Press Releases

Benson, Sumter, Caride, McKnight, Vainieri Huttle, Pintor Marin & Wimberly Bill to Include Special Education Coursework in Standard Teacher Preparation Gains Final Legislative Approval

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 gained final legislative approval Monday in the General Assembly. It now heads to the governor's desk.

"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."

The bill (A-2786) would require the curriculum for prospective teachers to include the equivalent of six credits of instruction or clinical experience in special education. The measure also would require teachers who wish to instruct students with disabilities to complete coursework that covers autism spectrum disorder.

McKeon, Benson, Eustace, Vainieri Huttle, Quijano & Jasey Constitutional Amendment to Ensure Money from Environmental Contamination Settlements is Used for Clean Up Purposes Headed to Ballot

By a vote of 56-18-3, the full Assembly approved a measure sponsored by Assembly Democrats John McKeon, Daniel Benson, Tim Eustace, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Annette Quijano and Mila Jasey that would ask voters in New Jersey to amend the state constitution so that money collected from environmental contamination lawsuits is used for restoration efforts and other environmental protection measures.

"Right now, the state is able to use this money for any purpose, and the Christie administration has taken full advantage of this," said McKeon (D-Essex/Morris). "Since he took office, the governor has taken more than $1 billion from the state's clean energy program for the general fund. This money was not meant to plug holes in the budget. These funds were the result of environmental contamination settlements and should only be used to repair the damage caused by the contamination and for measures that can help protect our environment." 

Lampitt, Mosquera, Johnson, Vainieri Huttle & Benson Wage Transparency Act Gains Assembly Approval

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt, Gabriela Mosquera, Gordon Johnson, Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Daniel Benson to help bridge the gender wage gap in the workplace was approved 50-27 by the full Assembly on Monday.

The bill (A-1444), known as the Wage Transparency Act, would require employers contracting with the state to disclose demographic and other information about each employee, such as his or her gender, race, job title and total compensation. Upon request, the Division on Civil Rights in the Department of Law and Public Safety would be required to grant an employee access to the information. 

McKeon, Muoio & Benson Bill to Block Christie Administration from Chipping Away at Highlands Water Protections Gains Assembly Approval

By a vote of 48-25-4, the full Assembly on Monday approved 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 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."

Benson, Johnson, Mazzeo, Mosquera, Vainieri Huttle, Coughlin & Jones Bill to Encourage Job Creation & Economic Development in Small, Highly-Developed Municipalities Continues Advancing

Legislation Assembly Democrats Daniel R. Benson, Gordon Johnson, Vince Mazzeo, Gabriela Mosquera, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Craig Coughlin and Patricia Egan Jones sponsored to encourage job creation and business development in small, highly-developed municipalities was advanced Thursday by an Assembly panel.

The bill (A-2223) would establish the "Main Street Economic Growth Program" in the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) to provide financial and technical assistance to a business located in a Main Street area within a small municipality. The bill hopes to encourage business development in small municipalities with substantially developed commercial areas.

"Many small municipalities with substantially developed commercial areas face considerable obstacles in fostering new jobs and business growth," said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "Making matters worse, they often do not qualify for assistance offered by the state's municipal and business assistance programs. It's in the long-term economic interest of this state to establish an economic development incentive program to encourage business growth in these smaller municipalities."

Schaer, Jasey, Benson, Mukherji, Vainieri Huttle & Muoio College Affordability Legislation Advanced by Committee

The Assembly Appropriations Committee on Thursday advanced a three-bill legislative package sponsored by Assembly Democrats Gary Schaer, Mila Jasey, Daniel R. Benson, Raj Mukherji, Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Elizabeth Muoio 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."

McKeon, Muoio & Benson Bill to Block Christie Administration from Chipping Away at Highlands Water Protections Advances

An Assembly panel on Thursday approved 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 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."

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

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 advanced Thursday by an Assembly committee.

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 Gains Assembly Panel Approval

The Assembly Appropriations Committee panel on Thursday approved 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.

"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 bill 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."

The bill (A-3411) would amend current state statutes related to childhood lead poisoning by lowering the blood lead level threshold that would trigger responsive action from the state in order to make it consistent with the most recent recommendations from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Mazzeo, Lagana, Vainieri Huttle, & Benson Bill to Educate Parents of Prescription Opioid Use Clears Legislative Panel

The Assembly Education Committee advanced 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.

"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." 

Lampitt & Benson Measure to Set Standards to Permit Testing & Use of Driverless Vehicles Clear Committee

 Legislation Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt & Daniel R. Benson sponsored to permit testing and use of autonomous vehicles in New Jersey was advanced Monday by an Assembly committee.
"New Jersey has a history of being at the forefront of innovation, and as new transportation technology emerges, we must continue in that tradition," said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). "Developing guidance for testing self-driving cars in New Jersey will allow manufacturers to figure out what challenges these vehicles may face on our roads and how to resolve those challenges early on so that motorists here can safely operate driverless vehicles as soon as they become available to the general public." 
"This bill will help lead to implementing standards governing the use of driverless cars and put the automotive industry, state and local public safety officials and motorists on the same page," said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "There are inevitable changes coming to the auto industry, and the sooner New Jersey can step out in front of them and help create rules that keep everyone safe, the better off we'll be."

Andrzejczak, Land, Benson & Holley Measure to Strengthen Animal Cruelty Laws in New Jersey Advances

Legislation Assembly Democrats Bob Andrzejczak, Bruce Land, Daniel R. Benson and Jamel Holley sponsored to require animal abusers to pay the cost for caring for the animals they harmed was advanced Monday by an Assembly committee.

The bill (A-772) would provide for the cost of care for animals involved in animal cruelty violations and establish a procedure for the alleged violator to pay for the care. 

"The abusive treatment of animals is plain cowardice," said Andrzejczak (D-Cape May/ Atlantic/Cumberland). "Individuals who commit such acts should and will be held accountable for their actions. It's time to strengthen New Jersey statutes and make perpetrators pay for their unspeakable mistreatment of animals."

Assembly Panel Ok's Egan, Benson & Sumter Bill Requiring Health Insurers to Use Standard Explanation of Health Benefits Forms

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Joseph Egan, Daniel Benson and Shavonda Sumter that would create a standard written explanation of benefits form to be used by all health insurance providers in New Jersey was advanced by the Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee on Monday.

The bill (A-2140) requires health insurance carriers issuing health benefits plans in New Jersey to provide a standardized written explanation of benefits form (commonly referred to as an EOB) to a covered person whenever a claim is generated under the covered person's health benefits plan.

Singleton, Conaway, DeAngelo & Benson Bill to Implement Fast-Track Job Training Program Clears Assembly Committee

Legislation Assembly Democrats Troy Singleton, Herb Conaway, Wayne DeAngelo and Daniel Benson sponsored to help unemployed and underemployed New Jersey residents acquire the job skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the workforce was advanced Monday by an Assembly committee.
The bill (A-2190) would direct the commissioner of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development to establish a pilot program to help unemployed and underemployed individuals complete a year-long career and technical education certificate program. 

Coughlin, Lampitt, Singleton, Benson, Vainieri Huttle & Mosquera Bill to Add Cyber-Harassment to Domestic Violence Statutes Becomes Law

 Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Craig Coughlin, Pamela Lampitt, Troy Singleton, Daniel Benson, Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Gabriela Mosquera to bolster protections against cyber-harassment for domestic violence victims in New Jersey was signed into law on Monday.

The new law (formerly A-1946) adds cyber-harassment to the list of crimes considered domestic violence under the "Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991." In doing so, the law allows temporary and permanent restraining orders on the grounds that the person seeking the order is a victim of cyber-harassment. 

DeAngelo, Lagana, Pinkin, McKnight & Benson Bill to Include All Disabled Vets under NJ Transit Discount Program Continues Advancing

Assembly-approved 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 advanced Monday by the Senate budget panel.
The bill was approved by the Assembly in June.

Lampitt, Benson, Vainieri Huttle, Tucker, Wimberly & Downey Bill to Help Residents with Disabilities Access Services Signed into Law

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt, Daniel Benson, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Cleopatra Tucker, Benjie Wimberly and Joann Downey to increase awareness of the application processes for programs and services available to New Jersey residents with developmental disabilities has been signed into law.

"For many individuals with developmental disabilities, the ability to live independently and be economically stable depends on the ability to access the appropriate housing, transportation and the proper medical and behavioral care. Unfortunately, gaining that access can be a complex and confusing process," said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). "This legislation will help ensure that residents of New Jersey who have developmental disabilities can get the services they need."

Benson Bill to Make Homeowners' Associations Subject toOpen Public Meetings Act Clears Assembly Panel

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrat Daniel Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex) to require local Homeowner's Associations meetings adhere to the rules and regulations of the Open Public Meetings Act was approved by an Assembly panel on Monday.

Benson & DeAngelo Laud Appellate Court Ruling on Christie Effort to Dismantle Civil Service Rules

Assembly Democrats Daniel R. Benson and Wayne DeAngelo (both D-Mercer/Middlesex) issued the following statement Thursday after the Appellate Division upheld the legislature's push to overturn the Christie administration's effort to weaken Civil Service rules in New Jersey.

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 revise the "Pet Purchase Protection Act" to require pet dealers to comply with the same sourcing and reporting requirements for cats and dogs as are currently required for pet shops was recently approved 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 clarifies these requirements and imposes them on all pet dealers. 

Mosquera, Greenwald, Downey, Houghtaling, Sumter, Benson & Lampitt Bill to Protect Domestic Violence Victims from Gun Violence Heads to Governor’s Desk

Legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Gabriela Mosquera, Majority Leader Louis D. Greenwald and Assembly Democrats Joann Downey, Eric Houghtaling, Shavonda Sumter, Daniel R. Benson and Pamela Lampitt to strengthen New Jersey's gun laws and protect victims of domestic abuse from gun violence gained final legislative approval from the full Assembly on Thursday.

"For victims and their children, domestic violence turns a chance to live the American Dream into a horrific nightmare. I know, because I've lived that nightmare," said Mosquera (D-Gloucester/Camden). "Too many victims are killed at the hands of abusers who have easy access to firearms before they ever have a chance to get out. This legislation will change that, strengthening our gun violence laws in order to protect victims of domestic violence."

Benson, Mukherji Bill to Help Residents with Eosinophilic Disorders Obtain Protein Formulas under Health Insurance Clears Assembly

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Daniel Benson and Raj Mukherji to require health insurance coverage for certain amino acid-based elemental formulas was approved, 70-0, by the Assembly on Monday. 

Amino acid-based formulas are complete nutritional formulas used to treat individuals with eosinophilic disorders. Eosinophilic disorders affect children and adults, and are characterized by above-normal amounts of eosinophils, a type of white blood cell, causing inflammation in one or more areas of digestive system.

Vainieri Huttle, Singleton, Holley, Mosquera, Benson, Tucker & Wimberly Bill to Help Guard Child Protection Caseworkers Gains Assembly Approval

By a vote of 59-3-7, the full Assembly on Thursday approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Troy Singleton, Jamel Holley, Gabriela Mosquera, Daniel R. Benson, Cleopatra Tucker and Benjie Wimberly to help safeguard child protection workers from the kind of attacks over the past year that left one seriously injured and sent two others to the hospital. 

The sponsors said that more recently, a child welfare case worker was attacked inside her Newark office and suffered multiple injuries.

Vainieri Huttle, Benson & Lampitt Bill to Guard Against Loss of Mental Health & Addiction Treatment Services Advances

An Assembly panel has approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Daniel Benson and Pamela Lampitt to ensure that the state does not recklessly limit access to mental health and addiction treatment by changing the way it pays treatment service providers.

The bill (A-4146) was prompted by the state's decision to begin transitioning most community-based mental health and substance use disorder treatment services from the traditionally used cost reimbursement system to a fee-for-service reimbursement system this past summer, with plans to require all providers to complete the transition by July 2017.

Jasey, Benson, Pinkin & Taliaferro Bill to Support Students Recovering from Head Injuries Advances

Legislation Assembly Democrats Mila Jasey, Daniel R. Benson, Nancy Pinkin and Adam Taliaferro sponsored to support New Jersey students who have sustained concussions and other types of traumatic brain injury (TBI) was advanced Monday by an Assembly committee.
"Students with a traumatic brain injury may face unique cognitive, behavioral and emotional challenges that make it harder to learn at school," said Jasey (D-Morris/Essex). "As such, these students must have individualized attention and supportive, knowledgeable personnel available to help them overcome these challenges and receive the quality education every student in the state deserves." 

Benson, Sumter & Caride Bill to Integrate Special Education Coursework into Standard Teacher Preparation Clears Committee

Legislation Assembly Democrats Daniel R. Benson, Shavonda Sumter and Marlene Caride sponsored to ensure that all teachers in New Jersey are familiar with the needs of students with disabilities was advanced Monday by an Assembly panel.
"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."

Benson, Greenwald, Lagana & Vainieri Huttle Cord Blood Bank Tax Deduction Bill Approved by Assembly Panel

An Assembly panel on Monday approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Daniel Benson, Majority Leader Louis Greenwald, Joseph Lagana and Valerie Vainieri Huttle to help more families afford the opportunity to bank their child's cord blood in the event of a medical emergency down the road.

The bill (A-393) would extend New Jersey's gross income tax medical expense deduction to certain cord blood banking services. 

"This bill would make cord blood banking more cost-effective for New Jersey residents while encouraging the proliferation of cord blood banks in our state," said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "Hopefully this change will allow more parents to afford this potentially life-saving service."

Gusciora, Benson & Mukherji Legislation to Strengthen NJ Animal Cruelty Laws Clears Assembly Committee

Legislation Assembly Democrats Reed Gusciora, Daniel R. Benson and Raj Mukherji sponsored to strengthen New Jersey's laws against animal cruelty was advanced Monday by an Assembly committee. 

The first bill, A-2041, sponsored by Gusciora and Benson, would authorize the courts to issue an animal protection order against any person found guilty of abusing an animal or otherwise violating state animal cruelty laws. The animal protection order would require the person to refrain from interacting with an animal permanently or for a period of time specified by the court.

DeAngelo, Benson & Quijano Bill to Expand NJ Energy Stars Program Statewide Signed Into Law

Legislation Assembly Democrats Wayne DeAngelo, Daniel Benson and Annette Quijano sponsored to require New Jersey Energy Star Homes Program incentives be available statewide was signed into law on Wednesday.

"Helping more residents save on energy costs, that's what this bill is about," DeAngelo (D-Mercer, Middlesex). "Wherever there is new residential construction there should be an opportunity for this program."

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

 Legislation sponsored by Assemblywomen Marlene Caride (D-Bergen/Passaic), Angelica Jimenez (D-Bergen/Hudson), Raj Mukherji (D-Hudson), Jamel Holley (D-Union), Daniel R. Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex) and Angela McKnight (D-Hudson) to improve the safety of wheelchair-bound students who are transported on school buses was released Thursday by the Assembly Appropriations Committee. 
"These students are especially vulnerable," said Caride, who chairs the 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."