Legislation and Issues
FAMILY & CHILDREN
Joe fought for and won the fight to protect young children from brain injuries from skiing accidents by mandating ski helmets. The law which requires that a person under 18 years of age engaged in the activity of downhill skiing or operation of snowboards shall wear a securely fitted protective helmet is the first to be passed in the United States.
Joe received an Advocacy Champion Award from the New Jersey Coalition Against Human Trafficking for his efforts to combat human trafficking.
Joe spearheaded and won the ability of special education children whose program requires education beyond four years of high school, to participate in their graduation ceremony and to receive a certificate of attendance, allowing them to walk alongside their friends and peers on graduation day.
The Kinship Legal Guardian legislation which Joe fought for, became law allowing children at risk to be awarded legal guardianship by loved ones, such as grandparents, who can now become their legal guardians instead of being automatically put into the foster care system. This legislation has been sighted as a national model for such at risk children.
Joe advocated for and passed a law which mandated that insurance companies cover medically needed infant formulas.
Joe fought for and won the ability of the county surrogate to deposit orphan and minors’ funds into any federally insured bank within the United States, allowing them to receive the highest, safest rate of return on their funds deposited with the county, even if it meant going to out of state banks.
Joe won the fight to stop abuse of handicapped parking spaces. The bill which made various revisions to laws concerning disabled person identification cards and placards aimed to cut misuse of handicapped parking, leaving the spaces free for those most in need.
Joe championed the effort to expand the membership of county multidisciplinary teams to include representatives of child advocacy centers.
Joe's legislation was signed into law to change the compensation base of SPRS accidental death benefit pension for surviving spouses and children.
Joe fought to protect our children by passing legislation to require that school districts review the employment history of prospective employees who will have regular contact with students, to ascertain allegations of child abuse or sexual misconduct.
Joe has been fighting, on a bi-partisan effort, along with Senate President Sweeney for our children's special education needs by sponsoring legislation to phase in full funding of extraordinary special education State aid.
When it comes to supporting Hanover’s parental rights policy, Pennacchio, as well as Senator Durr were the first to get behind the board’s actions - Pennacchio & Durr Express Support for Hanover School District Policy to Keep Parents Informed. He's supported the town Pennacchio: Murphy’s Parental Notification Lawsuits Will Hurt At-Risk Children; Senator Calls for Stopping Phil Murphy’s “Social Experiment” in Public Schools and issued several press releases regarding parental rights: Pennacchio: Murphy’s Lawsuits Go Against Absolute Right of Parents, Will Hurt At-Risk Children, Pennacchio: Extremism Has No Place in Educating Our Children and Pennacchio Says The Murphy Administration Should Practice What They Preach. The following are a few press releases issued in 2022, some of which resulted in related articles: Pennacchio: New Jersey State School Board Should Stick to Education, not Indoctrination, Pennacchio: New Jersey State School Board Should Stick to Education, not Indoctrination, Pennacchio to Governor: ‘We Haven’t Misrepresented Anything’, Pennacchio: Sexual Identity Education for 4- and 5-Year-Olds is Not Optional, Pennacchio Stands with Parents Against Government Attack on Child-Raising Rights, Pennacchio Blasts Administration’s Latest Attempt to Silence Opposition, and more.
Additionally, when asked to sign the Senator Testa / Senator Steinhardt lawsuit, he gladly accepted and is awaiting a call to join. Furthermore, in seeing a change in the position of some members of the majority party Senator Pennacchio called for an immediate Special Voting Session on parental rights prior to the new school year beginning (Pennacchio Calls for Immediate Special Voting Session on Parental Rights Prior to the New School Year Beginning, Pennacchio Calls for Immediate Special Voting Session on Parental Rights Prior to the New School Year Beginning). Additionally,
Senator Pennacchio was honored for protecting children with the Guardian of the Family Legislative Award by the New Jersey Family Policy Center for "work in creating a platform for parents, educators, school board members, and medical professionals to be heard to protect children from radical indoctrination in the public schools." In their press release the NJFPC stated: “Senator Pennacchio has been a committed and unwavering voice in protecting the rights of parents across our state. His outspokenness to challenge Governor Murphy’s administration in the media is a breath of fresh air. He never shies away from the conflict because he strongly believes, as I do, that the purpose of government is to help parents, not become the parent. I am so grateful for Senator Joe Pennacchio and the many other legislative leaders in our state that are fighting the good fight of faith to protect the minds of children. I want you to know that you are not alone in this struggle. God has men and women strategically placed in Trenton, on your local school board, and in the classroom, who want the very best for your family.”
When this issue made it to the Senate floor in 2020 by way of A-4454, legislation which now requires school districts to include instruction on diversity and inclusion as part of implementation of New Jersey Student Learning Standards, also known as Critical Race Theory, Senator Pennacchio presented hostile amendments. The statement for those amendments is as follows: (STATEMENT Amendments to Assembly, No. 4454) - These Senate amendments provide that a school district cannot provide instruction on sex education, including anal or oral sex, to any student age six-years-old or younger in connection with the instruction on diversity and inclusion required by the provisions of the bill. These amendments also provide that a school district cannot provide a student age six-years-old or younger with any educational materials or resources that contain or depict images of sexual conduct, including anal or oral sex. Voting to table these amendments, essentially put democrats on record as supporting the instruction of sex education to students 6 years of age and younger with a 25-15 vote. The actual vote can be found here: https://www.njleg.state.nj.us/bill-search/2020/A4454.
Subsequent to a series of hearings on the administration’s handling of issues surrounding the pandemic, last year the Senator held an independent hearing on sex education, state curriculum mandates and parental rights which included an important discussion with school board members, child health experts, and concerned parents which can be viewed here: Pennacchio Blasts Murphy Administration’s Escalating Threats Over Sex Education. On July 8, 2021, Pennacchio along with other Republican lawmakers livestreamed an independent hearing to examine science and data for unmasking children. The hearing included discussion with health experts, educators, parents, and advocates on the science and data that supports allowing children to unmask in schools and other settings. During this panel discussion with scientists, school board members and nurses, the consensus was that masking children does more harm than good. The link to view the hearing is here. There are also several pieces of legislation Senator Pennacchio is either a prime sponsor of or a cosponsor of that aim to address parental rights issues.
Unfortunately, New Jersey has seen that this Governor does not seem to listen to any difference of opinions. Aside from holding the independent hearings, he has consistently been outspoken and putting pressure on many of the issues before us which you can view here. He will continue to shed light on the issues that exist and to hold the administration responsible. While Pennacchio wishes it was in his constitutional power to make the necessary changes, it is not. That power rests with the majority party and the current administration. Until then he will continue to fight for what is right for his constituents, parents and especially children.
TAXES AND BUSINESS
Joe fought to establish the “Small Business Bonding Readiness Assistance Program” within the Economic Development Authority to assist small businesses in meeting State and Federal contract surety bond requirements.
Joe has been recognized as a “Taxpayer Champion” by the New Jersey Taxpayer Alliance.
Senator Pennacchio was named a “Guardian of Small Business” from the New Jersey Federation of Independent Business.
Joe was named an “Advocate for Open Government” by the New Jersey Taxpayers Association.
Senator Pennacchio has received an “A” rating from Americans for Prosperity who rate legislators based on their votes to keep New Jersey an affordable, prosperous and safe place to work and live.
Senator Pennacchio, a former member of the State's Economic Development Authority incentivized small businesses, including farms, to grow and prosper.
Pennacchio's legislation stopped State Investment Council Members from voting on transactions concerning investments with which a member has financial or familial conflicts.
Pennacchio continues to fight for total transparency at all levels of government. His efforts would bring a comprehensive, all inclusive, easy to access and navigate website showing New Jersey citizens how each and every single dollar of their taxpayer monies are being spent.
Joe fought for and won the battle to require the Port Authority of NY and NJ to be subject to the NY Freedom of Information Law and NJ open public records act.
Joe also continues to fight utility companies for their unacceptable response to power outages by introducing the “The Reliability, Preparedness and Storm Response Act” which vastly increases the fines paid by all public utilities for violating any law, rule, regulation, or order by the Board of Public Utilities.
Joe fought for and won an effort to make New Jersey National Guard members with NGB-22 forms eligible for certain veterans' benefits.
Joe lead the effort to expand acceptable military separation forms for county veteran identification cards and allows for the issuance to National Guard veterans of other states.
Pennacchio had legislation signed into law that designates the Killed in Action flag as an official State flag and mandates that is be displayed at certain public buildings.
Joe fought for legislation concerning the treatment of people with service dogs by NJ Transit and established the Access Link Customer Service Group.
Joe passed legislation into law that designates March 13th of each year as "K9 Veterans Day".
Pennacchio eliminated fees for veterans requesting a certified copy of their veteran discharge papers.
As Freeholder, Joe created the Morris County Distinguished Service Medal Program to commemorate all eligible residents who have served in war conflicts. To date, through his efforts more than 10,000 deserving veterans have been recognized for their service.
Pennacchio is fighting for the establishment of the New Jersey Innocence Study and Review Commission, a commission that would develop reforms and create a pathway to justice for those who have been wrongfully convicted in New Jersey.
Joe continues to call for the return of Joanne Chesimard, one of Americas most wanted who murdered New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster on May 2, 1973. Chesimard was sentenced to life in prison, but subsequently escaped and has been living under the protection of political asylum in Cuba ever since.
Joe fought for and won the fight to increase punishment for criminals convicted of the very lucrative business of stealing cargo from the New Jersey ports.
Senator Pennacchio received an award from the Lake Hopatcong Foundation with appreciation and admiration from the Lake Hopatcong Community for extraordinary efforts on behalf of New Jersey’s largest lake.
Joe fought with his colleagues to obtain $500,000 annually for the Lake Hopatcong Fund.
Joe continues to fight for homeowners and businesses ravaged by flood waters. His “Flood Control Mitigation and Prevention Bond" Act would help all New Jersey communities affected by flooding.
Joe fought to approve State funding for certain "planning incentive" local government open space acquisition projects in northern New Jersey.
Senator Pennacchio has been a strong advocate for our beautiful lake communities, Greenwood Lake and Lake Hopatcong.