Tara’s law clears Assembly panel

TRENTON – Assembly lawmakers released legislation from committee that would impose more stringent oversight rules for facilities that service developmentally disabled people in New Jersey.

The bill cleared the Assembly Appropriation Committee following a unanimous vote of approval.

The legislation, A2573/S599, seeks to establish protections for people with developmental disabilities by establishing oversight of the state’s community care residences. The proposal would also establish investigation procedures for alleged abuse of developmentally disabled residents.

Community care residences are defined as private homes or apartments where a person is licensed by the Department of Health and Human Services to provide care or training to up to four people with developmental disabilities.

The proposal is sponsored by Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-37) and Assemblymen Patrick Diegnan (D-18) and Craig Coughlin (D-19).

Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) and Sen. Jennifer Beck (R-11) sponsored the Senate’s version of Tara’s Law.

Senate lawmakers unanimously passed their version on the Senate floor 40-0 in June.

The bill is named in memory of Tara O’Leary, whose health deteriorated over the course of more than two years while living at a licensed community care residence. O’Leary was hospitalized for dehydration, malnutrition and bedsores. She weighed 48 pounds when she was admitted to the hospital. She died when she was 28.

"He’s obviously working very, very hard at it. I mean he’s traveling all over the country as chairman of the [Republican Governors Association] and I think at this point he has as good a chance or better than anybody else. His name is household word all across the country, and I think he would make a great president."
—former U.S. Rep. Jim Saxton (R-3), on Gov. Chris Christie