Eustace, Benson, Vainieri Huttle, Lagana, Caride & Sumter Bill Package to Encourage Safe Disposal of Prescription Drugs, Prevent Abuse Moves Forward

The full Senate recently granted approval to a two-bill package sponsored by Assembly Democrats Timothy Eustace, Daniel Benson, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Joseph Lagana, Marlene Caride and Shavonda Sumter to provide a safe way for New Jersey residents to dispose of prescription drugs and to create greater awareness of these pathways.

"Disposing of unused prescription drugs properly is equally as important as taking them as prescribed," said Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic). "Prescription drug abuse is prevalent in many communities, and much of that abuse begins at home where the drugs are easily accessible." 

The bill package is designed to encourage residents to throw away unused prescriptions in a safe manner and help prevent youth access and potential abuse. 

The first bill (A-2859), sponsored by Eustace, Benson, Vainieri Huttle, Lagana and Caride, formally establishes the "Project Medicine Drop" program, which shall be administered by the Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. 

The director shall continue to maintain at each participating law enforcement agency that meets program participation requirements a secure prescription medicine drop-off receptacle wherein unused or expired prescription drugs and other common household medications may be anonymously surrendered by members of the public seven days a week, 365 days a year. 

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Lampitt, Vainieri Huttle, Benson, Mosquera, Spencer & Wimberly Bill to Create Gold Alert System Advances in Senate

Bill Would Create Alert System for Missing Persons with Developmental Disabilities Similar to Amber Alert

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Daniel Benson, Gabriela Mosquera, L. Grace Spencer and Benjie Wimberly to facilitate the immediate circulation of information about missing persons with developmental disabilities was approved by a Senate panel on Monday.

The bill (A-2709) would establish the "Gold Alert System," a cooperative effort between law enforcement agencies and media outlets to broadcast emergency alerts about missing persons with developmental disabilities. The alerts would include physical descriptions and other pertinent details. Under the bill, consent must be obtained prior to disseminating information about the person who is believed to be missing. 

"This legislation reflects our collective duty to protect some of the most vulnerable New Jersey residents," said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). "We must do all we can to ensure missing individuals can return home safe and sound, especially when we have all the necessary resources already in place."

"When it comes to recovering a person who's gone missing, we know that time is of the essence and knowledge is power," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "By creating widespread awareness as soon as possible, we can maximize the likelihood that a missing person will be found alive and unharmed."

"We already have systems in place to alert the public when other vulnerable populations go missing," said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "This is another way to aid in the search of individuals who may be at a higher risk of going missing and may have a harder time seeking help because of their disabilities."

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Vainieri Huttle, Eustace, Diegnan & Giblin Bill to Study Transition of Former State Developmental Facility Residents Advances in Senate

Legislation Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Tim Eustace, Patrick Diegnan Jr. and Thomas Giblin sponsored to study the transition of former residents of two state developmental centers slated to close was advanced Monday by a Senate panel.

The bill (A-1098) would require the Department of Human Services to conduct follow-up studies to assess the well-being of former residents of North Jersey Developmental Center and Woodbridge Developmental Center. The studies would evaluate all individuals who made a transition from the centers into community housing after August 1, 2012 and have lived away from a developmental center for at least six months. Additional assessments would be conducted for each of the five years after the closure of both centers.

"North Jersey and Woodbridge Developmental Centers provided access to the special resources their residents needed while also giving their families the ability to visit and provide all-important emotional support," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "Ideally - for the benefit of the residents and their loved ones - we would have kept these facilities open. However, given the administration's decision to close them, it is now our duty to make sure that their former residents have the care and opportunities they need and deserve, which is why this bill is so important."

Following the recommendation of the Task Force on the Closure of State Developmental Centers in an August 2012 report, North Jersey Developmental Center, located in Totowa, will close at the start of next month. Woodbridge Developmental Center is scheduled to close in 2017.

"It is our duty to ensure that every New Jersey resident with a developmental disability receives the care and support he or she needs to thrive physically, mentally and emotionally," said Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic). "This legislation is about our commitment to stand up for the rights of some of New Jersey's most vulnerable men and women."

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Conaway, Eustace, Vainieri Huttle, Lagana & Pinkin Measure to Create Medicaid Smart Card Pilot Program & Address Fraud Advances in Senate

Measure Aims to Curb Abuse and Help Residents' Reduce Monthly Medicaid Costs

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Herb Conaway M.D., Tim Eustace, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Joseph Lagana and Nancy Pinkin to increase efficiency in the state Medicaid program and reduce monthly costs for recipients was approved by a Senate panel on Monday.

The bill (A-1951) would establish the Medicaid Smart Card Pilot Program. The pilot program would be designed to reduce average monthly cost to Medicaid for recipients within the pilot program area by an amount that is relative to the costs of implementing the pilot program. 

"Many residents rely on Medicaid services for healthcare," said Conaway (D-Burlington). "Developing a more efficient system for Medicaid would preserve the integrity of the program and make it more accessible to those who truly need it. This pilot program would help us discover if and how we may improve the system."

"Fraudulent behavior can be contributed to the rising costs of Medicaid in the state," said Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic). "The system the state uses to distribute and track Medicaid must protect the interests of the seniors and residents who depend on it."

"This is a common sense and fiscally responsible step," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "With this program, we can modernize the Medicaid system and improve services for clients. Both are positives."

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Mazzeo, Vainieri Huttle, Lampitt, Mosquera & Benson Bill to Allow Service Animals to Board School Buses Gets Final Legislative Approval

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Vincent Mazzeo, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Pamela Lampitt, Gabriela Mosquera and Dan Benson to allow students with disabilities to bring service animals onto school buses in New Jersey received final legislative approval Thursday and now heads to the governor’s desk.

“This legislation ensures that New Jersey aligns with what federal law prescribes,” said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). “What’s more important, however, is our commitment to ensuring that students with disabilities can have the highest quality of life possible and access the same opportunities as their peers.”

The bill (A-3690) would expand state law to allow students with disabilities to board a school bus with a service animal. Current law only permits students with disabilities to enter classrooms and school grounds with service animals. Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act protects individuals with disabilities from discrimination in services provided by state and local government entities.

“For certain students with disabilities, service animals are required for optimal learning and development,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “If a student needs a service animal in school and is allowed to have that, it is common sense to allow the student to bring the service animal onto the school bus as well.”

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Vainieri Huttle, Lampitt, Mosquera & Stender Bill to Create Sexual Assault Victims' Rights Act Clears Assembly Panel

(TRENTON) - An Assembly panel on Thursday approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen), Pamela Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington), Gabriela Mosquera (D-Camden/Gloucester) and Linda Stender (D-Middlesex/Somerset/Union) to establish the Sexual Assault Victims' Rights Act and give victims access to information pertinent to their cases. 

"Many sexual assault victims find the criminal justice system less forthcoming than it should be with information about their cases, which can leave them feeling victimized all over again," said Vainieri Huttle. "This affirms that victims have the right to relevant information about their cases."

The bill (A-3936) would require sexual assault victims to be notified of certain developments concerning the evidence in their cases. Specifically, the bill would expand the state's Crime Victim's Bill of Rights to give sexual assault victims the right to be informed if

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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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