News

Benson, Vainieri Huttle, Mazzeo, Mukherji, Downey & Wimberly Opioid Antidote Bill Clears Legislature

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 approved by the full Senate, 38-0, on Thursday. 

The bill (A-2334) would expand public access to opioid antidotes, such as naloxone hydrochloride, by amending the provisions of the "Overdose Prevention Act" (OPA) 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.

"This bill takes a different approach in permitting individual pharmacists to dispense naloxone without a prescription, pursuant to a standing order issued by the Department of Health," said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "Ultimately, this means the possibility of more lives saved if a pharmacist doesn't have to obtain an individual order from a physician each time."

Eustace, Zwicker, Vainieri Huttle, Gusciora, Kennedy & Benson Bill to Require NJ's Full Participation in RGGI Heads to Gov

Legislation Assembly Democrats Tim Eustace, Andrew Zwicker, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Reed Gusciora, James Kennedy and Daniel Benson sponsored to require New Jersey's full participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative cleared the Senate, 23-15, on Thursday.

The bill (A-4701) would require the state's full participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a cooperative effort among nine states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Gov. Chris Christie withdrew from the program early in his first term.

"From the very beginning, we believed that entering into agreements with other states would further the purposes of Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and the Global Warming Response Act," said Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic). "The governor's withdrawal from RGGI blatantly disregarded the importance of our participation in RGGI to reducing greenhouse gas emission in our state. A return to the RGGI pact with full participation will get New Jersey back on the right environmental track." 

Eustace, Zwicker, Vainieri Huttle, Gusciora, Kennedy & Benson Bill to Require NJ's Full Participation in RGGI Clears Assembly

Legislation Assembly Democrats Tim Eustace, Andrew Zwicker, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Reed Gusciora, James Kennedy and Daniel Benson sponsored to require New Jersey's full participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative gained General Assembly approval on Monday. 

The bill (A-4701) would require the state's full participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a cooperative effort among nine states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Gov. Chris Christie withdrew from the program early in his first term.

"From the very beginning, we believed that entering into agreements with other states would further the purposes of Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and the Global Warming Response Act," said Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic). "The governor's withdrawal from RGGI blatantly disregarded the importance of our participation in RGGI to reducing greenhouse gas emission in our state. A return to the RGGI pact with full participation will get New Jersey back on the right environmental track."

Assembly Democratic Bill to Promote Equal Pay for Women Approved by Assembly

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 approved Monday by the full Assembly.

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.

Benson, Eustace & DeAngelo Bill to Provide Tax Credit for Use of Smart Thermostats Clears Assembly Committee

The Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee approved legislation on Thursday sponsored by Assembly Democrats Daniel Benson, Tim Eustace and Wayne DeAngelo to provide gross income tax credit for purchasing and installation costs of smart thermostats. 

The bill (A-4740) would provide a gross income tax credit of 50 percent of the cost of purchase and installation of a smart thermostat in a residential property, not to exceed $250. The tax credit would be funded through the societal benefits charge, commonly referred to as the "Clean Energy Fund." 

Assembly Democratic Bill Establishing State Goal to Reduce Food Waste in NJ Clears Assembly Panel

 An Assembly panel released on Thursday legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt, Annette Quijano, Tim Eustace, James Kennedy, Dan Benson, Elizabeth Muoio and Andrew Zwicker to establish a statewide food waste reduction goal of fifty 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 land fill, 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, than just tossing it in a landfill." 

Chaparro, Vainieri Huttle, Benson, Jimenez, Mukherji & Downey Bill to Establish Alert System for Hit-and-Runs Advances in Senate

Legislation Assembly Democrats Annette Chaparro, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Daniel R. Benson, Angelica Jimenez, Raj Mukherji and Joann Downey sponsored to establish an emergency alert system to help more quickly apprehend drivers responsible for fatal hit-and-run accidents was released on Thursday by the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee. 

The legislation commemorates the life of Zackhary Simmons, a 21-year-old man who died in Hoboken in June after being hit by a vehicle that subsequently left the scene.

"I hope this bill reminds drivers thinking of fleeing an accident that the whole state will be looking for you, and you will be caught," said Chaparro (D-Hudson). "I want to thank the Simmons family for working so hard on this bill and sharing their time and inspiring this legislation to honor Zack and encourage other drivers to stop and help an injured person instead of cowardly fleeing a scene."

Vainieri Huttle-led Bill Package Targeting Homelessness in New Jersey Gains Assembly Panel Approval

The Assembly Human Services Committee on Thursday approved an expansive seven-bill package - spearheaded by Committee Chair Valerie Vainieri Huttle and sponsored by Assembly Democrats Daniel Benson, Elizabeth Maher Muoio and Raj Mukherji - designed to reduce homelessness and help New Jersey residents get back on their feet.

In December, Vainieri Huttle and members of her committee visited the Bergen County Housing, Health and Human Services Center, which provides a 24/7, year-round continuum of housing services designed to abate homelessness. Following the visit, the committee held a special hearing to receive testimony on current state programs designed to target homelessness, as well as effective, new strategies that could be implemented to further prevent and reduce homelessness in New Jersey. The majority of the bills approved today were born out of these efforts.

Mazzeo, Lagana, Vainieri Huttle, & Benson Bill to Educate Parents of Prescription Opioid Use Advanced by Senate Panel

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Vincent Mazzeo, Joseph Lagana, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, and Daniel Benson to require the state Department of Education to develop educational fact sheet for distribution to parents of student-athletes and cheerleaders concerning use and misuse of prescription opioids was advanced Thursday by the Senate Education Committee.
"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." 

Vainieri Huttle, Benson, Lampitt, Johnson, McKnight & Sumter Bill to Guard Against Loss of Health Care Services for the Most Vulnerable Becomes Law

Legislation Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Daniel Benson, Pamela Lampitt, Gordon Johnson, Angela McKnight and Shavonda Sumter sponsored to ensure that the state does not recklessly limit access to health care treatment by changing the way it pays treatment service providers was signed into law on Thursday.

The new law (A-4146) was prompted by the state's decision to begin transitioning most community-based health care treatment services from the traditionally-used cost reimbursement system to a fee-for-service reimbursement system this past summer. The Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services plans to require all providers to complete the transition by July 2017, while the Division of Developmental Disabilities is transitioning providers in a more gradual fashion.