As I begin my sixth term in the New Jersey General Assembly representing District 37 in the 217th legislative session, I look forward to continuing to advocate for our community.
The members of the 217th New Jersey General Assembly at the Swearing-in Ceremony
In addition to serving as the Chairwoman of the Human Services Committee, and as a member of the Tourism, Gaming and the Arts Committee, I was appointed to the Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee where I will continue to expand my legislative resume.
Speaker Prieto and Assemblywoman Huttle discussing anti-poverty efforts at the special Human Services Committee hearing
New Legislative Anti-Poverty Agenda
At the start of the 217th legislative session, Speaker Prieto took the initiative to find solutions to fight poverty and grow New Jersey’s middle class. More people suffered from homelessness in 2014 than in the past five decades. The impoverished, the elderly, the disabled – these populations have gradually been treated as a non-priority and that needs to change.
As Chair of the Human Services Committee, I listened to testimony on a wide range of issues from different advocacy groups, including New Jersey Anti-Hunger Coalition, NJ Sisterhood, and Disability Rights New Jersey. What has become apparent is that we cannot rely solely on a growing economy to solve the issue of poverty in this state. Even as our economy gradually rebounds, the poverty rate in New Jersey continues to grow and the income disparity widens. As one of the wealthiest states in the nation, this is unacceptable. These discussions will serve as a springboard for policy changes to address the most pressing issues at hand.
Wrap Up of the 216th Legislative Session
The 216th Legislative session was a most productive one. I sponsored over 500 bills and was one of the top lawmakers to have bills passed and signed.
Families who worked with Assemblywoman Huttle on the efforts to end Return Home New Jersey graciously sent her flowers to the Statehouse
The End of Return Home New Jersey
I am very pleased to inform you that A4781, legislation I sponsored to officially end the Return Home New Jersey program, was signed into law by the Governor.
I have heard countless heartbreaking stories of difficult transitions for individuals with severe developmental disabilities. These individuals were forced to leave facilities where they were receiving the proper care and sent elsewhere where their needs were unable to be met. It is a relief that after years of fighting, we were finally able to codify into law this common sense policy to protect our state's most vulnerable population. This victory shows what can be done with relentless advocacy and is a groundbreaking moment for those whose voices are so often disregarded.
Snow Shoveling Efforts
Days before the blizzard that blanketed our State with nearly 30 inches of snow, the Governor signed my “Right to Shovel” legislation to allow citizens to solicit their snow shoveling duties. Young people offering to shovel snow, especially for senior citizens and individuals with disabilities, are a great service to the community. Many people have come to rely on their neighbors to shovel their walkway or driveway after a bad snow storm. Entrepreneurial individuals offering to shovel snow should not have to worry about breaking the law simply by promoting their services before the storm hits, and I encourage our neighbors to help one another and increase the safety of our community.
Protecting All Sexual Assault Victims
One of my most important legislative priorities has been to provide additional protections and resources to victims of sexual assault. The Governor signed into law several bills that help provide those protections including:
- A4078 – “The Sexual Assault Violence and Protection Act,” will enable a broader class of sexual assault victims to seek temporary protective orders by filing an application with the Superior Court
- A4702 – Allows health care professionals and physicians, to authorize forensic sexual assault examinations and other medical care if a minor appears to have been sexually assaulted, regardless of whether the minor's parents or guardian have given consent
- A4156 – Establishes a task force to study issues related to sexual assault on college campuses
This legislation will begin the process of changing the culture associated with sexual violence and increase the necessary resources for the safety of the victims regardless of age.
LD37 Events and Celebrations
Assemblywoman Valerie Huttle attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new special needs housing facility in Tenafly by United Way and Madeline Corp.
Assemblywoman Huttle accepting the Bayada Legislative Champion Award
Assemblywoman Huttle attending the Women's Club of Englewood Tenth Annual Scholarship Reception
Assemblywoman Huttle with Senator Menendez and Kyung Hee Choi at the Holy Name Medical Center
Commemorating the first anniversary of the MLK Senior Center in Hackensack
Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions, ideas, or concerns. For more information, I invite you to visit my website at www.valeriehuttle.com.
Valerie Vainieri Huttle
Assemblywoman, District 37