TRENTON, New Jersey (PNN) - January 13, 2020 - Thousands of New Jersey parents stormed the state house in the capital on Monday, angered over a proposal on child vaccinations.
The demonstration went on for hours outside as lawmakers tried to cast votes on several bills inside.
The parents came out in force to oppose a bill that would not allow the use of religion as a reason to not get your child vaccinated if attending public school. However, it would allow private school and daycares to accept unvaccinated children if they choose.
“My children and my nephew are unvaccinated and that’s our choice,” Marissa Borawski said.
Opponents say the bill is too restrictive and unfair to lower-income families.
The vaccination bill missed out on passing by one vote, but lawmakers said a similar bill is expected to be introduced in the next session, possibly as soon as Tuesday.
“I think it’s a choice parents have to make along with their doctors,” said Senator Loretta Weinberg, who sponsored the bill. “I think we as legislators have a responsibility to protect the larger population.”
Nearly 14,000 children in New Jersey used the law last year to get an exemption and not be vaccinated.
Other protesters outside tried to sway lawmakers not to ban vaping flavors.
“I am hoping that they do not vote to ban flavors because that will put us out of business,” business owner Maria Egberts said.
The bill, however, did pass and is now headed to Governor Phil Murphy’s desk. Supporters said the decision will help to combat the epidemic of teen vaping.
Those that choose to ride green and purchase certain electronic vehicles could be eligible for up to a $5,000 rebate, thanks to another bill moved forward on Monday.
A bill banning the use of plastic bags passed the Senate, but was killed in the Assembly. Lawmakers said it will have to be re-introduced next session.
Other items on the agenda included depression screenings in school. If the bill passes, public school students 7th-12th grade would undergo depression screening each year, with the permission of their parents. It is a response to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that said the rate of suicides in that age group increased 57% between 2007 and 2017.
There’s also the Liberty State Park Protection Act, which would protect the public land from any outside developers. It’s a direct response to the neighboring private golf course - Liberty National - which is seeking approval from the state to expand and create new holes on the banks of New York Harbor. A spokesman says expansion would draw more high-profile PGA tour events that create economic benefits for the state. But the Friends of Liberty State Park says that plan would disrupt a migratory bird habitat and take away sacred land behind the Statue of Liberty.
The Senate and Assembly were set to vote on more than 100 bills on Monday.