Vainieri Huttle Outraged by Allegations of Abuse at Edna Mahan Correctional Facility

(TRENTON) – In response to an NJ.com report of allegations of physical abuse against three women incarcerated at Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women, Assemblywomen Yvonne Lopez (D-Middlesex), Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen), Eliana Pintor Marin (D-Essex) and Pam Lampitt (D-Camden, Burlington) sent the following letter to Governor Phil Murphy asking for New Jersey Department of Corrections Commissioner Marcus Hicks and Office of the Corrections Ombudsman Dan DiBenedetti to be placed on administrative leave pending the investigation:

Dear Governor Murphy,

We are outraged by the allegations of physical assault perpetrated by correctional personnel against three inmates at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women on January 11th as reported by the Star-Ledger/NJ.com (January 25, 2021). We are extremely troubled and shocked by the accounts from the victims that this assault resulted in a broken eye socket among other injuries.

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Bill to Require Reporting on Learning Loss & School Operations During COVID-19 Clears Assembly Panel

(TRENTON) – Recognizing that the coronavirus pandemic has played an unparalleled role in our children’s education in the past ten months, the Assembly Education Committee on Monday advanced legislation to require the New Jersey Department of Education to prepare two reports on learning loss and the overall impact of COVID-19 on public schools.

“Before the pandemic, we primarily worried about learning loss over summer break or other extended holidays. Now that students have been away from the traditional classroom for almost a year, we have yet to fully grasp the extent of learning lost,” said Assemblywoman Angela McKnight (D-Hudson), a prime sponsor of the legislation. “We all hope that our children can return to full-time, in-person learning as soon possible. Before they do, we must understand how to address the gaps in their education undoubtedly left behind by a school year unlike any other.”

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Bill Establishing Temperature Standards for Certain Residential Facilities Advances

When outside temperatures reach extreme highs and lows, people residing in assisted living residences without proper heating or cooling can experience adverse outcomes. In order to prevent these problems from taking place, Assembly Democrats John McKeon, Anthony Verrelli and Valerie Vainieri Huttle sponsor legislation to establish temperature standards in certain housing and long-term care facilities.

Under the bill (A-3110), nursing homes, residential health care facilities and dementia care homes would be required to make sure indoor temperatures do not exceed 81 degrees Fahrenheit or fall below 65 degrees, except in certain circumstances such as residents having individual control of the temperature in their unit. This would be done by ensuring the building has proper ventilation and heating/cooling equipment.

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Vainieri Huttle Measure Urging Congress to Address COVID-19 Relief Inequities in Higher Education Clears Assembly Panel

(TRENTON) – College students enrolled exclusively in online programs before the COVID-19 pandemic were not eligible to receive emergency financial aid grants through the federal CARES Act, resulting in countless students being excluded from critical assistance aimed to help them continue pursuing higher education through this public health crisis.
Recognizing that distance learning students have been adversely impacted by COVID-19, the Assembly Higher Education Committee recently advanced a measure (AR-199) to urge Congress to incorporate part-time and online students in future federal stimulus legislation and address current federal funding disparities between institutions with larger full-time enrollment and those with larger part-time enrollment. Specifically, the measure would urge Congress to distribute emergency financial aid grants to online students.
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Bill to Require Student ID Cards to Include Suicide Prevention Hotline Approved by Assembly

(TRENTON) – Higher education institutions and public schools that include grades seven through twelve would be required to print the phone number of a suicide prevention hotline on the back of any student identification cards issued to students under legislation approved Wednesday by the Assembly Higher Education Committee.
Depression among adolescents and young adults increased significantly between 2009 and 2017, marking a 60 percent climb among youth ages 14 to 17; 47 percent for ages 12 to 13; and 46 percent for ages 18 to 21.
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Vainieri Huttle Bill to Expand Law Against Discrimination Prohibiting Age Discrimination Passes Committee

(TRENTON) – Seeking to strengthen current New Jersey law to extend protections against age discrimination in the workplace, the Assembly Aging and Senior Services Committee on Wednesday advanced legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Angela McKnight.
The bill (A-681) would prohibit governmental employers from requiring retirement at a certain age; bar employers from refusing to hire someone for the sole reason that they are over 70 years old; lift limitations on employees seeking claims of unlawfully being required to retire, so that they may access all available remedies under the law; and prohibit higher education institutions from requiring tenured employees to retire at age 70.
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Assembly Clears Vainieri Huttle Bill to Require DOH to Publish Data on COVID-19 in Long-Term Care Facilities Online

(TRENTON) – The New Jersey Department of Health (DOH) would be required to continuously publish on its website the total number of COVID-19 deaths and cases in long-term care facilities under legislation approved Wednesday by the Assembly Aging and Senior Services Committee.
Under the measure (A-4861), the DOH website would display data on the total number of COVID-19 deaths and cases among employees and residents in long-term care in the state since the beginning of the pandemic through the most recent date for which the data are available. The reported data would include both statewide numbers and numbers specific to each long-term care facility, to the extent these numbers can be reported without violating State or federal health privacy rules.
The bill would take effect immediately and expire one year after the end of both the current state of emergency and the public health emergency declared in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Committee Advances Legislative Package Providing Main Street Relief for Restaurants, Small Businesses Impacted by COVID-19

Restaurants and other small businesses throughout the state are struggling to stay open while balancing COVID-19 health concerns. In an effort to assist Main Street businesses while protecting employees and customers, several Assembly Democrats sponsor a legislative package to waive fees, create uniformity for food establishments and study the effects of the pandemic. The Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee advanced the measures on Wednesday.

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Vainieri Huttle Introduces Bill Package to Address the Needs of NJ Disability Community Amid COVID-19

(TRENTON) – As New Jersey continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, the State’s most vulnerable, especially people with disabilities and the elderly, have experienced the harshest ramifications of the virus.
In response to the impact of the COVID-19 emergency on the disability community, Javier Robles formed the New Jersey Disability Action Committee, a group of experts and disability advocates who have worked together to outline the obstacles impacting the disability community, issues that individuals with disabilities have long faced, many of which have been exacerbated by the pandemic.
Working alongside the Disability Action Committee, Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) is proposing a legislative package that addresses many of the recommendations in the Disability Action Committee’s 2020 report.
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Weinberg, Vainieri Huttle Unveil Bills to Protect the Rights of Survivors of Sexual Assault, Harassment

TRENTON – Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and Assembly Deputy Speaker Valerie Vainieri Huttle are proposing a comprehensive nine-bill package to protect the rights of survivors of sexual assault, improve law enforcement and judicial case management and training, and codify harassment and discrimination policies throughout state government.
 
“Survivors of sexual assault who are brave enough to seek redress through the legal system need to know that prosecutors and police will respect their rights, that trained sexual violence liaison officers will be there to listen, and that they will receive the support services they need,” said Senator Weinberg (D-Bergen). “We learned all too well from Katie Brennan’s experience where the gaps are in the system and how poorly so many survivors are treated.”
 
The legislators based their reforms on recommendations by Ms. Brennan, whose allegation that she had been sexually assaulted by a staffer on the Murphy for Governor campaign led to months of hearings by a Legislative Select Oversight Committee. The bills also incorporate recommendations from Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner.
 
“When someone comes forward with their story of trauma, they are staking their faith in a judicial system that survivors say too often fails them,” said Assemblywoman Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “Survivors must be heard and supported at all levels of the process, from law enforcement to the court system. We’ve taken meaningful steps to make changes, but we need to go further to make sure the process puts survivors first.”
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