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 was approved 70-1-1 by the full Assembly on Thursday.
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."
The Assembly on Thursday approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Daniel Benson, Tim Eustace and Valerie Vainieri Huttle to close a dangerous opioid prescription loophole. Specifically, the bill (A-4741) require practitioners to check prescription monitoring information before issuing certain prescriptions to emergency department patients and authorize medical scribes and licensed athletic trainers to access prescription monitoring information under certain circumstances. "We've made great strides to reduce the availability of opioids when appropriate to limit the potential for addiction, but there's clearly more that needs to be done." said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "This bill will close a dangerous loophole that can be exploited by someone determined to fuel an opioid addiction."
The Assembly on Thursday voted to approve legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Annette Quijano, Daniel R. Benson, Angela McKnight and Shavonda Sumter that incorporates the latest scientific approach to substance use disorders in order to ensure that individuals can access the drug treatment they need. Specifically, the legislation (A-4707) would prohibit residential substance use disorder treatment facilities and aftercare facilities, including sober living homes and halfway houses, from denying admission to a person because they are currently receiving medication assisted treatment for a substance use disorder, provided the treatment is administered by a licensed treatment provider.
Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Craig Coughlin, Raj Mukherji, Daniel Benson, Joann Downey and Eric Houghtaling to ensure pharmacy benefits managers are vetted by New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance before operating in the state was approved Thursday by the Assembly. The bill (A-4676), entitled the "Prescription Drug Patient Protection Act," requires pharmacy benefits managers to obtain, in accordance with the bill's provisions, a certificate of authority form the Commissioner of Banking and Insurance in order to operate in this state. A pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) is a third-party administrator of prescription-drug programs for end payers, such as private insurers, and Medicare Part D plans. The sponsors of the bill note a number of complaints about PBMS driving up costs and the purpose of this bill is to provide transparency, accountability and potentially lower costs to consumers. "The state must ensure patient protection when dealing with third-party pharmacy benefit managers," said Coughlin (D- Middlesex). "With the rise in the cost of healthcare and the price of prescriptions, we must do all that we can to ensure residents are not being taken advantage of by anyone raising the prices of the prescriptions they need unnecessarily."
Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Dan Benson, Angela McKnight and Benjie Wimberly to ensure that critical public access points for the disabled are not blocked by snow was approved Thursday by the General Assembly.
"Large amounts of snow can hamper most people from getting around. Now imagine that you're disabled and mobility becomes all but impossible if critical public areas aren't plowed or shoveled properly," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "The removal of snow from public roadways, walkways, and other public areas is a critical service during an emergency snow event."
"Snow deposits that obstruct access to ramps, curbs, special parking spaces, and other crucial areas that provide access to people with disabilities create potential health and safety risks and impedes the mobility of many New Jersey residents," said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "This bill is designed to ensure that we are more mindful of our fellow neighbors."
Bipartisan legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Herb Conaway, Jr., M.D., Daniel Benson, Angela McKnight, Angelica Jimenez and Shavonda Sumter to make sure opioid treatment options are offered when someone receives an antidote for an overdose was approved Thursday by the General Assembly.
"Opioid antidotes have proven highly effective in preventing tragedies, but they're not the solution to the problem," said Conaway (D-Burlington), a practicing physician and chair of the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee. "When coming face-to-face with someone obviously suffering from an addiction, we should seize that opportunity to discuss their options for treatment as a real, life-saving solution."
An Assembly panel approved legislation on Monday sponsored by Gordon Johnson, Andrew Zwicker, Daniel Benson, James Kennedy, Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Raj Mukherji to establish a fund with the money from the "Volkswagen Settlement Utilization Fund for Motor Vehicles Emissions Reduction and Air Pollution Control."
"Receiving the second settlement from Volkswagen is tremendous for New Jersey," said Johnson (D- Bergen). "Creating a special fund that aims to reduce exhaust emissions and air pollution will ensure that the money will be protected and used for its rightful purpose."
"Settlements fund from environmental lawsuits over the last eight years has been used to balance state budgets and other purposes that have nothing to do with the environment," said Zwicker (D- Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Somerset). "This legislation will ensure that these settlement funds are used to address environmental priorities in the state."
Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Vince Mazzeo, Daniel Benson, Paul Moriarty and Joe Danielsen to honor the parents and guardians of fallen members of the armed forces passed a key Assembly panel on Monday and is now one step closer to becoming law.
The bill (A-458), to be known as the "County Identification Cards for Gold Star Parents Act," would permit county clerks or registers of deeds and mortgages to create a Gold Star Parent identification card. The card would serve to identify the holder as the parent or guardian of a member of the armed forces who died while on active duty and prove eligibility to receive any applicable discounts or other courtesies extended to military families.
Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Daniel Benson to ensure that individuals who are hurt while providing assistance during emergencies receive ambulance service free of charge was advanced by an Assembly panel on Monday.
Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrat Daniel Benson to inform and educate borrowers about the benefits and consequences of reverse mortgages before a loan is closed was advanced by an Assembly Committee on Thursday.
"To prevent lenders from misleading borrowers or misrepresenting the reverse mortgage process, we must set specific guidelines to ensure that borrowers are fully informed on reverse mortgage loans before they sign closing documents," said Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex). "Many residents have lost their homes to the reverse mortgage loan process over the years as a result of misinformation or no information being provided at all. This legislation aims to educate borrowers and stop the practices of deceptive lenders."
Under the bill (A-4753), a borrower is defined as any individual inquiring about or applying for a reverse mortgage loan, whether or not the loan is granted and any individual who has obtained a reverse mortgage loan. Prior to accepting a final and complete application for a reverse mortgage loan or assessing any fees, lender must complete certain responsibilities. First, the lender would be required to provide the borrower with a written checklist advising the borrower to discuss certain specific issues with a reverse mortgage counselor before a deal can close.