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McKeon, Muoio & Benson Bill to Block Christie Administration from Chipping Away at Highlands Water Protections Clears Legislature

The full Assembly approved Thursday legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats John McKeon, Elizabeth Maher Muoio and Daniel Benson to bar the Christie administration from drastically increasing the number of allowable septic systems in protected areas of the Highlands where a vast majority of New Jerseyans draw their drinking water. The bill was approved, 52-24-0, with a concurrence vote. 

The concurrent resolution (ACR-192) conveys the finding of the Legislature that the Department of Environmental Protection's (DEP) proposal published in May to revise the septic system density standards in the Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act Rules is not consistent with the intent of the Legislature when it passed the original law in 2004, given that the proposed standards "could result in up to 1,145 additional septic systems, or about 12 percent more individual septic systems than under the existing rule."

Singleton, Tucker, Mosquera & Benson Bill to Encourage Employers to Hire Veterans Clears Committee

Legislation Assembly Democrats Troy Singleton, Cleopatra Tucker, Gabriela Mosquera and Daniel Benson sponsored to encourage employers to hire veterans of recent active military service was advanced Monday by an Assembly committee.

"Veterans know how to lead a team, complete a task under pressure and do a job with a sense of pride," said Singleton (D-Burlington). "These honorable men and women would be excellent contributors in the civilian workplace, so encouraging employers to consider them when hiring truly benefits all parties involved."

Benson, DeAngelo & Muoio Measure to Ensure Job Security for Organ Donors Clears Assembly Committee

Legislation Assembly Democrats Daniel Benson, Wayne DeAngelo and Elizabeth Muoio sponsored to ensure that organ and bone marrow donors do not lose employment due to a temporary inability to work was advanced Monday by an Assembly Committee.

"Organ and tissue donors selflessly undergo procedures to save another person's life only to face the possibility that their act of kindness may cost them their livelihood," said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "Establishing statutory job protection for these men and women will ensure that no New Jersey resident can lose employment because he or she took temporary disability due to organ or tissue donation."

Downey, Lampitt, Schaer, Houghtaling, Benson, Singleton, Muoio & DeAngelo Bill to Promote Equal Pay for Women Clears Senate Committee

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 was advanced by a Senate panel on Thursday.

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.

Assembly Panel Clears Prieto, Mukherji, Benson & Vainieri Huttle Bill to Expand Mammogram Insurance Coverage for Adopted Women

Legislation Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto and Assembly Democrats Raj Mukherji, Daniel Benson and Valerie Vainieri Huttle sponsored to expand access to mammograms for adopted women in New Jersey cleared the Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee on Thursday. 

The bill (A-1977) would require health insurers to provide benefits coverage for mammograms to women under age 40 who may be at risk for developing breast cancer but lack access to their family histories because either they or their parents were adopted. While current law requires insurers to cover mammograms for younger women with a demonstrable family history of breast cancer, the sponsors note that this burden of proof renders the exams less accessible to adopted women and the daughters of adopted parents. 

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

An Assembly panel on Thursday approved 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. 
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. "

Taliaferro, Eustace, Benson & Mazzeo Legislation to Ban 'Flakka' Possession Clears Assembly Committee

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 advanced Thursday by an Assembly committee.
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." 

Coughlin, Mukherji, Benson, Downey and Houghtaling Bill to Enact "Prescription Drug Patient Protection Act" Clears Assembly Panel

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Craig Coughlin, Raj Mukherji, Daniel Benson, Joann Downey and Eric Houghtaling to ensure pharmacy benefits managers are vetted by New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance before operating in the state was approved by the Assembly Financial Institutions Committee on Thursday.

The bill (A-4676), entitled the "Prescription Drug Patient Protection Act," requires pharmacy benefits managers to obtain, in accordance with the bill's provisions, a certificate of authority form the Commissioner of Banking and Insurance in order to operate in this state. 

Assembly Democratic Bills to Help Gold Star Families Advanced by Senate Panel

Legislation 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 were advanced Thursday by the Senate budget panel.
The bills were approved by the Assembly in February.
The ter"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). "These bills will provide needed support to navigate the challenges and difficulties they face in the wake of losing a loved one."