The Safe Playing Fields Act, a bill designed to protect New Jersey children from exposure to potentially harmful pesticides at child care centers and certain schools, playgrounds and recreational fields, was released Thursday by an Assembly committee. It is now ready to be voted on by both the state Assembly and Senate on Jan. 9. If passed, the measure will move on to Gov. Chris Christie for his signature.
New York and Connecticut already have similar laws in place and the bill has the support of more than 44 co-sponsors including Sen. Nia H. Gill (D-34) and Assemblyman Thomas Giblin (D-34).
Now it's up to State Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-34) and Senate President Sweeney (D-3) to post the bill for a vote on Jan. 9.
Assemblywoman Connie Wagner (D-Bergen), sponsor of the bill, said: "We all can appreciate a well-kept lawn, but not at the risk of exposing children to harmful pesticides. Parents have enough things to worry about; sending their children to school should not be one of them. Aside from home, school is where children spend most of their time. This bill would ensure their health is not compromised while in school."
Safe Yards Montclair, a part of the Northern New Jersey Safe Yards Alliance, is one of the key groups leading the effort to pass the legislation. Also weighing in with their support are groups such as the Breast Cancer Fund, Learning Disabilities Association of America, Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association, and Junior League of NJ State Public Affairs Committee.
Suzanne Aptman, executive eirector of the Northern New Jersey Safe Yards Alliance said: “Children must go to school and don’t have a choice as to where they play. Our children deserve the same protection as New York and Connecticut’s children. And natural, non-toxic lawn care methods are very effective, can cost schools less over time, and are healthier for both the landscape and our children. Our current legislature has a great opportunity to leave an important legacy and give us all a great holiday present. As parents we should call Montclair’s Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver this week and urge her to post this bill for a vote on Jan. 9.”
Oliver can be reached at her office at 973-395-1166 or via email at AswOliver@njleg.org. Contact Sweeney at 856-251-9801 or at SenSweeney@njleg.org. For more information on the measure go here. To ask your local legislators to support the bill, find them here: http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/districts/districtnumbers.asp