Press Releases

DeAngelo, Giblin, Singleton, Holley & Benson Bill to Ask Voters to Support Creation & Expansion of Public Libraries Approved by Assembly

 Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Wayne DeAngelo, Thomas Giblin, Troy Singleton, Jamel Holley and Dan Benson to ask voters to provide grants for the construction, expansion and equipping of public libraries in New Jersey was approved Thursday by the Assembly.
"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."

Greenwald, Land, Andrzejczak, Mazzeo, Houghtaling, Benson & Danielsen Bill to Assist Gold Star Families Goes to Governor

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Lou Greenwald, Bruce R. Land, Bob Andrzejczak, Vince Mazzeo, Eric Houghtaling, Dan Benson and Joseph Danielsen to assist Gold Star families was approved 39-0 Monday by the Senate, giving it final legislative approval.
The bill, approved by the Assembly in February, is part of a larger package of bills to help Gold Star families, two of which have already become law.
"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."

Lampitt, Vainieri Huttle, Benson & Wimberly Bill to Uphold Right of Service Dog Access for People with Disabilities Heads to Governor's Desk

Legislation Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Daniel Benson and Benjie Wimberly sponsored to uphold the right of people with disabilities to have equal access to public facilities is headed to the Governor's desk after receiving final legislative approval from the full Senate on Monday.
The legislation, which was unanimously approved by the full Assembly in January, was first proposed by the sponsors after 16-year-old Cherry Hill resident Ben Shore raised concerns about a policy in his school district outlining preconditions to be met in order for a student to be accompanied by a service animal, like his service dog Charlie. 
The bill (A-4081), known as "Charlie's Law," would establish civil penalties for those who deny individuals with disabilities accompanied by service or guide dogs access to any public facility. 

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.

Caride, Jimenez, Mukherji, Holley, Benson & McKnight Bill to Ensure Safety of Students in Wheelchairs on School Buses Gains Assembly OK

Legislation Assembly Democrats Marlene Caride, Angelica Jimenez, Raj Mukherji, Jamel Holley, Daniel R. Benson and Angela McKnight sponsored to improve the safety of students in wheelchairs who are transported on school buses gained unanimous approval from the General Assembly on Thursday. 

The bill (A-1257) would require school bus drivers to secure students who use a wheelchair with a four-point securement system, which shall be made available on all school buses used to transport students who use a wheelchair. A four-point securement system is defined by the bill as a complete four-point system that includes four wheelchair restraints to secure a wheelchair to the vehicle floor, a lap and shoulder belt that integrates to the rear wheelchair restraints and floor anchorages installed in the vehicle floor. 

"These students are especially vulnerable," said Caride (D-Bergen/Passaic), chair of the Assembly Education Committee. "Equipping our school buses with this four-point securement system and requiring bus drivers to ensure that students in wheelchairs are properly secured in the system will make for a safer ride to school."

Schaer, Jasey, Benson & Vainieri Huttle College Affordability & Preparedness Bill Package Clears Assembly

The General Assembly on Thursday approved two bills that are part of a broader package sponsored by Assembly Democrats Gary Schaer, Mila Jasey, Daniel R. Benson, and Valerie Vainieri Huttle aimed at helping New Jersey residents better navigate the college process before, during and after their time on campus.

"Too many students today are unprepared entering into a higher education system that leads them to incur crushing student loan debt," said Schaer (D-Bergen/Passaic). "We need to provide a path forward for New Jersey students by allowing them access to college curricula in high school, opening higher education possibilities and exposing them to the academic rigor ahead, and then providing them an option for a debt-free future."

Sumter, Jasey, Muoio, Lagana, Downey & Benson Higher Ed Reform Bill Package Heads to Governor’s Desk

A two-bill package Assembly Democrats Shavonda Sumter, Mila Jasey, Elizabeth Maher Muoio, Joseph Lagana, Joann Downey and Daniel Benson sponsored to combat student loan debt in New Jersey gained final legislative approval unanimously from the full Assembly on Thursday.

"The only concern a college student should have after graduating is choosing which job will lead them closer to their goals," said Sumter (D-Bergen/Passaic). "It has become the norm for families and students to take on an overwhelming amount of debt to pursue educational goals. This legislation package will reassess how we distribute state loans and inform families of their options when planning for college. We must increase transparency under NJCLASS Loan Programs, better educate families on loan repayment options and requirements as well as help families understand how much they can realistically handle in student loans." 

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

The full Assembly on Thursday approved legislation, 76-0, 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."

Downey, Houghtaling, Holley & Benson Bill to Connect More Who Served to Programs, Benefits for Veterans Advances

Legislation Assembly Democrats Joann Downey, Eric Houghtaling, Jamel Holley and Daniel Benson sponsored to more effectively deliver services to veterans in New Jersey was approved, 76-0, Thursday by the full Assembly.

The bill (A-4171) would establish the New Jersey Commission on Veterans' Benefits in the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. The 13-member commission would develop, maintain and annually update a five-year statewide veterans' benefits strategic plan that includes goals and measurable outcomes to ensure that all state departments and agencies are effectively delivering comprehensive services and support for veterans and their families.

"Many veterans are aware of how they can benefit from resources the federal government offers, but they're sometimes uncertain about what they and their families may qualify for at the state level," said Downey (D-Monmouth). "A commission dedicated to making sure veterans have access to the programs and benefits they're eligible for and deserve will help New Jersey honor its obligation to those who have served this nation."

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."

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."