Jasey, McKeon & Vainieri Huttle Bill Encouraging Mental Health Physicians to Work in Underserved Areas Goes to Governor

Measure Establishes Tuition Reimbursement Program for Psychiatrists, Addressing Shortage of Mental Health Care Access in Certain Parts of the State 

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Mila Jasey, John McKeon and Valerie Vainieri Huttle to reimburse tuition for psychiatrists who work in underserved areas of the state received final legislative approval Monday and now heads to the governor’s desk.

“The reimbursement program will only be available to physicians who engage in the full-time practice of psychiatry in an area of need designated by the Commissioner of Health,” said Jasey (D- Essex/Morris). “The intent of this legislation is to increase access to much-needed care in underserved communities.”

Under the bill (A-3962), the Commissioner of Health will designate, on the basis of health status and economic indicators, geographic areas of the state that have a shortage of physicians in the specialty of psychiatry. The program will provide reimbursement of a portion of medical school tuition expenses to psychiatrists who agree to provide mental health care services in one of these state underserved areas for a period of one to four years.

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McKeon, Jasey & Vainieri Huttle Bill to Ensure Stiff Penalties for Vehicular Homicide while Drunk Driving Heads to Governor

“Ralph & David’s Law” is Named in Honor of Morris County Man & Sussex County Boy Killed by Drunk Drivers 

(TRENTON) – Bipartisan legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats John McKeon, Mila Jasey and Valerie Vainieri Huttle to ensure stiff penalties for anyone who commits vehicular homicide while driving drunk received final legislative approval from the Senate on Monday.

The bill (A-3686), known as “Ralph and David’s Law,” would establish a new crime of “strict liability vehicular homicide” for killing a person while drunk driving.  The bill is named in honor of Ralph Politi, Jr. and David Heim who were both tragically killed by drunk drivers. 

The legislation, which was unanimously approved by the Assembly last month, now heads to the Governor’s desk.

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Muoio, Vainieri Huttle, Mukherji, Oliver & Gusciora Bill to Enhance Benefits under Work First New Jersey Heads to Governor’s Desk

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Elizabeth Maher Muoio, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Raj Mukherji, Sheila Oliver and Reed Gusciora to ensure that some of New Jersey’s most vulnerable residents receive the assistance they need under the Work First New Jersey program received final legislative approval Monday and now heads to the governor’s desk.

The bill (A-33) would repeal the section of the Work First New Jersey Act that currently prohibits a household from gaining additional cash assistance benefits as a result of the birth of a child.  Such policies that prevent an increase in welfare benefits as a result of the birth of a child are commonly known as family caps.

Identical legislation was vetoed last year by Gov. Christie, but Assembly Democrats remain committed to it.

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Prieto, Oliver, Quijano, Pintor Marin, Schaer, Vainieri Huttle & Eustace Bill to Boost Wages for Service Workers at Newark Liberty, Newark Penn & Hoboken Terminal Goes to Governor

Bill Addresses Income Inequality & Requires Prevailing Wages for Service Workers Struggling to Make Ends Meet

(TRENTON) – Legislation Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, Speaker Emeritus Sheila Oliver and Assembly Democrats Annette Quijano, Eliana Pintor Marin, Gary Schaer, Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Tim Eustace sponsored to require prevailing wages be paid to all subcontracted transportation service workers at Newark Liberty International Airport, Newark Penn Station and the Hoboken Terminal was approved 23-15 Monday by the Senate, giving it final legislative approval.

The bill was approved last week by the Assembly. It now goes to the governor.

The sponsors said the legislation – “The Safe Transportation Jobs and Fair Employment Rules Act” – was another step in their ongoing effort to combat income inequality and boost wages, but also noted that low wages often lead to high employee turnover, creating safety concerns at transportation facilities.

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Vainieri Huttle & Caride Bill to Create Safe & Welcoming School Environment for Trans Students in NJ Clears Assembly Panel

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assemblywomen Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) and Marlene Caride (D-Bergen/Passaic) to help create a safe, inclusive and accepting school environment for transgender students was released Monday by an Assembly panel.

According to a study by the National Center for Transgender Equality, 41 percent of trans people attempted suicide in their lifetimes, compared to 1.6 percent of the general population.

Fifty-nine percent of survey responders said they avoided using a public restroom in the past year because they were afraid of confrontations or other problems, and about one-third said they limited the amount that they ate and drank to avoid using a restroom.

“Trans children are harassed and bullied for daring to be themselves. This has to stop,” said Vainieri Huttle. “These guidelines are needed to ensure that transgender students can safely be themselves without fear of being persecuted, and can help promote a culture of understanding and acceptance that will hopefully influence how students treat each other in and outside of school.”

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Johnson, Vainieri Huttle & Wimberly Bill to Develop Sexual Assault Training Course for Police Heads to Gov’s Desk

(TRENTON) – Legislation Assembly Democrats Gordon Johnson, Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Benjie Wimberly sponsored to establish a sexual assault training course for law enforcement officers received final legislative approval Thursday and now heads to the governor’s desk.

“We cannot tolerate a culture in which victims of sexual assault lack confidence in the men and women responsible for responding to them,” said Johnson (D-Bergen). “Developing a course so that officers can receive training on dealing with sexual assault appropriately will encourage reporting and reinforce our state’s commitment to justice for every resident.”

The bill (A-2167) would require the Division of Criminal Justice to develop or approve a training course and curriculum for law enforcement officers on handling, investigation and response procedures for reports of sexual assault. Under the bill, the curriculum must be made available to all the law enforcement agencies in the state. Lastly, the bill would require all law enforcement officers to attend an in-service program on the handling of sexual assault matters every three years.

“There is no excuse for law enforcement officers putting victims of sexual violence through further suffering with insensitive questioning or treatment that causes a sense of shame. That kind of behavior discourages many victims from coming forward and allows attackers to commit the same offense repeatedly without consequence,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “Sexual assault is a crime, and this bill will help law enforcement officers – the men and women whose job it is to protect and serve New Jersey residents – better perform their duties.”

“Many victims of sexual assault fail to report their abuse out of embarrassment and fear,” said Wimberly (D-Bergen/Passaic). “It is important not only for the well-being of the victim but for the integrity of the investigation that law enforcement officers know how to handle these cases. Having officers who are properly trained to assist these victims can ensure that victims get the help they need and officers are able to get the information needed to bring their perpetrators to justice.”

The bill was approved 72-0 by the Assembly, and 38-0 by the Senate.


Lampitt, Coughlin, Conaway, Vainieri Huttle, Lagana & Mukherji ‘Telemedicine’ Bill Heads to Gov’s Desk

Legislation Will Improve Access to Health Care by Allowing Use of Technology to Treat Patients Remotely 

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt, Craig Coughlin, Herb Conaway, Jr., M.D., Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Joseph Lagana and Raj Mukherji to improve access to health care by allowing practitioners to use technology to treat patients remotely in a more efficient and cost-effective manner received final legislative approval on Thursday, and now heads to the governor’s desk.

Specifically, the bill (A-1464) would authorize health care practitioners in the state to deliver health care services, and establish a practitioner/patient relationship, through the use of telemedicine, after an initial in-person visit.

“The benefits to telemedicine are enormous,” said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington).  “It will make it quicker and easier to access treatment, drive up practices, lower costs and, most importantly, make sure patients get the treatment they need, when they need it, to improve their long-term health.”

“Telemedicine,” as defined by the bill, means the delivery of a health care service using electronic communications, information technology, or other electronic or technological means to bridge the gap between a health care provider who is located at a distant site and a patient who is located at an originating site, either with or without the assistance of an intervening health care provider.  Telemedicine does not include the use, in isolation, of audio-only telephone conversation, electronic mail, instant messaging, phone text, or facsimile transmission.  

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Vainieri Huttle, Prieto & Downey Bill to Crackdown on Child Pornographers, Stiffen Penalties Heads to Governor

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Speaker Vincent Prieto and Assemblywoman Joann Downey to broaden the state’s child pornography laws and substantially boost penalties in order to keep pace with changes in technology gained final legislative approval unanimously from the full Assembly Thursday.

The bill (A-4859) establishes additional penalties for child pornography crimes by expanding the definition of child pornography to include the portrayal of a child in a sexual manner; establishing the crime of “leader of child pornography network”; and enhancing penalties and revising the sentencing provisions for these crimes. 

“This legislation is designed to address the disturbing changes in the child pornography industry that have unfortunately been aided by technology, but are not adequately addressed by our current laws,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen).  “Since electronic methods have allowed these sick individuals to mass disseminate images and exponentially increase child exploitation, their punishment needs to fit their crime.”

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Vainieri Huttle & Jimenez Bill to Modify Law on Certain Heinous Crimes against Minors Goes to Governor

‘Joan’s Law’ Honors Girl Scout Who Was Raped, Murdered by Neighbor 

(TRENTON) – Bipartisan legislation sponsored by Assemblywomen Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Angelica Jimenez to amend a state law expanding the penalties for murdering a minor while in the act of committing a sex crime was approved 36-1 Thursday by the Senate, giving it final legislative approval.

The bill (A-373) would require life imprisonment without parole for persons convicted of the murder of a minor under the age of 18 during the commission of a sex crime. Current law requires such a penalty only when the victim is under age 14.

“The crimes covered in this legislation are atrocious regardless of the victim’s age,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “The pain, suffering and anger would continue to manifest every time there is a new parole hearing.  No family member should ever be subjected to the painful reminders of such horrifying events. A minor is a minor in all aspects of the law, and this bill eliminates an irrational discrepancy in New Jersey.”

Generally, murder is a first-degree crime punishable by 30 years’ imprisonment without parole or by a specific term between 30 years and life, of which the defendant must serve 30 years before being eligible for parole.  However, there are exceptions to this statutory scheme for certain murders.


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

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt, Eliana Pintor Marin, Gabriela Mosquera and Valerie Vainieri Huttle to make breast pumps, breast pump collection and storage supplies, and certain services to breast pumps tax-free in New Jersey was approved Thursday by the General Assembly.

“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).

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, and sellers must therefore charge and collect tax when making sales of pumps to purchaser unless another exemption or exclusion from tax applies.

“Even if they do not fall within the overly rigid definition of durable medical equipment, we should consider breast pumps and pump supplies for tax exemption,” said Pintor Marin (D-Essex).

“It is highly recommended that moms exclusively breast-feed for at least six months, so breast pumps are medically necessary for the health-conscious mom who understands the importance of breast-feeding to her child’s early development,” said Mosquera (D-Gloucester/Camden).

“By making breast pumps and supplies more budget-friendly, we encourage more mothers to continue breast-feed their newborns for longer periods even after returning to work,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen).

The bill (A-4670) provides an exemption from the sales and use tax for sales of breast pumps, breast collection and storage supplies, and certain services to breast pumps. It would eliminate the tax currently imposed on purchases of and charges to repair and maintain the devices and supplies necessary to initiate and support breastfeeding using a breast pump during lactation.

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