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Congresswoman Aims to Strengthen Security at Transportation Centers

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NJ Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-12) Credits: Official portrait
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TRENTON, NJ – Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, Vice Ranking Member on the House Committee on Homeland Security, announced the Surface Transportation and Public Area Security Act of 2017. If enacted, the legislation would restore, revamp, and resource important programs aimed at securing critical soft targets, such as railroads, buses and the public areas of airports.

The bill would also greatly enhance federal partnership with state and local stakeholders to protect these vital transit systems and the people who use them. Watson Coleman announced plans to introduce the legislation at a field hearing in New Jersey’s 12th Congressional District held by the Subcommittee on Transportation and Protective Security of the Committee on Homeland Security.

“It has become increasingly clear that the Federal Government has fallen behind in ensuring that our mass transit systems are secure and safe. Knowing that, I am appalled by the Trump Administration's proposal to cut the few existing transit security programs,” said Rep. Watson Coleman.

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“The Surface Transportation and Public Area Security Act of 2017 will finally give transit agencies the resources and tools they need to enhance security and commuters nationwide the assurances of safety they deserve. It is imperative that, as federal legislators, we learn from the deadly attacks we’ve seen worldwide and take all the necessary steps to prevent such tragedy on American soil.”

In August, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) dedicated an edition of its online-only English-language propaganda magazine to teaching followers how to derail trains in Europe and the U.S.

In September, the Republican-controlled House Rules Committee rejected an amendment to the omnibus appropriations bill that would have restored $43 million in funding for TSA’s Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) teams - one of the few federal programs that supports rail security. These teams are deployed to provide security at various transportation facilities, including rail and bus stations. The Trump Administration has also proposed cutting the Transit Security Grant Program (TSGP), which transit agencies rely on to fund key security measures, from $88 million to only $48 million.   

Watson Coleman’s legislation would authorize $400 million for the TSGP, direct TSA to maintain 60 VIPR teams, and restore funding for the Law Enforcement Officer Reimbursement Program. The bill would make law enforcement reimbursement available for surface transportation; increase the deployment of explosive detection canines to surface transportation; require a review of whether it is appropriate for people to be able to carry guns into public transportation areas; and direct the dissemination of best practices for securing against vehicle-based attacks, such as the recent attack in New York.

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Update: Health Authorities Still Investigating Flu Death of Elizabeth Schoolgirl

February 19, 2018

ELIZABETH, NJ - The New Jersey Department of Health is continuing to investigate the cause of the passing of elementary school student Daniela Genaro after it was confirmed that the student had been diagnosed with influenza. Officials said it "presently remains unclear whether or not the virus was the primary contributing factor to the child's passing."

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The Missing Moses

A seemingly dubious distinction belongs to this week’s Parshah, Tetzaveh (Exodus 27:20–30:10). It is the only reading in the Torah — from the first Parshah of the book of Exodus (in which he is born) until the end of the book of Numbers — where the name of Moses is not mentioned. Tetzaveh’s opening words are V’atah ...

Congratulations to UCDC Chairman Nick Scutari

February 23, 2018

Dear Editor:

First, congratulations to Chairman Nick Scutari. I look forward to working alongside him as 1st Vice Chair of the Union County Democratic Committee. 

For the last three weeks, this campaign for UCDC Chair displayed the power we have and the voice we share. You are the leaders, citizens and activists who are helping shape our future. What you do in your hometowns and ...

Being Alone on Valentine’s Day

February 13, 2018

Valentine’s Day is a day filled with Hallmark cards, chocolate covered strawberries, red roses and special dining.  It’s a day to express our love and affection to those close to us.  Some of us have expectations that this day will be blissful, we may even receive that diamond ring that represents engagement or marriage.

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Scotch Plains Public Library Presents, “The Shannachie of Glendunbun Ballybeg: Traditional Celtic Tales”

February 25, 2018

SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- Storyteller David Emerson will retell the colorful and ancient tales of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and Cornwall in a presentation on Thursday, March 1 at 7:00 p.m. that will “warm, tickle, or chill the heart” at the Scotch Plains Library. This program is funded by the New Jersey Council for the Humanities. Registration is recommended.

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Upcoming Events

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Sun, February 25, 10:00 AM

Camp Riverbend, Warren

Camp Riverbend Open House

Arts & Entertainment

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Wed, February 28, 1:00 PM

Mountainside Borough Hall (Recreation Room), Mountainside

Hearts for Hope; Create a moment of joy to those ...

Giving Back