Senator Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr. represents the 18th Legislative District of New Jersey. The district includes, East Brunswick, Edison, Helmetta, Metuchen, South Plainfield, South River and Highland Park, all located in Middlesex County. He was elected to the New Jersey General Assembly in 2001 and was re-elected to 8 terms before his ascension to the Senate to replace Judge Peter J. Barnes III.
Senator Diegnan currently is Vice Chairman of the Senate Law & Public Safety Committee, a member of the Senate Budget & Appropriations Committee, member of the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism & Historical Preservation Committee and a member of the Joint Committee on the Public Schools.
A lifelong resident of South Plainfield the Senator was inducted into the South Plainfield Hall of Fame in 2002. He holds his B.A. and Juris Doctorate degrees from Seton Hall University. Senator Diegnan is an attorney in private practice in South Plainfield. He is a member of the New Jersey and Middlesex County Bar Associations. He is also a former instructor of law and accounting at Middlesex County College.
Senator Diegnan has been the prime sponsor of over 100 pieces of legislation that have been signed into law. He is recognized as an advocate for education and children. He was the prime sponsor of the bill to save the New Jersey Student Tuition Assistance Rewards (NJ Stars) program from 2008 proposed budget cuts. The bill passed and was signed by Governor Corzine in 2008. This program provides merit-based scholarships to qualified NJ high school students to attend county college free-of-charge. In 2009, he sponsored a seven-bill package to simplify many of New Jersey’s corporate governance statutes and make the state more attractive to businesses, as part of a larger effort by the Assembly to help the state and its residents cope with financial uncertainty and emerge strong from the economic crisis.
Senator Diegnan is an authority on policies that shape the educational landscape in New Jersey. He was an early leader of the NJ STARS program which is a scholarship program exclusively for New Jersey residents who graduate in the top 15 percent by covering the cost of tuition at New Jersey’s 19 county colleges. He has been a forceful proponent and sponsor of the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act which passed in 2011. As an Assemblyman, Patrick Diegnan has also spearheaded initiatives to protect student athletes. He sponsored legislation requiring school districts to develop policies to address the issue of concussions in student athletes which was signed into law on December 7, 2010.
As a commissioner of the New Jersey Corporate & Business Law Study Commission, Senator Diegnan has shaped corporate governance policy in the state to align with national best practices and raising New Jersey’s business profile. Senator Diegnan recently led the effort to eliminate consumer data collection requirements for certain gift cards and relieve merchants of the responsibility for this invasive and burdensome requirement.
Senator Diegnan has been recognized by numerous organizations, including the 2004 Middlesex County Jewish Center Honoree, the 2004 New Jersey Outstanding Legislator Award from the Displaced Homemakers Network, the 2007 Irishman of the Year from the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, the 2008 ArtPride NJ Distinguished Arts Advocate Award, the 2008 Legislative Excellence Award from the New Jersey Council of County Colleges and the Metuchen-Woodbridge-Edison YMCA 2009 Peter J. Barnes Community Champion Award, the 2010 YMCA NJ State Alliance Friend of the YMCA award, the 2011 Presidential Award from the Athletic Trainers’ Society of New Jersey, the 2011 Roscommon Man of the Year from the Roscommon Society of New York and the Hubert H. Humphrey Friend of Labor award from the Middlesex and Somerset Counties AFL-CIO Labor Council and the 2015 New Jersey Law Enforcement Police Officers Brotherhood Legislator of the Year. He also has served as president of the Sacred Heart Church Parish Council.
The Senator and his wife of 40 years, Anita, have two daughters: Heather Paragano and Tara Webster. He and his wife, Anita, are the proud grandparents of Vanessa and Alexa Paragano and Brooke Webster.