Legislation to Make SNAP Application More Efficient, Speed up Delivery of Benefits clears Assembly Panel

Bergen Dispatch 

A three-bill legislative package sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Carmelo G. Garcia, Cleopatra Tucker and Gabriela Mosquera to prevent delays and ensure that residents in need who apply for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits receive the benefits in a timely manner was released Thursday by an Assembly panel.

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N.J.'s $118 million canceled social service contract did not protect state's interests, auditor says

By Susan Livio NJ Advanced Media 

TRENTON — The agreement with a private company to build a massive software program that would operate New Jersey's multi-billion-dollar network of social service programs lacks a basic element found in nearly every other state contract: language that would have given the state the power to penalize the vendor should something go wrong, the State Auditor said.

 

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PERSISTENT COMPUTER WOES THREATEN FOOD, HEALTH AID TO LOW-INCOME FAMILIES

 NJ Spotlight

A botched computer system implementation has led to persistent delays in getting food and healthcare to low-income residents and may cost the state millions of dollars and access to future federal funding.

The problem was raised at a legislative hearing yesterday, after a state auditor issued a report criticizing the contract. The commissioner in charge of the program refused to testify, citing ongoing negotiations.

“These are families that are going needlessly hungry or being denied essential healthcare,” said Raymond J. Castro, senior policy analyst for New Jersey Policy Perspective.

The Department of Human Services’ handling of the $118 million contract for the Consolidated Assistance Support System (CASS) has also drawn scrutiny from State Auditor Stephen M. Eells, who has questioned why officials didn’t act sooner on the contract, or write into it provisions that would allow the state to recoup damages from the failure to complete the contracted work.

CASS, when first envisioned in 2006, was seen as a way to connect the state with county welfare offices, allowing applicant information to be shared instantaneously across different programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, and Medicaid, the primary health program for low-income residents.

The state signed a contract in 2009 with Hewlett-Packard to build the system, but repeated delays led the state to recently terminate its contract. Now, the state is in talks with Hewlett-Packard over the contract termination as it tries to salvage the work that’s already been done.

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NJ lawmakers look for overhaul of state's antiquated Medicaid, food stamp system

 

Lawmakers frustrated by five years of delays and more than $100 million in spending to overhaul the state's antiquated system for Medicaid and food stamp benefits want to know when, or if, it will be brought into the 21st century.

 

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Domestic Violence Victims Prevention Measures Clears Assembly Panel

Bergen Dispatch

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Joseph Lagana, Craig Coughlin, Pamela Lampitt, Joe Cryan and Grace Spencer to bolster protections of domestic violence victims in New Jersey cleared its first legislative hurdle on Thursday.

The first bill (A-3655), sponsored by Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Joseph Lagana,  intends to enhance the protections offered under the “New Jersey Safe Housing Act” by prohibiting a landlord from terminating a tenancy, failing to renew a tenancy, or refusing to enter into a rental agreement due to a tenant or prospective tenant’s status as a domestic violence victim. 

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A Rolling Stone Gathers No Facts

By Paul Mulshine Star Ledger

I see that Sabrina Erdely, the woman who wrote that highly disputed article about an alleged rape at the University of Virginia, used to write for Philadelphia Magazine.

So did I. Back in the 1980s, I did a number of long articles for the magazine. Here’s what I learned: No matter what a story looks like on the surface, once you dig in it will look entirely different. The guy who appeared to be rich will turn out to be poor. The guy who appeared to be hetero will turn out to be gay. And so on.

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NJ/NY lawmakers press Christie, Cuomo on Port Authority reforms Read more at NJ/NY lawmakers press Christie, Cuomo on Port Authority reforms

By Chase Brush Politicker NJ

New Jersey lawmakers hoofed it across the river yesterday to join their New York counterparts in calling on the states’ two governors to approve measures aimed at reforming an embattled Port Authority in the aftermath of “Bridgegate,” the ongoing controversy surrounding last year’s lane closings at George Washington Bridge.

State Sen. Robert Gordon and Assemblywoman Valerie Huttle spoke at a press conference with New York Assemblyman James Brennan and other officials about recent legislation, passed unanimously by the legislatures on both sides of the river, meant to open up the  historically-obscure Port Authority to the public in the wake of that scandal. The bills, identical versions of which have already been passed by all houses in New Jersey and New York, cover an array of perceived problems at the organization, a mutli-billion dollar agency whose responsibilities include overseeing operations at Newark Liberty, LaGuardia, Kennedy, Stewart, Atlantic City and Teterboro airports, the Port of New York and New Jersey, and the PATH mass transit system.

 

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Christie, Cuomo urged to sign Port Authority reform bills

By John Steasley The Record

Politicians and advocates from New York and New Jersey urged governors Chris Christie and Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday to approve two bills reforming Port Authority procedures.

The two bills hold the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to higher standards of transparency and accountability. They were passed unanimously by both states’ legislative bodies. Cuomo and Christie must now decide the bills’ fates. The bills will be sent to Cuomo by mid-December. Christie has until Dec. 28 to act. Both governors must approve the bills for them to take effect.

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Interim Report from GWB Committee Finds No Smoking Gun

By David Cruz Correspondent NJTV

It’s been so long since the special committee on investigations met — July, in fact — that the public could be forgiven for having forgotten that it even existed. But the committee’s attorney has been at work and has completed a report that — as far as blockbuster revelations go — both sides admit falls a bit short.

“At present, there is no conclusive evidence as to whether Gov. Chris Christie was or was not aware of the lane closures either in advance of their implementation or contemporaneously as they were occurring,” it reads.

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N.J. Assembly committee advances bill that would increase regulations for 24 dementia-care group homes

By Colleen Diskin

Small group homes for people with Alzheimer’s or dementia could face more scrutiny of the care they provide to their residents, under a proposed law that cleared an Assembly committee Thursday.

The measure requiring the state Department of Health to take over the responsibility of regulating and inspecting the 24 dementia-care group homes in the state was approved by the Assembly Health and Senior Services committee without any opposition being voiced.

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