The New Jersey Legislature operates on a two-year cycle, and thousands of bills are introduced in each session. Only a small fraction — the lucky ones — make it through the committee hearings to a vote in the Assembly and Senate. If they pass both houses, they must pass review by the governor’s office before being incorporated into law. Anyone who does not complete the entire process before the end of the session will be declared dead.
A quick search of the New Jersey Legislative website reveals nearly 5,000 bills (approximately 11,480 bills) for the 2020-2021 legislative session. Of these, fewer than 300 bills have been signed. So what about the rest? Should they just be sent to the mock graveyard to rest?
To be fair, many are presented with no hope of seeing the light of day in the ‘blue’ jersey, such as the extremist anti-abortion laws presented at each session. Others, however, deserve to be resurrected and given a chance at a second coming. Here are some of them this feminist hopes will be reintroduced and passed in the 2022-2023 session.
Menstrual products in schools (S692/A3388)—It’s no surprise that this is at the top of my list. As a co-founder of the first New Jersey Menstrual Justice Coalition, I can testify that research shows that students who do not have access to menstrual products are more likely to be absent and less able to focus and engage in the classroom, leading to significant gaps in performance. Expanding access to menstrual products can lead to higher participation rates. It’s a piece of cake, let’s do it.
Elimination of gender price discrimination, also known as pink tax (S2039/A5488)—This bill will require businesses like hair salons and dry cleaners to set prices based on the services they provide, e.g. B. Based on hair length or casual wear versus dress pants, rather than gender. It passed the Senate 35-0 with bipartisan support, only to disappear into the void. So what’s up? Why was it not approved in the congregation? Let’s take it back and pass it on to bring gender equality to New Jersey.
Anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies in campaign committees (S3389/A5354)— Of course, there was a lot of controversy surrounding this bill, which arose out of a scandal. If this bill on accountability and reporting of campaign activity was ever needed, it was during a gubernatorial year that also saw all 120 legislative seats up for election. Once again, the bill passed the Senate with overwhelming support, only to sink into a dark corner of the Assembly’s majority office. Given the wealth of reports and testimony from former Senator Weinberg’s Working Group on Harassment, Sexual Assault and Misogyny in NJ Politics, we cannot allow this session to end without passing this bill.
Creates a task force to develop universal childcare (S3257/A5214)– Just a few years ago, the idea of universal childcare would have fallen into a left-socialist category. But now that the Biden administration has declared childcare an essential “infrastructure,” we’ll never dodge that claim again. And with all hope of child care included in the Build Back Better Act gone, New Jersey has an opportunity to lead, and we should seize it.
All titles on ballots must be gender neutral (S1201/A1674)– This one is personal. When I ran for local office in 2018, the office I was running for was listed on the ballot as “Councillor.” I worked with the county clerk to change ballots in Union County, but this law would ensure statewide compliance. Women (and non-binary people) running for office face so many inherent biases in our electoral process – here’s an easy fix.
Anjali Mehrotra is a passionate feminist and activist. She is President of the National Organization for Women of New Jersey and co-founder of Equality, Period. NJ – A Coalition for Menstrual Justice. Anjali would like to remind everyone that menstruation is a natural bodily function and that there should be no shame or stigma associated with it.
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