An Assembly panel on Monday approved legislation that would expand the areas required to have access to cable and internet service. The bill (A-1451) is sponsored by Assembly Democrats Daniel Benson, Bob Andrzejczak and Bruce Land.
"Reliable access to internet and cable service for many residents is not as obtainable as one may think," said Benson (D- Mercer, Middlesex). "There are still many areas in the state, mostly rural and densely populated communities that rely on wireless, or an antiquated dial-up service for the internet. This legislation develops a time table for cable companies to ensure that these areas are provided access to reliable, high-speed internet sooner rather than later."
Bipartisan legislation sponsored in-part by Assembly Democrats Daniel Benson, Eric Houghtaling, and Paul Moriarty to strengthen state law against energy "slamming" practices was released on Monday by the Assembly Telecommunications panel.
Energy "slamming" is a practice that involves changing consumers' electric power or gas supplier without their knowledge or consent.
Senator Linda R. Greenstein, Assemblyman Wayne P. DeAngelo and Assemblyman Daniel R. Benston (all D-Middlesex and Mercer) today sent a letter to Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner-designate Catherine McCabe and Board of Public Utilities President Joseph Fiordaliso requesting a meeting to discuss the water problems at Trenton Water Works and to seek solutions to the "ongoing, growing problems to ensure the health and safety of our constituents."
Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Tim Eustace, Daniel Benson, Andrew Zwicker and Benjie Wimberly to allow customers connected to hydropower facilities to receive credit on their bills through "virtual" net metering was signed into law this week.
Virtual net metering (VNM) is a bill crediting system in which a customer receives credits on their electric bill for excess energy drawn from a hydropower facility.
"For residents who have invested in a renewable energy source for their homes, this legislation would reduce their utility bill by giving them credit for the excess energy produced," said Eustace (D- Bergen, Passaic). "Virtual net metering allows the customers to keep tabs on how much energy they actually use through alternative energy sources. Because of their investment, residents should see the savings on their utility bills from month to month."
Under the new law (A-2204), a small scale hydropower facility put into service after the effective date with the capacity of 3 MW or less is eligible for net metering. The law authorizes a facility to deliver or sell power to up to 10 end-use customers, who are located within 10 miles of the facility and net-metered within the service territory of a single electric public utility, and designate the end-use customers to be credited by the electric power supplier or basic generation service provider with the excess generations of the facility.
The law (A-2565) allows NJ STARS and NJ STARS II scholarship recipients to maintain program eligibility in the event that medical condition or recent death of a parent or spouse prevents enrollment as full-time student.
"This is the decent thing to do," said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "College is the gateway to a brighter future, and for many students, these scholarships are a lifeline. No one should lose their eligibility because they must deal with a medical condition or tragic loss."
"We should be removing all obstacles to a higher education not further burdening them with the threat of losing their scholarship while facing a medical condition or a family death," said DeAngelo (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "This law protects students in their most vulnerable state and ensures them the opportunity to continue their education under the NJ STARS scholarship program."
Legislation sponsored by Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin and Assembly Democrats Joann Downey, Raj Mukherji, Angela McKnight and Daniel R. Benson granting seniors and disabled residents more time to apply for their property tax rebates has been signed into law.
"For those living on a fixed income, like seniors and certain disabled residents, every little bit helps," said Coughlin (D-Middlesex). "The senior freeze program can provide a substantial boost to those individuals so we'd like to make sure they have as much time as possible to apply and take advantage of it."
Legislation Assembly Democrats Joann Downey, Eric Houghtaling, Jamel Holley and Daniel Benson sponsored to more effectively deliver services to veterans in New Jersey was recently signed into law.
The new law (formerly bill A-4171) establishes the New Jersey Commission on Veterans' Benefits in the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. The 13-member commission will develop, maintain and annually update a five-year statewide veterans' benefits strategic plan that includes goals and measurable outcomes to ensure that all state departments and agencies are effectively delivering comprehensive services and support for veterans and their families.
"Many veterans are aware of how they can benefit from resources the federal government offers, but they're sometimes uncertain about what they and their families may qualify for at the state level," said Downey (D-Monmouth). "A commission dedicated to ensuring veterans access to the programs and benefits they're eligible for and deserve will help New Jersey honor its obligation to those who have served this nation."
Legislation Assembly Democrats Marlene Caride, Angelica Jimenez, Raj Mukherji, Jamel Holley, Daniel R. Benson and Angela McKnight sponsored to improve the safety of students in wheelchairs who are transported on school buses was signed into law this week.
The new law (A-1257) requires school bus drivers to secure students who use a wheelchair with a four-point securement system, which shall be made available on all school buses used to transport students who use a wheelchair. A four-point securement system includes four restraints to secure a wheelchair to the vehicle floor; a lap and shoulder belt that integrates to the rear wheelchair restraints; and floor anchorages installed in the vehicle floor.
"These students are especially vulnerable," said Caride (D-Bergen/Passaic), chair of the Assembly Education Committee. "Equipping our school buses with this four-point securement system and requiring bus drivers to ensure that students in wheelchairs are properly secured in the system will make for a safer ride to school."
Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Joseph Lagana, Reed Gusciora, Raj Mukherji, Jamel Holley, Daniel R. Benson, Joe Danielsen, Benjie Wimberly and Joann Downey to prevent individuals who have had their driving privileges suspended or revoked from operating a school bus was signed into law this week.
"Individuals who've had their driving privileges suspended or revoked have no business being on the road, never mind transporting children to school," said Lagana (D-Bergen/Passaic). "Losing your driving privileges is no small infraction. This will keep irresponsible individuals from transporting school children, and ensure the safety of students who depend on school bus transportation."
"The road is already a dangerous place. Parents should be assured that the person charged with safely transporting their children to and from school is qualified to do so," said Gusciora (D-Hunterdon/Mercer). "This ensures that those individuals who knowingly drive a school bus despite not being allowed to drive are punished and are never allowed behind the wheel of a school bus."