The bill was named for the victims of four accidents believed to have been caused by distracted drivers. One of them, Toni Bolis of Washington Township, Gloucester County, was killed in a head-on collision last June, days before she was due to give birth to a son, to be named Ryan.
That measure, like the Legislature's state budget and a raft of other bills - including one that would give larger tax credits to the working poor - could be passed, altered, or vetoed by Gov. Christie in the two days before the start of fiscal 2013.
The Democratically controlled Legislature didn't give Christie the 10 percent income-tax cut he wanted. But it did pass bills on corrections reform and teacher tenure, two of the Republican governor's priorities this year.
A greater number of nonviolent offenders who struggle with drug addiction would be sentenced to treatment rather than prison under a bill that passed the Senate on Thursday, though the plan would require additional money to remain viable.
Christie set aside $2.5 million in his fiscal 2013 budget to expand the state's drug-court program, which diverts low-level offenders with substance-abuse problems into a rigorous five-year treatment-and-supervision program rather than sending them to jail. Christie wants to make the current voluntary drug-court program mandatory.
The bill that received final approval would roll out Christie's plan over five years, beginning in three regions chosen by court administration. Mandatory treatment eventually would expand to all 21 counties and could cost $20 million or more, according to court administrators.
The bill first would open the drug-court program to those charged with robbery or multiple low-level offenses, a change that could add 1,200 people to a program that already serves about 4,000 annually, said Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D., Union), who sponsored the bill with Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D., Union).
Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D., Mercer), who sponsored the bill in the other chamber, added provisions to ensure that those who enter the program voluntarily would be given priority over those who were forced into treatment if beds were limited, Lesniak said.
The expanded eligibility would take effect in six months, and the mandatory treatment would begin in one year. It would cost $4.5 million to fund the bill fully, but Christie would not agree to an amendment to add the extra money, Lesniak said.
"It's short on funding," Lesniak said, but added, "I'm happy. At one point in time, this governor said 'no way' to expanded eligibility."
Both houses this week passed a teacher tenure-overhaul bill that Sen. Teresa Ruiz (D., Essex) worked on for two years. It would make tenure more difficult to achieve and retain, and would require teachers to pass annual evaluations partly based on student test scores.
The bill did not eliminate seniority protection for teachers in districts facing layoffs, a provision that Christie has said was unfair to young educators who might be more qualified. Though the governor has acknowledged Ruiz's work in crafting a compromise bill acceptable to many parties involved in public education in New Jersey, he has not said if he would sign the measure into law.
The Legislature rejected Christie's plan to give additional state money to suburban schools at the expense of urban districts, removing that language from the budget bill passed in both chambers Monday.
The House and Senate also approved a handful of bills that Christie has previously vetoed and is expected to block again. The "millionaires' tax" bill passed the Senate on Thursday, giving the governor his third opportunity to shoot it down.
The Senate also passed a measure to immediately restore the Earned Income Tax Credit - a benefit for the working poor - to 25 percent of the federal earned income tax credit. The Assembly approved it this week.
Christie has said he wanted to restore the credit after having previously cut it, but he would phase in the increase over several years.
Several bills awaiting Senate approval were held, including a bill to ban tanning by those 15 and younger without parental permission and a measure that would have allowed judges to deny bail to offenders deemed "dangerous" to the community. Both had passed in the Assembly.
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