Vainieri Huttle, Mukherji and Sumter Bill to Improve Delivery of Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services in Prison Now Law

(TRENTON) - Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Raj Mukherji and Shavonda Sumter to address prison-based mental health and substance abuse treatment programs in order to improve long-term outcomes for the incarcerated has been signed into law. 

The law (A-3722), sponsored by Vainieri Huttle, Sumter and Mukherji, requires the commissioners of Human Services and Corrections to formulate a plan to provide adequate and appropriate mental health and substance use disorder services to inmates in all state-owned, operated or contracted correctional facilities.

"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 law will help more inmates get the services they need to stay on the right path after release."

"Without treatment for their underlying problems, these individuals will continuously be subjected to a vicious cycle of recidivism with little hope for reclaiming or improving their lives," Mukherji (D-Hudson). "This helps ensure they receive the treatment they need to break the cycle."

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Vainieri Huttle, Sumter, Mukherji, Mosquera & Gusciora Bill to Create Addiction Treatment Consumer Report Card Signed Into Law

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Shavonda Sumter, Raj Mukherji, Gabriela Mosquera and Reed Gusciora to create a consumer report card on addiction treatment providers has been signed into law.

The new law (S-2373/A-3716) is part of a comprehensive 20 bill package that was introduced in September to address the growing opiate and heroin addiction crisis.

"Selecting the most appropriate treatment provider is often a difficult and overwhelming experience, compounded by the stress of the situation," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "We need to help empower consumers to make the choice that's best for them or their loved one and that power comes from the knowledge of knowing how successful each treatment provider is."

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DeAngelo & Vainieri Huttle Bill Requiring Inspection Reports for Residential Health Care Facilities, Boarding Homes & Emergency Shelters be Posted Online Now Law

(TRENTON) - Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Wayne DeAngelo and Valerie Vainieri Huttle requiring the Department of Community Affairs to post inspection reports for residential health care facilities, boarding homes, and emergency shelters for the homeless on its website has been signed into law. 

"Making the inspection process more transparent by publicizing the reports online is a step in the right direction," said DeAngelo (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "There is no reason why these inspection reports should not be easily accessible to the general public unless there is something amiss. This helps ensure trust that the facility is operating as it should, especially for people served by these facilities." 

"Too often we find out about problems with these types of facilities after the damage has already been done," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "Making these reports easily available online provides the public with an unbiased view of how these facilities are conducting business, and helps ensure that individuals who rely on these facilities are receiving the adequate service and assistance."

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Vainieri Huttle, Lagana, Mosquera, Coughlin, Lampitt, Singleton, Benson & Spencer Bill Package to Protect Domestic Violence Victims Clears Full Assembly

A three-bill package sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Joseph Lagana, Gabriela Mosquera, Craig Coughlin, Pamela Lampitt, Troy Singleton, Daniel Benson and L. Grace Spencer to bolster protections for domestic violence victims in New Jersey gained approval by the full Assembly on Thursday.

The first bill (A-3655), sponsored by Vainieri Huttle, Lagana and Mosquera, is designed to enhance the protections offered under the "New Jersey Safe Housing Act" by prohibiting a landlord from terminating a tenancy, failing to renew a tenancy, or refusing to enter into a rental agreement due to a tenant's or prospective tenant's status as a domestic violence victim. 

Under the act, a tenant may terminate a lease prior to its expiration if they provide appropriate documentation and written notice that they or their child face an imminent threat of serious physical harm from another person if they remain on the premises.

The bill would amend the act to prohibit a landlord from terminating a tenancy, failing to renew a tenancy, or refusing to enter into a rental agreement based on the tenant's, applicant's or household member's status as a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, or based on the tenant or applicant having terminated a rental agreement pursuant to the Act. 

"As we've seen all too often lately, domestic violence is still a very pervasive threat in our society. This bill package takes a broader approach to provide the protections necessary to deal with today's realities," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "Victims of domestic violence must deal with their life being thrown into upheaval. The last thing they need is to have their home uprooted through no fault of their own." 

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Bipartisan Bill to Make Sure “Return Home NJ” Program is Compassionate and Pragmatic Gets Assembly Panel OK

Vainieri Huttle, Lampitt, Garcia, Eustace & Mosquera Bill Will Ensure Individuals with Disabilities Aren't Transferred Home Against their Will

An Assembly panel on Thursday approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Pamela Lampitt, Carmelo G. Garcia, Tim Eustace and Gabriela Mosquera to ensure that individuals with disabilities living in out-of-state facilities are not transferred home under the "Return Home New Jersey" program to the detriment of their well-being.

"We need to make sure our most vulnerable are not sacrificed for savings, especially when it's minor savings that carry major consequences," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "There may be some situations where returning an individual home is in their best interest, but there are also many circumstances where a transfer will cause a wholesale disruption to an individual's life. These outstanding factors, as well as a family's wishes, must all be weighed before the fate of each individual is determined."

The legislation was proposed after Governor Christie conditionally vetoed an earlier measure (S-2249) sponsored by Vainieri Huttle. That bill would have imposed a moratorium on the "Return Home New Jersey" initiative until a plan was drafted to ensure comparable services would be offered to individuals in state and would have allowed anyone placed out of state 10 years ago or more to remain in their homes.

"While certain individuals may thrive in less restrictive settings, others rely on a controlled environment for continuity and comfort, depending on their individual circumstances," said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). "This measure will help ensure that individuals aren't misguidedly transferred back to New Jersey, to the detriment of their well being, like we saw in the well-documented case of Tyler Loftus."

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Vainieri Huttle Appointed to Assembly Leadership Post of Deputy Speaker

Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto has appointed Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) to serve in the leadership position of Deputy Speaker of the General Assembly.

"Valerie has long been an integral member of our caucus as a fierce advocate for some of our most vulnerable residents," said Prieto (D-Bergen/Hudson). "This leadership post is a fitting appointment for one of our veteran caucus members."

Vainieri Huttle, who has served in the Assembly since January 2006, represents the 37th legislative district, which includes the towns of Alpine, Bogota, Cresskill, Englewood, Englewood Cliffs, Fort Lee, Hackensack, Leonia, Northvale, Palisades Park, Rockleigh, Teaneck and Tenafly. 

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Assembly Panel Advances Lampitt, Schaer & Vainieri Huttle 2-Bill Package to Boost Access to School Breakfast for Students Statewide

An Assembly panel on Thursday approved a two-bill package sponsored by Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt, Gary Schaer and Valerie Vainieri Huttle to help ensure that more students receive breakfast every day to boost their chances of success in school.

The first bill (A-3889), sponsored by Lampitt, would establish a school breakfast kiosk pilot program to ensure students have greater accessibility to breakfast items in school. 

"This program will help more children start the school day with a nutritious breakfast in order to learn, grow, and develop to their full potential," said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). "Research shows that school breakfast increases attendance and decreases tardiness, improves academic performance and attentiveness and reduces emotional and behavioral problems among students from all backgrounds."

A school district seeking to participate in the two-year pilot program shall submit to the Department of Agriculture a plan outlining how the school will make food available on a cart, cubicle, or kiosk on the way into the school or to a classroom, dining room, or other designated area. The plan shall also outline food choices, including how they will be consistent with federal guidelines, pricing, and packaging requirements, as well as location, support, and disposal needs.

The Department of Agriculture, in consultation with the Department of Education, shall review each school breakfast kiosk pilot plan submitted and make recommendations, if necessary, on how the pilot plan can operate within the limits of the federal and state reimbursement rates for the federal school breakfast program. 

Within 180 days after completion of the pilot program, the Department of Agriculture shall prepare and issue a report to the governor and the legislature on the impact of the pilot program on students, including the percentage of low income students receiving breakfast services under the program. 

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Vainieri Huttle Bill to Protect Sexual Assault Victims Clears Panel

Legislation Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle sponsored to allow more victims of sexual assault to seek protective orders against perpetrators was advanced Thursday by an Assembly committee.

The bill (A-4078) would authorize protective orders for victims of nonconsensual sexual contact, sexual penetration or lewdness or attempts at such conduct during cases in which the victim does not have a domestic relationship with the offender and does not wish to file a criminal complaint against him or her.

Under current law, 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 in order to pursue a protective order. The bill, which is to be known as the "Sexual Assault Survivor Protection Act of 2015," would eliminate these preconditions. 

"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 bill, 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." 

While current statutes allow domestic violence victims to seek a protective order against offenders, individuals who are victims of sexual assault but not domestic violence do not have similar protection under the law, Vainieri Huttle said.

"Sexual violence continues to be an underreported crime, and in part, it's because victims fear that they will be blamed or otherwise face reprisal if they come forward," said Vainieri Huttle. "Putting forth measures to help all those who seek an order of protection will promote a culture of supporting victims and remove a major flaw from our judicial system." 

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Lampitt, Schaer, Mosquera, Benson & Vainieri Huttle Bill to Provide Tax Relief to Those Caring for Elderly Relatives Clears Assembly Panel

(TRENTON) - Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Pamela R. Lampitt Gary S. Schaer, Gabriela Mosquera, Daniel J. Benson and Valerie Vainieri Huttle to provide a tax credit to those who take in and support an older family member was released on Thursday by an Assembly panel.

The bill (A-1855), designated as the Caregiver's Assistance Act, provides a gross income tax credit to qualified caregivers, including resident taxpayers and resident individuals, who pay or incur qualified care expenses for the care and support of a qualifying senior family member residing with the caregiver at the caregiver's permanent place of abode in this state.

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Vainieri Huttle Urges Ramapo College to Pull Violence Prevention Program out of Dark Ages

Assemblywoman Would Like to See College Update its Presentation to Remove Reported Burden on Victims

Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle on Thursday urged Ramapo College to update its violence prevention program which has reportedly angered students and faculty because it appears to place the burden on victims, attributing the cause of violence to their behavior.

"Let's be clear - sexual assault is never the victim's fault," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "While I appreciate Ramapo's efforts to prevent sexual violence, their reported message is horribly misguided. If the reported description of their violence prevention program is accurate, then it represents a relic of a thankfully bygone era when the onus was usually placed on the victim. I hope Ramapo officials will listen earnestly to student input and update their program to make it more effective and reflective of the times."

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