Assembly Panel Oks Coughlin, DeAngelo & Vainieri Huttle Legislation Urging Comcast and YES Network to Settle Dispute

(TRENTON) - Legislation sponsored by Craig Coughlin, Wayne DeAngelo and Valerie Vainieri Huttle to urge Comcast and YES Network to settle their contract dispute was approved by the Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee on Thursday. 

The ongoing dispute between the two entities has disrupted nearly 900,000 Comcast subscribers' access to coverage of professional sports games since November.

"Baseball fans - some of whom retain a cable subscription solely to be able to watch these games - ought to receive the service for which they have paid," said Coughlin (D-Middlesex). "They shouldn't have to leave the provider they're familiar with because of a schoolyard fight between multi-million dollar companies."

Because the YES Network broadcasts 80 percent of all Yankees games, many of the franchise's fans will be unable to watch the team play this season in the absence of a deal, Coughlin noted.

The Assembly resolution urges Comcast Cable and YES to resolve the carriage renewal agreement dispute. In addition to urging Comcast to settle the contract dispute, the resolution also urges the cable company to consider reimbursing YES Network subscribers for each day of the blackout.

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NJ and NY Elected Officials and Advocates Call On Christie to Sign Historic Port Authority Reform Bill

New Jersey Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Senator Bob Gordon and Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg on Wednesday joined with New York State Assemblyman Jim Brennan and advocates in calling on Governor Christie to sign reform legislation they sponsored aiming to overhaul the beleaguered Port Authority of New York & New Jersey.

The legislation, S-708/A-2184, known as the "Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Transparency and Accountability Act," will guarantee legislative oversight of the agency as it undertakes a number of high profile construction projects critical to the region's future. It passed the New Jersey Legislature with bipartisan support, and was sent to the governor's desk on April 7th.

"Trying to get identical legislation agreed upon and passed in both houses of two separate legislatures is no easy feat, especially legislation that remains true to our intent and tackles our main goals. But after a lengthy, multi-year process, I'm confident that this end product does just that," said Assemblywoman Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "This legislation is comprehensive in nature and tackles the key elements that we have been concerned with - incorporating legislative oversight, fiscal safeguards, transparency and accountability. Cumulatively, these provisions will help transform an agency once mired in waste, abuse and scandal into one that operates with the best interests of tri-state commuters in mind."

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Wimberly, Vainieri Huttle, Oliver, Tucker & Quijano Bill to Ensure Equal Access to State Contracts for Women- & Minority-Owned Businesses Approved by Assembly

(TRENTON) - Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Benjie Wimberly, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Sheila Oliver, Cleopatra Tucker and Annette Quijano to ensure that women- and minority-owned businesses in New Jersey have equal access to state contracts was approved last week by the General Assembly.

"While progress has been made, women- and minority-business owners continue to face challenges that limit their ability to grow," said Wimberly (D-Bergen/Passaic). "The provisions in this legislation are necessary to ensure that the equality of opportunity guaranteed by federal and state law are available to minority-owned and women-owned businesses in this state."

The bill (A-1869) would establish a Division of Minority and Women Business Development in the State Department of the Treasury. The division would be headed by a state chief disparity officer, and would administer and monitor policies, practices and programs to further the state's efforts to ensure equal opportunity for minority-owned and women-owned business enterprises in purchasing and procurement by state departments and agencies, including independent state authorities.

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Muoio, Gusciora, Vainieri Huttle & Quijano Bill to Ensure Tiered Health Insurance Networks Operate in Public's Best Interest Clears Assembly

Bill Spurred by Growing Tiered Network Trend Would Create 21-Member Task Force to Study Issue

(TRENTON) - Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Elizabeth Maher Muoio, Reed Gusciora, Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Annette Quijano to create a task force to help ensure that tiered health insurance networks operate in the public's best interest was recently approved, 73-0, by the full Assembly.

The bill was prompted by the growing trend toward the implementation of tiered health insurance networks and seeks to examine whether policies and protections are in place to ensure that these types of networks operate in the public interest. The latest example of these tiered networks is Horizon Blue Cross and Blue Shield's recently unveiled OMNIA Health Alliance plan, which provides select coverage for its insured at only 22 state hospitals, leaving others with higher premiums and deductibles if they utilize hospitals not designated as "Tier 1."

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Oliver, Handlin, Vainieri Huttle & Quijano Bipartisan Bill to Combat Abuse against the Elderly & Disabled Heads to Gov’s Desk

Legislation is Result of Ongoing Meetings between Oliver, Handlin & Stakeholders throughout NJ

Legislation sponsored by Assemblywomen Sheila Oliver, Amy Handlin, Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Annette Quijano to combat abuse and fraud against the elderly and disabled in New Jersey gained final legislative approval unanimously from the full Assembly on Thursday.

The legislation is the result of ongoing discussions between former Speaker Oliver, Deputy Republican Leader Handlin and more than a dozen prominent stakeholder agencies and corporations from throughout the state to help senior citizens avoid being swindled by unscrupulous scammers.

Specifically, the bill (A-1120) would establish the "New Jersey Task Force on Abuse Against the Elderly and Disabled."

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Mosquera, Greenwald, Lagana, Benson, Lampitt, Vainieri Huttle, Danielsen & Sumter Bill to Protect Domestic Violence Victims from Gun Violence Heads to Governor’s Desk

Legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Gabriela Mosquera, Majority Leader Lou Greenwald and Assembly Democrats Joseph Lagana, Dan Benson, Pamela Lampitt, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Joe Danielsen and Shavonda Sumter to strengthen New Jersey's gun laws and protect victims of domestic violence from gun violence gained approval from the General Assembly on Thursday. The bill now heads to the governor's desk.

"For victims and their children, domestic violence turns a chance to live the American Dream into a horrific nightmare. I know, because I've lived that nightmare," said Mosquera (D-Gloucester/Camden). "Too many victims are killed at the hands of abusers who have easy access to firearms before they ever have a chance to get out. This legislation will change that, strengthening our gun violence laws in order to protect victims of domestic violence."

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DeAngelo, Mukherji, Vainieri Huttle & McKeon Bill to Require NJ Transit to Notify Public Prior to Service Reduction Clears Assembly

Legislation Assembly Democrats Wayne P. DeAngelo, Raj Mukherji, Valerie Vainieri Huttle and John McKeon sponsored to ensure that mass transit riders are properly informed of proposed service cuts gained Assembly approval on Thursday.

The bill (A-227) would require New Jersey Transit to hold an evening public hearing and provide notice prior to a reduction in bus or rail services. Current law only requires a hearing and notice prior to a "substantial" service cut. 

"Any time there's a proposal for bus or train service to be eliminated, people's ability to get to work so they can keep a roof over their family's head and put food on the table is at stake. That's always substantial," said DeAngelo (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "At the very least, NJ Transit passengers ought to be informed of how these changes may affect their lives and have the opportunity to voice an opinion."

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Caputo, Diegnan, Spencer, Tucker, Quijano, Vainieri Huttle, Sumter & McKnight Bill to Install Silent Alarms & Red Emergency Lights In Schools Approved by Assembly

(TRENTON) - Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Ralph R. Caputo, Patrick J. Diegnan, L. Grace Spencer, Cleopatra Tucker, Annette Quijano, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Shavonda Sumter and Angela McKnight to require the installation of panic alarms and red emergency lights in public elementary and secondary schools for use in security emergencies was approved Thursday by the full Assembly. 

"Our children deserve the chance to learn in peace," said Caputo (D-Essex). "I am not suggesting this will stop all security threats, but coupled with security measures already in place, it can increase the chances of diffusing a bad situation without further harm to students and staff."

"The threat of violence is a sad reality that even our schools are not safe from," said Diegnan (D-Middlesex). "This is one incremental remedy but it can be put in place economically and quickly. There is no excuse for delay. The safety of our kids and our teachers is at stake."

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Lampitt, Benson, Vainieri Huttle, Tucker & Wimberly Bill to Help Residents with Disabilities Access Services Advances

(TRENTON) - Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt, Daniel Benson, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Cleopatra Tucker and Benjie Wimberly to increase awareness of the application processes for programs and services available to New Jersey residents with developmental disabilities was advanced Monday by an Assembly panel.

"For many individuals with developmental disabilities, the ability to live independently and be economically stable depends on the ability to access the appropriate housing, transportation and the proper medical and behavioral care. Unfortunately, gaining that access can be a complex and confusing process," said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). "This legislation will help ensure that residents of New Jersey who have developmental disabilities can get the services they need."

The bill (A-1449) would require the Department of Human Services to develop a timeline briefly explaining and denoting the age at which individuals with developmental disabilities may apply for various services and activities so that they may better understand when and where to apply for state and federal benefits.

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Vainieri Huttle Bill to Create "Smart Container Act" Clears Assembly Panel

Measure Will Establish Funding Dest for Lead Remediation in Schools and Communities

(TRENTON) - The Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee on Monday released legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle to require a deposit on all plastic and glass bottles and aluminum cans and dedicate 75 percent of the unclaimed deposits to lead abatement in New Jersey schools and communities.

Assemblywoman Vainieri Huttle held a press conference prior to the committee hearing on the "Smart Container Act." Vainieri Huttle was joined by Assemblywoman L. Grace Spencer, Mayor Ras Baraka, members of the NJ Working Families Alliance and its partners in environmental, economic, infrastructure, as well as Newark school board members and district employees.

In the bill (A-2281), the sponsor notes that litter composed of discarded beverage bottles and cans is a growing problem of public concern and a direct threat to the health and safety of the citizens of this State; and that all beverage bottles and cans sold or offered for sale in this State have a refund value, and to provide for the convenient return and payment of the refund value of empty beverage containers.

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