Assembly Panel Advances Johnson, Caride, Schaer & Vainieri Huttle Bill Granting New Jersey Jurisdiction to Prosecute Child Endangerment Cases that take Place Out-of-State

(TRENTON) – An Assembly panel on Thursday approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Gordon Johnson, Marlene Caride, Gary Schaer and Valerie Vainieri Huttle to expand the state’s jurisdiction to prosecute crimes involving endangering the welfare of a child from New Jersey that take place outside the state.

The bill was prompted by the recent state Supreme Court case of State v. Sumulikoski which determined that New Jersey courts do not have jurisdiction to prosecute school officials from Bergen County who were chaperones on a school trip to Germany where they allegedly engaged in sexual conduct with students.

 “As a state, we have a responsibility to ensure that adults who assume the responsibility of caring for a child from New Jersey are held accountable,” said Johnson (D-Bergen).  “This bill would make sure they are subject to prosecution if unlawful sexual conduct occurs, regardless of where this conduct took place.”

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Vainieri Huttle Statement on Port Authority Reforms

 

(TRENTON) – Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen), one of the legislature’s leading champions for Port Authority reform, released the following statement on today’s announcement:

“After their eleventh hour veto Christmas weekend it’s encouraging to see that both governors finally understand the importance of reforming this extremely troubled agency. 

“I’ve been working with my colleagues in New York to make sure that this bill, and all Port Authority reform efforts, overhaul the culture that has allowed dysfunction, waste and abuse to exist for so long.  This legislation includes much of what we have been fighting for over the past several years, including much of what the governors vetoed last year. 

“This is a good starting point.  My main concern is to make sure that the rushed nature of these reforms does not leave out key elements such as ensuring that the core mission of the Port Authority is refocused on critical transportation infrastructure needs; overhauling the management hierarchy; requiring greater financial accountability; and making sure that each state has an equal seat at the table.

“My number one priority all along has been to make sure reforms are substantive in nature and not simply business as usual masquerading as reform. I am thoroughly reviewing this proposal and will discuss it with my colleagues in New Jersey as we decide our next steps.  Our New Jersey constituents deserve no less.”

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Vainieri Huttle & Benson Bill to Delete Pejorative Language References to Disabled in State Law Clears Assembly Panel

(TRENTON) - An Assembly panel approved legislation on Thursday sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Daniel Benson to remove language in state law referring to a person with developmental, cognitive, or psychiatric disabilities. 

"State law must reflect proper language use and be respectful to all communities," said Vainieri Huttle (D- Bergen). "Language plays an important role in how individuals see themselves and others. By removing antiquated and offensive terms from our statutes we are fighting the stigma long associated with mental health and physical challenges."

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Vainieri Huttle Bill to Allow Solicitation of Snow Removal Services Ahead of Snow Storm Clears Assembly Panel

Bill in response to Bound Brook incident where two young men passing out flyers offering snow shoveling services were stopped by police for breaking local solicitation law

(TRENTON) - Legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle that would allow individuals to solicit their snow shoveling services ahead of a snowstorm without fear of breaking local laws was released Thursday by the Assembly State and Local Government Committee.

The bill (A-4213) would supersede any municipality ordinance that allows the municipality to regulate the solicitation of snow shoveling services within 24 hours of a predicted snowstorm. 

"Young people offering to shovel snow, especially for senior citizens and individuals with disabilities, is a great service to the community," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "Many people have come to rely on their neighbors to shovel their walkway or driveway after a bad snow storm. Entrepreneurial individuals offering to shovel snow should not have to worry about breaking the law simply by promoting their services before the storm hits."

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Assembly Panel Advances Vainieri Huttle, Gusciora & Jasey Bill to Revise Requirements for Changing a Birth Certificate

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Reed Gusciora and Mila Jasey to make it easier for an individual undergoing gender reassignment to obtain an amended birth certificate was advanced by an Assembly panel on Thursday.

 

"This bill acknowledges that individuals do not necessarily undergo sex reassignment surgery when transitioning genders so it revises the process for obtaining an amended birth certificate to reflect the change in current practices," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "Essentially we're updating a standard state procedure to be more inclusive and reflective of our changing society." 

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Vainieri Huttle Bill to Increase Safe Havens for Unwanted Infants Clears Assembly Panel

(TRENTON) - 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 was released Thursday by the Assembly Women and Children Committee.

"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 bill would add to the current list locations that are staffed around the clock with individuals trained to react to emergency situations and who can provide first aid if necessary."

The bill (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." 

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Vainieri Huttle, Singleton & Benson Bill to Create Office to Advise on Special Education Matters Clears Panel

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Troy Singleton and Daniel Benson to help protect the rights of students with disabilities was advanced by an Assembly panel on Thursday. 

The bill (A-1103) would establish the Office of the Special Education Ombudsman in the Department of Education. The office would serve as a resource to provide confidential information and support to parents, students and educators regarding special education rights and services.

"Parents of students with disabilities often don't know where to turn when they have a question or concern about their child's education, and so they find it more difficult to advocate on their behalf," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "Creating an office dedicated to informing and advising parents, students and school staff on special education issues will help ensure that New Jersey can execute its mission of providing all students with a quality education." 

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Assembly Panel Advances Vainieri Huttle & Mukherji Bill to Overhaul Delivery of Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services in Prison

Bill Would Address Underlying Problems, Boost Long-Term Outcomes, Break Cycle of Recidivism & Save Taxpayer Money

An Assembly panel recently approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Raj Mukherji to overhaul the delivery of substance abuse and mental health treatment throughout the state's prison system in order to improve long-term outcomes for the incarcerated and save taxpayer dollars.

The measure (A-3721), which would establish a three-year pilot program to broaden Medicaid coverage in New Jersey to qualified individuals by reaching out to them through various stages of the state's criminal justice system, is part of a comprehensive 20-bill package that was introduced in September to address the growing opiate and heroin addiction crisis.

"Addiction and mental health issues often go hand-in-hand with incarceration," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "You can't treat these underlying health issues with incarceration alone. This legislation takes a pragmatic and cost-effective approach to ensuring more inmates get the treatment they need while sharing the cost with the federal government so New Jersey residents don't have to bear the entire brunt of it."

The sponsors noted that the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse's second report, "Behind Bars II, Substance Abuse and America's Prison Population," shows that of 2.3 million U.S. inmates, 1.5 million suffer from substance abuse addiction and another 458,000 inmates either had histories of substance abuse, were under the influence of alcohol or other drugs at the time of committing their crimes, committed their offenses to get money to buy drugs or were incarcerated for an alcohol or drug violation. Combined, the two groups make up 85 percent of the U.S. prison population.

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Conaway, Vainieri Huttle & Sumter Bill to Help Patients with Off-Label Prescription Drug Costs Advances

(TRENTON) - Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Herb Conaway Jr., Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Shavonda Sumter that would require certain health insurance carriers to cover off-label uses of prescription drugs was recently approved by the Assembly Appropriations Committee. 

The bill (A-1932) requires the State Health Benefits Program, the School Employees' Health Benefits Program and health benefits plans offered in the individual and small employer markets that cover Food and Drug Administration-approved drugs to provide coverage for off-label uses, or medically-appropriate uses that deviate from the original intent designated by the FDA.

"This bill will help extend the medical benefits of prescription drugs to individuals - in particular those suffering from a terminal or chronically debilitating illness - who may not otherwise be able to access these medications because their insurance won't cover it," said Conaway (D-Burlington). 

"Medications can be quite expensive, especially when they must be taken routinely to treat a debilitating disease," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "If these drugs are proven to be effective in the treatment of a particular illness and deemed safe by a medical professional, then I don't see why they should not be covered by insurance."

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Lagana, Mazzeo, Eustace, Andrzejczak & Vainieri Huttle Bill to Improve Delivery of Long-Term & Community-Based Services for the Elderly Continues Advancing

Three-Bill Package Based on State Audit is also Designed to Maximize Federal Funding to Save New Jersey Taxpayers Money

A three-bill package sponsored by Assembly Democrats Joseph Lagana, Vince Mazzeo, Tim Eustace, Bob Andrzejczak and Valerie Vainieri Huttle to improve the delivery of state programs and services for the elderly in order to maximize their independence and protect taxpayer dollars continued advancing this week, gaining approval from a Senate panel on Monday.

The bills were based on recommendations from a recent State Auditor report on selected community-based senior programs within the state Department of Human Services' Division of Aging Services. The programs, which are funded by the state and federal government and the Casino Revenue Fund, are designed to provide services to elderly residents to avoid unnecessary institutional placement. 

"Essentially these bills provide a number of fixes that will increase the efficiency of existing programs designed to aid some of our most frail and vulnerable residents," said Lagana (D-Bergen/Passaic). "At the same time, these bills also call for better notification procedures in order to make sure seniors are aware that they may be eligible for critical safety net programs."

"Anyone with an aging parent or loved one knows how important it is to them to maximize their independence," said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). "We have a number of existing state programs designed to do just that but they're not necessarily being utilized by everyone who is eligible. These bills will help correct that and ensure that the state is taking advantage of every federal dollar available in order to save our taxpayers money."

"This audit was helpful in exposing several shortcomings that have either prevented seniors from accessing crucial programs or left important federal funding on the table," said Eustace. "These changes are designed to ensure a more efficient delivery of home and community-based long-term care services while also ensuring that elderly residents and their families do not have to deal with the aggravation of trying to get authorized claims processed."

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