Press Releases

Vainieri Huttle, Benson, Lampitt, Johnson, McKnight & Sumter Bill to Guard Against Loss of Health Care Services for the Most Vulnerable Gains Final Legislative Approval

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 gained final legislative approval 66-2 Wednesday by the full Assembly.

The bill (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. 

Mazzeo, Lagana, Vainieri Huttle, & Benson Bill to Educate Parents of Prescription Opioid Use OK'd by Assembly

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 approved 69-0 Wednesday by the Assembly.
"This 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." 

Greenwald, Lampitt, Benson, Caride & Chiaravalloti Bill to Help Increase Mobility for Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder Heads to Governor’s Desk

The full Assembly on Wednesday unanimously granted final legislative approval to a measure sponsored by Majority Leader Louis Greenwald and Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt, Daniel Benson, Marlene Caride and Nicholas Chiaravalloti to help better meet the transportation needs of New Jersey residents with developmental disabilities.

The bill (A-3432) would establish the "New Jersey Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder Mobility and Support Services Task Force," an 11-member task force to study and make recommendations concerning the mobility and support services needs of New Jersey adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The task force would hold at least three public hearings concerning barriers adults with ASD face in using New Jersey's transportation infrastructure and in accessing other basic services in the state.

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

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Bob Andrzejczak, Vince Mazzeo, Bruce R. Land, Cleopatra Tucker and Dan Benson 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 69-0 Wednesday by the Assembly.
According to Justice for Vets, one in five veterans has symptoms of a mental health disorder or cognitive impairment, and one in six veterans who served in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom suffer from a substance abuse issue. The sponsors believe treatment would better serve these veterans and the public by reducing the likelihood of recidivism.

Chaparro, Vainieri Huttle, Benson, Jimenez, Mukherji & Downey Bill to Establish Alert System for Hit-and-Runs Passes Assembly

 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 approved by the full Assembly, 71-0, on Wednesday. 

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."

Johnson & Benson Bill Requiring Disclosure of Money Spent by State & Local Governments on Lobbying Activities Advances

An Assembly panel on Monday approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Gordon Johnson and Daniel Benson 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. 

"This is about transparency and accountability," said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "Taxpayers have every right to know how their dollars are being used and if it's in their best interest. This will bolster our already substantial lobbying disclosure requirements."

Benson, Muoio & Conaway Bill to Require Health Care Facilities to Test for Lead in Drinking Water Clears Assembly Panel

 Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Daniel Benson, Elizabeth Muoio and Herb Conaway to require care facilities to test for and remediate lead in drinking water was approved by the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee on Monday.

"According to the DEP, high levels of lead were recently detected in a hospital in Englewood as well as a medical center in Morristown last February," said Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex). "This raises concerns for all health care facilities and should implore the state to implement mandatory lead testing requirements for these facilities."

Mazzeo, Andrzejczak, Mukherji, Moriarty, Benson, Danielsen & Houghtaling Bill to Boost Care for 'Wounded Warriors' Goes to Governor

Legislation Assemblymen Vince Mazzeo, Bob Andrzejczak, Raj Mukherji, Paul Moriarty, Daniel Benson, Joseph Danielsen and Eric Houghtaling sponsored to boost assistance for "wounded warriors" and their caregivers, an ever-growing demographic that faces unique challenges in the post-9/11 era, was approved 37-0 Monday by the Senate, giving it final legislative approval.
The lawmakers were inspired by a 2014 RAND Corporation study that included a number of unsettling statistics regarding the care of wounded veterans in the post-9/11 era, most notably that an estimated 1.1 million civilians are providing volunteer caregiving services to wounded veterans. Meanwhile, the study found that 53 percent of post-9/11 voluntary caregivers have no support network. 

DeAngelo, Lagana, Pinkin, McKnight & Benson Bill to Include All Disabled Vets Under NJ Transit Discount Program Now Law

Legislation Assembly Democrats Wayne DeAngelo, Joseph Lagana, Nancy Pinkin, Angela McKnight and Daniel R. Benson sponsored to include more disabled veterans in the New Jersey Transit discount program for senior citizens and persons with disabilities was signed into law on Friday. 

Under previous law, the New Jersey Transit Corporation provided reduced fares for senior citizens over the age of 62 and persons with disabilities. A disabled veteran is only eligible for the program, however, if the United States Department of Veterans Affairs has determined that he or she has a disabled rating of 70 percent or greater. 

The new law (formerly A-2228) provides that all disabled veterans are eligible for the reduced fare program.

Lesniak & Benson Counter Washington Officials on 'Puppy Mills' Accountability

Reacting to the abrupt removal by Washington officials of public records documenting the treatment of animals by dog breeders, zoos and research laboratories and other facilities, Senator Raymond Lesniak and Assemblyman Dan Benson said today that they will revise their proposed expansion of the "Pet Purchase Protection Act" to prohibit breeders from sending animals into New Jersey if their inspection reports are not accessible on the website of the United States Department of Agriculture. 

The USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service suddenly purged the inspection and enforcement reports on the treatment of animals - including violations by "puppy mills" - from the service's website, removing the information from easy public review.

Benson, Sumter, Caride, McKnight, Vainieri Huttle, Pintor Marin & Wimberly Bill to Include Special Education Coursework in Standard Teacher Preparation Now Law

Legislation Assembly Democrats Daniel R. Benson, Shavonda Sumter, Marlene Caride, Angela McKnight, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Eliana Pintor Marin and Benjie Wimberly sponsored to ensure that all teachers in New Jersey are familiar with the needs of students with disabilities has been signed into law. 

"Students learn best in inclusive environments in which they feel respected and encouraged to reach their full potential," said Benson (D-Middlesex/Morris). "Teachers who understand and are sensitive to the challenges students with disabilities face can provide the proper accommodations, combat stigma and provide resources to ensure a welcoming atmosphere."

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

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 recently approved by a Senate panel. 


The bill (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. 

Muoio, Benson, Singleton, Greenwald, Pinkin, Downey & Sumter Bill to Boost State Response to Elevated Lead Levels in Children Now Law

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Elizabeth Maher Muoio, Daniel Benson, Troy Singleton, Louis Greenwald, Nancy Pinkin, Joann Downey and Shavonda Sumter to strengthen the state's response to elevated blood lead levels in children was signed into law on Monday. 

"When it comes to the health and safety of our children, the CDC has essentially concluded that there are no 'safe' blood lead levels," said Muoio (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). "This new law takes that into account and will boost the state's response accordingly to help prevent more children from falling victim to a lifetime of irrevocable damage."

Green, Benson, Moriarty, Mukherji & Pintor Marin Bill to Establish Penalties for Pyramid Scheme Participation Continues Advancing

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 continued advancing Monday, receiving approval from a Senate panel.

"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, Mukherji, Moriarty, Benson, Danielsen & Houghtaling Bill to Boost Care for ‘Wounded Warriors’ Continues Advancing

Legislation Assemblymen Vince Mazzeo, Sgt. Bob Andrzejczak, Raj Mukherji, Paul Moriarty, Daniel Benson, Joseph Danielsen and Eric Houghtaling sponsored to boost assistance for "wounded warriors" and their caregivers, an ever-growing demographic that faces unique challenges in the post-9/11 era, recently was advanced by a Senate committee.

The lawmakers were inspired by a 2014 RAND Corporation study that included a number of unsettling statistics regarding the care of wounded veterans in the post-9/11 era, most notably that an estimated 1.1 million civilians are providing volunteer caregiving services to wounded veterans. Meanwhile, the study found that 53 percent of post-9/11 voluntary caregivers have no support network. 

Assembly Democratic Bill to Protect NJ Public Safety Officers Gains Assembly Panel Approval

Legislation Assembly Democrats Daniel R. Benson, Raj Mukherji, Elizabeth Muoio, Jamel Holley, Shavonda Sumter, Joann Downey, Pamela Lampitt, Sheila Oliver and Joe Danielsen sponsored to support workers who are attacked while supervising inmates or detainees continued advancing this week and is now poised for final legislative approval.

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.

Andrzejczak, Mazzeo, Land, Tucker & Benson Bill to Treat - not jail - Veterans with Mental Illness Accused of Non Violent Crimes Clears Assembly Panel

 An Assembly panel on Monday released legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Bob Andrzejczak, Vince Mazzeo, Bruce R. Land, Cleopatra Tucker and Dan Benson to send veterans suffering from mental illness, who have committed a non-violent crime, to a treatment program, instead of the criminal justice system where they are unlikely to receive treatment.
According to Justice for Vets, one in five veterans has symptoms of a mental health disorder or cognitive impairment, and one in six veterans who served in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom suffer from a substance abuse issue. The sponsors believe treatment would better serve these veterans and the public by reducing the likelihood of recidivism.
"The wounds of war are not just physical. Many soldiers return home with mental trauma that, when untreated, puts them and others at risk," said Andrzejczak (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland). "These veterans need mental health services, not jail. We owe it to them, and the public to ensure that we are treating those veterans with mental health issues so that they are not a danger to themselves or others."

Benson, Vainieri Huttle, Eustace, Gusciora & Mukherji Consumer Protection Bill to Extend Pet Shop Regulations to Pet Dealers Clears Assembly Panel

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 advanced Monday by an Assembly panel.
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. 

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

A legislative package sponsored by Assembly Democrats Lou Greenwald, Gordon Johnson, Bruce R. Land, Bob Andrzejczak, Vince Mazzeo, Eric Houghtaling, Dan Benson, Patricia Jones and Raj Mukherji to provide mental health services and other resources to the families of service members who died while on active duty was released Monday by an Assembly panel.
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.
"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."

Chaparro, Vainieri Huttle, Benson & Jimenez Bill to Establish Alert System for Hit-and-Runs Clears Assembly Committee

Legislation Assembly Democrats Annette Chaparro, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Daniel R. Benson and Angelica Jimenez sponsored to establish an emergency alert system to help more quickly apprehend drivers responsible for fatal hit-and-run accidents cleared an Assembly committee on Monday.
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.

Quijano, Benson, Muoio, Caride, Vainieri Huttle, McKnight, Wimberly & Sumter Bill to Reimburse School Districts for Lead Testing Gains Approval of General Assembly

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 for the cost of testing school drinking water for lead gained approval from the General Assembly on Monday. 

"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."

Vainieri Huttle, Benson, Lampitt, Johnson & McKnight Bill to Guard Against Loss of Health Care Services for the Most Vulnerable Gains Assembly Approval

Legislation Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Daniel Benson, Pamela Lampitt, Gordon Johnson and Angela McKnight 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 approved 67-1-1 by the full Assembly on Monday.

The bill (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. 

Mazzeo, Andrzejczak, Jimenez, Vainieri Huttle, Benson & Wimberly Bill Boosting Rental Assistance for Veterans Clears Assembly, Goes to Governor

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 cleared the full Assembly, 69-0, 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."

McKeon, Benson, Muoio, Pinkin & Moriarty Bill to Reform Consumer Arbitration Process Clears Assembly

Legislation Assembly Democrats John F. McKeon, Daniel Benson, Elizabeth Muoio, Nancy Pinkin and Paul Moriarty sponsored to make the consumer arbitration process more accessible and more transparent cleared the Assembly on Monday. 

The bill (A-1515) would prohibit terms and conditions in a consumer contract that require the dispute be resolved in a venue, forum or jurisdiction outside of the state of New Jersey. This requirement can only be waived upon the advice of counsel.

Holding litigation or arbitration outside of New Jersey can make dispute resolution costly and burdensome for consumers, McKeon noted. 

Wisniewski, McKnight, Chiaravalloti & Benson Bill to Crack Down on Reckless Driving Advanced by Committee

Legislation Assembly Democrats John Wisniewski, Angela McKnight, Nicholas Chiaravalloti and Daniel Benson sponsored to make it easier for prosecutors to ensure justice is served in cases of reckless driving recently was advanced by an Assembly committee.

The sponsors noted that the 2015 death of Medford resident Eileen Marmino, a special education teacher and mother of two who died in a crash while riding her bicycle, was the impetus for the legislation. Although the driver had swerved into the bike lane and killed Marmino, the penalty was a considered a traffic violation punishable by a mere $300 fine and no jail time.

"Drivers have a responsibility to focus on the road and stay in their lane while behind the wheel," said Wisniewski (D-Middlesex). "If a motorist isn't paying attention and ultimately causes someone's death, the prosecutor ought to be able to ensure that the motorist faces serious consequences."

Lampitt, Vainieri Huttle, Benson & Wimberly Bill to Uphold Right of Service Dog Access for People with Disabilities Clears Assembly

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 was unanimously approved by the full Assembly on Monday.

The sponsors proposed the legislation after 16-year-old Cherry Hill resident Ben Shore raised concerns about a policy in the 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. 

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

A legislative package sponsored by Assembly Democrats Lou Greenwald, Gordon Johnson, Bruce R. Land, Bob Andrzejczak, Vince Mazzeo, Eric Houghtaling, Dan Benson, Patricia Jones and Raj Mukherji to provide mental health services and other resources to the families of service members who died while on active duty was released Thursday by an Assembly panel.

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.

"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."

Wisniewski, Muoio, Benson, Johnson, Vainieri Huttle & Moriarty Bill to Give Public More Say in NJ Transit Decisions Advanced by Assembly Panel

Legislation Assembly Democrats John Wisniewski, Elizabeth Muoio, Daniel R. Benson, Gordon M. Johnson, Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Paul Moriarty sponsored to give the public more influence regarding decisions at New Jersey Transit was advanced Thursday by an Assembly panel.

The bill (A-1919) would add two public members to the NJ Transit board of directors, increasing board membership to 10 members from eight. The legislation follows a 9 percent NJ Transit fare increase in 2015 and a 22 percent increase in 2010.

"As one of the largest mass transit systems in the nation, NJ Transit is a vital part of our state's transportation network. Adding more passengers to the board of directors will allow New Jersey to get more direct feedback and innovative ideas at the decision-making table," said Wisniewski (D-Middlesex). "Mere white papers about the effect of decreased subsidies, increased fares and cuts to service are no substitute for the value that two more public members can bring to this board."

Mazzeo, Andrzejczak, Jimenez, Vainieri Huttle, Benson & Wimberly Bill Boosting Rental Assistance for Veterans Advances

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 approved by an Assembly panel on Thursday.

"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."

Sumter, Jasey, Muoio & Benson HESAA Reform Bill Package Clears Assembly Committee

Legislation Assembly Democrats Shavonda Sumter, Mila Jasey, Elizabeth Muoio and Daniel Benson sponsored to make comprehensive reforms within the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESAA) in an effort to combat student loan debt in New Jersey was advanced Thursday by an Assembly committee.

"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.