TOMS RIVER-On Thursday, the New Jersey Senate passed an amendment that would continue to allow for a religious exemption for vaccinations. As the Senate voted on the amendment, hundreds chanted outside the chambers against a Democrat-sponsored bill that would strip the rights of individuals to opt-out of vaccinating their children. That vote happened without Ocean County Senators James Holzapfel and Christopher Connors representing New Jersey’s 9th and 10th legislative districts respectively.
The amendment ended up passing 18-15.
Connors skipped the controversial vote because his attendance was required at a municipal council reorganization in Lacey Township where his firm, Dasti, McGuckin, Murphy, Connors was appointed to a professional contract by the town council.
With most Republicans voting no and most Democrats voting yes to the amendment, Republicans needed every vote to stop the Democrat bill.
Republican Senators Robert Singer, Samuel Thompson, Anthony Bucco, Kip Bateman, Michael Doherty, Steven Oroho, Gerald Cardinale, Jose Pennacchio, and Michael Testa were among prominent Republicans who voted no to the amendment.
The approved amendment would authorize an exemption from mandatory immunization requirements for a child or student who has a sibling who experienced a vaccine injury. To qualify for the exemption, the child or student will be required to submit to the Department of Health documentation of a final determination of vaccine injury issued through the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration in the United States Department of Health and Human Services or a final judgment issued by a court of competent jurisdiction that includes a finding of vaccine injury. Documentation of the department’s approval of a sibling vaccine injury exemption will be submitted to the school or child care center by the child or student, or by the child or student’s parent or guardian if the child or student is a minor.
The amendments allow nonpublic child care centers, preschool programs, elementary and secondary schools, and institutions of higher education to adopt a policy authorizing the admission of children and students who are not in full compliance with mandatory immunization requirements and who do not meet the requirements for a medical or sibling vaccine injury exemption, provided that the facility requires each child or student enrolled in the child care center, preschool program, school, or institution of higher education, or the child’s or student’s parent or guardian if the child or student is a minor, to sign an acknowledgment form, at the time of enrollment, that sets forth the facility’s policy with regard to admitting children or students who are not in full compliance with mandatory immunization requirements and indicates the immunization rates for the facility for the prior academic year.
In addition to approximately $1.5 million in prior public contracts, Connor’s firm has secured nearly a million dollars in new lucrative public contracts across Ocean County since January 1st as a result of their affiliation with Ocean County GOP Chairman Frank Holman. Holzapfel’s firm also receives over $1 million annually from public contracts.