Regulate Airbnb like any other business

The Record

In this era of heightened awareness and “see something, say something” directives, it’s wise for local communities to know if someone in town may be renting out their home or apartment through the proliferation of new short-term rental websites, such as Airbnb or FlipKey.

Essentially, these short-term rentals are creating hotels in neighborhoods that are zoned for residential dwellings, which, in turn creates issues of public safety and security in local communities.

Currently, these types of short-term rentals made available through transient space marketplaces are not regulated.

While this relatively new venture may seem like a cheap alternative to traditional hotels and motels, we’ve heard from many local officials and constituents who have legitimate concerns over this unregulated and burgeoning industry, including the inability to know who may be staying in their communities and their impact on the local quality of life.

On the other side of the coin, this lack of regulation also leaves consumers vulnerable because they have no way of knowing if the property they are renting is safe, up to code and insured.

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Assembly Approves Opioid Antidote Bill, One Requiring Tax Returns from Presidential Candidates

Brenda Flanagan, NJTV News 

When someone ODs on opioids, cops often need to administer multiple doses of the antidote to stabilize victims. But state directives say EMS and firefighters must call supervisors for permission to give more than one dose.

Firefighter John Armato recalls one case: “The family was there literally screaming for us to help him. Extremely frustrating. The people who were trained had to stop what they are doing and make a phone call.”

“It’s a benign drug. We’re not going to hurt anybody by giving them the extra dose. But we can save lives,” said Ed Donnelly, president of the New Jersey State Firefighters Mutual Benevolent Association.

Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo sponsored a bill giving EMS and firefighters leeway to use opioid antidotes as often as necessary, especially since heroin’s often cut with more powerful fentanyl.

“The idea is let them do their job where they can administer it two or three times. Save lives because the statistics are out there,” Mazzeo said.

Almost no dissent from the Assembly on that. But lawmakers did clash over Democrats’ plans to sue Gov. Chris Christie for defying the Legislature and loosening rules on permits to carry handguns. Christie’s change requires only a serious threat as a threshold, instead of the more stringent “urgent necessity.”

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Vainieri Huttle & Jimenez Bill to Modify Law on Certain Heinous Crimes against Minors Continues Advancing

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

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 continued advancing on Monday, receiving approval from the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The bill (A-373), which was unanimously approved by the full Assembly last month, 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."

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Bills Would Regulate Short-Term Home Rentals in New Jersey

Briana Vannozzi, NJTV News 

“We had examples of party house situations here in Fort Lee, consumption of on-street parking. In today’s day and age you want to know who’s living in your neighborhood,” said Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich.

Sokolich says constituents living next door to Airbnb hosts have been inundating his phone line with complaints.

The short-term home rental service is booming in New Jersey. And neighbors in small-town suburbs say it feels a bit like having a hotel outside their house.

“We have millions of people that go through our streets on literally a weekly basis. We’re not trying to find out and know about each and every one of them, but we certainly want to know about the ones that are sleeping in our neighborhoods,” Sokolich said.

“So what we came up with was to create a statewide model so that municipalities could create a registry and the registry would be for the host to go into the municipality and say that they’re going to rent their homes,” said Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle.

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Bergen Officials' Bill Prohibiting Enforcement Of Immigration Ban Advances

Daniel Hubbard, The Patch 

BERGEN COUNTY, N.J. — Legislation sponsored by Bergen representatives to stop enforcement of President Donald Trump's immigration ban advanced through a state Assembly committee Monday.

The bill would prohibit the Port Authority from enforcing the ban that denies refugees and citizens of certain Muslim-majority countries entry into the United States. The agency operates and maintains the busiest airport system in the country, which includes Newark Liberty International, John F. Kennedy, and LaGuardia airports.

No Port Authority employee or police officer would be allowed to aid or provide resources, assistance or support to any federal employee or representative to enforce the order. The bill would also prohibit the use of Port Authority resources or facilities to enforce the order.

Assembly members Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Englewood) and Gordon M. Johnson (D-Teaneck) are co-sponsoring the legislation, along with two other assembly members.

Vainieri Huttle said the ban is founded on "falsehoods."

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NJ Moving to Regulate, Tax Home-Sharing Industry

Michael Booth, New Jersey Law Journal 

The New Jersey Legislature is taking the first steps toward regulating and taxing the burgeoning home-sharing industry, dominated by San Francisco-based Airbnb, even as some towns in the state have taken steps to ban the practice within their borders.

The Assembly Tourism, Gaming and the Arts Committee has recommended passage of a two-bill home-sharing package. The first bill, A4587, would impose state sales and occupancy taxes on the operators of home-sharing facilities, as well as other taxes, depending on the particular municipality.

The second bill, A4441, would allow local governments to mandate that homeowners who want to rent out all or part of their homes via home-sharing platforms register with the municipality, pay a fee and ensure their homes are up to code and properly maintained. Homeowners could face fines of up to $100 a day for failure to comply. The bill also would allow towns to effectively bar home-sharing by setting a minimum 30-day rental agreement.

In regulating the home-sharing industry, most advances are being made by cities, not states, although New York State law bars most urban apartment owners from renting out their homes for stays of 30 days or less. The District of Columbia also has introduced legislation that would impose licensing and tax requirements on home-sharing.

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Lilo H. Stainton, NJ Spotlight

Information about birth procedures and maternal health — tailored to pregnant women and new moms — could help boost health of mothers and children

New Jersey has worked diligently to bring down its stubbornly high rates of cesarean section deliveries, but they remain at least 10 points higher than the national average, and the numbers vary significantly among hospitals across the state.

Now one lawmaker is hoping to harness that data to empower women to take more control of their healthcare decisions.

Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle, (D-Bergen), is championing legislation that would require state officials to collect specific information about birth procedures and maternal health and publish that data as a Report Card on Maternal Care, which would be updated annually. While much of this information is already collected by state agencies, it is not compiled in a format specifically for mothers to be.

First introduced in 2014, Vainieri Huttle’s proposal was approved by the Assembly Woman and Children’s Committee Monday. It would require each hospital licensed for maternal-infant care to report the number of deliveries, number of C-sections, rates of complications, and possibly other factors, based on recommendations by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

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Assembly bill focuses on N.J.'s high rate of C-sections

Anjalee Khemlani, NJBIZ

Maternity care in New Jersey is under increasing scrutiny with the latest Leapfrog Group score released last month.

Specifically, the use of cesarean sections to schedule births rather than deliver naturally is a dangerous practice, according to experts in the state.

Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Englewood) has sponsored a bill to require hospitals to report information on births and procedures performed and compiled into a report card on maternity care around the state.

“In March 2017, New Jersey was among the number of states with the highest rates for C-sections, with only Florida, Louisiana, Texas and Virginia rated worse, according to a survey by the Leapfrog Group,” Vainieri Huttle said in a statement. “Hospital to hospital, the C-section rate can vary significantly. Families should have this information at hand when deciding which hospital is right for them.”

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NJ lawmakers take step toward taxing Airbnb and home-sharing rentals

Michael Symons, New Jersey 101.5

New Jersey lawmakers are moving ahead with plans to tax and regulate home-sharing operations like Airbnb. And while the company is OK with collecting taxes, it doesn’t like the approach being taken to license or prohibit the short-term rentals it brokers.

Assemblywoman Annette Quijano, D-Union, said New Jersey’s tax laws need to be updated to keep up with technology and the home-sharing portion of the hospitality industry.

“It’s unfair to hotels and motels that have to compete with a new business model that provides essentially the same service but does not have to charge state sales tax, the state hotel/motel fee and a municipal hotel tax, which can total up to 18 percent in some areas,” Quijano said. “That’s a very significant disparity and a significant barrier to overcome.”

Last year, more than 6,000 New Jersey hosts earned over $50 million through 257,000 short-term rentals arranged through Airbnb.

Such rentals should have to pay the same taxes as hotels, said Marilou Halvorsen, president of the New Jersey Restaurant & Hospitality Association.

“We as an organization don’t normally believe in new taxes. However, if you are conducting your business like a hotel, you’re operating like a hotel, you are in the lodging business, and we feel you should have the same obligations as traditional lodging facilities,” Halvorsen said.

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NJ Democratic Lawmakers To Education Chief: Protect Transgender Students

Jerry DeMarco, Daily Voice

HACKENSACK, N.J. – New Jersey Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and other Democratic state lawmakers from Bergen and Passaic county on Wednesday called on the acting state education commissioner to immediately issue a directive protecting transgender students.

Last week, the Trump Administration rescinded a directive that the Obama Administration put in place that “made clear that the federal government supported transgender students and wanted to do everything it could to ensure their success in school,” the state Democratic lawmakers wrote in a letter to Acting Education Commissioner Kimberley Harrington.

“It was backed up by the protections afforded by Title IX, which protect transgender and cisgender children alike,” they wrote.

“The federal government has claimed that this is a states’ rights issue,” says the letter – co-signed by, among others, Assembly members Tim Eustace of Maywood, Valerie Vainieri Huttle of Englewood, Marlene Caride of Ridgefield and state Sen. Robert Gordon of Fair Lawn.

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