2021 ACLU-NJ Legislative Priorities

The final few months of this year’s legislative session are incredibly important. In the past year, ACLU-NJ supporters like you kept showing up to say: we must expand and protect access to reproductive freedom, hold police accountable, and strengthen immigrants’ rights in the Garden State. Now, it's time to push our goals to the finish line.

With lawmakers coming back to Trenton, it’s time for the legislature to listen to their constituents’ calls and act on long-needed reforms that will make New Jersey fairer and stronger. Here’s what we’re urging lawmakers to focus on this legislative session:

  • Why New Jersey Must Pass the Reproductive Freedom Act (S3030/A4848)

    As nationwide attacks push abortion further out of reach, it is time for New Jersey to be a leader in addressing the systemic health care inequities that disproportionately harm Black, brown, immigrant, LGBTQ+, and low-income communities.

    Passing the Reproductive Freedom Act (RFA) will protect and expand access to reproductive health care, while advancing equity and racial justice.

    What the RFA Does

    • Protects and expands access to reproductive health care, including abortion, for all New Jerseyans regardless of income level, immigration status, or gender identity
    • Declares the fundamental right for all people who can become pregnant to make their own decisions about reproductive health care, including abortion, without government intrusion or discrimination.
    • Requires all insurance providers to cover reproductive health care services without out-of-pocket expenses for the patient, meaning no co-pays or deductibles.
    • Ensures that all New Jerseyans, regardless of immigration status, have coverage and access to reproductive health care, including abortion and contraception.

    Why the RFA is Important

    The bill was crafted with the guiding vision of equity and justice so all New Jerseyans can make their own decisions about their bodies, health, and families without barriers to equitable access and free from discrimination and government intrusion. In the past three years alone, 12 bills have been enacted around the country to protect and expand access to abortion care.

    By making the RFA law, New Jersey will join these states in leading the way in protecting and expanding access to reproductive health care, including abortion, for all who need it.

    Send a message to your lawmaker and urge them to pass the Reproductive Freedom Act.

    Here's our Reproductive Freedom Act explainer (PDF).

  • Why New Jersey Must Hold Police Accountable

    The recent killings of Black people by police have once again exposed the racial injustice and abuses of power endemic in policing. These problems are not incidental. They are built-in.

    To help repair the injustices endured by those most vulnerable to, and impacted by, police abuses, New Jersey must rein in police powers and redirect taxpayers’ funds to resources and programs that empower, serve, and truly protect our communities. As New Jersey begins a community-driven process toward reimagining policing, it can immediately institute three policies focused on transparency and accountability.

    What steps can New Jersey take to hold police accountable?

    • Make Records of Police Misconduct Public: Police departments operate with utter secrecy. They shield information from the public about officers who commit misconduct. Concealing that information undercuts community control and prioritizes police who abuse power over the communities that bear the damage. Disclose it. Pass S2656/A5301 to increase transparency.
    • Embrace Strong Civilian Review Boards: State law enforcement leaders oppose a key check on police: oversight from communities they claim to serve. People must have the authority to investigate, set policy, and hold officers responsible for their actions. Let us exercise it. Pass S2963/A4656 to establish strong Civilian Complaint Review Boards (CCRB).
    • End Qualified Immunity: The legal principle of qualified immunity, like in federal law, also exists in New Jersey law and makes it nearly impossible to hold police accountable when they use excessive force, commit crimes, or even kill people. End it.
    • Stop Lethal Police Tactics: It's past time to ban the police use of chokeholds in New Jersey, and strictly limit the use of other deadly force. Pass S2617/A4284 and A4526/S3825.

     

    These policies represent only a sliver of the wholesale reimagining of law enforcement our country desperately needs, but they are long-needed tools for better accountability that the Legislature can address today.

    Send a message to your state lawmakers and urge them to hold police accountable.

    Here's our police accountability explainer (PDF).

  • Why New Jersey Must Pass the Values Act

    New Jersey’s Immigrant Trust Directive prevents state and local law enforcement from using their resources to do the bidding of federal immigration agencies. While powerful, this directive is issued by the Attorney General rather than the Legislature, which means it could be withdrawn or changed in the future to the detriment of immigrant families across the state. The Values Act would codify and strengthen the separation between local law enforcement and federal immigration enforcement and lay the groundwork for similar protections for people who interact with other state and local agencies, such as those providing social services.

    What the Values Act does:

    • Prohibits state and local law enforcement from enforcing federal immigration law, to the extent permitted by federal law
    • Prevents local resources from being used for federal immigration enforcement
    • Eliminates carve-outs in the Immigrant Trust Directive that exclude immigrants entangled in the criminal legal system, and disproportionately harm Black and brown New Jerseyans due to racial disparities in policing and prosecution
    • Protects personal information by limiting the data that public agencies — including hospital districts and public schools — can collect
    • Requires model policies for public schools, health care facilities, libraries, and shelters, to ensure that people feel safer seeking public services

    Why the Values Act is so Important:

    The comprehensive protection afforded by the Values Act are critical for empowering New Jerseyans to live their lives without fear that routine interactions with law enforcement could lead to permanent separation from their loved ones through immigration detention and deportation. The Values Act will allow New Jerseyans to seek protection and support from state and local agencies without fear of deportation. Increasing trust in public agencies allows all people, regardless of immigration status, to seek public services that are essential to health, education, and well-being. This builds a stronger, fairer, more welcoming New Jersey.

    Here's our Values Act explainer (PDF).

 

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