Lagana, Vainieri Huttle, Zwicker, Benson, Sumter & McKnight Bill to Support STEM Entrepreneurs Clears Assembly Panel

 Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Joseph Lagana, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Andrew Zwicker, Dan Benson, Shavonda Sumter and Angela McKnight to help strengthen New Jersey's economy by encouraging entrepreneurship in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) was released Thursday by an Assembly committee. 

"In order to succeed in a 21st-century global economy we must cultivate cutting-edge innovation in health care, engineering, information technology and various other STEM-related areas," said Lagana (D-Bergen/Passaic). "This legislation is about making sure that our state's best and brightest have access to the resources they need to build on the ideas that will move us forward." 

"The STEM fields represent the future of New Jersey," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "Supporting men and women in these in-demand sectors will empower them not only to advance their own careers but also to create high-paying jobs and strengthen our economy."

Assembly Panel Approves Vainieri Huttle & Benson Bills to Make Sure Critical Health Services are Managed Properly

An Assembly panel on Thursday approved two bills sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Daniel Benson to address deficiencies identified recently by the State Auditor in the way the Department of Human Services delivers critical services to some of New Jersey's most vulnerable populations. 

The first bill (A-4769) is designed to ensure that New Jersey's Medicaid and FamilyCare programs have adequate networks to meet the needs of participants and the second bill (A-4654) would revamp the system used to access services and resources for people with persistent behavioral health issues.

"The Auditor's report brought to light some glaring deficiencies in the way the state manages critical health services for children, low-income families and residents who struggle with behavioral health issues," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "We need to make sure that residents who need these services aren't harmed by bureaucratic failures and instead can concentrate on getting themselves or their loved ones the services they need."

Assembly Panel Releases Two Bills Concerning Coverage and the Dispensing of Hearing Aids in NJ

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Annette Quijano, Daniel Benson and Valerie Vainieri Huttle to expand health benefits coverage and the list of licensed practitioners who can dispense and fit hearing aids in the state was released Monday by an Assembly panel.

The first (A-3974) bill, released by the Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee, permits certain licensed audiologists to dispense and fit hearing aids. The bill is sponsored by Assemblywoman Vainieri Huttle.
"The purpose of this bill is to give residents more options when seeking professionals who can provide hearing aid services," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "A licensed audiologist is professionally qualified to provide this service and should be able to under state law."

As provided by the bill, an audiologist licensed to practice, may dispense and fit hearing aids if he has successfully completed, as determined by the Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology Advisory Committee, a program of coursework and clinical training, while demonstrating sufficient didactic and applied experience to be competent in the dispensing and fitting of hearing aids, from an institution of higher education that is accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language-Hearing Association, or any organization, as approved by the committee.

Kennedy, DeAngelo, Vainieri Huttle & Benson Bill to Prohibit Cable, Cell Phone Companies from Charging Deceased Customers Early Termination Fees Clears Assembly Committee

Legislation Assembly Democrats James Kennedy, Wayne DeAngelo, Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Daniel Benson sponsored to prohibit telephone, cable and utility companies from charging deceased customers early termination fees was advanced Monday by an Assembly committee.

"When a family is grieving over the loss of a loved one, the last thing they want to deal with is an early termination fee from a cable company or an Internet service provider," said Kennedy (D-Middlesex/Somerset/Union). "Charging someone a fee because he or she died is a merciless business practice that must come to an end."

Benson, Vainieri Huttle, Mazzeo, Mukherji, Downey & Wimberly Opioid Antidote Bill Now Law

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Daniel Benson, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Vince Mazzeo, Raj Mukherji, Joann Downey and Benjie Wimberly to ensure that opioid antidotes are available to help prevent overdoses was signed into law on Friday

The new law (S-295/A-2334) will expand public access to opioid antidotes, such as naloxone hydrochloride, in order to allow pharmacists to dispense naloxone to any person, without a prescription, pursuant to a standing order issued by a prescriber or, upon request by the pharmacist, pursuant to a standing order issued by the Commissioner of Health or the Deputy Commissioner for Public Health Services.

Caride, Jimenez, Mukherji, Holley, Benson & McKnight Bill to Ensure Safety of Students in Wheelchairs on School Buses Gains Assembly OK

Legislation Assembly Democrats Marlene Caride, Angelica Jimenez, Raj Mukherji, Jamel Holley, Daniel R. Benson and Angela McKnight sponsored to improve the safety of students in wheelchairs who are transported on school buses gained unanimous approval from the General Assembly on Thursday. 

The bill (A-1257) would require school bus drivers to secure students who use a wheelchair with a four-point securement system, which shall be made available on all school buses used to transport students who use a wheelchair. A four-point securement system is defined by the bill as a complete four-point system that includes four wheelchair restraints to secure a wheelchair to the vehicle floor, a lap and shoulder belt that integrates to the rear wheelchair restraints and floor anchorages installed in the vehicle floor. 

"These students are especially vulnerable," said Caride (D-Bergen/Passaic), chair of the Assembly Education Committee. "Equipping our school buses with this four-point securement system and requiring bus drivers to ensure that students in wheelchairs are properly secured in the system will make for a safer ride to school."

Schaer, Jasey, Benson & Vainieri Huttle College Affordability & Preparedness Bill Package Clears Assembly

The General Assembly on Thursday approved two bills that are part of a broader package sponsored by Assembly Democrats Gary Schaer, Mila Jasey, Daniel R. Benson, and Valerie Vainieri Huttle aimed at helping New Jersey residents better navigate the college process before, during and after their time on campus.

"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."

Sumter, Jasey, Muoio, Lagana, Downey & Benson Higher Ed Reform Bill Package Heads to Governor’s Desk

A two-bill package 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 gained final legislative approval unanimously from the full Assembly on Thursday.

"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 package will reassess how we distribute state loans and inform families of their options when planning for college. 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." 

Eustace, Karabinchak, McKeon, Vainieri Huttle & Benson Bill to Create Water Quality Accountability Act Clears Assembly

The full Assembly on Thursday approved legislation, 76-0, 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. 

In March 2016, the BPU adopted cybersecurity requirements applicable to the electric, natural gas, water, and wastewater utilities that it regulates. This bill would 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 legislation would codify present cybersecurity requirements established by the BPU and strengthen protections of our water resources by extending these requirements to all water suppliers."

Downey, Houghtaling, Holley & Benson Bill to Connect More Who Served to Programs, Benefits for Veterans Advances

Legislation Assembly Democrats Joann Downey, Eric Houghtaling, Jamel Holley and Daniel Benson sponsored to more effectively deliver services to veterans in New Jersey was approved, 76-0, Thursday by the full Assembly.

The bill (A-4171) would establish the New Jersey Commission on Veterans' Benefits in the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. The 13-member commission would develop, maintain and annually update a five-year statewide veterans' benefits strategic plan that includes goals and measurable outcomes to ensure that all state departments and agencies are effectively delivering comprehensive services and support for veterans and their families.

"Many veterans are aware of how they can benefit from resources the federal government offers, but they're sometimes uncertain about what they and their families may qualify for at the state level," said Downey (D-Monmouth). "A commission dedicated to making sure veterans have access to the programs and benefits they're eligible for and deserve will help New Jersey honor its obligation to those who have served this nation."