Vainieri Huttle & Jimenez Bill to Modify Law on Certain Heinous Crimes against Minors Goes to Governor

‘Joan’s Law’ Honors Girl Scout Who Was Raped, Murdered by Neighbor 

(TRENTON) – Bipartisan legislation sponsored by Assemblywomen Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Angelica Jimenez to amend a state law expanding the penalties for murdering a minor while in the act of committing a sex crime was approved 36-1 Thursday by the Senate, giving it final legislative approval.

The bill (A-373) would require life imprisonment without parole for persons convicted of the murder of a minor under the age of 18 during the commission of a sex crime. Current law requires such a penalty only when the victim is under age 14.

“The crimes covered in this legislation are atrocious regardless of the victim’s age,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “The pain, suffering and anger would continue to manifest every time there is a new parole hearing.  No family member should ever be subjected to the painful reminders of such horrifying events. A minor is a minor in all aspects of the law, and this bill eliminates an irrational discrepancy in New Jersey.”

Generally, murder is a first-degree crime punishable by 30 years’ imprisonment without parole or by a specific term between 30 years and life, of which the defendant must serve 30 years before being eligible for parole.  However, there are exceptions to this statutory scheme for certain murders.


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Lampitt, Pintor Marin, Mosquera & Vainieri Huttle Bill to Exempt Breast Pumps & Related Products from Sales and Use Tax Approved by Assembly

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt, Eliana Pintor Marin, Gabriela Mosquera and Valerie Vainieri Huttle to make breast pumps, breast pump collection and storage supplies, and certain services to breast pumps tax-free in New Jersey was approved Thursday by the General Assembly.

“Breast pumps and pump supplies are basic necessities for many New Jersey families and should not be subject to sales and use tax,” said Lampitt (D-Camden, Burlington).

Currently, breast pumps, pump supplies, and services are generally subject to sales and use tax.

The Division of Taxation in the Department of the Treasury previously determined through a formal letter ruling that breast pumps are not eligible for an existing exemption for durable medical equipment, and sellers must therefore charge and collect tax when making sales of pumps to purchaser unless another exemption or exclusion from tax applies.

“Even if they do not fall within the overly rigid definition of durable medical equipment, we should consider breast pumps and pump supplies for tax exemption,” said Pintor Marin (D-Essex).

“It is highly recommended that moms exclusively breast-feed for at least six months, so breast pumps are medically necessary for the health-conscious mom who understands the importance of breast-feeding to her child’s early development,” said Mosquera (D-Gloucester/Camden).

“By making breast pumps and supplies more budget-friendly, we encourage more mothers to continue breast-feed their newborns for longer periods even after returning to work,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen).

The bill (A-4670) provides an exemption from the sales and use tax for sales of breast pumps, breast collection and storage supplies, and certain services to breast pumps. It would eliminate the tax currently imposed on purchases of and charges to repair and maintain the devices and supplies necessary to initiate and support breastfeeding using a breast pump during lactation.

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Vainieri Huttle, McKnight & Mazzeo Bill to Ban Housing Discrimination against Disabled Residents with Guide/Service Dogs Heads to Governor

(TRENTON) – The full Assembly unanimously granted final legislative approval to a bipartisan bill sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Angela McKnight and Vince Mazzeo that guarantees full and equal access to all housing for disabled individuals who retain their retired service or guide dog as a pet, even if they obtain a new service or guide dog.

“Anyone who has ever had a pet knows that they become much more than that over their lifetime.  They become family.  This is all the more true when it’s a pet that someone depends on for vital support,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen).  “This is a compassionate and practical change to help ease the lives of those dependent on service dogs.”

Under the bill (A-4096), the state’s “Law Against Discrimination” would guarantee full and equal access to all housing to disabled persons who retain their retired service or guide dog as a pet, and who also obtain a new service or guide dog to replace the retired dog.

 “Service and guide dogs often retire eventually due to age or infirmity,” said McKnight (D-Hudson).  “That does not mean they’re not still in need of care and companionship.  The natural fit is for them to remain with the companion who has grown attached to them over the years.” 

“When a service dog retires, this change in status can be an obstacle for a disabled resident who wants to keep their dog as a pet, yet still needs to obtain a new service dog, if their housing situation prohibits or limits animals,” said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic).  “We need to rectify that.”        

Additionally, the bill would also prohibit the payment of extra compensation for the retired pet.

The bill previously passed the Senate unanimously, as well, and now heads to the Governor’s desk.  It would take effect immediately upon enactment.


Quijano, Mukherji, Vainieri Huttle, Eustace, Jones & McKeon Measure to Secure At-Risk Nonprofits Clears Legislature

Pilot Program Would Allow Vulnerable Entities to Receive Security Funding 

(TRENTON) – Legislation Assembly Democrats Annette Quijano, Raj Mukherji, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Tim Eustace, Patricia Egan Jones and John McKeon sponsored to increase security at New Jersey nonprofit organizations determined to be at an elevated risk for attacks was approved 37-0 Monday by the Senate, giving it final legislative approval.

The bill (A-4253), which would establish the “Nonprofit Security Grant Pilot Program,” would provide $1 million annually for three years to help secure eligible nonprofit organizations deemed high-risk targets. Approved organizations may receive up to $10,000 each per year.

The sponsors developed the legislation through meetings with various nonprofit organizations, including synagogues and mosques, that are concerned for the security of their members.

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Quijano, Vainieri Huttle, Mukherji & Giblin ‘Airbnb’ Bill to Ensure Level Playing Field among Lodging Businesses Goes to Governor

Bill would bring tax fairness to short-term rentals made popular by sites like Airbnb

(TRENTON) – Legislation Assembly Democrats Annette Quijano, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Raj Mukherji and Tom Giblin sponsored to ensure fairness among all hospitality providers in New Jersey and provide a much-needed revenue boost to the state was approved 25-13 Monday by the Senate, giving it final legislative approval.

The bill (A-4587) would impose upon “transient accommodations,” or residences used as temporary lodging, the same taxes and fees that hotels and motels currently must pay to the state.

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Sumter, Eustace, Benson & Vainieri Huttle Bill to Require Companies that Offshore Jobs Out of State to Return State Aid Advanced by Assembly Panel

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Shavonda Sumter (D-Passaic/Bergen), Tim Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic), Dan Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex) and Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) to require employers that offshore call center jobs overseas to return any state aid or business incentives they have received was released Thursday by an Assembly panel.

American companies have embraced the practice of exporting call center jobs as a way of reducing labor costs. Over the past decade, the U.S. has lost more than 200,000 call center jobs, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data. These jobs are often sent to the Philippines, India, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Honduras and other developing nations.

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Jasey, McKeon & Vainieri Huttle Bill Encouraging Mental Health Physicians to Work in Underserved Areas OK’d by Assembly

Measure Establishes Tuition Reimbursement Program for Psychiatrists, Addressing Shortage of Mental Health Care Access in Certain Parts of the State 

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Mila Jasey, John McKeon and Valerie Vainieri Huttle to reimburse tuition for psychiatrists who work in underserved areas of the state continued approved 75-0 Thursday by the Assembly.

“The reimbursement program will only be available to physicians who engage in the full-time practice of psychiatry in an area of need designated by the Commissioner of Health,” said Jasey (D- Essex/Morris). “The intent of this legislation is to increase access to much-needed care in underserved communities.”

Under the bill (A-3962), the Commissioner of Health will designate, on the basis of health status and economic indicators, geographic areas of the state that have a shortage of physicians in the specialty of psychiatry. The program will provide reimbursement of a portion of medical school tuition expenses to psychiatrists who agree to provide mental health care services in one of these state underserved areas for a period of one to four years.

“The decrease in mental health centers in the state has left a void in care for New Jersey residents who rely on these services,” said McKeon (D- Essex/Morris). “Mostly low-income urban and rural communities are without access to these services. This bill is about creating opportunity and access for residents.”

“There are many steps we must take as a state to improve and strengthen mental healthcare services,” said Vainieri Huttle (D- Bergen). “This legislation is one of those steps toward expanding access to care for residents who need it.” 

Program participants must be state residents, be state-licensed physicians who have completed all educational and residency training requirements for the practice of psychiatry and apply for the program within one year of completing an accredited residency program in psychiatry.

The bill now be referred to the Senate for final legislative consideration.


Singleton, Vainieri Huttle & Holley Bill to Provide Counseling for Children Exposed to Domestic Violence Clears Assembly

(TRENTON) – Bipartisan legislation Assembly Democrats Troy Singleton, Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Jamel Holley sponsored to help children cope with exposure to domestic violence was unanimously approved by the full Assembly on Thursday.

The legislation was born out of a recommendation in the June 2016 Report of the Supreme Court Ad Hoc Committee on Domestic Violence.

“The collateral damage inflicted on children of domestic violence can be devastating and long-lasting. Boosting therapeutic services for them can help mitigate this damage,” said Singleton (D-Burlington). “This legislation is part of an effort to increase support services statewide.”

The bill (A-4045) would require the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to establish and maintain a statewide, evidenced-based program to provide grants for developing and implementing therapeutic treatment, counseling and supportive services to children and their family members who have been exposed to domestic violence.

“Our goal is to reduce emotional scarring on children so that these innocent young people do not carry these wounds with them into adulthood,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen).  “This legislation is part of our continued, concerted effort to combat this insidious behavior while lending our support to victims and their children.”

“Children who observe domestic violence in the home often experience high levels of stress and may come to believe that the violence they see is normal behavior,” said Holley (D-Union). “Supportive intervention can help diminish some of the destructive, anxiety-inducing effects of domestic violence among New Jersey’s kids and help break the cycle of abuse.”

The measure now heads to the Senate for consideration.


Sumter, Vainieri Huttle & Lampitt Bill to Establish Career Training Program for Low-Income Women Approved by Assembly

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Shavonda Sumter, Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Pamela Lampitt to help make women more competitive in the workforce and encourage financial stability among women was approved 72-3 Thursday by the Assembly.

The bill (A-3717) would establish the Women’s Vocational Training Pilot Program in the Department of Labor and Workforce Development (LWD) to promote the economic self-sufficiency of low-income women through increased participation in high-wage, high-demand occupations.

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Muoio, Vainieri Huttle, Mukherji, Oliver & Gusciora Bill to Enhance Benefits under Work First New Jersey Clears Assembly

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Elizabeth Maher Muoio, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Raj Mukherji, Sheila Oliver and Reed Gusciora to ensure that some of New Jersey’s most vulnerable residents receive the assistance they need under the Work First New Jersey program was approved 51-20-3 Thursday by the Assembly.

The bill (A-33) would repeal the section of the Work First New Jersey Act that currently prohibits a household from gaining additional cash assistance benefits as a result of the birth of a child.  Such policies that prevent an increase in welfare benefits as a result of the birth of a child are commonly known as family caps.

Identical legislation was vetoed last year by Gov. Christie, but Assembly Democrats remain committed to it.

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