Star-Ledger: Governor vetos EMS overhaul bill again

TRENTON — Just as he did more than a year ago, Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a bill today that would have for the first time set training standards for all first responders and regulate how emergency medical services are provided in New Jersey. Assemblyman Herb Conaway (D-Burlington), a sponsor, said the bill (S1650) would help guarantee emergency services would be uniformly available at all times, and provided by properly trained people who have undergone background checks. But volunteer squads argued such a law would make it harder for them to survive by stifling recruitment and placing more financial requirements on their operations. 

In his veto message, the governor said when he first rejected the bill, he would not support it unless Health Commissioner Mary O'Dowd studied the impact on property taxes, the state budget, volunteerism and the necessity of mandatory background checks, among other things. The legislature never concurred that a study was needed and it didn't happen. Christie said his original opinion has not changed.

"Any proposed changes to our EMS system should be carefully considered and responsibly implemented," Christie wrote.

"First responders, including our emergency services personnel, continue to fulfill their duties with heroism and valor. This outstanding effort was no more on display than during Super Storm Sandy and its aftermath," according to the veto statement.

Conaway issued a statement saying he was “disappointed that the Governor has again vetoed common-sense reforms that would modernize the delivery of EMS services in our state. This legislation is the product of a comprehensive study of New Jersey's EMS system that was released in 2007. Since then, New Jersey residents have been waiting for much needed reform."

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