Kyleigh becomes political football in 14th

Promoted by Rosi Efthim

Crossposted from Channel Surfing.

Legislation passed by a near-unanimous Legislature last year and signed by then-Gov. Jon Corzine has become the political football in this year’s 14th District state Senate race.

Sen. Tom Goodwin, the Republican appointed to fill Bill Baroni’s seat until November’s election, has been pushing hard for repeal of a decal provision of regulations passed to protect teen drivers. The law, known as Kyleigh’s Law, went into effect May 1 and requires first-year, probationary drivers younger than 21 to display a red decal on their front and rear license plates. The law also bars young drivers from operating vehicles between 11:01 p.m. and 5 a.m., prohibits more than one passenger in vehicles driven by first-year drivers and bans the use of any hand-held or hands-free electronic device.

The law was written and then passed in response to the death of Kyleigh D’Alessio, a 16-year-old from Washington Township in Morris County, who was killed in a car accident involving another teen driver in 2006.

The law was rather uncontroversial at the time of its passage — it passed 78-0 in the Assembly and 36-3 in the state Senate — but has raised some concerns among parents since taking effect. In particular, parents and young drivers worry that the decal provision makes younger drivers easy prey for pedofiles and scammers and could make it easier for police to profile.

In response, several bills have been proposed, some good, others less so, with Sen. Goodwin being aggressive in his push for change.

Both Sen. Goodwin and Assemblywoman Linda Greenstein, the Democrat running for the Senate seat, are seeking revisions to the larger law. But the folks backing Goodwin are seeking to cast Greenstein as out of step, blaming her for sponsoring bad legislation (she was an early cosponsor, though her name was not attached to the legislation that passed) and making it appear as though Sen. Goodwin is the only one standing up for average parents.

I don’t wish to weigh in on which repeal bill is better. What I find interesting, however, is the way that the 2008-2009 discussion of the bill has been recast in political terms. As I said, 78 Assembly members voted in favor of the bill, including Assemblywoman Greenstein; 36 Senators did the same, including Sen. Baroni. No one can say how Goodwin would have voted were he in the Senate at the time, but it seems unlikely to me that Goodwin — who is running as the new Baroni — would have voted any differently.

It is convenient for supporters — you will see letters from two of them in this week’s South Brunswick Post (of which I am the editor) — to attack a sitting Assembly member for her vote, especially when they know that their candidate can’t be tied to any previous action on the same legislation.

If this is how the race is going to unfold in the district, then 14th District voters might be better off staying home.

Comments (2)

  1. Valerie Huttle

    facts: in 2008, 38 teens between 16-20 years old were killed in auto accidents, 100 intoxicated drivers between 16-20 years old were involved in fatal accidents. purpose of Kyleigh’s law is to save lives, this is not a partisan issue, nor should this be a political issue, parents of teens have caused a media frenzy causing knee jerk reactions to repeal the decals, I have legislation that will have the AG’s office monitor the law for 6 months,if there is evidence that decals are a danger then we should repeal.. i am a mother of 2 teens, i want to keep them safe , has nothing to do with politics..


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