Vainieri Huttle, Benson, Holley, Danielsen & DeAngelo Bill to Improve Hospital Oversight of Dementia & Alzheimer’s Patients Advances

(TRENTON) – An Assembly panel on Thursday advanced legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Daniel Benson, Jamel Holley, Joe Danielsen and Wayne DeAngelo to ensure hospital staff is well informed to deliver proper care and oversight for patients suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia.   

The bill (A-918) would require hospitals to clearly note on a patient’s medical records whether they have dementia related disorders.

“From supervising my mother’s health needs for years, I understand the unique level of care that Alzheimer’s patients require,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen).  “This simple annotation will alert hospital staff to be more vigilant in their oversight of patients suffering from Alzheimer’s, dementia or other related conditions.”

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Lampitt, Mosquera, Vainieri Huttle, Danielsen Bill Creating NJ Caregiver Task Force Gains Assembly Panel Approval

 (TRENTON) – An Assembly panel on Thursday advanced legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt, Gabriela Mosquera, Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Joe Danielsen creating a task force to ensure that New Jersey is doing all it can to support caregivers who provide invaluable services.

The legislation (A-1463) would establish the “New Jersey Caregiver Task Force” to evaluate caregiver support services in the state and provide recommendations for improving and expanding services. 

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Vainieri Huttle Vows to Lead the Charge in Assembly to Tighten Background Checks for Caregivers

Assembly Human Services Committee Chair Valerie Vainieri Huttle on Friday vowed to lead the charge in the Assembly to ensure that all workers hired to care for individuals with developmental disabilities undergo a criminal background check after a State Auditor report this week detailed how some employees have been able to evade existing law and get hired, including one convicted murderer.

Vainieri Huttle will join forces with Senate President Steve Sweeney to introduce a companion bill in the Assembly and push for swift passage of the measure when the legislature reconvenes in November.

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NOW LAW: Vainieri Huttle, Mosquera, Tucker, McKnight, Mukjerji & Wimberly Bill to Protect Individuals with Developmental Disabilities from Abuse & Neglect

‘Stephen Komninos’ Law’ Will Put Measures in Place to Address these Issues in State-Licensed Facilities 

(TRENTON) – After nearly four years, legislation pushed by Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle was signed into law on Friday to better protect children and adults with development disabilities from potential abuse and neglect by caregivers.

The law, which is also sponsored by Assembly Democrats Gabriela Mosquera, Cleopatra Tucker, Angela McKnight, Raj Mukherji and Benjie Wimberly, was initially introduced by Vainieri Huttle in November of 2013.  It was finally approved by both houses of the legislature in June, only to be conditionally vetoed by Gov. Christie in July.  Both houses of the legislature have since concurred with his recommendations, setting the stage for the bill to be signed today.

The legislation (A-2503), known as “Stephen Komninos’ Law,” honors the memory of Stephen Komninos, an individual with developmental disabilities who died at the age of 22 while under the care of a private state-licensed facility for individuals with developmental disabilities.  Stephen was a non-verbal young man who suffered through many substantiated incidents of abuse and neglect by caregivers.  Tragically, the last incident resulted in his death. 

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Vainieri Huttle, Mosquera, Tucker, McKnight, Mukjerji & Wimberly Bill Ensuring Protections for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities Heads Back to Gov

‘Stephen Komninos’ Law’ Will Put Measures in Place to Better Address Reports of Abuse and Neglect in State-Licensed Facilities 

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Gabriela Mosquera, Cleopatra Tucker, Angela McKnight, Raj Mukherji and Benjie Wimberly to better protect children and adults with development disabilities from potential abuse and neglect by caregivers headed back to the Governor on Thursday after receiving final concurrence from the full Senate.

Both houses of the legislature initially approved the bill in June, but it was subsequently conditionally vetoed by Gov. Christie in July.  The Assembly unanimously concurred with the Governor’s recommendations in July.

The bill (A-2503), known as “Stephen Komninos’ Law,” honors the memory of Stephen Komninos, an individual with developmental disabilities who died at the age of 22 while under the care of a private state-licensed facility for individuals with developmental disabilities.  Stephen was a non-verbal young man who suffered through many substantiated incidents of abuse and neglect by caregivers.  Tragically, the last incident resulted in his death. 

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Holley, McKnight & Vainieri Huttle Bill to Designate October “Dyslexia Awareness Month” in NJ Clears Senate

(TRENTON) – An Assembly Joint Resolution sponsored in part by Assembly Democrats Jamel Holley, Angela McKnight and Valerie Vainieri Huttle designating October of each year as “Dyslexia Awareness Month” in New Jersey (AJR-77) was approved by the full Senate on Thursday.

Dyslexia is a learning disability that can hinder a person’s ability to read, write spell and sometimes speech.

“Dyslexia is the most common learning disability in children and persists throughout life,” said Holley (D-Union). “One out of every 10 people in the United States suffers from dyslexia. The legislation would align New Jersey with national efforts to raise awareness and educate the public on dyslexia and its symptoms.”

“Proper diagnosis of dyslexia, early and appropriate intervention and support from family, teachers, and friends greatly increase a child’s academic success and self-esteem,” said McKnight (D-Hudson). “With the designation of October as Dyslexia Awareness Month, we can educate, promote research, and early identification of dyslexia.”

“Children with untreated dyslexia can suffer devastating personal consequences such as dropping or failing out of school,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “Dyslexia is a learning disability that, with proper support, can be corrected. Raising awareness of this disability is the key to helping more children and adults find the help they need.”

The Assembly approved the resolution last October. The Senate passed the bill _-_. It will now head to the Governor’s desk for further consideration.

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Vainieri Huttle Concerned that Christie’s Plan to Reorganize Mental Health & Addiction Services Will Move Forward without Key Answers or Details

(TRENTON) – Assembly Human Services Committee Chair Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) expressed disappointment Thursday that the Christie administration’s plan to transfer the state's mental health and addiction services from the Department of Human Services to the Department of Health will now seemingly move forward.

Vainieri Huttle was the lead sponsor of legislation passed by the Assembly in July that would have blocked this move based on a litany of concerns regarding the content, potential effects, and timing of the planned reorganization.  With the plan scheduled to go into effect on Monday, the Senate had scheduled a voting session for tomorrow to take up the matter, however, the session was cancelled this afternoon.

“I’m extremely disappointed that this plan will seemingly take effect now when we still haven’t received any details or answers to the host of questions we have about its implementation.

“With the fate of so many of our most vulnerable residents hanging in the balance, it seems careless to embark on such a complex transition without concrete details when the current administration has one foot out the door.  As I have said repeatedly, we have no idea what the impact of this restructuring will be on those who rely on these services, but the one thing we do know is that a change of this magnitude should not be undertaken without those answers.

“Ultimately, I would like to see the governor reconsider this plan but, if not, this transition must be undertaken carefully and not hastily.  Hopefully the next administration will reexamine this issue thoroughly to ensure that it is in fact the right thing to do for those suffering from mental health, addiction and developmental disabilities,” said Vainieri Huttle.

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Johnson, Vainieri Huttle & Wimberly Bill to Develop Sexual Assault Training Course for Police Now Law

(TRENTON) – Legislation Assembly Democrats Gordon Johnson, Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Benjie Wimberly sponsored to establish a sexual assault training course for law enforcement officers has been signed into law.

“We cannot tolerate a culture in which victims of sexual assault lack confidence in the men and women responsible for responding to them,” said Johnson (D-Bergen). “Developing a course so that officers can receive training on dealing with sexual assault appropriately will encourage reporting and reinforce our state’s commitment to justice for every resident.”

The law (A-2167) requires the Division of Criminal Justice to develop or approve a training course and curriculum for law enforcement officers on handling, investigation and response procedures for reports of sexual assault. Under the law, the curriculum must be made available to all the law enforcement agencies in the state. The law also requires all law enforcement officers to attend an in-service program on the handling of sexual assault matters every three years.

“There is no excuse for law enforcement officers putting victims of sexual violence through further suffering with insensitive questioning or treatment that causes a sense of shame. That kind of behavior discourages many victims from coming forward and allows attackers to commit the same offense repeatedly without consequence,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “Sexual assault is a crime, and this law will help law enforcement officers – the men and women whose job it is to protect and serve New Jersey residents – better perform their duties.”

“Many victims of sexual assault fail to report their abuse out of embarrassment and fear,” said Wimberly (D-Bergen/Passaic). “It is important not only for the well-being of the victim but for the integrity of the investigation that law enforcement officers know how to handle these cases. Having officers who are properly trained to assist these victims can ensure that victims get the help they need, and officers are able to get the information needed to bring their perpetrators to justice.”

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Schaer, Vainieri Huttle, Chiaravalloti, Caride & Mukherji Bill to Increase Protections for Young People with Developmental Disabilities Receiving State Services Now Law

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Gary Schaer, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Nicholas Chiaravalloti, Marlene Caride and Raj Mukherji to provide protections for children and young adults with developmental disabilities who have been subjected to abuse or neglect has been signed into law.

The law (A-3386) provides protection for individuals with disabilities between the ages of 18 and 21 who have been subjected to abuse, neglect, or exploitation and are receiving services from the Division of Children’s System of Care (CSOC) in the Department of Children and Families.

“With regards to abuse and neglect, the law failed to provide statutory provisions for our most vulnerable residents,” said Schaer (D-Bergen/Passaic). “The new law rectifies this oversight by requiring the state to institute regulations and monitor closely care service providers within the division as well as community providers.”

There were no statutory provisions that specifically mandated the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to conduct a child abuse registry check on a person seeking employment at DCF, in facilities or programs licensed, contracted, regulated, or funded by DCF or DHS, or seeking to provide community-based services to individuals with developmental disabilities.

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Vainieri Huttle Bill to Help Towns Crack Down on Smoking Ban without Criminalizing Smokers Now Law

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle to help towns crack down on smoking in public places without criminalizing smokers has been signed into law.

Specifically, the law (A-2368) authorizes a municipality to adopt an ordinance that provides a civil penalty of up to $200 for smoking in a public place without the option for incarceration of up to 30 days that exists under current law.

“Everybody should be entitled to breathe air free of smoke,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen).  “This will tweak our current law to make sure there’s a clear enough disincentive to prevent people from violating the Smoke-Free Air Act without criminalizing smokers and threatening to throw them in jail.”

Current law limits the discretion of a municipality in regard to imposing a penalty for smoking in public places by requiring that the penalty be for a petty disorderly persons offense, which would include imprisonment for up to 30 days or a criminal fine of up to $200, or both.

This new law provides a municipality with the option to adopt an ordinance that penalizes smoking in a public place without making it a criminal offense or subjecting an offender to possible incarceration while still permitting the municipality to make the activity a disorderly persons offense as it is authorized to do under current law. The law takes effect immediately.

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