Proposed legislation and laws recently enacted to protect children, adults and animals were discussed by New Jersey state Senator Jim Holzapfel (R-10) during "Ask the Senator" on News Talk 1160 and 1310 WOBM-AM with host Tom Mongelli.

Sen. Jim Holzapfel

Governor Chris Christie signed "Abigail's Law" last month, a measure sponsored by Holzapfel that requires all new school buses in New Jersey to be equipped with sensors to alert drivers when children walk in front of or behind a bus.

The law is named in honor of Abigail Kuberiet, a toddler struck and killed by a school bus in South Plainfield in 2003.

"I sympathize with the bus drivers because in certain cases, they absolutely are not being negligent or careless or reckless, they just don't know. They don't see the kid crawling or under the bus," said Holzapfel.

Holzapfel noted that a measure he's sponsoring that's currently pending in the Legislature would equip schools buses with cameras to video vehicles passing the buses.

"So that if anyone passes while the bus is stopped and the doors are open and the lights, etc, they could be issued a summons, a very substantial punishment as far as the fines are concerned. We're pushing to to try and get that done this session," Holzapfel said.

Holzapfel pointed out that many bills stem from common sense issues. An example of that is another measure Holzapfel has reintroduced that is designed to protect police officers and drivers.

"If you're stopped by a police officer and your lights are on, meaning it's night or raining, you're required under this law if it's passed and signed, to turn on your inside light," said Holzapfel.

Violators would be fined. Holzapfel pointed out the measure was prompted by a request from the New Jersey State Police. It was approved by the state Senate last year, but Holzapfel said it didn't make it through the Assembly before the 2015 Legislative session expired.

Holzapfel also discussed legislation approved in 2015, to protect pets sponsored by him and Assemblymen Dave Wolfe and Greg McGuckin (R-Ocean). "Betsy's Law" was prompted by the death of a Rottweiler, Betsy, who suffocated in her cage after being left unsupervised overnight at an animal hospital.

The law requires veterinarians and animal hospitals to provide pet owners with written notification if a boarded animal will not have 24-hour supervision by a person physically on premises.

Holzapfel sponsored a measure signed into law in 2015 by Governor Christie was the "Pet Store Disclosure" bill. It requires pet stores to make available information, including inspection reports, about the breeders of the puppies they sell and forbid stores from buying puppies from breeders cited for "severe violations" by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Cruel treatment of animals also would be prevented by a measure introduced by Holzapfel, Wolfe and McGuckin to prohibit the inhumane tethering of dogs.

The bill makes it illegal to tether a dog that poses a risk of entanglement, strangulation, drowning or other harm to the health or safety of the dog. It also prohibits the tethering of a dog during severe weather conditions. Dogs at risk of imminent harm could be seized by authorities. Violators would face fines and jail time.




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