Benson, Greenwald, Lagana & Vainieri Huttle Cord Blood Bank Tax Deduction Bill Approved by Assembly Panel
Legislation Will Help More Families Bank Life-Saving Cord Blood
An Assembly panel on Monday approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Daniel Benson, Majority Leader Louis Greenwald, Joseph Lagana and Valerie Vainieri Huttle to help more families afford the opportunity to bank their child's cord blood in the event of a medical emergency down the road.
The bill (A-1030) would extend New Jersey's gross income tax medical expense deduction to certain cord blood banking services.
"This bill would make cord blood banking more cost-effective for New Jersey residents while encouraging the proliferation of cord blood banks in our state," said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "Hopefully this change will allow more parents to afford this potentially life-saving service."
Cord blood banking involves collecting blood left in a newborn's umbilical cord and placenta and storing it for future medical use because of the potentially lifesaving stem cells contained in it. Stem cells have the ability to develop into other types of cells, so they can help repair tissues, organs, and blood vessels and can be used to treat a host of diseases, like leukemia, Hodgkin's disease, blood disorders, and immune deficiencies.
"Even though we don't like to think about medical emergencies arising down the road for our children, it's wise to plan for the possibility," said Greenwald (D-Camden/Burlington). "This tax benefit will allow more parents to do so and could ultimately save lives."
Jasey, McKeon, Vainieri Huttle & Mukherji Bill to Provide Medicaid Coverage for Advance Care Planning Clears Panel
Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Mila Jasey, John McKeon, Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Raj Mukherji to help low-income New Jersey residents access the information and resources needed to ensure they receive the end-of-life care they desire was advanced Thursday by an Assembly panel.
The bill (A-4233) would amend current law to provide Medicaid coverage for advance care planning. Under the legislation, such planning may include consultation with a health care practitioner regarding the preparation of advance health care directives, health care powers of attorney and medical orders for life-sustaining treatment.
"While everyone in New Jersey - regardless of socioeconomic status - ought to be able to preserve his or her dignity if incapacitated and in need of medical attention, end-of-life planning is out of reach for many," said Jasey (D-Essex/Morris). "Providing Medicaid reimbursement for advance care planning would improve access to this valuable service, allowing patients to have more autonomy regarding end-of-life care."
Vainieri Huttle, Mosquera, McKeon, Benson & Sumter ‘Sexual Assault Survivor Protection Act of 2015’ Continues Advancing
Legislation Would Permit Victims without Ties to Offenders to Seek Protective Orders
Assembly approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Gabriela Mosquera, John McKeon, Daniel Benson and Shavonda Sumter to allow more victims of sexual assault to seek protective orders against their perpetrators continued advancing on Thursday.
"Simply seeing an abuser - whether he or she is a new acquaintance or an old friend - forces many sexual assault survivors to relive the trauma of having been violated, and current law says they have no option but to suffer in silence," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "Every person in this state has a right to feel safe while going about his or her daily life. With this bill, we reaffirm our commitment to the notion that all residents of New Jersey should be able to seek the protection they need to live in peace."
Under current law, in order to pursue a protective order, a victim must have had a previous or existing domestic relationship with the offender, such as a spousal or dating relationship, or must file a criminal complaint against the offender. The bill (A-4078), which is to be known as the "Sexual Assault Survivor Protection Act of 2015," would eliminate these preconditions.
Specifically, the bill would authorize protective orders for victims of non-consensual sexual contact, sexual penetration or lewdness or attempts at such conduct during cases in which the victim does not have a domestic relationship with the offender and does not wish to file a criminal complaint against him or her.
(TRENTON) - Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainiei Huttle, Pamela Lampitt and Joe Lagana to better equip New Jersey colleges and universities to prevent and respond to sexual assaults on campus was approved Thursday by an Assembly panel.
The 2014 report from the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault revealed that one in five college students experiences sexual assault during their college career. Even more staggering, the ACLU estimates that 95 percent of U.S. campus rapes go unreported.
"College sexual assault has become far too common," said Vainieri Huttle (D- Bergen). "Rape should never be the norm. The only way to prevent sexual assault is to change the culture on campus and to do that we need support from the entire higher education community."
"Many sexual assault cases go unreported, leaving the victim to deal with the trauma alone and the attacker free to strike again," said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). "If we want victims of sexual assault to report these crimes and prevent others from becoming another statistic, then we have to change the culture that is discouraging victims, whether intentionally or inadvertently, from speaking up and seeking justice."
"As a father of two young girls, it is disheartening to read these statistics and know that many victims of sexual assault will remain silent because they don't trust school higher-ups to take action," said Lagana (D-Bergen/Passaic). "Students should not only feel safe on campus, but should know that if they are ever faced with such an unfortunate situation, the school response will be swift, fair and appropriate."
The bill (A-4156) would establish a task force to study and make recommendations concerning sexual assault occurring on the campuses of institutions of higher education in the state.
Garcia, Mukherji, Vainieri Huttle, Mainor, Eustace & Mosquera Bill to Help Empower Teens to Seek Mental Health Treatment Advances
(TRENTON) - Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Carmelo G. Garcia, Raj Mukherji, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Charles Mainor, Tim Eustace and Gabriela Mosquera to help empower minors to seek treatment for mental illness and emotional disorders cleared a legislative panel on Thursday.
"This bill takes into account the fears and stigmas associated with mental illness, particularly for young people," said Garcia (D-Hudson). "Hopefully by creating a more private means for them to seek treatment we can drastically improve and ultimately save lives. I'm grateful to the young men and women of the Hudson County Boys and Girls Club who prompted me to sponsor this legislation."
The bill (A-3435) is designated as the "Boys & Girls Clubs Keystone Law" in honor of the members of the Keystone Club of the Hudson County Boys & Girls Clubs who were concerned about suicide and self harm among teenagers.
"It's inspiring to see the young men and women of the Hudson County Boys & Girls Club concerned with the welfare of their peers," said Mukherji (D-Hudson). "They understand, firsthand, what it's like dealing with these hurdles as teens. This legislation will allow teens in need to seek mental health treatment and, hopefully, aid in preventing suicides."
Schaer, Johnson, Vainieri Huttle, Eustace & Mazzeo Bill to Protect Holocaust Reparations Advances in the Legislature
(TRENTON) - Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Gary Schaer, Gordon Johnson, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Tim Eustace and Vincent Mazzeo to protect monetary reparations received by Holocaust survivors from being seized was advanced on Monday by a Senate Panel.
"The physical and moral atrocities committed during World War II were compounded by monetary grievances that stretched on for decades," said Schaer (D-Bergen/Passaic). "Given the extraordinary lengths many Holocaust victims or surviving relatives have gone through to receive restitution, protecting these reparations is the least we can do."
Specifically, the bill (A-1041) stipulates that, except for child support payment orders, monetary reparations designated for or received by a Holocaust survivor of Nazi persecution from any governmental source or victim assistance source shall be exempt from all claims of creditors and from levy, execution, attachment or other legal processes.
"Monetary reparations are a relatively small pittance for the enormous crimes committed against humanity by the Nazis," said Johnson (D-Bergen). "But for many surviving families, this is all they have and it should be protected at all costs."
"As the dust has settled on this sorrowful chapter in history, certain things must be treated as sacred, and this is one of them," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "This is the right thing to do for the many families who only have monetary reparations to serve as justice in the end."
Diegnan, Mosquera, O’Donnell & Vainieri Huttle Bill to Help Prevent Cardiac Illnesses in Student-Athletes Signed into Law
Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr., Gabriela Mosquera, Jason O'Donnell and Valerie Vainieri Huttle to help recognize and prevent cardiac illnesses in children was signed into law on Monday.
"We've seen far too many tragic cardiac incidents among students in recent years," said Diegnan (D-Middlesex). "In most of these cases, the student was completely unaware of any pre-existing cardiac condition. This law will help increase detection and prevent future tragedies."
Diegnan has consistently advocated for better policies to help prevent sudden tragic cardiac incidents among students, including sponsoring legislation to develop an information campaign about a specific type of heart disease - hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) - as well as legislation requiring automatic external defibrillators in schools.
Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen), a member of the Legislative Select Committee on Investigation who represents the town of Fort Lee in the General Assembly, released the following statement on Friday's actions by the U.S. Attorney's Office for New Jersey:
"Today's announcement confirms our worst fears about the Port Authority. Whether it's wasting taxpayer dollars or threatening public safety, the Port Authority has run amok for far too long. The rampant abuse of power that has long been reported underscores the urgency for reforms.
"While the U.S. Attorney's Office pursues justice for the residents of Fort Lee and the surrounding area who were victimized by the lane closures, the legislature must work simultaneously to enact real reforms to end this culture of corruption once and for all.
"It's time for Gov. Christie to get on board as well. Throughout this process, he has displayed an alarming lack of concern that has bordered on indifference, vetoing our efforts to reform the Port Authority not once, but twice.
"The new reform bill we announced the other day, in consultation with New York legislators, is all the more critical now. It's time for the governor to stop hiding behind excuses and his veto pen and join us in supporting this legislation." said Vainieri Huttle.
Eustace, Benson, Vainieri Huttle, Lagana & Caride Legislation to Encourage Safe Disposal of Prescription Drugs Becomes Law
Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Timothy Eustace, Daniel Benson, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Joseph Lagana and Marlene Caride to provide a safe way for New Jersey residents to dispose of prescription drugs was signed into law on Wednesday.
"Disposing of unused prescription drugs properly is equally as important as taking them as prescribed," said Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic). "Prescription drug abuse is prevalent in many communities, and much of that abuse begins at home where the drugs are easily accessible."
The new law (A-2859) formally establishes the "Project Medicine Drop" program, which will be administered by the Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. The director shall continue to maintain at each participating law enforcement agency that meets program participation requirements a secure prescription medicine drop-off receptacle wherein unused or expired prescription drugs and other common household medications may be anonymously surrendered by members of the public seven days a week, 365 days a year.
In June of 2011, following a public hearing outlining the changing dynamics of the criminal drug trade, the State of New Jersey Commission of Investigation (SCI) found that a growing number of young people are abusing prescription drugs, and noted that the practice has led to increases not only in the number of young people addicted to painkillers, but also in the number of young people using heroin. The report issued by the SCI in July 2013, "Scenes from an Epidemic," confirms this finding and notes that addiction often begins with leftover prescription medicines in the home.
The most effective, respected Assembly team in New Jersey: Johnson and Huttle running together in 2015
Assemblyman Gordon Johnson and Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle, two of the most respected and effective legislators in New Jersey, today announced they are running together to continue their fight to make lives better for the working families they are proud to represent and serve. From working to create jobs, improving transparency in government, and protecting health care for women and children, to continuing to ensure our schools and neighborhoods are safer, they have built a record of advocacy and accomplishment across Bergen County’s 37th District. The two legislators have the support of every Democratic mayor in the 37th as well as thousands of grassroots Democrats, progressive activists and voters in every town they represent. Whether it is increasing economic development, to expanding the Hudson/Bergen “light rail” to the community, to advocating for victims of domestic violence and the most vulnerable, to making higher education more affordable, to bringing much needed reform to government agencies like the Port Authority, Johnson and Huttle will never back away from tackling the most difficult issues facing our state.Read more