Tag: Caroline Casagrande


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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Casagrande, Kean others want law to protect mentally challenged

Caroline Casagrande

Sean Kean

Source: Asbury Park Press -

Political support is growing fast for stronger laws to protect adults with developmental disabilities, after the Asbury Park Press broke a story this week of a Howell teen with autism who escaped death when he jumped off a Manasquan jetty into the frigid ocean in February on a dare.

Senator Jennifer Beck, Assemblyman Sean Kean and Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande, all R-Monmouth, also said they are doing research to craft a law that would make it a crime to put people with developmental disabilities in harm’s way. Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini (R-Monmouth) and Assemblyman Ronald Dancer, (R-Ocean) are on board with the idea, Casagrande said.

And Senate President Steve Sweeney, D-Gloucester, said he will consider changes to existing laws and will convene a meeting with policy groups, people with developmental disabilities and their families to discuss ways to prevent similar incidents in the future.

“The great news is, there seems to be a political will in Trenton to get some protections on the books for developmentally disabled people, now that everyone has read the horror story of what happened to Parker Drake,” Casagrande said.

Drake told the Asbury Park Press that two of his so-called friends called him on Feb. 25 and said they would give him $20 and two packs of cigarettes to go into the ocean and stay there for a minute. Then, they drove him to Manasquan, took him out on a jetty and told him to jump, Drake said.

The young man jumped off the jetty and found himself struggling in freezing water over his head while the other two men laughed and recorded a video that they later placed on the social media site Snapchat, he said. The ocean’s temperature was 30 degrees Fahrenheit that day.

Drake told the Asbury Park Press he thought he was going to drown. His mother, Christine Marshall, said her son also was at risk of death from hypothermia or because his insulin pump froze.

Kean, who is municipal prosecutor in Bradley Beach, called Drake’s experience “horrifying” but said he couldn’t think of any indictable offense on the books that the two men could be charged with. He said he contacted the Office of Legislative Services to begin research on crafting a new law that will pass constitutional muster.

“We want to make sure its constitutional, otherwise, it won’t do what we want,” Kean said. “If it’s not done carefully, it’s not worth the paper it’s written on.”

Casagrande said she would like to convene hearings in the Legislature to consider an umbrella law to protect not only children and the developmentally disabled, but also the elderly.

“Some people reached out to me today to say, ‘How can we get this done?”’ Casagrande said Friday. “There’s going to be lots of people pushing and pulling for this.”

Sweeney, the Democratic Senate president, appears to be one of them.

“I will look at the law and consider changes to protect individuals from such unconscionable actions, but the young men who committed this act need to take a long, hard look in the mirror,” Sweeney said. “A law may not change them, but it could protect those they prey on.”

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Asbury Park Press Editorial: Get justice for Parker Drake

Caroline Casagrande

Asbury Park Press Editorial -

Some legal cases simply make your blood boil, particularly cases when law enforcement either cannot or will not press charges on behalf of the victim.

One such case — one of the most egregious we can ever recall — is that of Parker Drake, 19, a developmentally disabled young man. Last month, he accepted a dare from two “friends,” Nicholas Formica, 20, and Christopher Tilton, 19, both of Howell, to jump off the Manasquan jetty into the 30-degree water for $20 and two packs of cigarettes.

While he fought in subzero water to get to dry land, they laughed at his distress and filmed his struggle.

What were the two men charged with? Nothing.

Local police and the Monmouth County Prosecutor said their hands were tied. Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni explained the decision not to bring criminal charges against the two men this way: “We thoroughly explored it and found there is no criminal statute that fits the conduct,” he said. “It appears to be men exhibiting bad judgment.”

Bad judgment? They easily could have killed Drake. Apparently, according to the prosecutor, because Drake was an adult, and because he agreed to the dare, the two men could not be charged.

It’s hard to believe the police and prosecutor couldn’t find some statute related to bullying, reckless endangerment, bias crimes (against the disabled and incompetent) or some broader protections for the developmentally disabled that couldn’t have applied to this situation.

But they didn’t. As a result, Drake’s mother, Christine Marshall, was left to fend for herself. She hired an attorney, Lisa Krenkel of Allenhurst, and after being put through hoops in municipal court, she was finally able to file a complaint against the two men for disorderly conduct.

If, in fact, no law applies to this case, it’s outrageous. The two police departments involved and the county prosecutor should be leading a campaign to get the state Legislature to amend the laws to protect the developmentally disabled against the type of inhumane treatment perpetrated against Drake — whether the victims are 9 or 90. Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande, R-Monmouth, who has introduced legislation to protect special needs students in the past, would be an ideal point person in Trenton.

The only thing more disgraceful than the actions of the two Howell men was the ordeal Drake’s mother has had to go through on her own to seek justice. Drake and Marshall say they want justice and to raise awareness of the need for unambiguous laws to protect developmentally disabled people from such situations.

The two Howell men deserve to have the book thrown at them. If the book doesn’t apply to these heinous acts, it needs to be rewritten. Local law enforcement and legislators need to work together to ensure justice is served in this case, and in any other similar cases involving the developmentally disabled in the future.

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Should kids be forced to wear helmets while ice skating?

Source: The Star-Ledger -

It might get a cold reception from some New Jersey kids, but state lawmakers have begun advancing a bill that would require them to wear helmets while ice skating.

The state Assembly Women and Children Committee on Thursday voted 5-1 to advance the bipartisan measure (A1437), which would require minors 18 to wear helmets on the ice or while using non-motorized scooters.

Figure skaters practicing or participating in competition would be exempt.

The legislation also increases the required helmet age by one year for roller skaters and skateboarders, who currently can choose to stop wearing them at 17. Parents or guardians of kids caught without helmets would face a $25 fine the first time and up to $100 for subsequent offenses.

Nancy Munoz

Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz (R-Union), another sponsor of the bill who is a trained nurse, said that “sports and recreational activities are responsible for about 21 percent of all traumatic brain injuries among children and adolescents.”

The bill does not change the mandatory helmet age for cyclists, which is currently 16 and younger. Riders of motorized scooters of all ages are already required to wear helmets.

Caroline Casagrande

Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande (R-Monmouth) was the committee’s lone vote against the measure.

“I spend a lot of time at the ice rink with my boys and thought this was a solution in search of a problem,” Casagrande wrote on Facebook after the vote.

A 2004 study published in the journal Pediatrics found that the “proportion of head injuries among ice-skaters… was greater than that observed for participants in other types of skating” and recommended mandatory helmet use for children at indoor ice rinks, where most of the injuries occurred.

The bill now heads for a vote in the full Assembly. It has not yet been introduced in the state Senate, and would need to pass both full houses before reaching Gov. Chris Christie’s desk.

The U.S. Product Safety Commission’s website says no standard currently exists for what type of helmets should be used for ice skating, but that using hockey, bicycle, ski or skateboard helmets “may be preferable to wearing no helmet at all.”

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Casagrande cool on bill mandating ice skating helmets

Source: NJ Spotlight -

High-school football players and their parents know that adolescent athletes who sustain a concussion need professional attention and time to recover before returning to the field. Now, a new bill being considered by the Assembly would require any student who suffers a concussion to be evaluated by a doctor or other healthcare provider and get written clearance before they can go back to school.

Caroline Casagrande

The mandate was extended to ice-skating, which raised concerns from Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande (R-Monmouth). She is wary of any additional burdens for ice rinks, which already are expensive to operate. She also said she isn’t aware that there’s an existing problem with ice-skating concussions, but would research the issue further.

In addition, A-4207 would make the team in each district that deals with students with disabilities responsible for enforcing any limits on a student’s activities that were determined by the healthcare provider.

Traumatic injuries to the brain upset normal brain activities, and it can take days or weeks for the brain to stabilize, according to Dr. Stephen G. Rice, a sports medicine doctor. Only 10 percent of those with concussions lose consciousness, but they experience a wide range of other symptoms, from confusion to difficulty concentrating and remembering to anxiety and depression.

At the same time, the part of the brain that controls emotional response grows more quickly than the part that handles planning.

The combination of a concussion and the unsettled state of development of teenagers’ brains means these injuries can disrupt development.

The Assembly Women and Children Committee advanced the bill in a unanimous, bipartisan vote yesterday. The committee also voted for a bill that would extend the state mandate for children up to age 16 to wear helmets while bicycling, roller skating and skateboarding to cover 17-year-olds.

The mandate was extended to ice-skating, which raised concerns from Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande (R-Monmouth). She is wary of any additional burdens for ice rinks, which already are expensive to operate. She also said she isn’t aware that there’s an existing problem with ice-skating concussions, but would research the issue further.

Rutgers University team physician Dr. Robert Monaco also expressed concern about adding helmets to figure skating, which would significantly alter the sport.

On the helmet bill, Rice added that there’s no evidence that helmets prevent concussions, although they are effective in preventing skull fractures.

Casagrande took the opportunity during the committee hearing on the concussion bill to ask Rice whether it was appropriate for young people to play football.

He said that preadolescents taught the proper techniques don’t face as much risk because they don’t have the weight or speed to generate dangerous force. But it’s a separate question for teenagers and adults.

“I think the whole sport of football is under an enormous challenge,” Rice said.

“So many of the professional athletes realize 30 years down the road that they just don’t have the brain they once had,” Rice said. “We don’t know the answer for football and I think parents are voting with their own intelligence whether it’s appropriate for their child or not.”

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Casagrande Statement on BPU Decision on JCP&L

Assembly Republican Press Release -

Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande, R-Monmouth, issued the following statement regarding today’s decision by the state Board of Public Utilities (BPU) which cut JCP&L’s rates by $34.3 million, a reduction from the $115 million that regulators sought:

Caroline Casagrande

“We have been fighting JCP&L’s excessive profits since it was revealed they were earning well above their legal limit. Today, the BPU acknowledged this by ordering JCP&L to reduce its rates by $34.3 million annually and appear for another rate case no later than April 2017. We are disappointed in the final figure, however, a rate cut is better than a hike and the increased oversight is welcomed.”

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Peterson-Casagrande Bill Increases Penalties for Domestic Violence Offenders

Assembly Republican Press Release -

Assemblyman Erik Peterson, R-Hunterdon, Warren and Somerset and Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande, R-Monmouth, introduced legislation today to increase the penalties for domestic violence-related simple assault.

The legislation (A-4301) was inspired by constituent Andrea Strony, who met with Peterson and told him her story of domestic violence.

Erik Peterson

“After meeting with Andrea and learning the facts behind her case, I felt compelled to do something,” said Peterson. “Andrea was attacked for more than two hours by her now ex-boyfriend. She was brutally beaten and traumatized by the experience, however, due to the nature of her injuries, her attacker was charged with simple assault.”

“This legislation would make any incident that involves domestic violence a crime of the fourth degree and a second or subsequent offense to a crime of the third degree,” explained Peterson.


Caroline Casagrande

“If there is one lesson we learned from the Ray Rice incident it is that New Jersey’s domestic violence laws need more teeth,” said Casagrande. “There were 70,000 domestic violence incidents reported in New Jersey in 2011 alone. This reform gives prosecutors another tool to combat this horrific crime.”

Strony, who was involved in drafting the legislation, said she is happy to see it introduced.

“My story is not the ‘typical’ domestic violence story we tend to hear and for that I am grateful,” said Strony. “Domestic violence knows no boundaries and affects us all. This bill is a key step in bringing to the forefront the ills of domestic abuse and the need for society and the justice system to address such acts in a more serious manner.”

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Asbury Park Press endorses Casagrande animal cruelty bill

Asbury Park Press Editorial -

When confronted with a case of animal cruelty, most people properly react with a mixture of disgust and rage, and a desire to see justice done. Those who abuse animals reveal themselves as something less than human. While every case is different in both circumstances and culpability, a rash of recent Shore-area cases have called attention to the need for passage of a number of bills aimed at protecting animals that have languished in the Legislature.

Among the bills we support is state Sen. Jennifer Beck’s “Shyanne’s Law,” which would amend animal cruelty laws to require convicted animal abusers to receive mental health evaluations. Passage could reduce the odds of an offender repeating the offense or committing violence against humans. The link between cruelty to animals and abusive and violent behavior toward humans has been well established.

Caroline Casagrande

We also support legislation by Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande, R-Monmouth, that would prohibit those found guilty of animal cruelty offenses from owning pets. And several bills have been introduced that would stiffen the penalties for those found guilty of animal cruelty. Lawmakers in Trenton should consolidate them into a single compromise bill. Any law recommending an increase in current minimum fines and/or jail time for currently indictable animal cruelty offenses is welcome.

Victor “Buddy” Amato, chief law enforcement officer for the Monmouth County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, notes that animal abuse cases are not always easy to prove. Sometimes it is necessary to enter into plea bargains with animal abusers when the facts are murky.

But this much is clear. We shouldn’t countenance those who feel that animals are mere chattel to be mishandled or tortured. Abuse of animals is not an issue with two equally valid sides. There is but one side, and that is with the innocent.
Nobel Prize Winner Albert Schweitzer has already made the case: “(The human spirit) has come to believe that compassion, in which all ethics must take root, can only attain its full breadth and depth if it embraces all living creatures and does not limit itself to mankind.”

Most people with an ounce of decency in them understand this. What is needed is for state and local government to mete out harsher penalties for those who would cause animals needless suffering. Let our outrage be transformed into a tool for justice and judgement upon those who do not comprehend the heinousness of their crimes.

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