Vainieri Huttle, Mosquera, McKeon, Benson & Sumter ‘Sexual Assault Survivor Protection Act of 2015’ Signed into Law

New Law Will Permit Victims without Ties to Offenders to Seek Protective Orders

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Gabriela Mosquera, John McKeon, Daniel Benson and Shavonda Sumter to allow more victims of sexual assault to seek protective orders against their perpetrators has officially been signed into law.

"Simply seeing an abuser - whether he or she is a new acquaintance or an old friend - forces many sexual assault survivors to relive the trauma of having been violated, and current law says they have no option but to suffer in silence," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "Every person in this state has a right to feel safe while going about his or her daily life. With this law, we reaffirm our commitment to the notion that all residents of New Jersey should be able to seek the protection they need to live in peace." 

Previously, in order to pursue a protective order, a victim must have had a previous or existing domestic relationship with the offender, such as a spousal or dating relationship, or must file a criminal complaint against the offender. 

The new law (A-4078), which is known as the "Sexual Assault Survivor Protection Act of 2015," will eliminate these preconditions. 

"Most times, sexual assault, much like domestic violence, is about control for the perpetrators," said Mosquera (D-Camden/Gloucester). "This law will strip perpetrators of that control and help victims fight back by giving them access to law enforcement protections they never had before."

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Vainieri Huttle, Lampitt, Lagana, Mukherji, Quijano, Danielsen & Wimberly Bill to Tackle Campus Sexual Assault Heads to Gov's Desk

(TRENTON) - Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainiei Huttle, Pamela Lampitt, Joe Lagana, Raj Mukherji, Annette Quijano, Joe Danielsen and Benjie Wimberly to better equip New Jersey colleges and universities to prevent and respond to sexual assaults on campus received final legislative approval Thursday and now heads to the governor's desk.

The 2014 report from the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault revealed that one in five college students experiences sexual assault during their college career. Even more staggering, the ACLU estimates that 95 percent of U.S. campus rapes go unreported.

"College sexual assault has become far too common," said Vainieri Huttle (D- Bergen). "Rape should never be the norm. The only way to prevent sexual assault is to change the culture on campus and to do that we need support from the entire higher education community." 

"Many sexual assault cases go unreported, leaving the victim to deal with the trauma alone and the attacker free to strike again," said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). "If we want victims of sexual assault to report these crimes and prevent others from becoming another statistic, then we have to change the culture that is discouraging victims, whether intentionally or inadvertently, from speaking up and seeking justice."

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Vainieri Huttle Calls Claims that Horizon Discriminated Against Catholic Hospitals Unacceptable

Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) on Tuesday responded to claims that Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield deliberately schemed to keep Catholic hospitals in New Jersey from becoming part of a new health alliance to offer lower-cost services to customers.

"I sincerely hope that Horizon did not intentionally keep Catholic hospitals out of its tier 1 plan. If Horizon wants to quickly dispel this claim it should be transparent with the criteria it used to select the elite group of hospitals that would participate in this new alliance.

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Vainieri Huttle & Jasey Bill Allowing Sign Language to Fulfill High School World Language Requirement Now Law

(TRENTON) - Legislation sponsored by Assemblywomen Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Mila Jasey that would allow American Sign Language (ASL) to be used by New Jersey high school students to meet world language graduation requirements was signed into law on Monday.

"In the United States, American Sign Language is the primary language of an estimated 100,000 to 500,000 Americans and is said to be the fourth most commonly used language in the country," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "This new law will help hearing impaired students meet their graduation requirements, and remove some of the stigma often associated with hearing loss by encouraging all students to learn ASL."

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Jasey, Benson, Vainieri Huttle & McKeon Bill to Study Benefits of Later Start Time for Schools Signed into Law

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Mila Jasey, Dan Benson, Valerie Vainieri Huttle and John McKeon to study the merits of pushing back the start time for middle schools and high schools in New Jersey has been signed into law.

The study would look into what it would take to make the change, including the recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics that middle and high schools delay the start of class to 8:30 a.m. or later to better align school schedules to the biological sleep rhythms of adolescents, whose sleep-wake cycles begin to shift up to two hours later at the start of puberty. 

"The majority of adolescents in this country are not getting enough sleep. This can have serious consequences on their health and their grades," said Jasey (D-Essex/Morris). "Resetting the school day would not be easy or simple, but given what we now know about the effects of sleep deprivation on the adolescent brain, to not even consider it as a possibility does our students a disservice. This law is a good first step in determining whether changing the school start time makes sense for our students."

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Lagana, Mazzeo, Mosquera & Vainieri Huttle Bill to Make it More Difficult for Domestic Violence Offenders to Get into PTI Signed into Law

(TRENTON) - Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Joseph Lagana, Vince Mazzeo, Gabriela Mosquera and Valerie Vainieri Huttle to make it more difficult for first-time domestic violence offenders to enter pretrial intervention and thus avoid jail time has been signed into law.
"The Ray Rice case highlighted a larger failing of the criminal justice system in New Jersey," said Lagana (D-Bergen/Passaic). "This is about making sure that those who commit acts of domestic violence understand the severity of their crimes. More importantly, however, it's about righting a wrong in pursuit of justice for the many who have suffered in silence."
The law (A-4016) makes assaulting a victim of domestic violence, or threatening to do so, a crime of the third degree with no presumption of non-imprisonment, meaning that incarceration could be considered as a punishment for the offender. Under former law, such assault is a crime of the third degree, which ordinarily is punishable by three to five years in prison, a fine of up to $15,000 or both, but there is a presumption of non-imprisonment for first-time offenders.
The law also provides that the prosecutor and the court should give additional weight to a domestic violence victim's position on whether a defendant should enter PTI. 
Furthermore, a defendant charged with a third or fourth degree crime involving domestic violence will be required to enter a plea of guilty before being considered for participation in PTI. Individuals charged with a domestic violence offense who committed the offense while subject to a temporary or permanent restraining order and defendants charged with a fourth degree crime of contempt of a domestic violence order will also have to plead guilty before being considered for PTI.

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Vainieri Huttle Bill to Increase Safe Havens for Unwanted Infants Signed into Law

Legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) that would increase the number of locations in the state where unwanted infants may be dropped off safely and anonymously has been signed into law.

"This is about giving parents who cannot care for their babies more options so children are not abandoned in dangerous locations," said Vainieri Huttle. "This law will add to the current list of locations that are staffed around the clock with individuals trained to react to emergency situations and who can provide first aid if necessary."

The new law (S-122/A-4149) expands the list of sites where newborn infants may be left safely and anonymously by a parent, or another person acting on the parent's behalf, in accordance with the provisions of the "New Jersey Safe Haven Infant Protection Act." 

The law includes the premises of fire stations and ambulance, first aid and rescue squads that are staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Previous law provided that an infant may be left at emergency departments of licensed general hospitals and state, county and municipal police stations.

The new law also clarifies that under the act, a child delivered to a safe haven must be left with an adult employee at the safe haven, if that safe haven is not the emergency department at a hospital.

"This will help protect babies by providing additional safe haven sites where parents can discreetly and safely surrender their children," added Vainieri Huttle. "These babies might have had a rough start, but that should not seal their fate." 

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Vainieri Huttle Bill Would Better Protect Child Protection Caseworkers against Attacks like latest that Sent Two to Hospital

In light of the latest attack on state child protection caseworkers, Assembly Human Services Committee Chair Valerie Vainieri Huttle is pushing legislation she recently introduced to better protect workers from the kind of attacks that left one seriously injured in November and sent two others to the hospital yesterday.

"It's clear that we need to be doing a better job to protect these caseworkers. They are going out into the field unprotected to handle emotional and often tenuous situations. The possibility for confrontation always looms, which makes it all the more confusing as to why the administration diverted Human Services police officers in the first place."

Vainieri Huttle's bill (A-4638), introduced last month, would require the Division of Child Protection and Permanency in the Department of Children and Families to implement policies and procedures to ensure the safety of every caseworker employed by the division and require Human Services police officers or state troopers to accompany them into the field when needed.

"If we allow these types of security lapses to remain, these employees will continue to be at risk. We need to recruit and retain qualified, committed caseworkers. How can we do that if they do not feel safe? The severity of the attacks we've witnessed over the last year warrant comprehensive policies and tactical procedures to ensure the safety of these workers while they're out there trying to protect the welfare of some of our most vulnerable children," added Vainieri Huttle. 

The policies and procedures would address issues of safety when a caseworker receives a threat of violence from a client, or is presented with a potentially dangerous situation while working in a local office, investigating a report of child abuse or neglect in the field, or making an emergency removal of a child pursuant to current law.

Under the provisions of the bill, in order to ensure the safety of a caseworker in a local office, the division would require that: 
- A Human Services police officer or state trooper be assigned to every building where a local office is located to provide security and assistance to the caseworkers assigned to the office; 
- Each local office be equipped with a metal detector or metal detector wands operated by the Human Services police officer or State trooper assigned to the local office; 
- A panic button be installed in every meeting room in which a caseworker meets with a client; and 
- At least one meeting or conference room in each local office be equipped with a two-way mirror located to allow for the observation of the room by the Human Services police officer or State trooper assigned to the office.

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Vainieri Huttle, Lampitt, Lagana, Mukherji, Quijano & Danielsen Bill to Tackle Campus Sexual Assault Approved by Assembly

(TRENTON) - Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainiei Huttle, Pamela Lampitt, Joe Lagana, Raj Mukherji, Annette Quijano and Joe Danielsen to better equip New Jersey colleges and universities to prevent and respond to sexual assaults on campus was recently approved by the General Assembly.

The 2014 report from the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault revealed that one in five college students experiences sexual assault during their college career. Even more staggering, the ACLU estimates that 95 percent of U.S. campus rapes go unreported.

"College sexual assault has become far too common," said Vainieri Huttle (D- Bergen). "Rape should never be the norm. The only way to prevent sexual assault is to change the culture on campus and to do that we need support from the entire higher education community." 

"Many sexual assault cases go unreported, leaving the victim to deal with the trauma alone and the attacker free to strike again," said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). "If we want victims of sexual assault to report these crimes and prevent others from becoming another statistic, then we have to change the culture that is discouraging victims, whether intentionally or inadvertently, from speaking up and seeking justice."

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Eustace, Lagana, Mosquera, Vainieri Huttle & Wimberly Bill to Protect Against Flooding & Boost Smart Development Goes to Governor's Desk

(TRENTON) - Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Tim Eustace, Joseph Lagana, Gabriela Mosquera, Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Benjie Wimberly to help protect the public against flooding and facilitate smart development was recently given final legislative approval in the Senate.

The legislation (A-1726) directs the Department of Environmental Protection to update its delineations of flood hazard areas when the Federal Emergency Management Agency issues changes based upon flood risk or at least once every 15 years. 

The bill also requires a permit for a site based upon a floodplain delineation if the federal floodplain delineation is more recent than the DEP delineation for the same watercourse and the DEP determines that the federal floodplain delineation is sufficient to carry and discharge the flood flow and is at least as protective of the public safety, health and general welfare as the department's delineation. 

Under current DEP rules and regulations, when a DEP delineation of a particular flood hazard area and floodplain exists, a permit applicant is required to use the DEP delineation even if there is a more recent FEMA delineation. (TRENTON) - Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Tim Eustace, Joseph Lagana, Gabriela Mosquera, Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Benjie Wimberly to help protect the public against flooding and facilitate smart development was recently given final legislative approval in the Senate.

The legislation (A-1726) directs the Department of Environmental Protection to update its delineations of flood hazard areas when the Federal Emergency Management Agency issues changes based upon flood risk or at least once every 15 years. 

The bill also requires a permit for a site based upon a floodplain delineation if the federal floodplain delineation is more recent than the DEP delineation for the same watercourse and the DEP determines that the federal floodplain delineation is sufficient to carry and discharge the flood flow and is at least as protective of the public safety, health and general welfare as the department's delineation. 

Under current DEP rules and regulations, when a DEP delineation of a particular flood hazard area and floodplain exists, a permit applicant is required to use the DEP delineation even if there is a more recent FEMA delineation. 

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