Vainieri Huttle, Muoio, Singleton, Caputo & Jasey Bill to Address Chronic Absenteeism in Public Schools Goes to Governor

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Elizabeth Muoio, Troy Singleton, Ralph Caputo & Mila Jasey to tackle student absenteeism in public schools received final legislative approval Monday and now heads to the governor’s desk.

“Chronic absenteeism creates problems for schools and makes it harder for students to excel,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “Having a coalition of people who can step in and get to the root of the problem can help cut down on school absences and keep students on the right track.”

"Chronic absenteeism creates major academic challenges for students, teachers and school administration, and is a gateway to countless challenges later in life for those students who suffer the negative effects of missing school," said Muoio (D-Mercer, Hunterdon). "The recent successful efforts of schools like Hedgepeth-Williams Middle School in Trenton show the importance and value of having in place collaborative school-wide programs involving teachers, administrators, parents and students, aimed at addressing and overcoming the roots of absenteeism."

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Quijano, Vainieri Huttle & Egan Jones Bill to Creating NJ Hearing Impairment Task Force Signed into Law

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Annette Quijano, Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Patricia Egan Jones establishing a task force to help aid New Jersey residents who suffer from hearing impairments has been signed into law.

According to the sponsors, the Department of Human Services estimates that about 850,000 New Jersey residents have varying degrees of hearing loss ranging from mild to profound, including individuals who were born deaf and people who encounter late-stage hearing loss.

“Hearing impairment can have a profound impact on one’s life, whether it’s genetic, medically induced or trauma,” said Quijano (D-Union).  “These numbers are only expected to increase, along with the need for services, as individuals reach senior citizen status.  As a state, we need to find ways to assist those who suffer from hearing impairments, regardless of the cause.”

The law (A-4539) establishes the “New Jersey Hearing Impairment Task Force” in order to study, compare, and evaluate state laws, regulations, and policies intended to improve the livelihood of individuals who have a hearing impairment, including but not limited to children, seniors, and veterans. 

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Assembly Democrats Bill Defying Trump & Requiring NJ to Uphold Paris Climate Agreement Heads to Governor

Mukherji, Zwicker, Vainieri Huttle, Eustace, Downey, Kennedy & Pinkin Legislation would Join NJ with Three other States in Opposition to Trump Decision

(TRENTON) – The full Assembly on Monday granted final legislative approval to a bill sponsored by Assembly Democrats Raj Mukherji, Andrew Zwicker, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Tim Eustace, Joann Downey, James Kennedy and Nancy Pinkin requiring New Jersey to take part in the U.S. Climate Alliance to uphold the Paris Climate Accord and the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.

The bill (A-5040), approved by a vote of 44-19-3, would require New Jersey to join the United States Climate Alliance, a group formed to pursue policies to uphold the United States’ commitments to the Paris Climate Accord in order to address the threats posed by climate change.  The group was formed by the Governors of California, New York, and Washington after President Trump announced his intention to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord.

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Benson & Vainieri Huttle Bill Overhauling NJ Animal Cruelty Law amid SPCA Concerns Clears Legislature

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrat Daniel Benson and Valerie Vainieri Huttle to revise and strengthen New Jersey law on animal cruelty amid SPCA concerns was approved by the Assembly 63-0-4 on Monday, giving it final legislative approval.   

The bill now goes to the governor.

The bill (A-5231) was introduced in response to a report released by the State Commission of Investigation on organizational mismanagement at the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

“New Jersey cannot continue to rely on an outdated law and state level organization that has failed to protect animals and their owners from harm,” said Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex).  “This bill will ensure that protection of animals is harmonized with our local and county law enforcement and that animal cruelty is investigated and prosecuted with accountability and transparency.” 

“Many counties currently have coordinated law enforcement as well as the local sheriff’s department to ensure every animal cruelty complaint is investigated and handled in a timely manner as they should be addressed,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “This legislation would allow for a more coordinated police response to animal cruelty complaints in communities.”

This bill would revise the way in which animal cruelty law is enforced in the State by transferring the power of humane law enforcement from the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NJSPCA) to the county prosecutor in each county, and requiring the designation of a municipal humane law enforcement officer in each municipality with an existing police department.

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Lampitt, Pintor Marin, Mosquera & Vainieri Huttle Bill to Exempt Breast Pumps, Related Products from Sales and Use Tax Becomes Law

(TRENTON) – Legislation Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt, Eliana Pintor Marin, Gabriela Mosquera and Valerie Vainieri Huttle sponsored to make breast pumps, breast pump collection and storage supplies, and certain services to breast pumps tax-free in New Jersey was signed into law on Monday.

“Breast pumps and pump supplies are basic necessities for many New Jersey families and should not be subject to sales and use tax,” said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington), chair of the Assembly Women and Children Committee.

Currently, breast pumps, pump supplies and services are generally subject to sales and use tax.

The Division of Taxation in the Department of the Treasury previously determined through a formal letter ruling that breast pumps are not eligible for an existing exemption for durable medical equipment, so sellers must charge and collect tax from consumers unless another exemption or exclusion from tax applies.

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NOW LAW: Benson, Vainieri Huttle, Muoio, Mukherji, Chiaravalloti & Wimberly Bill to Prevent Homelessness among Domestic Violence Victims

(TRENTON) – Legislation Assembly Democrats Daniel Benson, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Elizabeth Muoio, Raj Mukherji, Nicholas Chiaravalloti and Benjie Wimberly sponsored to provide emergency housing assistance for victims of domestic violence was signed into law on Monday.

“There have been many times when victims of domestic violence have been denied emergency assistance because they voluntarily left a job where their abuser could find them or failed to plan for substitute housing – situations that are typically out of their control, especially for many who have limited means,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “Our number one priority should be ensuring their safety and getting them back on their feet, and that’s what this law will do.”

The new law (A-4406) will provide emergency assistance, typically in the form of rental assistance, to individuals or families who are homeless or in a temporary living arrangement due to imminent or demonstrated domestic violence that imperils their health and safety.

“The descent into homelessness can happen rapidly for a number of reasons – including domestic violence – but one thing we’ve learned is that the climb out can be arduous to near-impossible without a helping hand,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen).  “We’ve examined the issue to find ways that we can maximize state resources so that they have a real and transformative impact on the lives of homeless residents in our state, and housing assistance is one of them.”

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NOW LAW: Mosquera, Barclay, Jones, Vainieri Huttle, Lampitt & Downey Legislation to Create Domestic Violence Policy for Public Employers

Measure Encourages Victims to Seek Confidential Help at Work

(TRENTON) – Legislation Assembly Democrats Gabriela Mosquera, Arthur Barclay, Patricia Egan Jones, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Pamela Lampitt and Joann Downey sponsored to establish a protocol to support employees who are victims of domestic violence was signed into law on Monday.

The new law (A-4124) requires the Civil Service Commission to develop a uniform domestic violence policy, which all public employers shall adopt and distribute to employees. The policy will encourage victims of domestic violence to seek confidential assistance from the human resources department at work.

“Domestic violence affects the lives of many state workers throughout New Jersey,” said Mosquera (D-Camden/Gloucester). “There should be a policy in place to guide human resource workers in helping state employees in the workplace who are dealing with domestic violence.”     

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Chaparro, Mukherji, Chiaravalloti, McKnight & Vainieri Huttle Bill to Reform High School Driver’s Ed Curriculum Gains Final Approval

Measure Would Add Cyclist, Pedestrian Safety to Program for Approved Courses

(TRENTON) – Legislation Assembly Democrats Annette Chaparro, Raj Mukherji, Nicholas Chiaravalloti, Angela McKnight and Valerie Vainieri Huttle sponsored to help ensure the safety of cyclists and pedestrians in New Jersey gained final legislative approval from the Senate on Friday and now heads to the governor’s desk.

The bill (A-4165), which was approved by the Assembly last year, would require the curriculum for driver’s education courses in New Jersey to include information on sharing the road with pedestrians, cyclists, skaters and riders of motorized scooters and other non-motorized vehicles.

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Eustace, Johnson, Jasey & Vainieri Huttle Bill Providing Business Assistance to LGBT, Veteran, & Disabled Residents Heads to Governor’s Desk

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Tim Eustace, Gordon Johnson, Mila Jasey and Valerie Vainieri Huttle to provide business assistance to LGBT, veteran and disabled residents gained final legislative approval from the Senate on Friday and now heads to the governor’s desk.

“LGBT individuals, people with disabilities, and veterans often face discrimination and bias in the workplace and transgender individuals, in particular, are disproportionately unemployed due to discrimination,” said Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic).  “This legislation would help them overcome certain discriminations by providing access to business assistance programs that are currently provided to other minority communities in the state.”

“These particular business sectors face unique challenges or even outright discrimination,” said Jasey (D-Essex, Morris). “Similar assistance programs have proven useful in helping other business groups gain a foothold.  We want the economy to grow and stabilize and we can only do that by supporting all businesses regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.”

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Assembly Dems Bill Creating Ombudsman for Individuals with Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities Becomes Law

Vainieri Huttle, Lampitt, McKnight, Holley, Mukherji, Zwicker & Wimberly Bill Will Create State Advocate

(TRENTON) – Legislation Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Pamela Lampitt, Angela McKnight, Jamel Holley, Raj Mukherji, Andrew Zwicker and Benjie Wimberly sponsored to create the office of an ombudsman to serve as an advocate for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities was signed into law on Monday.

“Navigating state and federal laws and bureaucracy can be overwhelming for anyone,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen), chair of the Assembly Human Services Committee. “For those with intellectual and developmental disabilities, it can be downright frustrating, which can deter some individuals and families from accessing much-needed services that may be available to help them. This is counterproductive and in no one’s best interest.  By creating an ombudsman to help guide them through the state and federal labyrinth of services, we can help individuals become more self-sufficient, thriving members of the community.”

The new law (A-3824) establishes the independent Office of the Ombudsman for Individuals with Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities and Their Families in, but not of, the Department of the Treasury. The ombudsman is to be appointed by the governor.

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