(TRENTON) – The Assembly on Monday unanimously granted final legislative approval to a bill sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Jamel Holley to ensure that all workers hired to care for individuals with developmental disabilities undergo a criminal background check.
In October, Vainieri Huttle vowed to lead the charge in the Assembly to close a loophole after a State Auditor report detailed how some employees, including one convicted murderer, have been able to evade existing law and get hired. The changes included in the bill are based on recommendations in the State Auditor’s report following its investigation of licensed residential programs serving individuals with developmental disabilities.
“This report confirmed some of our worst fears and underscored the need to do more to protect our most vulnerable residents,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “We need to ensure that there are no ambiguities in the law. Anyone entrusted with the day-to-day care and well-being of individuals who often can’t speak or fend for themselves should be vetted to the fullest.”Read more
Lampitt, Vainieri Huttle, Pinkin & Mukherji Bill to Ensure Newborns are Covered Under Parents’ Insurance During First Few Critical Months of Life Clears Legislature
(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Nancy Pinkin and Raj Mukherji to ensure newborns are covered under their parents insurance during the first few critical months of life was granted final legislative approval unanimously by the Assembly Monday.
The bill (A-2665) extends the time period in which newborn children are covered under their parent’s health benefits coverage from the current 60 days.
“With all that’s going on when a child is first born, the 30-day deadline can be problematic for some parents to meet and may cause unnecessary stress,” said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). “This bill will provide a longer period of time for children to be covered under their parents’ health coverage in order to ensure that children have access to adequate health care during the critical first few months of life.”
“Current law provides for only a month of health insurance coverage for newborns,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “The first three months are the most crucial in the life of a newborn. Families should not have to worry about health coverage if a problem arises before more permanent insurance is acquired.”Read more
Caputo, Tucker, Quijano, Vainieri Huttle, Sumter & McKnight Bill to Install Silent Alarms & Red Emergency Lights In Schools Goes to Governor
(TRENTON) – Assembly approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Ralph R. Caputo, Cleopatra Tucker, Annette Quijano, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Shavonda Sumter and Angela McKnight to require the installation of panic alarms and red emergency lights in public elementary and secondary schools for use in security emergencies received final legislative approval Monday and now heads to the governor’s desk.
“Our children deserve the chance to learn in peace,” said Caputo (D-Essex). “I am not suggesting this will stop all security threats, but coupled with security measures already in place, it can increase the chances of diffusing a bad situation without further harm to students and staff.”
“We have to utilize all sensible measures available to us to help our schools defend themselves against an attack,” said Tucker (D-Essex). “These systems help give students, parents and staff the peace of mind that in the case of an emergency, there is a direct link to local law enforcement.”Read more
Opioid crisis has killed more than 7,000 people in New Jersey since 2012
(TRENTON) – A measure sponsored by Assembly Speaker-elect Craig Coughlin, Assemblyman Dan Benson and Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle to help fight the state’s opioid epidemic received final legislative approval Monday and now heads to the governor’s desk.
The opioid crisis has killed more than 7,000 people in New Jersey since 2012, according to a report by NJ Advance Media. Last year, at least 1,901 people died from opioid overdoses.
“This crisis is killing thousands of New Jerseyans every year and it is only getting worse,” said Speaker-elect Coughlin (D-Middlesex). “We must balance both the needs of patients who rely on these drugs for pain management, and the need to address the opioid misuse and abuse that continues to take a toll on so many families and communities throughout the state.”
“The unfortunate truth is that for many people these drugs are the only option to relieve severe or chronic pain,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “These measures can help reduce the potential for abuse and help prevent the tragic consequences that come with opioid addiction.”
“There is no one solution to this problem. Tackling this epidemic is going to take a long-term, multifaceted approach,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “Taking steps like enhancing monitoring of prescriptions and expanding opioid education to health care professionals who don’t prescribe, but work with these patients can help lessen the risk for abuse, which too often ends in tragedy.”Read more
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."Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.”Read more