DeAngelo, Giblin, Singleton, Holley & Benson Bill to Support Creation, Expansion of Public Libraries in NJ Advances

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Wayne DeAngelo, Thomas Giblin, Troy Singleton, Jamel Holley and Dan Benson to provide grants for the construction, expansion and equipping of public libraries in New Jersey was advanced Monday by an Assembly committee. 

"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."

The bill (A-222), entitled the "New Jersey Library Construction Bond Act," would authorize the issuance of $125 million in state general obligation bonds to provide grants for the construction, expansion, and equipping of New Jersey's public libraries.

Wisniewski, DeAngelo, Coughlin, Benson & McKnight Bill to Ease Home Improvement Costs for Seniors Advanced by Assembly Committee

An Assembly panel on Monday released legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats John Wisniewski, Wayne DeAngelo, Craig Coughlin, Daniel Benson and Angela McKnight to ease home improvement costs for seniors by exempting them from municipal building permit fees.

The bill (A-1891) would authorize municipalities to enact ordinances that would allow an individual age 65 or over to apply for a waiver from paying construction permit surcharge fees or other fees associated with the construction or alteration of their primary home.

"It is hard enough with property taxes for our senior citizens to stay in their homes," said Wisniewski (D-Middlesex). "The unexpected cost of a permit for a water heater or roof replacement can push them out of their homes. This legislation will help municipalities make sure their residents can take the steps necessary to comfortably and safely remain in their residences. Particularly for those on a limited income, an exemption from building permit fees can go a long way."

Pinkin, Karabinchak, DeAngelo & Benson Bill Urging Congress to Protect Federal Property Tax Deduction Advanced by Assembly Committee

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Nancy Pinkin, Robert Karabinchak, Wayne DeAngelo and Daniel R. Benson to petition the United States Congress to not eliminate the federal property tax deduction so valuable to New Jerseyans was released Monday by the Assembly Budget Committee.
Under current law, a taxpayer is allowed to deduct from federal taxable income the amounts paid to state and local entities for assessments on real property. This deduction is known as the property tax deduction. This deduction, however, is under consideration and may be abolished as part of a reform of federal tax law proposed by President Trump.
The change would hit New Jersey homeowners hard.

Eustace, Benson, Zwicker, Wimberly Bill to Authorize Virtual Net Metering For Certain Customers Clears Assembly Panel

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Tim Eustace, Daniel Benson, Andrew Zwicker, and Benjie Wimberly to allow "virtual" net metering for customers connected to hydropower facilities was approved by an Assembly panel on Thursday. 

Virtual net metering (VNM) is a bill crediting system. A customer receives credits on their electric bill for excess energy drawn from a hydropower facility.

"For residents who have invested in a renewable energy source for their homes, this legislation would reduce their utility bill by giving them credit for the excess energy produced," said Eustace (D- Bergen, Passaic). "Virtual net metering allows the customers to keep tabs on how much energy they actually use through alternative energy sources. Because of their investment, residents should see the savings on their utility bills from month to month."

Under the bill (A-2204), a small scale Hydro power facility put into service after the effective date with the capacity of 3 MW or less is eligible for net metering. The bill authorizes a facility to deliver or sell power to up to 10 end-use customers, who are located within 10 miles of the facility and net-metered within the service territory of a single electric public utility, and designate the end-use customers to be credited by the electric power supplier or basic generation service provider with the excess generations of the facility. 

Sumter, Eustace, Benson & Vainieri Huttle Bill to Require Companies that Offshore Jobs Out of State to Return State Aid Advanced by Assembly Panel

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Shavonda Sumter (D-Passaic/Bergen), Tim Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic), Dan Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex) and Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) to require employers that offshore call center jobs overseas to return any state aid or business incentives they have received was released Thursday by an Assembly panel.

American companies have embraced the practice of exporting call center jobs as a way of reducing labor costs. Over the past decade, the U.S. has lost more than 200,000 call center jobs, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data. These jobs are often sent to the Philippines, India, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Honduras and other developing nations.

"Outsourcing jobs contributes to unemployment which hurts the economy," said Sumter. "These incentives are meant to support businesses that are committed to the state. Moving jobs overseas threatens our economy. This bill helps protect our investment and economic vitality."

"These companies transfer business functions to developing countries because they can take advantage of skilled foreign workers, while paying them a fraction of U.S. worker wages," said Benson. "This not only hurts our workers, but jeopardizes the level of service that consumers get."

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.