows for sure how pervasive domestic violence is among police officers. But a pair of studies conducted in the 1990s showed that domestic violence was two to four times more common among police families than American families in general.

In addition, when a gun is in the house, abused women are six times more likely to be killed than other abused women, according to a 2003 study cited by the National Institute of Justice.

So what can be done to protect the battered from their abuser in a state with already strong gun laws? New Jersey already prohibits anyone who has been convicted of a domestic violence offense or served with a restraining order from owning a firearm. And law enforcement can confiscate guns from a home when responding to a call involving a domestic dispute.

The state’s rules governing how police departments handle allegations of domestic violence, including cases where the suspect is an officer, have been stiffened. In 2009, the state Attorney General’s Office adopted a revised policy based on the detailed recommendations of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. When police are called to the scene of a domestic case and they see physical signs of violence, such as a bruise, they must charge the assailant. It has long been a policy that when a police officer is accused of domestic violence he or she must surrender their weapons.

Caroline Casagrande

Despite the apparent protections already in the law, there are three bills in the Assembly, all stuck in committee, that deserve to be debated. The bills, sponsored by Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande, R-Monmouth, would establish a pilot program in Monmouth and Camden counties that would have all domestic abuse cases heard in Superior Court — about 40,000 of the 70,000 annual case are now heard in municipal court — increase penalties and require judges to receive three hours of training in domestic abuse cases.

It is sad it takes a tragedy such as the shooting death of Tamara Wilson-Seidle to bring about an in-depth examination of the issues surrounding domestic violence. The current investigation should shed light not only on whether current laws are sufficient but on whether policies and procedures regarding police officers accused of domestic abuse are being followed. There should be no ” blue wall” between an officer and justice for a batterer’s victim.

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Chris J. Brown-Casagrandge expresses concerns about requiring defibrillators at youth sports

Source: Asbury Park Press -

Youth sports leagues in New Jersey might be required to have defibrillators and people trained to use them at every game and practice starting in September.

Automated external defibrillators are already required at schools to diagnose and treat cardiac arrhythmias, and a proposed law moving through the Senate and Assembly that could make it to Gov. Chris Christie’s desk this month would expand the mandate to recreation departments and nonprofits.

Despite the bill’s life-saving intentions, however, it barely squeaked through the Assembly Thursday because of concerns the multi-million dollar cost would push registration fees higher and another training requirement would discourage would-be coaches from volunteering.

Chris J. Brown

“We’re going to lose coaches, we’re going to lose kids in sports,” said Assemblyman Chris Brown, R-Burlington, who said he opposes the bill despite having seen his friend die at age 14 while they were playing catch.

Caroline Casagrande

“I know it’s coming from a good place, but it’s not a workable plan,” said Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande, R-Monmouth. She estimated the cost at $33,000 per town and said leagues would be crushed by the cost: “You can’t sell that many Charleston Chews and make that money.”

Supporters noted the defibrillators can help officials, coaches and spectators as well as young athletes. They pointed to young athletes who’ve been assisted by the devices, such as Steven Domalewski of Wayne in 2006, and others who died without such assistance, such as Kittim Sherrod of Edison in 2009.

Assembly votes are normally cast and recorded in a matter of seconds. This time the vote lasted 1 minute 45 seconds, with support stuck at 38 votes for a long period before finally reaching the minimum 41 votes and passing 41-19 with 14 abstentions.

Schools have been required to have automated external defibrillators and plans for responding to cardiac events since 2014, under a law Christie signed in 2012.

The new law would cost $19 million statewide the first year, followed by annual upkeep costs of $2.5 million, says Pam Griffin, executive director of the New Jersey Recreation and Park Association.

“It is a much, much larger endeavor than what was done in the schools, and it’s going to be very costly,” Griffin said. “We support the intent of the legislation and any initiative that keeps children safe, but we just don’t know, given the economic realities and the fact that our recreation departments are still having cuts, where they would be able to fund this.”

The next action for the bill would come in the Senate, where the idea was endorsed Thursday by the Senate Education Committee, despite reservations or opposition from four of the panel’s five senators. It’s now pending in the Senate budget committee, which will meet multiple times this month.

Here’s what the bill (A3500/S1973) would require:

• County and municipal recreations departments and youth-serving nonprofits such as Little League baseball, Pop Warner football and youth soccer would have to ensure automated external defibrillators, or AEDs, are on site at all home games and practices.

• Umpires, coaches or licensed athletic trainers who are trained in CPR and use of the defibrillator would have to be present. They’d be immune from civil liability in using the AED.

• The proposal would also apply to youth camps, though not camp trips, travel camps or other off-site programs.

The bill is still being considered and hasn’t yet gone to Gov. Chris Christie, so it might never take effect or could be delayed beyond the Legislature’s intended Sept. 1 start date.

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Casagrande not supportive of Assembly defibrillator bill

Caroline Casagrande

PolitickerNJ -

A bill requiring defibrillators at municipal or county recreation departments and nonprofit youth serving organization sporting events passed in the Assembly this afternoon by a vote of 41-19-14.

As amended by committee, the bill requires that beginning on September 1, 2015, youth serving organizations (such as, Little Leagues, Babe Ruth Leagues, Pop Warner Leagues, Police Athletic Leagues, and youth soccer leagues), which organize, sponsor, or are otherwise affiliated with youth athletic events that are played on municipal, county, school, or other publicly-owned fields, must ensure that there is available on site an AED at each youth athletic event and practice held on the department’s or organization’s home field.

The department or organization must designate one or more umpires, coaches, or licensed athletic trainers who will be present at the athletic event or practice, to be responsible for ensuring that the AED is available on site. The designated umpire, coach, or athletic trainer must be trained in CPR and the use of an AED in accordance with law.

Arguing in the minority, Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande (R-11) (pictured) said that while she did not question the good intentions of the bill, she could not support an overregulating bill, in her view, which saddles local taxpayers with more state-mandated costs.

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CASAGRANDE ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS FOR YOUNG WOMEN’S LEADERSHIP INSTITUTE

Assembly Republican Press Release -

Caroline Casagrande

Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande is now accepting applications for the fifth class of the Young Women’s Leadership Institute – a program to mentor and guide young women to be leaders.

“I designed this program to prepare young women in New Jersey to become tomorrow’s leaders,” said Casagrande, R-Monmouth. “Everyone in public life has an obligation to help the next generation take control of their own future in an effort to make themselves and our society a better place.”

The nonpartisan program will run through next spring and is open to 10 high school junior girls in Monmouth County’s 11th Legislative District. The YWLI will travel to view a voting session in Trenton and meet with women of influence in New Jersey. They will be mentored by a female leader and work on a community service project.

“We are fortunate in Monmouth County to have so many women in public office and positions of influence,” said the Assemblywoman. “I am proud to call them my friends and grateful that they have been willing to share their time and experience with the Institute in a very open way.”

Mia O’Brien, now Senior class President at Ithaca College, is a past participant of the program. “The Young Women’s Leadership Institute was unlike any program I have ever been involved with,” O’Brien said. “The opportunities – including meeting and becoming friendly with some of the biggest names in New Jersey politics today – and skills taught are invaluable. Although I have taken on many leadership roles before, the Young Women’s Leadership Institute has prepared me for even more challenging opportunities in my future.”

“Participating in the program gave me tools to use in college and future endeavors,” stated Cassandra Rampino, a freshman at Cornell University. “Speaking with successful women who are not only devoted to their professions, but also to their families has given me the inspiration to balance both one day in my life as well.”

“From participating in a community-oriented service project to networking with influential New Jersey legislators, this program has been very rewarding on numerous levels,” says current participant Shaye DiPasquale. “The Young Women’s Leadership Institute has brought out the best qualities in me and exposed me to the world of opportunities that lie ahead.”

“Each year we have been impressed with the young women who have come through our program,” said Casagrande. “I look forward to working with a new group of participants as we begin their journey to become the future leaders of tomorrow!”

Interested students can apply by sending an essay on, “What Would I Like to Accomplish as a Future Leader” in fewer than 1,000 words; two letters of recommendation, and a list of extra-curricular activities or a resume. All of this should be sent by May 4, 2015 to Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande, 35 West Main Street, Freehold, N.J. 07728, or emailed to AswCasagrande@njleg.org. Applications must include complete contact information; including address, phone number and email. For more information, call 732-866-1695.

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Asbury Park Press Editorial: Casagrande, Handlin and Webber: Rx needed for doctor shortage

Caroline Casagrande

Amy Handlin

Jay Webber

Asbury Park Press Editorial -

There may well come a day in New Jersey when the cry of “Is there a doctor in the house?” is met with stony silence. There has been a growing shortage of primary care physicians in the state, which medical school researchers say has reached crisis proportions in the last five years.

Some physicians leave the Garden State for the same reasons that many people leave: high taxes and a high cost of living. Additionally, New Jersey does not exactly roll out the welcome mat for those who practice the healing arts.

A WalletHub survey released last week ranked New Jersey as the second-worst state in the nation for doctors, behind only Rhode Island. The ranking was based on metrics that included average salary, cost of liability insurance and malpractice award payouts per capita.

It should come as little surprise, then, that New Jersey has a shortage of primary care physicians in private practice, a shortage projected to be around 2,500 physicians in the Garden State by 2020, according to national standards based on the number of physicians per 100,000 residents.

Contributing to the problem is the fact the state isn’t taking the steps necessary to retain graduates interested in primary care medicine from New Jersey’s medical schools. A newly released 2014 survey of New Jersey medical residents revealed the depth of the problem. Only 5 percent of New Jersey’s medical school graduates plan to be primary care physicians in private practice.

Further, the percentage of physicians who practice here after graduating from medical school in New Jersey is 38 percent, comparable to other states but not sufficient to meet our growing need.

Among the actions required to address the projected shortage are higher Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement rates for physicians, tax deductions or student loan debt forgiveness programs and incentives for students at New Jersey medical schools, particularly those from the Garden State, to practice in New Jersey upon graduation.

Last month, Assemblywomen Caroline Casagrande and Amy Handlin, both R-Monmouth, and Assemblyman Jay Weber, R-Morris, introduced a bill that would provide a gross income tax deduction totaling $300,000 over five taxable years for primary care physicians who practice in New Jersey. That would not only encourage primary care physicians to continue to practice in New Jersey but provide an incentive for new medical school graduates and doctors from out of state to relocate here.

The bill has been referred to the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee, whose chairman, Herb Conaway, is a physician. He should hold hearings and get it out of committee so that the Assembly can debate it. Briggs argues that a tax deduction program could actually help the state’s bottom line. If a doctor sets up shop, his office hires people who spend money and pay taxes.

No single bill is going to solve a systemic problem nationally. But New Jersey lawmakers can’t stand idly by while the doctor shortage worsens. If they do, if you think it takes a long time to get a doctor’s appointment now, it could get steadily worse in the years ahead.

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Casagrande: Ensure justice for the developmentally disabled

Asbury Park Press op-ed by Caroline Casagrande -

Caroline Casagrande

The recent news reports concerning Howell’s Parker Drake and the mistreatment he received from two young men in the town are horrifying. The young men offered Parker $20 and two packs of cigarettes to jump into the 30-degree water of the Manasquan jetty. They filmed, taunted and laughed while Parker struggled to reach land.

Parker’s developmental disability was used to provoke him to put his life in danger. There are those who may dismiss his jump off a jetty into freezing water as a harmless prank or boys being boys, but the danger posed was real and could have resulted in a catastrophe.

The suggestion from this paper’s editorial board that I take corrective legislative action to make this kind of heinous treatment unlawful is appreciated, and I enthusiastically accept the challenge.

We are a compassionate society that protects the developmentally disabled and others who suffer from physical and emotional problems. We are responsible for protecting them from predators who think there’s no harm in taking advantage of their disability. There are too many instances where “pranks” turn into physical and emotional tragedy for the victim and his or her family.

The mystifying part to this sordid story is that no law was apparently broken. The developmentally challenged deserve the same protections we all enjoy and should be treated with the same dignity and respect.

Equally appalling is the way Parker’s mother, Christine Marshall, was treated when she sought justice for her son. As a result of her perseverance, disorderly conduct charges were filed. Her fortitude in pursuing this case is what all caring and concerned parents do.

Not everyone, however, agrees that a disorderly person charge is the appropriate or only crime committed. I encourage the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s office to continue with their investigation to determine if further charges are warranted.

To be perfectly honest, if this heinous act had been committed against an animal, the public outcry for justice would be deafening. This case certainly cries out for further scrutiny.

Protecting our most vulnerable has been one of my priorities since joining the Legislature. Two years ago, I introduced legislation (A-3997) that prohibited school superintendents from receiving a bonus for reducing or placing developmentally disabled students in another school district. It seems hard to believe that bonuses of this kind would be doled out for such “achievements,” but they were. On Jan. 13, 2014, Gov. Christie signed A-3997 into law.

It is just as hard to believe that two young men could put the life of Parker Drake in jeopardy for $20 and some cigarettes and face no consequences.

Bringing this matter to the public is the beginning of addressing such an unconscionable act. Law enforcement should be as frustrated as Parker’s mother that a disorderly persons offense is apparently the only charge that could be brought. To her credit, she was not deterred by the dead ends she encountered. In fact, Marshall and Parker have said they want to help our efforts to push through legislation to help prevent the developmentally disabled from being similarly victimized by making such acts criminal.

Marshall is a true hero, as is Parker, for their efforts to make what happened to them into something positive for others going forward. I also commend my legislative colleagues who are joining Marshall, Parker and myself in crafting a bill to protect those who are susceptible to such “dares” or practical jokes. Kudos to state Sens. Bob Singer and Jennifer Beck and Assembly members Mary Pat Angelini, Sean Kean, Ron Dancer and Donna Simon for their efforts and support.

It is not enough to be outraged. This was no practical joke. Appropriate steps must be taken to pass legislation that protects Parker and our developmentally challenged population from this kind of exploitation.

Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande is the Assistant Republican Leader who represents parts of Monmouth County.

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