Assembly Advances Wisniewski, Singleton, Benson & Lagana Bill Creating Transportation Infrastructure & Energy Banks

 Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats John Wisniewski, Troy Singleton, Daniel R. Benson and Joseph Lagana that would establish a State Transportation Infrastructure Bank to leverage public and private investments for the long-term overhaul of New Jersey's transportation network was approved 62-14 Thursday by the Assembly..

"We can't ignore the underlying value that our infrastructure system holds for our economy," said Wisniewski (D-Middlesex), who chairs the committee. "For too long, we have neglected this foundation of our economy while our competitors in the global marketplace have invested in state-of-the-art water, energy and transportation systems. New Jersey's economic recovery will be inherently linked to whether or not we create a more reliable and sustainable infrastructure system with better roads, bridges, tunnels and rail systems."

Moriarty, Benson & Wimberly Bill Outlawing Unsolicited Text Message Ads Approved by Assembly

 Legislation Assembly Democrats Paul Moriarty, Daniel R. Benson and Benjie Wimberly sponsored to prohibit advertisers from sending unwelcome and unsolicited advertisements to consumers via text messaging was approved 77-0 Thursday by the Assembly.

"Unwanted text messages not only tax consumers' patience, but they are a drain on cell minutes and bank accounts," said Moriarty (D-Gloucester/Camden). "Just as telephone customers have been able to close their homes to unwanted telemarketing calls, cell customers should be able to be free of unwanted text ads. What we're trying to do here is assist consumers in avoiding unnecessary charges as a result of receiving messages that are unsolicited and over which the user has no control."

Prieto-led Vocational Education Improvement Bill Package Approved by Assembly

A sweeping vocational education improvement package sponsored by Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto to enhance and expand vocational programs throughout New Jersey was approved Thursday by the Assembly.
The measures are also sponsored by Assembly Democrats Patrick J. Diegnan Jr., Joseph Lagana, Speaker Emeritus Sheila Oliver, Mila Jasey, Angelica Jimenez, Eliana Pintor Marin, Pamela Lampitt, Carmelo Garcia, Daniel R. Benson, Ralph Caputo, Celeste Riley, Timothy Eustace, Charles Mainor, Gordon Johnson, Marlene Caride, Gabriela Mosquera, Bonnie Watson Coleman and Angel Fuentes.

Prieto had said when he became Assembly Speaker in January that improving vocational education would be one of his top priorities, citing it as key to making sure all New Jersey students are ready for work in today's ever-changing economy.
"While many focus on college without thinking about a technical career, we have to make it clear that there are also many well-paying careers that can be launched with an industry credential or an associate's degree," said Prieto (D-Hudson/Bergen). "As we work to make sure our economy begins to grow again, employers will look to our county vocational-technical schools to meet this need. We need to make sure our students are ready to go."

Stender, Caputo, Lagana & Benson Bill to Toughen Drunken Driving Penalties Advanced by Assembly

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Linda Stender, Ralph Caputo, Joseph Lagana and Daniel R. Benson to toughen penalties for driving while under the influence of alcohol in New Jersey - including allowing ignition interlock devices - was approved XX-XX Thursday by the Assembly.

"Every day, almost 30 people in the United States die in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver. Innocent people are dying because of the irresponsible choices of others," said Stender (D-Union/Middlesex/Somerset). "Under this bill, if you get caught drinking and driving, you face having to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle, having your driving privileges restricted or losing them all together."

Assembly OKs Prieto, Benson, Wimberly, Moriarty & Garcia Bill Targeting Creditors Who Fail to Keep Up Vacant Homes

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto and Assemblymen Daniel R. Benson, Benjie E. Wimberly, Paul D. Moriarty and Carmelo G. Garcia that would empower municipalities to take action against creditors who fail to maintain vacant properties that are slated for foreclosure on Monday passed in the General Assembly. 

The bill (A-1257) would give municipal officials the authority to issue citations and impose fines to ensure that creditors fulfill their responsibility to maintain unoccupied residential properties on which a summons and complaint in an action to foreclose has been filed.

Quijano, Vainieri Huttle, Jasey, Benson, Singleton, Wilson, Lampitt Bill to Facilitate Financial Support to Local Libraries Receives Final Legislative Approval by Assembly

The full Assembly gave the final approval on Monday to legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Annette Quijano, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Mila Jasey, Daniel Benson, Troy Singleton, Whip Wilson and Pamela Lampitt to allow taxpayers to make a voluntary contribution in support of local libraries on their gross income tax returns with a vote of 77-0. 

"Budgetary constraints at the local and state level have made it difficult for many of our public libraries to operate effectively," said Quijano (D-Union). "This bill would help to bridge the gap in funding by allowing residents to make direct, monetary contributions come tax season."

Assembly Advances Benson, Riley, Wimberly & Garcia Bill to Establish Mold Exposure Limits in Residential Buildings

Legislation by Assembly Democrats Daniel Benson, Celeste Riley, Benjie Wimberly and Carmelo Garcia requiring the state to establish standards for exposure limits to mold in residential buildings and certification of mold inspectors and abatement workers was approved on Monday by the full Assembly.

The bill (A-1007) would require the state Department of Community Affairs (DCA) in consultation with the state Department of Health and Senior Services to establish standards for exposure limits to mold in residential buildings, and procedures for the inspection, identification and evaluation of the interior of residential buildings for mold.

Prieto, Lampitt, Vainieri Huttle & Benson Bill Barring Discrimination in School Sports & Phys Ed Signed Into Law

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, Assemblywomen Pamela Lampitt and Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Assemblyman Daniel Benson to ensure that students with disabilities in New Jersey have an equal opportunity to participate in physical education programs received was signed into law on Thursday

"Every student deserves the chance to compete at the most competitive level possible," said Prieto (D-Bergen/Hudson). "With the Special Olympics taking place in Mercer County this week we're reminded that the only limitations we face are the ones we impose on ourselves."

Vainieri Huttle, Moriarty, Mosquera & Benson Bill Requiring Private Contracts to Save Money Gains Assembly Approval

Legislation Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Paul D. Moriarty, Gabriela Mosquera and Daniel R. Benson sponsored to make cost savings a prerequisite for the privatization of public services received approval on Monday from the General Assembly.

The bill (A-2873) requires a bidding process and subsequent cost analysis proving definitively that privatization would be less expensive, allow for the same or better quantity and quality of services and cause no increased burden on taxpayers. 

Stender, Benson, Johnson, DeAngelo & Gusciora Measure to Prevent Christie Admin from Doing Away with Civil Service System Gains Final Legislative Approval

Measure Seeks to Prevent Nepotism & Cronyism by Keeping Time-Honored, Competitive Job Protection Practices in Place

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Linda Stender, Daniel Benson, Gordon Johnson, Wayne DeAngelo and Reed Gusciora to prevent the Christie administration from doing away with time-honored, competitive civil service job protections received final legislative approval 46-30-1 by the full Assembly panel on Monday. 

The measure (SCR-116/ACR-155) seeks to halt the administration's efforts to replace the state's civil service promotional examinations with a "job banding program" by declaring the move unconstitutional. With both houses now approving the resolution, it will be sent to the administration, which will have 30 days to amend or withdraw the new rule or the legislature may, by passage of another concurrent resolution, exercise its authority under the constitution to invalidate the regulations in whole or in part.