Author Archive: Brian McGinnis

South Jersey Menendez Campaign Kickoff

Disclosure: I am an intern with the Menendez for Senate campaign.

That said,

Please join United States Senator Bob Menendez as he kicks off his campaign to Stand Up For New Jersey and Stand Up To Washington.

Thursday, June 1st at 2:30 P.M.
Collingswood Community Center
30 W. Collings Ave.
Collingswood, NJ

To RSVP and for directions, please email or call (732) 266-6668

Hope to see a lot of you there!


Last summer, the House of Representatives voted on H.R. 810, the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act. This bill was introduced by Rep. Mike Castle, Delaware’s at-large, Republican representative, who has a widely-established reputation throughout Delaware as a Republican moderate who frequently works in a bipartisan way. Castle’s MO on the stem cell bill was apparent; despite fierce opposition from party leaders and the President, the Stem Cell bill passed in June 2005 by a vote of 238-194. Though a smattering of moderate Republicans defected to vote “aye”, Democrats provided the bulk of the bill’s momentum, ensuring its passage.

The Castle Bill is very easy to understand. Its main legislative effects can be summarized in three sentences, which outline the conditions by which the government can authorize funding for stem cell research:

(1) The stem cells were derived from human embryos that have been donated from in vitro fertilization clinics, were created for the purposes of fertility treatment, and were in excess of the clinical need of the individuals seeking such treatment.

(2) Prior to the consideration of embryo donation and through consultation with the individuals seeking fertility treatment, it was determined that the embryos would never be implanted in a woman and would otherwise be discarded

(3) The individuals seeking fertility treatment donated the embryos with written informed consent and without receiving any financial or other inducements to make the donation

As is apparent to anyone who reads these conditions, this bill is clearly in the mainstream. In fact, the Senate version of the bill was sponsored by that well-known liberal, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT). But, the bill hasn’t been passed in the Senate, because the Republican leadership there is afraid to get its incumbents, a number of whom are in serious danger of losing in November, on the record on stem cells.  

The Politics of Syringe Exchange Part 2 of 4: Relevant Legislation

In my preceding post, I mentioned that Syringe Exchange Programs (SEP), which are commonly referred to as “needle exchange” programs, would be legalized under a bill currently pending in the New Jersey Legislature.  The bill aims to legalize SEP for the purposes of reducing infection with HIV and other deadly diseases through needle sharing.  This bill, sponsored by Senators Gill and Gormley, is titled the Bloodborne Disease Harm Reduction Act (S. 494). 

The Gill/Gormley bill has several important effects.  On a macro (state) level, it instructs the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services to develop regulations and requirements by which municipalities may operate SEP.  Also established is the application process by which interested municipalities may request authorization to develop SEP.  Finally, the Commissioner is directed to “support and facilitate…the linkage of SEP to…health care services, including mental health and substance abuse treatment, to consumers participating in any such program.”

While the Commissioner must develop regulations by which authorized SEPs operate, the bill also prescribes some specific requirements that SSAP must meet.  More on these below.

The Voting Rights Act (My Email to Rep. Saxton)

In 2007, provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 are set to
expire. The Voting Rights Act is a crucial piece of civil rights legislation that protects all Americans from unfair obstacles to voting. NJ in particular, is one of 31 states, that will be drastically affected by this expiration.

This is because section 203 of the act, which guarantees relevant assistance to Americans with limited English, is among those provisions set to expire.

I just sent an email to my congressman, Rep. Jim Saxton (R-NJ03). Check it out below the fold. I’d encourage you to send similarly-minded emails or letters to your representatives.

The Politics of Syringe Exchange Part 1 of 4: Facts & Stats

Syringe Exchange Programs (SEP), are commonly referred to as “needle exchange” programs. These programs allow and facilitate intravenous drug users’ access to sterile syringes for the purposes of blood-borne disease prevenion. However, SEP are currently prohibited under NJ law. Senator Gill’s bill, the Bloodborne Disease Harm Reduction Act (S. 494) would legalize these programs.

Here is some of the crucial text from the bill, to help readers understand exactly why this bill is absolutely neeeded, and right now. All emphasis (bold, italics) is mine:

Saxton Votes Against Abramoff investigation

Earlier in April, the House voted on a simple privileged resolution offered by House Minority Leader Pelosi (D-CA).  That resolution, H.Res 762, contained a substantive function of only one sentence:

Resolved, That the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct shall immediately initiate an investigation of the misconduct by Members of Congress and their staff implicated in the scandals associated with Mr. Jack Abramoff’s criminal activity.

The resolution simply states that the House Ethics Committee shall begin investigating any Member of Congress caught in Jack Abramoff’s criminal web of corruption.  What would this investigation mean exactly?  Let’s get back to basics for a minute.