Press Releases

Assembly Approves Gusciora, Wisniewski & Benson Bill to Penalize Unlawful Use of Handicapped Parking Placards Legislation -- Would Establish Fine of Up to $500 for Abuse of Privileges

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Reed Gusciora, John Wisniewski and Daniel Benson to strengthen penalties for unauthorized parking in spaces reserved for persons with disabilities recently passed the full Assembly, 63-0-1.

The bill (A-2352) would establish a penalty of up to $500 for unlawfully using a parking placard issued to someone with a disability. 

"Reserving parking spaces for individuals with disabilities is a fundamental element of our state's commitment to ensuring equal opportunity for all of our residents, and preserving the integrity of that commitment requires establishing consequences for abuse," said Gusciora (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). "By discouraging drivers from unlawfully using placards that belong to a friend or relative, this bill will help ensure that the designated spaces are used only by authorized parties."

Benson & DeAngelo Bill Paving the Way for Special Municipal Parking Programs for Seniors Approved by Assembly

Legislation sponsored by Assemblymen Daniel Benson and Wayne DeAngelo paving the way for special municipal parking programs for seniors was approved Thursday by the General Assembly.

Specifically, the bill (A-3917) would permit municipal governing bodies and municipal parking authorities to create a Senior Citizen Priority Parking Program to provide residents age 60 or older with reduced parking permit rates and program-restricted parking spaces within the municipality, or within parking areas controlled by the parking authority.

"Getting to and from the grocery store, doctors' appointments or any other daily activity can be a real headache when a lack of parking comes into play," said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "This bill will give towns the ability to create a program that works best for seniors to help foster their mobility and independence."

Andrzejczak, Benson, Danielsen & Moriarty Bill to Crack Down on Illegal Telemarketing Practices Clears Assembly

Legislation Assembly Democrats Sgt. Bob Andrzejczak, Daniel Benson, Joseph Danielsen and Paul Moriarty sponsored to create an investigative section of the Division of Consumer Affairs dedicated solely to telemarketing abuses gained Assembly approval on Thursday. 

The bill (A-986) would establish a telemarketing fraud investigation unit within the Division of Consumer Affairs that would investigate consumer complaints related to telemarketing practices. 

"Unwanted telemarketing calls continue to interrupt the lives of New Jersey residents, regardless of whether they have deliberately expressed that they are not interested or perhaps even logged a complaint," said Andrzejczak (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland). "It's critical that we are proactive about cracking down on companies that casually break the law on a regular basis. The investigative unit that this bill creates will be essential as we fight back against the uncompromising telemarketers who pester New Jerseyans incessantly." 

Lampitt, Vainieri Huttle, Benson, Mosquera, Spencer & Wimberly Bill to Create Alert System for Missing Disabled Persons Gets Final Legislative OK

Legislation Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Daniel Benson, Gabriela Mosquera, L. Grace Spencer and Benjie Wimberly sponsored to create an alert system for missing persons with mental, intellectual or developmental disabilities was approved 79-0 Thursday by the Assembly, giving it final legislative approval.

The bill (A-4270) would require the Attorney General to establish the MVP Emergency Alert System, which would provide practices and protocols for the rapid dissemination of information regarding a person who is believed to be a missing vulnerable person.

A "missing vulnerable person" or "MVP" is defined to mean a person who is believed to have a mental, intellectual or developmental disability who goes missing under circumstances that indicate that the person may be in danger of death or serious bodily injury.

DeAngelo, Eustace, Mazzeo, Pintor Marin & Benson Consumer Protection Bill Requiring BPU to Establish Standards for Third-Party Energy Suppliers Now Law

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Wayne DeAngelo, Tim Eustace, Vince Mazzeo, Eliana Pintor Marin and Daniel Benson to require the Board of Public Utilities (BPU) to protect consumers by establishing standards and procedures for consumer interaction with third-party electric power and gas companies has been signed into law. 

The law is a response to testimony the Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee received from consumer utilities advocates and utilities partners on the need for regulation of third-party providers.

"The deregulated market leveled the playing field for third party competitors and gave consumers the opportunity to shop around for the best rate," said DeAngelo (D-Mercer/Middlesex), chair of the Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee. "However, it also has raised concerns for many regarding regulation. This law will begin to strengthen consumer protection for residents who choose a third party electric power or gas service as their energy provider."

Eustace, Benson & Singleton Bill to Promote Responsible Use of Subsidies Aimed at Prompting Economic Growth Signed into Law

Legislation Assembly Democrats Tim Eustace, Daniel R. Benson and Troy Singleton sponsored to help ensure that taxpayer funds aimed at retaining employers and spurring economic growth in New Jersey yield positive results has been signed into law.
The law (A-4413) prohibits the state from awarding economic development subsidies to any business in default on a previously awarded subsidy that was a loan or loan guarantee.

DeAngelo, Eustace, Mazzeo, Pintor Marin & Benson Consumer Protection Bills Requiring BPU to Establish Standards for Third-Party Energy Suppliers Clears Senate

Two bills sponsored by Assembly Democrats Wayne DeAngelo, Tim Eustace, Vince Mazzeo, Eliana Pintor Marin and Daniel Benson to require the Board of Public Utilities (BPU) to protect consumers by establishing standards and procedures for consumer interaction with third-party electric power and gas companies cleared the full Senate on Thursday. 

The legislation is a response to testimony the Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee received from consumer utilities advocates and utilities partners on the need for regulation of third-party providers.

"The deregulated market leveled the playing field for third party competitors and gave consumers the opportunity to shop around for the best rate," said DeAngelo (D-Mercer/Middlesex), chair of the Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee. "However, it also has raised concerns for many regarding regulation. This legislation will begin to strengthen consumer protection for residents who choose a third party electric power or gas service as their energy provider."

Benson & Mukherji Bill to Require Special Ed Coursework in Teacher Preparation Programs Continues to Advance

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Daniel Benson and Raj Mukherji to help increase the number of educators in New Jersey qualified to teach students with autism continues to advance in the Senate with recent approval by the Senate Education Committee.

"New Jersey has one of the highest autism diagnosis rates in the nation, and we must work to ensure that every child with an autism spectrum disorder has access to an appropriate education," said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "This legislation will help educators in our state better address the specific needs of children with developmental disabilities so that these students can reach their full potential."

Benson & DeAngelo Bill Paving the Way for Special Municipal Parking Programs for Seniors Clears Assembly Panel

Legislation sponsored by Assemblymen Daniel Benson and Wayne DeAngelo paving the way for special municipal parking programs for seniors was approved by an Assembly panel on Monday.

Specifically, the bill (A-3917) would permit municipal governing bodies and municipal parking authorities to create a Senior Citizen Priority Parking Program to provide residents age 60 or older with reduced parking permit rates and program-restricted parking spaces within the municipality, or within parking areas controlled by the parking authority.

"Getting to and from the grocery store, doctors' appointments or any other daily activity can be a real headache when a lack of parking comes into play," said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "This bill will give towns the ability to create a program that works best for seniors to help foster their mobility and independence."

Vainieri Huttle, Wimberly & Benson Bill to Encourage Community Service Among High School Students Clears Panel

Legislation Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Benjie Wimberly and Daniel Benson sponsored to permit high school students to earn academic credit through community service was advanced by an Assembly panel on Monday.

"In addition to helping students develop academically, our schools should instill in young people a sense of civic duty," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "By encouraging students to volunteer, this legislation will promote good citizenship."

Vainieri Huttle, Mosquera, McKeon, Benson & Sumter ‘Sexual Assault Survivor Protection Act of 2015’ Signed into Law

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Gabriela Mosquera, John McKeon, Daniel Benson and Shavonda Sumter to allow more victims of sexual assault to seek protective orders against their perpetrators has officially been signed into law.

"Simply seeing an abuser - whether he or she is a new acquaintance or an old friend - forces many sexual assault survivors to relive the trauma of having been violated, and current law says they have no option but to suffer in silence," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "Every person in this state has a right to feel safe while going about his or her daily life. With this law, we reaffirm our commitment to the notion that all residents of New Jersey should be able to seek the protection they need to live in peace." 

Previously, in order to pursue a protective order, a victim must have had a previous or existing domestic relationship with the offender, such as a spousal or dating relationship, or must file a criminal complaint against the offender. 

Benson Bill to Encourage Job Creation & Economic Development in Small, Highly Developed Municipalities Advanced by Assembly Committee

 Legislation Assemblyman Daniel R. Benson sponsored to encourage job creation and business development in small, highly developed municipalities was advanced Monday by an Assembly panel.
The bill (A-4521) establishes the Main Street Economic Growth Program to provide financial and technical assistance to a business located in a Main Street area within a small municipality. 
The bill's purpose, said Benson, is to encourage business development in small municipalities having substantially developed commercial areas.

Spencer, Muoio & Benson Bill to Boost Funds for Combatting Lead Based Paint Hazards in New Jersey Clears Assembly Committee

The Assembly Housing Committee released legislation on Monday sponsored by Assembly Democrats L. Grace Spencer, Elizabeth Muoio and Daniel Benson in support of statewide efforts to rid lead based paint hazards in New Jersey communities. 

The bill makes a FY 2014 supplemental Grants-in-Aid appropriation of $10,000,000 to the Department of Community Affairs. 

"This legislation provides much-needed funding for state programs which protect children and families from lead hazards in the home," said Spencer (D-Essex).

Lampitt, Conaway, Benson, Sumter & Pinkin Bill to Make Cost-Effective Biological Drug Alternatives More Widely Available Becomes Law

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt, Herb Conaway, Jr., M.D., Daniel Benson, Shavonda Sumter and Nancy Pinkin to make it easier for consumers to obtain more cost-effective, "generic" versions of biological medicines used to treat conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, anemia, psoriasis and various forms of cancer has been signed into law.

"The FDA has created a safe pathway to make alternative biological medicines more readily available on the market," said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). "If there is a more cost-effective option to treat and cure various illnesses, then by all means we should be helping patients pursue it."

"Substitution of these biologically similar products for their name-brand counterparts at the pharmacy level is expected to reduce cost by increasing competition," said Conaway (D-Burlington). "Ultimately, this will allow more patients to access treatments."

Benson, Vainieri Huttle, Jasey, Tucker & Wimberly Bill to Train School Bus Drivers/Aides who Transport Children with Special Needs Signed into Law

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Daniel Benson, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Mila Jasey, Cleopatra Tucker and Benjie Wimberly to prevent accidental mistreatment of students with special needs by creating a training program for school bus drivers and aides was officially signed into law on Monday.

"Children with special needs require specialized attention and care. Bus drivers and aides should be aware of behaviors associated with certain disabilities, and know how to effectively deal with them so to avoid any confusion and accidental mistreatment of these students," said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "It makes their job easier and ensures that these students are being treated with the respect they deserve."

Moriarty, Benson, Wimberly & Andrzejczak Bill Outlawing Unsolicited Text Message Ads Signed into Law

Legislation Assembly Democrats Paul Moriarty, Daniel R. Benson, Benjie Wimberly and Bob Andrzejczak sponsored to prohibit advertisers from sending unwelcome and unsolicited text advertisements to consumers has been signed into law.

"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."

"For individuals with a limited data plan, receiving a large number of unsolicited text messages may force them to rack up unwanted charges on their cell phone bill," said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "The growing number of complaints regarding unwanted text advertisements can no longer be ignored. Cell phone users deserve basic protections against business practices that cause headaches and cost them money."

Moriarty, Benson, Wimberly & Andrzejczak Bill Outlawing Unsolicited Text Message Ads Gets Final Legislative OK

Legislation Assembly Democrats Paul Moriarty, Daniel R. Benson, Benjie Wimberly and Bob Andrzejczak sponsored to prohibit advertisers from sending unwelcome and unsolicited text advertisements to consumers was approved 37-0 Thursday by the Senate, giving it final legislative approval.
"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."

Eustace, Benson & Singleton Bill to Promote Responsible Use of Subsidies Aimed at Prompting Economic Growth Receives Final Legislative OK

Legislation Assembly Democrats Tim Eustace, Daniel R. Benson and Troy Singleton sponsored to help ensure that taxpayer funds aimed at retaining employers and spurring economic growth in New Jersey yield positive results was approved Thursday by the Senate, giving it final legislative approval.
The bill (A-4413) would prohibit the state from awarding economic development subsidies to any business in default on a previously awarded subsidy that was a loan or loan guarantee.

Benson & Coughlin Measure to Facilitate ‘Med Sync’ For Prescription Drugs Continues Advancing

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Daniel Benson and Craig Coughlin to make it easier for individuals who need multiple prescription drugs to access their medications was advanced by a Senate panel on Monday. 

"By making it more convenient for patients to pick up prescription drugs, we can increase the likelihood that people will take the medications they need, which will keep them well and reduce overall health care costs," said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "This legislation is a simple way to move us toward a healthier New Jersey." 

Medication synchronization, or "med sync," allows a patient to pick up refills for all of his or her monthly prescriptions on the same day instead of having to make multiple trips to a pharmacy each month. Streamlining refills has been shown to increase medication adherence, thus lowering overall long-term health care expenditures. 

Benson Legislation Urging Designation of ALS Awareness Month in New Jersey Now Law

A joint resolution Assemblyman Daniel Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex) sponsored to encourage ALS Awareness in the state and throughout the country was signed into law on Tuesday. 

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's Disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that attacks the nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. The resolution states the disease strikes people between the ages of 40 and 70, and as many as 30,000 men and women in the United States have the disease at any given time. 

DeAngelo, Eustace, Mazzeo, Pintor Marin & Benson Consumer Protection Package Requiring BPU to Establish Standards for Third-Party Energy Suppliers Continues Advancing

A three-bill legislative package sponsored by Assembly Democrats Wayne DeAngelo, Tim Eustace, Vince Mazzeo, Eliana Pintor Marin and Daniel Benson to require the Board of Public Utilities (BPU) to protect consumers by establishing standards and procedures for consumer interaction with third-party electric power and gas companies was advanced by a Senate panel on Monday.

The legislation is a response to testimony the Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee received from consumer utilities advocates and utilities partners on the need for regulation of third-party providers.

"The deregulated market leveled the playing field for third party competitors and gave consumers the opportunity to shop around for the best rate," said DeAngelo (D-Mercer/Middlesex), chair of the Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee. "However, it also has raised concerns for many regarding regulation. This legislation will begin to strengthen consumer protection for residents who choose a third party electric power or gas service as their energy provider."

Benson, Vainieri Huttle, Jasey, Tucker & Wimberly Bill to Train School Bus Drivers/Aides who Transport Children with Special Needs Clears the Legislature

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Daniel Benson, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Mila Jasey, Cleopatra Tucker and Benjie Wimberly to prevent accidental mistreatment of students with special needs by creating a training program for school bus drivers and aides was approved Thursday by the full Senate, 32-0. The bill now heads to the governor's desk. 

"Children with special needs require specialized attention and care. Bus drivers and aides should be aware of behaviors associated with certain disabilities, and know how to effectively deal with them so to avoid any confusion and accidental mistreatment of these students," said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "It makes their job easier and ensures that these students are being treated with the respect they deserve."

The bill (A-1029) would require the Commissioner of Education to develop a training program for school bus drivers and school bus aides on interacting with students with special needs. The training program would include appropriate behavior management, effective communication, the use and operation of adaptive equipment, and understanding behavior that may be related to specific disabilities. 

Jasey, Benson, Vainieri Huttle & McKeon Bill to Study Benefits of Later Start Time for Schools Signed into Law

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Mila Jasey, Dan Benson, Valerie Vainieri Huttle and John McKeon to study the merits of pushing back the start time for middle schools and high schools in New Jersey has been signed into law.

The study would look into what it would take to make the change, including the recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics that middle and high schools delay the start of class to 8:30 a.m. or later to better align school schedules to the biological sleep rhythms of adolescents, whose sleep-wake cycles begin to shift up to two hours later at the start of puberty. 

"The majority of adolescents in this country are not getting enough sleep. This can have serious consequences on their health and their grades," said Jasey (D-Essex/Morris). "Resetting the school day would not be easy or simple, but given what we now know about the effects of sleep deprivation on the adolescent brain, to not even consider it as a possibility does our students a disservice. This law is a good first step in determining whether changing the school start time makes sense for our students."

Taliaferro, Eustace, Benson & Mazzeo Introduce Legislation to Ban ‘Flakka’ Possession

Assembly Democrats Adam Taliaferro, Tim Eustace, Daniel Benson and Vince Mazzeo have introduced legislation to help curb the use of a street drug often associated with violent and self-destructive behavior. 

The bill (A-4456) would criminalize the possession, 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." 

Benson Proposes “Good Samaritan” Law to Protect Children & Pets from Sweltering Heat in Locked Vehicles

Assemblyman Daniel Benson is proposing legislation to help protect children and pets from being harmed by sweltering temperatures inside locked vehicles by shielding good Samaritans from liability should they attempt a rescue.

The bill, which is modeled after a recently enacted Tennessee law, would provide immunity from civil liability for anyone who forcibly enters a vehicle to remove a minor or an animal from the vehicle under certain circumstances. 

Benson, Sumter & Lagana Bill to Ensure Safe Disposal of Prescription Drugs Signed into Law

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Dan Benson, Shavonda Sumter and Joseph Lagana to help curb New Jersey's heroin and opioid crisis is now law.
The law (A-709) requires pharmacies and prescribers to supply patients with a Division of Consumer Affairs notice publicizing available drug take-back programs and giving suggestions for the safe disposal of drugs with each controlled dangerous substance dispensed. 

Vainieri Huttle, Mosquera, McKeon, Benson & Sumter ‘Sexual Assault Survivor Protection Act of 2015’ Heads to Governor’s Desk

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Gabriela Mosquera, John McKeon, Daniel Benson and Shavonda Sumter to allow more victims of sexual assault to seek protective orders against their perpetrators recently received final legislative approval from the General Assembly.

"Simply seeing an abuser - whether he or she is a new acquaintance or an old friend - forces many sexual assault survivors to relive the trauma of having been violated, and current law says they have no option but to suffer in silence," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "Every person in this state has a right to feel safe while going about his or her daily life. With this bill, we reaffirm our commitment to the notion that all residents of New Jersey should be able to seek the protection they need to live in peace." 

Under current law, in order to pursue a protective order, a victim must have had a previous or existing domestic relationship with the offender, such as a spousal or dating relationship, or must file a criminal complaint against the offender. The bill (A-4078), which would be known as the "Sexual Assault Survivor Protection Act of 2015," would eliminate these preconditions. 

Conaway, Benson, Pinkin & Wimberly Bill Requiring Health Insurers to Cover New Abuse-Deterrent Pain Medications Clears Assembly

 Legislation sponsored by Assemblymen Herb Conaway, Jr., M.D., Daniel Benson Nancy Pinkin and Benjie Wimberly requiring health insurers to cover prescription pain relief medications designed to decrease abuse and addiction was recently released by the General Assembly, 60-13-5. 

Specifically, the bill (A-4271) would require health insurers to provide health benefits coverage for prescribed abuse-deterrent opioid analgesic drugs.

"As it stands now, deaths from opioid addiction are at epidemic proportions," said Conaway (D-Burlington), a practicing physician. "Pain treatment, similar to other courses of treatment, can have side effects - including the risk of addiction. As a doctor, my goal is to reduce those risks and make the patient well. Removing the cost barrier to abuse-deterrent opiates will increase the prescribing and use of these high-tech drugs, which have significant potential to reduce dependency and overdoses. We as policymakers should be encouraging the widespread use of abuse-deterrent formulations to protect consumers and lower costs to the health care system. That's exactly what this bill achieves."

Benson & Mukherji Bill to Require Special Ed Coursework in Teacher Preparation Programs Approved by Assembly

Legislation Assembly Democrats Daniel Benson and Raj Mukherji sponsored to help increase the number of educators in New Jersey qualified to teach students with autism was approved Thursday by the General Assembly.

"New Jersey has one of the highest autism diagnosis rates in the nation, and we must work to ensure that every child with an autism spectrum disorder has access to an appropriate education," said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "This legislation will help educators in our state better address the specific needs of children with developmental disabilities so that these students can reach their full potential."

Singleton, Mosquera & Benson Sponsored 'Lisa's Law' to Electronically Monitor Domestic Violence Offenders Approved by Assembly

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Troy Singleton, Gabriela Mosquera and Daniel Benson that would establish a pilot program for the electronic monitoring of domestic violence offenders in New Jersey was approved Thursday by the General Assembly.

"Under our current system, it is far too easy for domestic violence offenders to get close to their victims again after an initial attack has occurred," said Singleton (D-Burlington). "It is a recipe for tragedy and is, frankly, unacceptable. Letting domestic violence victims literally see when trouble is heading their way will help them stay one step ahead of attackers hell bent on becoming repeat offenders." 

On August 13, 2009, Letizia "Lisa" Zindell, of Toms River was murdered by her former fiancée, Frank Frisco, who then killed himself. The murder-suicide attack occurred just one day after Frisco was released from jail for violating a restraining order that Ms. Zindell had filed against him.