Press Releases

Eustace, Zwicker, Benson & Mazzeo Legislation Urging Resident Participation in "Earth Hour 2017" Approved by Assembly

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrat Timothy Eustace, Andrew Zwicker, Daniel Benson and Vincent Mazzeo to encourage resident participation in Earth Hour, a worldwide movement to raise awareness of the effects of climate change was approved by the full Assembly, 62-9-1, on Thursday.

Specifically, the Assembly Resolution urges statewide participation in Earth Hour 2017, an annual event sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund, during which people from all walks of life, in communities large and small, dim their lights for one hour in order to "cast a vote in favor of action" to combat climate change. 

Assembly Signs Off on McKeon, Quijano, Benson, Houghtaling & Downey Bill Barring Public Agencies from Settling Whistleblower Suits Confidentially

The General Assembly on Thursday unanimously approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats John McKeon, Annette Quijano, Daniel Benson, Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey that would bar public entities from entering into confidential settlements of whistleblower lawsuits with public employees and mandate that such settlements are part of open public records.

McKeon first introduced the bill in response to the settlement reached with former Hunterdon County Assistant Prosecutor Bennett Barlyn, who testified extensively on the bill during a hearing this week before McKeon's Judiciary Committee. Barlyn filed a lawsuit against the state in 2012 alleging he had been fired in 2010 after complaining to a superior that an indictment brought by the Hunterdon County Prosecutor's Office had been dismissed by then Attorney General Paula Dow for political reasons. 

Benson, Vainieri Huttle, Mazzeo, Mukherji, Downey & Wimberly Opioid Antidote Bill Gains Assembly Approval

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 unanimously by the full Assembly 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.

Mazzeo, Lagana, Andrzejczak, Zwicker, Land, Benson & Downey Bill to Require Schools to Maintain Narcan Supply Clears Panel

Legislation Assembly Democrats Vince Mazzeo, Joseph Lagana, Bob Andrzejczak, Andrew Zwicker, Bruce Land, Daniel Benson and Joann Downey sponsored to require schools to maintain a supply of an opioid antidote was advanced Monday by an Assembly committee.

The bill (A-4177) would require high schools to maintain a supply of naloxone hydrochloride, such as Narcan or a similar opioid antidote, and permit the school nurse to administer the antidote to a student or staff member who is experiencing an overdose. The board of education may designate additional employees who may be trained and authorized to administer the antidote in the absence of the nurse.

McKeon, Quijano, Benson, Houghtaling & Downey Bill Barring Public Entities from Entering into Confidential Lawsuit Settlements Advances

An Assembly panel on Monday unanimously approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats John McKeon, Annette Quijano, Daniel Benson, Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey that would bar public entities from entering into confidential settlements of whistleblower lawsuits with public employees and mandate that such settlements are part of open public records.

McKeon first introduced the bill in response to the settlement reached with former Hunterdon County Assistant Prosecutor Bennett Barlyn, who testified extensively on the bill during today's hearing. Archived audio from today's hearing will be posted here after the hearing concludes, with Barlyn's testimony beginning around the 20 minute mark.

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 advanced Monday by an Assembly committee.

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.

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

An Assembly panel on Monday 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 of 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.

Johnson, Benson & Mukherji Bill Requiring Disclosure of Money Spent by State & Local Governments on Lobbying Activities Heads to Governor’s Desk

The General Assembly on Thursday unanimously granted final legislative approval to a bill sponsored by Assembly Democrats Gordon Johnson, Daniel Benson and Raj Mukherji to improve transparency by requiring lobbyists to disclose the money they receive from state and local government entities to lobby any government agency.

The sponsors noted that a 2009 Comptroller report found that state government entities spent close to $4 million on lobbying firms to lobby state government. 

"We have very detailed lobbying disclosure requirements, but when it comes to this relatively newer and growing practice of government entities hiring lobbyists to further their agendas with other government agencies, we need to improve transparency," said Johnson (D-Bergen). "Taxpayers deserve to know where and how their money is being spent."

Quijano, Benson, Muoio, Caride, Vainieri Huttle, McKnight, Wimberly & Sumter Bill to Reimburse School Districts for Lead Testing Goes to Governor

Legislation Assembly Democrats Annette Quijano, Daniel Benson, Elizabeth Muoio, Marlene Caride, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Angela McKnight, Benjie Wimberly and Shavonda Sumter sponsored to reimburse school districts and nonpublic schools for the cost of testing school drinking water for lead received final legislative approval Thursday and now heads to the governor's desk.

"Lead testing is critical to maintaining a healthy school environment," said Quijano (D-Union). "In the last year, many schools have had to perform more comprehensive tests for lead, which was not originally calculated in their budget. The state should provide additional funding support for lead testing to help our schools in this time of need."

Assembly Democratic Bill Calling on State Board of Ed to Amend/Withdraw PARCC as Graduation Requirement because it is Inconsistent with Legislative Intent Clears Assembly

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Mila Jasey, Marlene Caride, Dan Benson, Annette Quijano, Ralph Caputo, Angelica Jimenez, Patricia Jones and John McKeon calling on the state Board of Education to amend or withdraw its high school graduation proficiency regulations because they are inconsistent with legislative intent was approved Thursday by the Assembly.

The regulations were revised last year to make the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) test a graduation requirement for high school students.

The resolution (ACR-215) asserts the revised regulations are not consistent with the intent of the Legislature, and calls on the state Board of Education to revise or withdraw the regulations.

Benson, Muoio & Gusciora Bill to Enable Katzenbach School for the Deaf to Continue Driver's Ed Instruction Heads to Gov's Desk

 Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Daniel Benson, Elizabeth Maher Muoio and Reed Gusciora to enable the Katzenbach School for the Deaf to continue offering driver's education for students received final legislative approval Thursday and now heads to the governor's desk.

The bill is intended to permit the Ewing-based Katzenbach School for the Deaf to make use of a car donated to its driver's education program. Since 1951, Katzenbach has provided drivers education for hearing-impaired students, with cars typically donated to the program from car dealerships and later from the state's fleet. When the last car ceased being operational, Katzenbach's board of directors decided to purchase a used car and donate it to the state motor pool for exclusive use by Katzenbach. However, the school was then informed that because of technicalities the car could not be covered by state insurance. 

Benson, Vainieri Huttle, Eustace, Gusciora & Mukherji Consumer Protection Bill to Extend Pet Shop Regulations to Pet Dealers Receives Final Legislative Approval in the Assembly

 Legislation sponsored by Daniel Benson, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Timothy Eustace, Reed Gusciora and Raj Mukherji to establish new requirements for pet dealers and pet shops was given final legislative approval by the Assembly, 52-16-3, on Thursday. It now heads to the Governor for further consideration.

Currently, pet shops are required under the Pet Purchase Protection Act not to sell cats or dogs from certain breeders or brokers. The bill (A-2338) clarifies these requirements. 

"This bill has one simple intention: to stop pet shops and consumers from buying from pet dealers who have had multiple USDA violations," said Benson (D- Mercer, Middlesex). "Pet dealers should follow the same regulations as do pet shop owners. With this bill, we increase accountability and protect consumers."

Downey, Houghtaling, Benson & Mukherji Measure to Protect Sanitation Workers via 'Move Over' Law Heads to Governor

Legislation Assembly Democrats Joann Downey, Eric Houghtaling, Daniel Benson and Raj Mukherji sponsored to protect New Jersey's sanitation workers gained final legislative approval from the Assembly on Thursday. It now heads to the governor's desk.

The bill follows the death of Freehold resident Michael Massey, an Ocean Township Public Works employee, who was killed in a 2013 motor vehicle crash while working. The sponsors note that requiring motorists to make a lane change or reduce their speed in the presence of a sanitation vehicle can help prevent similar incidents in the future.

Green, Benson, Moriarty, Mukherji & Pintor Marin Bill to Establish Penalties for Pyramid Scheme Participation Heads to Gov's Desk

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Jerry Green, Daniel R. Benson, Paul Moriarty, Raj Mukherji and Eliana Pintor Marin to establish criminal penalties for promoting or participating in a pyramid scheme received final legislative approval Monday and now heads to the governor's desk. 

"Pyramid schemes make victims out of vulnerable people who often are just looking for a way to make ends meet," said Green (D-Middlesex/Somerset/Union). "Individuals who understand that an enterprise is a pyramid scheme and still choose to participate ought to face serious consequences."

Mazzeo, Andrzejczak, Jimenez, Vainieri Huttle, Benson & Wimberly Bill Boosting Rental Assistance for Veterans Signed into Law

 Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Vince Mazzeo, Bob Andrzejczak, Angelica Jimenez, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Daniel Benson and Benjie Wimberly to boost rental assistance to military veterans was signed into law on Monday.
"Our veterans were willing to endure untold sacrifices for their country. Now we need to step up to the plate and do all we can to help care for them," said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). "This financial assistance is meant to give a hands-up while they find the road back to self-sufficiency."
"For veterans returning to a post-combat life, especially our 'wounded warriors,' housing assistance can be critical," said Andrzejczak (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland). "Boosting this program will go a long way towards helping many rebuild their lives without having to rely entirely on family."

Assembly Democratic Bill to Protect NJ Public Safety Officers Gains Final Legislative OK

Legislation Assembly Democrats Daniel R. Benson, Raj Mukherji, Elizabeth Muoio, Jamel Holley, Shavonda Sumter, Joann Downey, Pamela Lampitt, Sheila Oliver, Joe Danielsen and Benjie Wimberly sponsored to support workers who are attacked while supervising inmates or detainees was approved 34-0 Monday by the Senate, giving it final legislative approval.
The bill was approved by the Assembly in February. It now goes to the governor.

Benson, Muoio & Gusciora Bill to Enable Katzenbach School for the Deaf to Continue Driver's Ed Instruction Clears Senate, Heads to Gov

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Daniel Benson, Elizabeth Maher Muoio and Reed Gusciora to enable the Katzenbach School for the Deaf to continue offering driver's education for students was approved, 35-0, by the full Senate on Monday.

The bill is intended to permit the Ewing-based Katzenbach School for the Deaf to make use of a car donated to its driver's education program. Since 1951, Katzenbach has provided drivers education for hearing-impaired students, with cars typically donated to the program from car dealerships and later from the state's fleet. When the last car ceased being operational, Katzenbach's board of directors decided to purchase a used car and donate it to the state motor pool for exclusive use by Katzenbach. However, the school was then informed that because of technicalities the car could not be covered by state insurance.

Andrzejczak, Mazzeo, Land, Tucker & Benson Bill to Create Veterans Diversion Program to Divert Eligible Servicemembers Away from Criminal Justice System and Into Appropriate Care Clears Legislature

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Bob Andrzejczak, Vince Mazzeo, Bruce R. Land, Cleopatra Tucker and Dan Benson to create a Veterans Diversion Program to divert eligible servicemembers away from criminal justice system and into appropriate case management and mental health services was approved 34-0 Monday by the Senate, giving it final legislative approval.
The bill was approved by the Assembly in February. It now goes to the governor.

Muoio, Zwicker, Gusciora & Benson Introduce Bill to Boost Confidence in Election Results by Requiring Paper Voting Trail

Assembly Democrats Elizabeth Maher Muoio, Andrew Zwicker, Reed Gusciora and Daniel Benson have introduced legislation to protect the integrity of elections by requiring a paper trail for all voting machines in New Jersey.

The bill (A-4619) would require that new voting machines purchased or leased following the bill's effective date must produce a paper record of each vote cast.

"The more dependent our society becomes on technology, the more we realize that it's not always fail-proof. Given the tumultuous election we just went through, it's more pressing than ever that we make sure voters have faith in our democratic system," said Muoio (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). "Paper voting records will create an auditable trail to help ensure the integrity of our elections and provide voters with peace of mind."

Downey, Houghtaling & Benson Measure to Protect Sanitation Workers via 'Move Over' Law Clears Committee

Legislation Assembly Democrats Joann Downey, Eric Houghtaling and Daniel Benson sponsored to protect New Jersey's sanitation workers was advanced Monday by an Assembly committee.

The bill follows the death of Freehold resident Michael Massey, an Ocean Township Public Works employee, who was killed in a 2013 motor vehicle crash while working. The sponsors note that requiring motorists to make a lane change or reduce their speed in the presence of a sanitation vehicle can help prevent similar incidents in the future. 

Benson, Vainieri Huttle, Mazzeo, Mukherji & Downey Opioid Antidote Bill Advances

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Daniel Benson, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Vince Mazzeo, Raj Mukherji and Joann Downey designed to ensure that opioid antidotes are available to help prevent overdoses was approved by an Assembly panel on Monday.

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 authorize pharmacists to supply opioid antidotes to patients without prescriptions under a standing order that would be required to be issued by the Department of Health. 

Muoio, Schaer, Coughlin, Benson, Holley, Wisniewski & Gusciora Bill to Protect Local Governments from Costs of Last Year's TTF Shutdown Advanced by Senate Committee

Legislation Assembly Democrats Elizabeth Maher Muoio, Gary Schaer, Craig Coughlin, Daniel Benson, Jamel Holley, John Wisniewski and Reed Gusciora sponsored to ensure local governments don't get hit with costs from Gov. Christie's transportation project shutdown was released Monday by a Senate panel.
The bill (A-4114) requires the Department of Transportation to compensate municipalities, counties or other local government entities for delay damages on transportation projects supported through the local aid program, if those delay damages resulted from Christie's shutdown of transportation projects pursuant to the governor's June executive order.

Conaway & Benson Bill to Ban Flavored Electronic Smoking Devices in New Jersey Advances

An Assembly panel on Monday approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Herb Conaway, Jr., M.D. and Daniel Benson to outlaw the sale of flavored electronic smoking products in New Jersey in an effort to prevent the products from being targeted to young people.
A separate measure approved by the panel would also prohibit the use of coupons and promotional offers for both tobacco and vapor products.

Quijano, Benson Bill to Create the Consumer ATM and Credit Card Act Clears Assembly Panel

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrat Annette Quijano and Daniel Benson aiming to confront the problem of "skimmers," or devices used to steal customer's personal information when they use their credit or debit cards at an ATM or other card payment machines cleared an Assembly panel on Monday. 

"The unscrupulous use of these devices compromise residents' personal information," said Quijano (D-Union). "If a customer's credit or debit card information is stolen in this fashion, it can lead to financial disaster; there are reports of thieves using skimmers to empty entire bank accounts."

Benson Measure to Protect Health of First Responders Who Administer Opioid Antidote Clears Assembly Committee

Legislation Assemblyman Daniel Benson sponsored to protect first responders who administer naloxone to save the lives of individuals experiencing an opioid overdose was advanced Monday by an Assembly committee.

"Opioid antidotes have helped many people in New Jersey, giving those who struggle with addiction a second chance at life," said Benson (D-Middlesex/Mercer). "We must do all that we can to protect New Jersey's first responders as they do the difficult work of assisting these men and women during an emergency."

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 Monday 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."

Benson, Mukherji, Muoio, Holley, Sumter, Downey, Lampitt, Oliver, Danielsen & Wimberly Bill to Protect NJ Public Safety Officers Gains Assembly OK

Legislation Assembly Democrats Daniel R. Benson, Raj Mukherji, Elizabeth Muoio, Jamel Holley, Shavonda Sumter, Joann Downey, Pamela Lampitt, Sheila Oliver, Joe Danielsen and Benjie Wimberly sponsored to support workers who are attacked while supervising inmates or detainees received Assembly approval on Wednesday. 

Under current law, a corrections officer or juvenile detention officer who is seriously injured after a prison riot or inmate attack and cannot work does not receive any salary while waiting for workers' compensation to take effect, which can take several months.

A recent rise in attacks on corrections officers highlights the need to address this gap in state statute, Benson noted.

Assembly Democratic Bill Package to Provide Free Mental Health Services, Facilitate Access to Benefits & Resources to Gold Star Families Approved by Assembly

A legislative package 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 was approved Wednesday by the General Assembly. 

The term "Gold Star" describes a family member who has lost a loved one in military service. A Gold Star Family member is defined to mean a spouse, domestic partner, partner in a civil union, parent, brother, sister, child, legal guardian, or other legal custodian.

Benson, Quijano & Prieto Bill Calling on USDA to Repost Animal Welfare Data on its Website Clears Assembly

 Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Dan Benson, Annette Quijano and Speaker Vincent Prieto urging the United States Department of Agriculture to restore deleted animal welfare records on its website was approved Wednesday by the General Assembly.

The USDA removed the information from its Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHS) website earlier this month. Before the purge, the USDA posted violations, inspection records and annual reports for all commercial animal facilities in the nation, and complaints from members of the public against specific individuals or organizations. According to the resolution, this information has been an invaluable tool for government officials and advocates seeking to protect animal welfare.

Prieto, Lagana, McKeon, Sumter, Benson & Vainieri Huttle Bill to Tackle Opioid Crisis Signed Into Law

The full Assembly on Wednesday granted final legislative approval 64-1-5 to a bipartisan bill sponsored by Speaker Vincent Prieto and Assembly Democrats Joseph Lagana, John McKeon, Shavonda Sumter, Daniel Benson and Valerie Vainieri Huttle that employs a multi-faceted approach to tackle the continuing opioid crisis in New Jersey from every angle. The bill was promptly sent to Gov. Christie's desk where it was signed into law shortly thereafter.

The legislation (S-3/A-3) employs a comprehensive strategy to address the opioid epidemic, including mandated insurance coverage for substance use disorders, restrictions on the prescription of opioids, patient notification on the dangers of abuse of controlled dangerous substances, and professional education on topics related to prescription opioids.