Current Status: Bill A169/S108 was put to a vote in the NJ Assembly on June 24, 2021, and it passed unanimously (74-0). The bill now heads to the Governor, who has 45 days to sign it.
2021: Bill A169, sponsored by Assemblymembers Ralph Caputo and Harold Wirths, was heard in the Assembly Education Committee on March 17, 2021. The committee voted unanimously in favor of the bill. Next, the bill will be brought to the Assembly for a full vote. The bill passed the committee with an amendment requiring that each school district adopt a written policy concerning student freedom of expression.
2020: A169, sponsored by Assemblymen Harold Wirths and Ralph Caputo, and S108, sponsored by Senators Nia Gill and Shirley Turner were introduced on January 14, the first day of the 2020 session. S108 was quickly approved by the Senate Education committee, and then unanimously approved by the full Senate. Advocates are working to encourage an Assembly Education hearing on both bills.
In 2019, the New Jersey Senate unanimously voted in favor of S1176, sponsored by Senators Nia Gill and Shirley Turner. This last-minute vote came long after the Senate Education committee unanimously voted in June 2019 to support New Voices legislation, thanks to tireless work by the students, advisers and advocates of New Voices New Jersey.
A companion Assembly bill (A238), sponsored by Assemblymen Harold Wirths and Ralph Caputo did not receive a hearing in the Assembly Education committee. The Assembly failed to act on the Senate bill before the end of the legislative year.
New Voices legislation was first introduced in New Jersey in 2015.
- Contact your state legislators to let them know why this bill is important to you. Find out who your legislators are here. Not sure what to say? Check out our phone script and letter-writing tips here.
- Refine your thoughts with talking points, a printable flyer and other resources here.
- Get looped in with volunteer coordinators to let them know about your efforts and learn about other ways to get involved:
- Hillary Davis, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Like and follow New Voices of New Jersey on Facebook.
- Enlist all your friends in New Jersey to raise their voices in support of this measure, which ensures the basic First Amendment rights of student journalists and protects their advisers from retaliation.
- If you are a student or adviser who was censored, intimidated or retaliated against, contact SPLC’s legal hotline.
Why New Jersey needs New Voices
- College journalists in New Jersey describe years of “intimidation, harassment, threats” by administrators. Student Press Law Center (12-17-19)
- Teacher suspended after allegedly censoring Trump references in yearbook. Student Press Law Center (6-15-17)
- New Jersey high school reporter’s investigative piece was censored for three months – until SPLC intervened. Student Press Law Center (12-23-15)
- Former New Jersey adviser is suing the school board after his dismissal last year. Student Press Law Center (10-9-15)
You can see the list of national endorsers at the bottom of this page.
- Trenton on the road to affirming student journalists’ freedom of speech rights Young Jersey Journal, Trenton, NJ (3-15-21)
- ‘New Voices’ resound throughout 40th Annual GSSPA Fall Press Day. Garden State Scholastic Press Association (11-7-19)
- Senator Nia H. Gill Recognized By The Garden State Scholastic Press Association For Defending The First Amendment Rights Of Student Journalists. Insider NJ (11-4-19)
- New Jersey New Voices bill unanimously passes Senate Education committee. Student Press Law Center (6-18-19)