Press Releases

Benson Announces Mailing of 2015 Homestead Tax Benefit Applications

 

Assemblyman Daniel Benson is pleased to announce that Mercer and Middlesex County homeowners should be receiving their 2015 Homestead Benefit application packets from the New Jersey Division of Taxation by the end of September. Using the same schedule for printed packets, the Division will also send emails to homeowners who have requested electronic packets. 

"Every little bit helps when it comes to tax relief for residents, so I encourage all eligible homeowners to take advantage of this valuable Homestead Benefit Program," said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex).

Benson Announces Expansion of “Safe Care Cam” Program to Protect Seniors, Give Families Peace of Mind

 

Assemblyman Daniel Benson is pleased to announce that the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs is expanding their "Safe Care Cam" program to now allow families to monitor patients in nursing homes, assisted-living facilities, residences for the developmentally disabled, and other care facilities.

The program, which was originally only intended for use in private homes, serves as a valuable community resource to both residents who suspect that a loved one is being abused or to reaffirm peace of mind that a patient is being properly treated.

Benson Introduces Legislation to Help Rescue West Windsor-Plainsboro High School Football Program

Assemblyman Daniel Benson introduced legislation today that will help rescue the West Windsor-Plainsboro School high school football program and others like it that have fallen victim to the nationwide trend of declining enrollment.

According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, high school football enrollment is down 4.5 percent over the past decade. West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North has felt these effects. With only four seniors, four juniors and 16 sophomores set to play in the upcoming fall football season, the school was forced to drop its varsity program for the upcoming school year and will only play a JV schedule. 

The West Windsor-Plainsboro School District had petitioned the state to allow High School North to merge its varsity program with the district's other school - High School South - but was denied because the schools are part of two different athletic divisions, North being a Group III school and South being a Group IV school.

Benson to Introduce Bill Package to Increase Transparency in Lead Testing After Trenton Water Works Finds Elevated Levels

Assemblyman Daniel Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex) will introduce two pieces of legislation on Thursday in response to notification of elevated levels of lead found in the water sourced by Trenton Water Works.

Benson noted that letters were sent to all 64,000 Trenton Water Works customers in Trenton, Hamilton, Lawrence, and Ewing last week with recommendations and steps to reduce lead in their drinking water, however, notification was not provided to officials in the affected municipalities.

Benson's first measure would require that any water works system that fails lead testing at any level must notify the municipalities and their school districts so that they may begin emergency management as necessary. More specifically, if the water system has lead levels above the action level, municipalities must be provided with information on what areas of the given system were tested and where elevated lead levels are found.

Schaer, Lampitt & Benson Bill to Encourage Greater Collaboration between Business and Higher Education Communities Now Law

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Gary Schaer (D-Bergen/Passaic), Pamela Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington) and Dan Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex) to encourage more collaboration between New Jersey's businesses and institutions of higher education to help spur job creation and boost the economy has been signed into law.

"Fostering collaboration between our higher education institutions and our business community is vital to encourage innovation," said Schaer. "By using existing assets we are learning from what other states have done successfully. We should invest in our future."

"New Jersey is home to top-notch research universities and cutting edge industries. Not having these entities work together is a wasted opportunity," said Lampitt. "This can help produce the type of collaboration that can foster greater innovation and propel our economy forward."

Andrzejczak, Land, Vainieri Huttle, Taliaferro & Benson Bill to Protect Pets Against Inhumane Treatment Now Law

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Bob Andrzejczak, Bruce Land, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Adam Taliaferro and Dan Benson to help protect pets against inhumane treatment is now law.

"Pet owners have a responsibility to care for their pets. That includes bringing their dogs indoors or providing adequate outdoor shelter during inclement weather," said Andrzejczak (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland). "These animals are not immune from severe cold or hot weather. Keeping a dog outdoors under such conditions is just cruel and is now illegal."

Sumter, Jasey, Benson, Muoio & Downey Bill to Increase Transparency for NJCLASS Student Loan Programs Becomes Law

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Shavonda Sumter, Mila Jasey, Dan Benson, Elizabeth Maher Muoio and Joann Downey to combat student loan debt in New Jersey was signed into law on Monday.

"The only concern a college student should have after graduating is choosing which job will lead them closer to their goals," said Sumter (D-Bergen/Passaic).

"It has become the norm for families and students to take on an overwhelming amount of debt to pursue educational goals. We must increase transparency under NJCLASS Loan Programs, better educate families on loan repayment options and requirements as well as help families understand how much they can realistically handle in student loans."

Taliaferro, Eustace, Benson & Mazzeo Legislation Banning ‘Flakka’ Possession Signed into Law

Legislation Assembly Democrats Adam Taliaferro, Tim Eustace, Daniel Benson and Vince Mazzeo sponsored to help curb the use of a street drug often associated with violent and self-destructive behavior was signed into law on Monday.

The law (A-2176) now criminalizes the possession, distribution, manufacture and sale of the drug alpha-pyrrolidinopentiophenone (alpha-PVP), an inexpensive synthetic drug commonly referred to as "flakka" or "flocka." The measure adds the drug to an existing list of similar prohibited controlled substances that includes the family of synthetic cathinones known as "bath salts."

"Flakka has been linked to a number of psychotic symptoms and violent attacks, threatening the safety of communities across the nation," said Taliaferro (D-Cumberland/Gloucester/Salem). "With this law, New Jersey will be proactive about preventing this dangerous drug from taking over in our state." 

Muoio, Giblin, Mazzeo, Gusciora & Benson Bill Ensuring Furloughed State Workers Get Paid Signed into Law

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Elizabeth Maher Muoio, Thomas Giblin, Vince Mazzeo, Reed Gusciora and Daniel Benson to ensure that state workers who were involuntarily furloughed during the state government shutdown receive the wages or salary they were owed during that period has been signed into law.

Assembly OKs Vainieri Huttle, Eustace, Tucker, McKnight & Benson Measure Barring Christie from Transferring Addiction & Mental Health Services

By a vote of 42-25, the General Assembly on Monday approved a measure sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Tim Eustace, Cleopatra Tucker, Angela McKnight and Daniel Benson to block Gov. Christie's plan to transfer the functions of the state's mental health and addiction services from the Department of Human Services to the Department of Health.

Last week, the Assembly Human Services Committee, chaired by Vainieri Huttle, held a joint hearing on the plan with the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee at which time representatives from over 20 organizations and stakeholders expressed concerns regarding the content, potential effects, and timing of the planned reorganization.

Muoio, Giblin, Mazzeo, Gusciora & Benson Bill to Ensure Involuntarily Furloughed State Workers are Paid for Shutdown Heads to Governor’s Desk

The full Assembly on Monday unanimously granted final legislative approval to a bill sponsored by Assembly Democrats Elizabeth Maher Muoio, Thomas Giblin, Vince Mazzeo, Reed Gusciora and Daniel Benson to ensure that state workers who were involuntarily furloughed when Gov. Christie shut down state government receive the wages or salary they were owed during that period.

Benson, Muoio & Gusciora Bill Opposing Reorganization of NJ Office of Information Technology Approved by Assembly

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Dan Benson, Elizabeth Muoio and Reed Gusciora opposing the governor's decision to reorganize the New Jersey Office of Information Technology was approved Monday by the General Assembly.

"This reorganization makes no sense, and will lead to increased operational inefficiencies and hinder important OIT functions such as identifying waste and fraud," said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "The state should instead focus on enhancing OIT capabilities and building upon their record of success."

"Restructuring the OIT has the potential to waste taxpayer dollars by delaying the development and implementation of work product and infrastructure improvements," said Muoio (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). "The possible detrimental effects on the state's technical infrastructure are concerning to us, and should be concerning to the governor."

Eustace, Karabinchak, McKeon, Vainieri Huttle & Benson Bill to Create Water Quality Accountability Act Now Law

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Timothy Eustace, Robert Karabinchak, John McKeon, Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Daniel Benson to establish a proactive cybersecurity policy for all water purveyors in order to enhance the reliability and safety of the state's drinking water systems was signed into law on Friday.

In March 2016, the BPU adopted cybersecurity requirements applicable to the electric, natural gas, water, and wastewater utilities that it regulates. The new law will apply those requirements to all water purveyors. 

"We have seen many cybersecurity threats in recent years," said Eustace (D-Bergen, Passaic). "Whether it is attacking our personal information online or threatening critical resources, the state must take steps to protect residents from cybersecurity breaches. This law will codify present cybersecurity requirements established by the BPU and strengthen protections of our water resources by extending these requirements to all water suppliers."

Lampitt, Vainieri Huttle, Benson & Wimberly Bill to Uphold Right of Service Dog Access for People with Disabilities Now Law

Legislation Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Daniel Benson and Benjie Wimberly sponsored to uphold the right of people with disabilities to have equal access to public facilities was recently signed into law.

The new law, which received unanimous approval by the full Assembly in January, was first proposed by the sponsors after 16-year-old Cherry Hill resident Ben Shore raised concerns about a policy in his school district outlining preconditions to be met in order for a student to be accompanied by a service animal,like his service dog Charlie.

The law (formerly A-4081), known as "Charlie's Law," establishes civil penalties for those who deny individuals with disabilities accompanied by service or guide dogs access to any public facility.

Mazzeo, Lagana, Vainieri Huttle, & Benson Bill to Educate Parents of Prescription Opioid Use Now Law

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Vincent Mazzeo, Joseph Lagana, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, and Daniel Benson creating a state-led effort to educate parents of student-athletes and cheerleaders on the use and misuse of prescription opioids is now law.
"The law ensures that young people and their parents are educated as early as possible about the dangers of opioid abuse and addiction," said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). "It is critical to provide this information to students who participate in athletics to make certain that, in the event they are prescribed an opioid for an injury, they will be fully knowledgeable of the risks of misuse."

Assembly Democratic Bill Establishing State Goal to Reduce Food Waste in NJ Now Law

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt, Annette Quijano, Tim Eustace, James Kennedy, Dan Benson, Elizabeth Muoio, Andrew Zwicker and Raj Mukherji to establish a statewide food waste reduction goal of 50 percent by 2030 has been signed into law.

"Food waste is a major issue nationally and globally," said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). "Unwanted and discarded food squanders water, land, energy, labor and capital resources. When food waste is dumped in a landfill, it rots and creates methane, a very hazardous greenhouse gas. We should begin to look at alternatives to ridding surplus food, especially if it is still unspoiled, instead of just tossing it in a landfill." 

Assembly Democratic Bill Package to Provide Free Mental Health Services, Extend Certain Benefits to Gold Star Families Now Law

A legislative package sponsored by Assembly Democrats Lou Greenwald, Gordon Johnson, Bruce R. Land, Bob Andrzejczak, Vince Mazzeo, Eric Houghtaling, Dan Benson, Patricia Jones, Raj Mukherji and Joseph Danielsen to provide mental health services and other resources to Gold Star families has been signed into law.

The term "Gold Star" describes a family member who has lost a loved one in military service. A Gold Star Family member is defined to mean a spouse, domestic partner, partner in a civil union, parent, brother, sister, child, legal guardian, or other legal custodian.

"Gold Star families have given the greatest sacrifice they can for our freedoms, and we need to do our part to support them," said Greenwald (D-Camden/Burlington). "This will provide needed support to navigate the challenges and difficulties they face in the wake of losing a loved one."

Sumter, Jasey, Muoio, Lagana, Downey & Benson HESAA Transparency Measure Now Law

Legislation Assembly Democrats Shavonda Sumter, Mila Jasey, Elizabeth Maher Muoio, Joseph Lagana, Joann Downey and Daniel Benson sponsored to combat student loan debt in New Jersey is now law.

"The only concern a college student should have after graduating is choosing which job will lead them closer to their goals," said Sumter (D-Bergen/Passaic). "It has become the norm for families and students to take on an overwhelming amount of debt to pursue educational goals. This new law will increase transparency under NJCLASS loan programs, better educate families on loan repayment options and requirements and help families understand how much they can realistically handle in student loans." 

"Furthering your education is necessary to advance a career," Jasey (D-Essex/Morris), chair of the Assembly Higher Education Committee. "It should never be a burden to do so, and it should be encouraged without fear of debt. This is a step toward helping families struggling to send their children to college without saddling them with cumbersome loan debt."

Schaer, Jasey, Benson & Wimberly College Affordability & Preparedness Bill Now Law

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Gary Schaer, Mila Jasey. Daniel R. Benson and Benjie Wimberly aimed at helping New Jersey residents better navigate the college process has been signed into law.

"Too many students today are unprepared entering into a higher education system that leads them to incur crushing student loan debt," said Schaer (D-Bergen/Passaic). "We need to provide a path forward for New Jersey students by allowing them access to college curricula in high school, opening higher education possibilities and exposing them to the academic rigor ahead, and then providing them an option for a debt-free future."

DeAngelo, Giblin, Singleton, Holley & Benson Bill to Ask Voters to Support Creation & Expansion of Public Libraries Now Law

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Wayne DeAngelo, Thomas Giblin, Troy Singleton, Jamel Holley and Dan Benson to ask voters to provide grants for the construction, expansion and equipping of public libraries in New Jersey has been signed into law.

"Some might question the relevance of libraries when technology is so prevalent, but for one, not everyone has access to technology, and secondly, libraries are more than just a place to get books," said DeAngelo (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "They are gathering places. They are places where people can get college prep and career assistance. They are places where people without access to computers or an internet connection can have free access to both. Given the value of libraries and what they provide our communities, it would be irresponsible not to invest in their viability."

Benson, Mukherji, Muoio, Holley, Sumter, Downey, Lampitt, Oliver, Danielsen & Wimberly Bill to Protect NJ Public Safety Officers Now Law

Legislation Assembly Democrats Daniel R. Benson, Raj Mukherji, Elizabeth Muoio, Jamel Holley, Shavonda Sumter, Joann Downey, Pamela Lampitt, Sheila Oliver, Joe Danielsen and Benjie Wimberly sponsored to support workers who are attacked while supervising inmates or detainees is now law.

Under previous law, a corrections officer or juvenile detention officer who was seriously injured after a prison inmate attack and could not work would not receive any salary while waiting for workers' compensation to take effect, which could take several months.

A recent rise in attacks on corrections officers highlighted the need to address this gap in state statute, the sponsors noted.

Assembly Democratic Bill Package Targeting Homelessness in New Jersey Clears Assembly

The full Assembly on Thursday approved an expansive six-bill package sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Daniel Benson, Elizabeth Maher Muoio, Raj Mukherji, Troy Singleton, Nicholas Chiaravalloti and Patricia Egan Jones designed to reduce homelessness and help New Jersey residents get back on their feet.

"The descent into homelessness can happen rapidly for a number of reasons, but one thing we've learned is that the climb out can be arduous to near-impossible without a helping hand," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "We've spent nearly the last six months examining the issue to find ways that we can maximize state resources so that they have a real and transformative impact on the lives of homeless residents in our state. Cumulatively, these bills tackle the most pervasive factors that lead to or perpetuate homelessness."

Andrzejczak, Land, Benson, Holley & Mukherji Measure to Strengthen Animal Cruelty Laws Clears Assembly

Legislation Assembly Democrats Bob Andrzejczak, Bruce Land, Daniel R. Benson, Jamel Holley and Raj Mukherji sponsored to require animal abusers to pay the cost for caring for the animals they harmed gained Assembly approval on Thursday.
The bill (A-772) would provide for the cost of care for animals involved in animal cruelty violations and establish a procedure for the alleged violator to pay for the care. 
"The abusive treatment of animals is plain cowardice," said Andrzejczak (D-Cape May/ Atlantic/Cumberland). "Individuals who commit such acts should and will be held accountable for their actions. It's time to strengthen New Jersey statutes and make perpetrators pay for their unspeakable mistreatment of animals."

Taliaferro, Eustace, Benson & Mazzeo Legislation to Ban 'Flakka' Possession Clears Legislature, Heads to Gov

 Legislation Assembly Democrats Adam Taliaferro, Tim Eustace, Daniel Benson and Vince Mazzeo sponsored to help curb the use of a street drug often associated with violent and self-destructive behavior was approved by the full Senate, 39-0, on Monday. 

The bill (A-2176) would criminalize the possession, distribution, manufacture and sale of the drug alpha-pyrrolidinopentiophenone (alpha-PVP), an inexpensive synthetic drug commonly referred to as "flakka" or "flocka." The measure adds the drug to an existing list of similar prohibited controlled substances that includes the family of synthetic cathinones known as "bath salts."

"Flakka has been linked to a number of psychotic symptoms and violent attacks, threatening the safety of communities across the nation," said Taliaferro (D-Cumberland/Gloucester/Salem). "With this legislation, New Jersey will be proactive about preventing this dangerous drug from taking over in our state." 

Under the bill, possessing, distributing, manufacturing or selling one ounce or more of the drug would be a crime of the second degree. A crime of the second degree is punishable by imprisonment for a term of five to 10 years, a fine of up to $150,000 or both. Possessing, distributing, manufacturing or selling less than one ounce would be a crime of the third degree, punishable by imprisonment for a term of three to five years, a fine of up to $15,000 or both.

Schaer, Lampitt & Benson Bill to Encourage Greater Collaboration between Business and Higher Education Communities Clears Assembly Panel

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Gary Schaer (D-Bergen/Passaic), Pamela Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington) and Dan Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex) to encourage more collaboration between New Jersey's businesses and institutions of higher education to help spur job creation and boost the economy was released Monday by an Assembly panel.

"Fostering collaboration between our higher education institutions and our business community is vital to encourage innovation," said Schaer. "By using existing assets we are learning from what other states have done successfully. We should invest in our future."

"New Jersey is home to top-notch research universities and cutting edge industries. Not having these entities work together is a wasted opportunity," said Lampitt. "This can help produce the type of collaboration that can foster greater innovation and propel our economy forward."

"New Jersey loses many of its college-bound students to other states, denying the state and its workforce of valuable brainpower," said Benson. "If we create better career development opportunities for students through these partnerships, they will be more likely to stay in New Jersey."

Sumter, Jasey, Benson, Muoio, Downey & Mukherji Higher Ed Reform Bill Heads to Governor's Desk

Legislation Assembly Democrats Shavonda Sumter, Mila Jasey, Daniel Benson, Elizabeth Maher Muoio, Joann Downey and Raj Mukherji sponsored to combat student loan debt in New Jersey gained final legislative approval Monday in the Senate.

The bill (A-4239) would revise the New Jersey College Loans to Assist State Students (NJCLASS) program to conduct income verification, limit total student loan amounts and require that applicants first exhaust federal student loans. 

"The only concern a college student should have after graduating is choosing which job will lead them closer to their goals," said Sumter (D-Bergen/Passaic). "It has become the norm for families and students to take on an overwhelming amount of debt to pursue educational goals. This legislation will reassess how we distribute state loans." 

"Furthering your education is necessary to advance a career," Jasey (D-Essex/Morris), chair of the Assembly Higher Education Committee. "It should never be a burden to do so, and it should be encouraged without fear of debt. This is the first step toward helping families struggling to send their children to college without saddling them with cumbersome loan debt."

Assembly Democratic Bill to Promote Equal Pay for Women Heads to Governor’s Desk

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Joann Downey, Pamela Lampitt, Gary Schaer, Eric Houghtaling, Dan Benson, Troy Singleton, Elizabeth Maher Muoio and Wayne DeAngelo to promote equal pay for women received final legislative approval from the Senate on Monday.

The bill, which was approved by the Assembly last month, now heads to the Governor's desk.

Currently, in the United States, women earn approximately 21 percent less than men. In 2015, female full-time workers made only 80 cents for every dollar earned by men, a gender wage gap of 20 percent. The gap between men's and women's wages remains even when taking into account factors such as career choice, experience and education. One study found that a decade after graduation, women earned 12 percent less than men after accounting for all other factors that could affect pay.

Lampitt, Quijano, Eustace, Kennedy, Benson, Muoio, Zwicker & Mukherji Bill Establishing State Goal to Reduce Food Waste in NJ Gains Final Legislative Approval

The General Assembly on Thursday approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt, Annette Quijano, Tim Eustace, James Kennedy, Dan Benson, Elizabeth Muoio, Andrew Zwicker and Raj Mukherji to establish a statewide food waste reduction goal of 50 percent by 2030.

"Food waste is a major issue nationally and globally," said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). "Unwanted and discarded food squanders water, land, energy, labor and capital resources. When food waste is dumped in a landfill, it rots and creates methane, a very hazardous greenhouse gas. We should begin to look at alternatives to ridding surplus food, especially if it is still unspoiled, instead of just tossing it in a landfill."

"One third of the food produced in the world for human consumption -about 1.3 billion tons - is lost or wasted every year," said Quijano (D-Union). "We must take steps to reduce New Jersey's contribution to food waste and plan for the future."

McKeon, Benson & Kennedy Clean Vehicle Task Force Bill Gets Green Light from Full Assembly

Legislation Assembly Democrats John McKeon, Daniel Benson and James Kennedy sponsored to explore ways to promote the use of "clean" vehicles in New Jersey was approved 50-18-7 by the full Assembly on Thursday.

The bill (A-3295) would establish the Clean Vehicle Task Force, whose 11 members would evaluate issues related to the promotion, development and use of clean vehicles in New Jersey. The body would submit a report with recommendations to the governor and the legislature within a year of organizing.

"Knowing that vehicle emissions are a major contributor to air pollution it's critical that we find ways to get more vehicles with lower emissions on the road," said McKeon (D-Essex/Morris). "This task force will help us find ways to protect the environment and advance our goal of slowing climate change. Now that the President has pulled us out of the Paris Accords, it's all the more crucial that states help lead the way in combating climate change."

Mazzeo, Lagana, Vainieri Huttle, & Benson Bill to Educate Parents of Prescription Opioid Use Heads to Governor

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Vincent Mazzeo, Joseph Lagana, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, and Daniel Benson creating a state-led effort to educate parents of student-athletes and cheerleaders on the use and misuse of prescription opioids is headed to the Governor after receiving final legislative approval from the Senate on Thursday.

"The bill ensures that young people and their parents are educated as early as possible about the dangers of opioid abuse and addiction," said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). "It is critical to provide this information to students who participate in athletics to make certain that, in the event they are prescribed an opioid for an injury, they will be fully knowledgeable of the risks of misuse." 

The legislation was unanimously approved by the Assembly in February.

"Prescription drug abuse has taken a heartbreaking toll on many young residents and their families," said Lagana (D-Bergen, Passaic). "Student-athletes are more vulnerable than others due to injuries that may occur while playing a sport. We must step up efforts to inform parents about the potential of opioid abuse and how to prevent it from happening to their children."