Press Releases

DeAngelo, Benson & Quijano Bill to Expand NJ Energy Stars Program Statewide Clears Assembly

Legislation Assembly Democrats Wayne DeAngelo, Daniel Benson and Annette Quijano sponsored to require New Jersey Energy Star Homes Program incentives be available statewide was approved, 75-0, by the Assembly on Thursday. 

"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."

Coughlin, Schaer, Jasey & Benson Bill to Facilitate More Efficient Use of Taxpayer Dollars at NJ Colleges, Universities Now Law

A bill Assembly Democrats Craig Coughlin, Gary S. Schaer, Mila Jasey and Daniel R. Benson sponsored to make the procurement process at New Jersey colleges and universities more efficient by permitting the institutions to participate in cooperative purchasing agreements is now law.

"Cooperative pricing systems help government entities get the best possible value when seeking goods and services, which results in a smarter use of taxpayer dollars," said Coughlin (D-Middlesex). "Allowing public institutions of higher education in New Jersey to cut costs by joining these purchasing systems is a viable avenue toward making operations at our colleges and universities more efficient." 

Quijano, DeAngelo, Giblin, Benson, Zwicker, Danielsen & Houghtaling Bill to Extend Unemployment Benefits to Striking Workers Advanced by Assembly Panel

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Annette Quijano, Wayne DeAngelo, Thomas Giblin, Daniel R. Benson, Andrew Zwicker, Joe Danielsen and Eric Houghtaling to extend unemployment benefits to workers on strike for more than 30 days due to unresolved labor disputes was advanced Monday by the Assembly Labor Committee.

The measure (A-3819) would have, for instance, benefited workers in strikes against Verizon and Trump Taj Mahal.

"Going on strike is a measure of last resort, but sometimes it's necessary for workers who must stand up for their rights," said Quijano (D-Union). "That's why we must ensure that workers who have no choice but to go on strike are eligible for unemployment benefits."

Benson, Johnson, Mazzeo, Mosquera, Vainieri Huttle & Coughlin Bill to Encourage Job Creation & Economic Development in Small, Highly Developed Municipalities Clears Assembly Panel

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Dan Benson, Gordon Johnson, Vince Mazzeo, Gabriela Mosquera, Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Craig Coughlin 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.

Assembly Dems Bill Forgiving Student Loan Debt in Event of Borrower's Death or Permanent Disability Advances

An Assembly panel on Thursday advanced legislation that would forgive certain student loan debt in the event of a borrower's death or total permanent disability, a measure sponsored by Assembly Democrats Vince Mazzeo, Andrew Zwicker, Mila Jasey, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Patricia Jones, Tim Eustace, Bruce Land, Reed Gusciora, Bob Andrzejczak and Daniel Benson.
"Imagine you're a family who always pays their bills, has good credit and then you lose a child and in the midst of your grief, you're saddled with tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars in their remaining student loan debt," said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). "That's just something we can't allow to happen on our watch."

Sumter & Benson Bill to Establish ‘Secondhand Valuables Transaction Reporting Task Force’ Now Law

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Shavonda Sumter and Daniel Benson to maintain the integrity of the sale of secondhand jewelry and precious metals in New Jersey has been signed into law.

"Individuals who wish to purchase used jewelry from a legitimate establishment should be able to do so with the confidence that the merchant's products were obtained lawfully," said Sumter (D-Bergen/Passaic). "This task force will help get stolen goods off the market and give consumers peace of mind."

Benson Condemns PARCC Testing Mandate, Restores Alternatives under New Legislation He Proposed

Assemblyman Daniel Benson condemned last week's misguided decision by the State Board of Education to make the PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) test mandatory for high school graduation, saying it underscores the need to move forward with legislation he has introduced providing other alternatives for graduation requirements.

"I think this decision is extremely shortsighted and flies in the face of conventional wisdom as well as the wishes of many educators, parents and students.

"We need a more nuanced approach to education, one that focuses on preparing our students to be constructive thinkers and problem solvers because the complex issues we face as a society cannot solely be addressed with high-stakes standardized tests.

Greenwald, Tucker, Johnson, Benson, DeAngelo, Zwicker & Downey Bill to Reimburse College Application Fees to Veterans, Armed Forces Members Continues Advancing

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Majority Leader Louis D. Greenwald and Assembly Democrats Cleopatra Tucker, Gordon M. Johnson, Daniel Benson, Wayne P. DeAngelo, Andrew Zwicker and Joann Downey to encourage veterans and members of the military to pursue higher education goals was advanced by a Senate committee on Thursday.

The bill (A-1757) would require public institutions of higher education to waive or reimburse their application fees and fees for the receipt or transmission of a transcript for veterans, members of the Armed Forces of the United States, the Reserve components thereof or members of the New Jersey National Guard who reside in New Jersey and accept admission to a public institution of higher education.

Sumter & Benson Bill to Establish 'Secondhand Valuables Transaction Reporting Task Force' Heads to Gov's Desk

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Shavonda Sumter and Daniel Benson to maintain the integrity of the sale of secondhand jewelry and precious metals in New Jersey received final legislative approval Thursday and now heads to the governor's desk.

"Individuals who wish to purchase used jewelry from a legitimate establishment should be able to do so with the confidence that the merchant's products were obtained lawfully," said Sumter (D-Bergen/Passaic). "This task force will help get stolen goods off the market and give consumers peace of mind."

Benson, Moriarty, Mukherji, Oliver & McKnight Bill to Help Prevent Consumers from Getting Roped Into Endless Auto-Renewals Gains Assembly OK

A consumer protection measure sponsored by Assembly Democrats Daniel R. Benson, Paul Moriarty, Raj Mukherji, Sheila Oliver and Angela McKnight recently was approved by the General Assembly, moving New Jersey closer to requiring notification to customers when a contract is to be renewed automatically.

"So many highly-used services out there today include automatic renewal provisions in their contracts," said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "In an era of paperless billing and automatic charges to credit cards or bank accounts, consumers often get perpetually roped into extended and costly contracts. By requiring a clear display of the terms and advance notice prior to renewal, this bill will give consumers the opportunity to make more informed choices."

Coughlin, Schaer, Eustace, Downey, Benson, Wimberly, McKeon, Jasey & Chiaravalloti Bill Creating Automatic Voter Registration through MVC Heads to Governor

By a vote of 54-24, the full Assembly granted final legislative approval to a bill sponsored by Assembly Democrats Craig Coughlin, Gary Schaer, Tim Eustace, Joann Downey, Daniel Benson, Benjie Wimberly, John McKeon, Mila Jasey and Nicholas Chiaravalloti that would require the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission to automatically register or update a person's voter registration as part of applying for or renewing a driver's license.

"This bill is designed to encourage participation in the democratic process by integrating voter registration with the process of driver registration," said Coughlin (D-Middlesex). "This simple move will hopefully encourage more young people to register to vote and make it easier for residents to fulfill their civic duty."

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

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 gained approval from the General Assembly on Monday.

Under current law, the New Jersey Transit Corporation provides 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 the veteran has a disabled rating of 70 percent or greater. This bill (A-2228) provides that all disabled veterans are eligible for the reduced fare program. 

Assembly Oks Benson, Muoio & Gusciora Bill to Enable Katzenbach School for the Deaf to Continue Driver's Ed Instruction

 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, 77-0, by the full Assembly 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. 

Mazzeo, Andrzejczak, Mukherji, Moriarty, Benson, Danielsen & Houghtaling Legislation to Boost Care for 'Wounded Warriors' Clears Assembly

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, advanced by the full Assembly on Monday, 78-0.

The lawmakers were inspired by a recent 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 care-giving services to wounded veterans. Meanwhile, the study found that 53 percent of post-9/11 voluntary caregivers have no support network.

"The purpose of the bill is to help care for those who are caring for our veterans," said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). "Care-giving for post-9/11 veterans is a massive economic and societal undertaking that we're facing right now. The enormous sacrifice our military members have made during two wars for over a decade now deserves a better response from our end."

Singleton, Conaway, DeAngelo, Benson, Muoio, Houghtaling & Zwicker Bill to Promote Cost-Cutting Small Business Improvements Approved by Assembly Panel

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Troy Singleton, Herb Conaway, Wayne DeAngelo, Daniel R. Benson, Elizabeth Muoio, Eric Houghtaling and Andrew Zwicker to facilitate cost-effective environmentally friendly improvements for small businesses recently was approved by an Assembly panel. 

"Energy efficiency upgrades have the potential to save small businesses thousands of dollars each year," said Singleton (D-Burlington). "Small businesses are not churning out enormous profits. Keeping the costs of lighting, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems and other similar expenses at a minimum can make a difference to their bottom line. Helping small businesses thrive not only benefits our business community but also our overall economy."

Mazzeo, Andrzejczak, Mukherji, Moriarty, Benson, Danielsen & Houghtaling Legislation to Boost Care for ‘Wounded Warriors’ Clears Assembly Panel

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, was advanced by an Assembly committee on Monday.

The lawmakers were inspired by a recent 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 care-giving services to wounded veterans. Meanwhile, the study found that 53 percent of post-9/11 voluntary caregivers have no support network. 

"The purpose of the bill is to help care for those who are caring for our veterans," said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). "Care-giving for post-9/11 veterans is a massive economic and societal undertaking that we're facing right now. The enormous sacrifice our military members have made during two wars for over a decade now deserves a better response from our end."

Assembly Panel Approves Benson & Muoio Bill to Enable Katzenbach School for the Deaf to Continue Driver’s Ed Instruction

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Daniel Benson and Elizabeth Maher Muoio to enable the Katzenbach School for the Deaf to continue offering driver's education for students was approved by an Assembly panel 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, Land, Vainieri Huttle, Taliaferro & Benson Bill to Protect Pets against Inhumane Treatment Clears Assembly Panel

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Bob Andrzejczak, Bruce Land, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Adam Taliaferro and Dan Benson to help protect pets against inhumane treatment was released Monday by the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.

"Pet owners have a responsibility to care for their pets. That includes bringing their dogs indoors or providing adequate outdoor shelter during inclement weather," said Andrzejczak (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland). "These animals are not immune from severe cold or hot weather. Keeping a dog outdoors under such conditions is just cruel. This bill would make it illegal."

"Some people prefer to keep their dogs outside as guard dogs. That's all well and good, but they have an obligation to ensure the dog has access to shelter during bad weather," said Land (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland). "A pet is entirely dependent on its owner for survival. This bill would help prevent such heartless behavior from going unchecked."

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

Legislation Assembly Democrats John Wisniewski, Elizabeth Muoio, Daniel R. Benson, Gordon M. Johnson and Valerie Vainieri Huttle sponsored to give the public more influence regarding decisions at New Jersey Transit was advanced Monday 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 last year and a 22 percent increase in 2010.
"As the third largest mass transit system in the nation, NJ Transit is a vital part of our state's transportation network. Without the voices of its passengers on the board of directors, New Jersey is missing out on opportunities to get 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 public members can bring to this board."

Singleton, Mosquera & Benson Sponsored ‘Lisa’s Law’ to Electronically Monitor Domestic Violence Offenders Advances

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

"Our current system, it is far too easy for domestic violence offenders to get close to their victims again after an initial attack has occurred," said Singleton (D-Burlington). "When the Governor recently vetoed a bill that would have barred domestic violence offenders from owning a firearm he tried to justify it by saying he was recommending a 'comprehensive plan to combat domestic violence.' This is a chance for him to live up to that promise and have his actions match his rhetoric. Letting domestic violence victims literally see when trouble is heading their way will help them stay one step ahead of attackers hell bent on becoming repeat offenders." 

Conaway, Benson, Pinkin & Wimberly Bill Requiring Health Insurers to Cover New Abuse-Deterrent Pain Meds Advances

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Herb Conaway, Jr., M.D., Daniel Benson, Nancy Pinkin and Benjie Wimberly requiring health insurers to cover prescription pain relief medications designed to decrease abuse and addiction gained approval from an Assembly panel on Thursday.

Specifically, the bill (A-1833) would require health insurers to provide health benefits coverage for prescribed abuse-deterrent opioid analgesic drugs.

Benson, DeAngelo, Quijano, Lampitt & Giblin Bill to Boost College Internships in Life Sciences Field Clears Assembly Panel

An Assembly panel on Thursday approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Dan Benson, Wayne DeAngelo, Annette Quijano, Pamela Lampitt and Thomas Giblin to create more paid internship opportunities for college students in the life sciences field.

"This bill helps New Jersey students attain paid work experience in the life sciences field, which is an integral part of our state's economy," said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "We lose many of our college graduates to other states. By creating this opportunity, we can help retain some of that brainpower, while helping smaller life sciences companies invested in the state to grow."

"Internships are often part of the course for college students looking for work experience before graduation. Unfortunately, many of them are unpaid," said DeAngelo (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "This program gives our college students a paid option in a burgeoning field, while strengthening the companies that will one day be looking to hire the best prospects. It's a win-win."

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

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 gained approval from the General Assembly on Thursday.

"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."

The bill (A-2004) would make it a crime of the second degree, generally punishable by five to ten years' imprisonment, for a person to conspire with another person as an organizer, supervisor, financier or manager of a pyramid promotional scheme. The bill also would permit the court to impose a fine of up to $250,000. 

Muoio, Gusciora & Benson Measure Seeking Tougher Federal Approval Process on Natural Gas Pipelines Clears Assembly

The Assembly on Thursday approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Elizabeth Maher Muoio, Reed Gusciora and Daniel Benson urging the federal government to toughen its policies on the approval of interstate natural gas pipelines in order to fully weigh the environmental costs, as well as the impact on private property owners and state and local government policies.

The measure (ACR-53) urges the President and Congress to change the laws concerning approvals of interstate natural gas pipelines so they better implement current energy policy considerations, require consideration of the cumulative impacts of the overall development of natural gas transmission infrastructure on a region, and require deference to certain competing state policy determinations.

Sumter & Benson Bill to Establish ‘Secondhand Valuables Transaction Reporting Task Force’ Clears Assembly

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Shavonda Sumter and Daniel Benson to maintain the integrity of the sale of secondhand jewelry and precious metals in New Jersey gained approval from the General Assembly on Thursday.

"Individuals who wish to purchase used jewelry from a legitimate establishment should be able to do so with the confidence that the merchant's products were obtained lawfully," said Sumter (D-Bergen/Passaic). "This task force will help get stolen goods off the market and give consumers peace of mind."

Schaer, Tucker, Benson & Caputo Bill to Increase Personal Needs Allowance Under Medicaid, SSI for Vets Clears Panel

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Gary Schaer, Cleopatra Tucker, Daniel R. Benson and Ralph Caputo to ensure that veterans on Medicaid and living in a facility, such as a nursing home or developmental center, have enough money to purchase personal items was released by an Assembly committee on Thursday. 

"This allowance has stayed the same for years while the cost of living in this state has not," said Schaer (D-Bergen/Passaic). "This is an opportunity to help veterans continue to provide for themselves and their families in a changing economy. Requiring cost-of-living adjustments on the allowance is extremely important. New Jersey veterans will not have to wait for another increase in the future." 

The bill (A-1639) would increase the personal needs allowance for veterans and their spouses who are recipients of Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and reside in a nursing home or developmental center or are patients in a psychiatric hospital. The allowance may be used to purchase personal items, such as clothing, grooming aids, newspapers and other items not regularly provided by the facility in which they reside. 

Conaway, Benson & Pinkin Bill to Modernize 911 System in NJ Clears Assembly Committee

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Herb Conaway, Daniel R. Benson and Nancy Pinkin to modernize the 911 system in New Jersey was advanced by an Assembly committee on Thursday.

The bill (A-1821) would require 911 service facilities to be equipped with the Next Generation 911 system within three years of the measure's enactment. The Next Generation 911 system allows for the processing of electronic messages, including, but not limited to, electronic messages containing text, images, video or data. The sponsors noted that the ability to text 911 will be vital for New Jersey residents with communication disabilities and during emergencies that make talking impossible or impractical.

"Particularly in cases in which conspicuously calling for help may put someone in danger - for example, if a victim is hiding from an intruder during a home invasion - the ability to contact emergency personnel via a text message can be lifesaving," said Conaway (D-Burlington). "This enhancement to our state's 911 system is a valuable investment that will keep more New Jersey residents safe."

Benson, Muoio & Danielsen Bill to Create Tougher Penalty for Assaulting Seniors, People with Disabilities Clears Committee

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Daniel R. Benson, Elizabeth Muoio and Joseph Danielsen to increase the penalty for the assault of an individual who is elderly or who has a disability was advanced recently by an Assembly committee. 

"It is completely cowardly and contemptible to target someone who may not have the capacity for self-defense," said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "Anyone who attacks a senior or an individual with a disability should face serious consequences." 

The sponsors cited the assault of a 91-year-old woman at her Ewing home in March and the carjacking of a 78-year-old woman at the Lawrence Shopping Center in April as motives for the bill. The 2006 assault of Trenton resident Joey Damiano, a man with an intellectual disability who was left blind in one eye after being attacked while walking down the street, also influenced the legislation. 

Green, Benson & Moriarty Bill to Establish Penalties for Pyramid Scheme Participation Clears Assembly Panel

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Jerry Green, Daniel R. Benson and Paul Moriarty to establish criminal penalties for promoting or participating in a pyramid scheme recently was advanced by an Assembly committee.

"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."

The bill (A-2004) would make it a crime of the second degree, generally punishable by five to ten years' imprisonment, for a person to conspire with another person as an organizer, supervisor, financier or manager of a pyramid promotional scheme. The bill also would permit the court to impose a fine of up to $250,000. 

Muoio, Gusciora & Benson Measure Seeking Tougher Federal Approval Process on Natural Gas Pipelines Advances

An Assembly panel on Thursday advanced legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Elizabeth Maher Muoio, Reed Gusciora and Daniel Benson urging the federal government to toughen its policies on the approval of interstate natural gas pipelines in order to fully weigh the environmental costs, as well as the impact on private property owners and state and local government policies.

The measure (ACR-53) urges the President and Congress to change the laws concerning approvals of interstate natural gas pipelines so they better implement current energy policy considerations, require consideration of the cumulative impacts of the overall development of natural gas transmission infrastructure on a region, and require deference to certain competing state policy determinations.