Wimberly, Vainieri Huttle & Sumter Bill to Ensure Continuation of Food Assistance Benefits for Struggling Residents Heads to Governor’s Desk
Bill Was Prompted by News that 11,000 Residents Were Cut Off from Assistance with Little Warning
The General Assembly on Thursday granted final legislative approval to a bill sponsored by Assembly Democrats Benjie Wimberly, Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Shavonda Sumter requiring the state to seek a federal waiver to extend food assistance benefits to New Jersey residents struggling to find work.
The bill (A-2777/S-993), approved by a vote of 59-9-7, would require that, immediately upon enactment and at least once annually, the Commissioner of Human Services must conduct a review of available data on labor and employment in the state to determine whether participants in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly called Food Stamps) may be eligible for a waiver of the benefit time limit for able bodied adults without dependents. If the review finds that a waiver is likely to be approved for the state or any area of the state, the commissioner must submit a request for a waiver.
"The state had applied for, and received, numerous waivers from 2009 to 2015 for counties who were struggling with unemployment rates higher than the statewide average," said Wimberly (D-Bergen/Passaic). "We likely would have been approved again for those counties that are still struggling, but instead the administration decided not to apply and now 11,000 residents are forced to go without food assistance. This shouldn't happen again."
Assembly Panel OKs Lampitt, Benson, Vainieri Huttle & Tucker Bill to Help Residents with Disabilities Access Services
Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt, Daniel Benson, Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Cleopatra Tucker to increase awareness of the application processes for programs and services available to New Jersey residents with developmental disabilities gained approval from an Assembly panel this week.
"For many individuals with developmental disabilities, the ability to live independently and be economically stable depends on the ability to access the appropriate housing, transportation and the proper medical and behavioral care. Unfortunately, gaining that access can be a complex and confusing process," said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). "This legislation will help ensure that residents of New Jersey who have developmental disabilities can get the services they need."
The bill (A-1449) would require the Department of Human Services to develop a timeline briefly explaining and denoting the age at which individuals with developmental disabilities may apply for various services and activities so that they may better understand when and where to apply for state and federal benefits.
TRENTON, NJ: At a State House press conference today, Senate President Sweeney, Assembly Speaker Prieto, Senator Vitale and Assemblywoman Muoio will be joined by policy experts and anti-poverty advocates in laying out some common-sense steps to help lift some of New Jersey’s poorest children out of poverty and calling on New Jersey to reverse the tide of dwindling basic assistance through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, also called Work First NJ.
“As a society, our achievements are judged in large part by how we care for the disadvantaged – and children who live in poverty are by far the most deserving. Childhood poverty is one of the most disturbing conditions that we confront, so it should be one of our most important priorities,” said Senate President Steve Sweeney. “New Jersey already suffers from one of the highest poverty rates in the region and the number of children who are trapped in poverty is tragically high. We have been acting to get federal resources for anti-hunger programs, to prevent homelessness among the disabled and chronically unemployed and we are working for a higher minimum wage because full-time workers should not be living in poverty. We should also assess what can be done to provide more assistance for the families with children that are in need of assistance.”
The press conference coincides with the release of a new report by New Jersey Policy Perspective (NJPP), which details the devastating economic and social impact of New Jersey’s decision not to increase TANF assistance or eligibility for 29 years. The report shows how the erosion of TANF assistance has harmed the state’s poorest children and suggests modest upfront investments to help reduce the enormous cost of child poverty down the road.Read more
Lampitt, Benson, Vainieri Huttle & Eustace Bill to Examine Pedestrian Safety Statewide Clears Assembly Panel
Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt, Daniel Benson, Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Tim Eustace to create a council within the Department of Transportation to help improve pedestrian safety in New Jersey was advanced Monday by an Assembly panel.
"New Jersey, because of its high density, has one of the biggest causes for concern when it comes to pedestrian safety," said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). "Whether it's urban, suburban or rural, every area of our state has its own unique set of issues that threatens pedestrian safety. This council will be tasked with finding solutions to make New Jersey a more pedestrian-friendly state."
"For a variety of reasons, older adults and children are most at risk for pedestrian injuries and deaths," said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "It's my hope that this council will examine the causes and find ways to prevent tragedies and minimize injuries to some of our most vulnerable residents."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4,743 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes in the United States in 2012, and another 76,000 pedestrians were injured.
Vainieri Huttle Bill to Extend Emergency Rental Assistance Benefits to Disabled Individuals Advances
Legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle to ensure the continuation of emergency rental assistance for certain disabled individuals or caretakers of individuals with disabilities was approved by an Assembly panel on Monday.
"We're talking about individuals with extreme hardships who are facing severe challenges," said Vainieri Huttle. "The state should be an active and helpful partner when it comes to ensuring that they have a roof over their heads. This change will hopefully make a big difference in their lives and, at the very least, provide sufficient notice should these benefits change so that they can seek other assistance."
Specifically, the bill (A-2568) would exclude individuals who meet certain criteria from existing time limits on qualifying for emergency assistance benefits.
Bill Sparked by Attacks that Left Several Seriously Injured is Re-introduced after Christie Veto Continues to Leave Caseworkers Vulnerable
An Assembly panel on Monday advanced legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle to help safeguard child protection workers from the kind of attacks over the past year that left one seriously injured and sent two others to the hospital.
The bill (A-2322), known as "Leah's Law," is named in honor of the Division of Child Protection and Permanency caseworker who was nearly stabbed to death while performing her duties for the division in Camden in November 2014.
The bill was vetoed by Gov. Christie last month but was reintroduced by Vainieri Huttle in the new legislative session given the persistent need that still exists to protect child caseworkers.Read more
Assembly Democratic Bill to Bolster Rental and Lease Protections for Domestic Violence Victims Clears Committee
Bill Sponsored by Assembly Democrats Vainieri Huttle, Lagana, Mosquera, Wimberly, Jimenez and Pintor Marin
(TRENTON) - An Assembly panel on Monday released legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Joseph Lagana, Gabriela Mosquera, Wimberly, Jimenez and Pintor Marin to provide rental and lease protections for domestic violence victims.
The bill (A-916) is designed to enhance the protections offered under the "New Jersey Safe Housing Act" by prohibiting a landlord from terminating a tenancy, failing to renew a tenancy, or refusing to enter into a rental agreement due to a tenant's or prospective tenant's status as a domestic violence victim.
"Victims of domestic violence must deal with their life being thrown into upheaval," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "The last thing they need is to have their home uprooted through no fault of their own."
Coughlin, Lampitt, Singleton, Benson, Vainieri Huttle & Mosquera Bill to Add Cyber-Harassment to Domestic Violence Statutes Clears Assembly Panel
(TRENTON) - Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Craig Coughlin, Pamela Lampitt, Troy Singleton, Daniel Benson, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, and Gabriela Mosquera to bolster protections against cyber-harassment for domestic violence victims in New Jersey cleared its first legislative hurdle on Monday.
The bill (A-1946), sponsored by Coughlin, Lampitt, Singleton, Benson, Vainieri Huttle and Mosquera, would add cyber-harassment to the list of crimes considered domestic violence under the "Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991."
In doing so, the bill would allow temporary and permanent restraining orders on the grounds that the person seeking the order is a victim of cyber-harassment.
Measure Cracking Down on Illegally Photographing Under Someone's Clothing also Strengthens New Jersey's Right to Privacy Statute
Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Cleopatra G. Tucker, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Annette Quijano, Benjie Wimberly and Gabriela Mosquera to criminalize the act of secretly photographing or recording under a person's clothing - commonly referred to as "upskirting" gained approval from an Assembly panel on Monday.
"With today's level of technology, most people with cell phones are essentially walking around with an Internet linked video camera in their pocket at all times," said Tucker (D-Essex). "This can lead certain people to assume it is acceptable to 'document' whatever they choose, even if it violates someone else's privacy. We are here today to say that should not, cannot and will not be the case in New Jersey."
The bill (A-156) would make it illegal for an individual, knowing that he or she is not licensed or privileged to do so, to photograph, film, videotape, record or otherwise reproduce in any manner an image of the undergarment-clad intimate parts of another person, without that person's specific consent and in any circumstance in which a reasonable person would not expect to have their undergarments observed. Violators would face up to 18 months in jail and fines of up to $10,000.
(TRENTON) - Legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) to expand steroid testing and education throughout New Jersey high schools was approved Monday by the Assembly Education Committee.
"Student athletes who see steroids as a quick fix, fail to realize how detrimental they can be to a person's physical and psychological health," said Vainieri Huttle. "I can understand how a young person who has hopes of playing professionally wants to get an edge over the competition, but risking your health is not worth it. Random testing of student athletes can help deter steroid use among young people who might be more concerned with getting caught than the harmful side effects."
The bill (A-2353) builds upon the recommendations in the December 2005 report of the Governor's Task Force on Steroid Use and Prevention by expanding the state's existing random steroid testing program beyond just those athletes who qualify for playoffs to include student athletes in general.