Conaway, Mukherji, Sumter, Jimenez, Benson & Vainieri Huttle Bills to Curb Prescription Drug & Opioid Abuse Gain Panel Approval
(TRENTON) - Two bills aimed at addressing prescription drug and opioid abuse in New Jersey were advanced Monday by an Assembly panel.
The first bill (A-3723) would require any drug treatment program operating within a state correctional facility or county jail to offer medication-assisted treatment of substance abuse disorders in order to qualify for licensing as a residential drug treatment program and be eligible to receive the benefits thereof.
Sponsors Herb Conaway, Raj Mukherji, Shavonda Sumter and Angelica Jimenez noted that the measure will help advance drug rehabilitation among inmates across New Jersey.
"Medication-assisted treatment is an evidence-based practice widely recognized by public health and addiction professionals as one of the best options in helping manage opioid addiction," said Conaway (D-Burlington). "This legislation is about making sure that effective rehabilitation methods are available to men and women suffering from addiction."
The bill, which clarifies that the use of medication-assisted treatment would not constitute a program violation, also would permit participants in special probation drug court to take advantage of medication-assisted treatment.
"Part of the objective of every correctional facility should be to provide inmates with the tools they need to ensure that they never return," said Mukherji (D-Hudson). "Medication-assisted treatment can advance the dual mission of promoting recovery and preventing recidivism."
"This bill represents a much-needed shift in our approach to treatment," said Sumter. "Whenever an individual makes the decision to seek the help they need, we ought to ensure that all the appropriate resources are available."
"Correctional facility inmates who want to turn their lives around ought to have the opportunity to do so," said Jimenez (D-Bergen/Hudson). "By treating addiction as the disease it is, this legislation will help give more New Jersey residents hope of successful recovery."
The second bill (A-3955) would require the development and maintenance of a database to advise the public about open bed availability in residential substance use disorder treatment facilities. Under the bill, the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services in the Department of Human Services would establish and oversee a public database that would track the number of open beds available for treatment in each facility that receives state or county funding.
Vainieri Huttle Statement on Assembly Panel Advancing Her Bill to Ensure Disabled Residents are not Transferred to Detriment of Their Well-Being
Lawmaker has Not Agreed to Amendments;
Says Quality-of-Life & Care for Most Vulnerable Residents Must be the Priority
(TRENTON) - Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) released the following statement Monday after the Assembly Appropriations Committee released legislation (A-3975) she sponsored to ensure that individuals with disabilities living in out-of-state facilities are not transferred to the detriment of their well-being under the "Return Home New Jersey" program.
Vainieri Huttle has not agreed to amendments made to the bill in the Senate:
Caputo, Taliaferro, Jasey & Vainieri Huttle Bill to Create Special Designations, 'Artist Districts' Across New Jersey Clears Assembly Panel
Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Ralph Caputo, Adam Taliaferro, Mila Jasey and Valerie Vainieri Huttle to promote New Jersey arts by establishing an "Artist District" designation in certain municipalities cleared its first legislative panel on Monday.
"Identifying artist districts throughout the state celebrates the rich history of arts and culture in our communities," said Caputo (D-Essex)."This legislation supports the New Jersey arts, its continued growth and its cultural impact on New Jersey's municipalities."
The bill would require the New Jersey State Council on the Arts to establish an "Artist District" designation for municipalities, to establish criteria for the designation and to work with the Division of Travel and Tourism to promote any Artist District as a destination for artists and visitors.
"New Jersey has a thriving arts community that deserves a special designation," said Taliaferro (D-Cumberland, Gloucester, and Salem). "Municipalities are always looking for more ways to market, fund and recognize the work created in their communities. An 'Artist District' designation will open doors for municipalities to do all of these things."
A municipality which has been designated as an "Artist District" would have a unique opportunity to market its creative, diverse, entertaining and other notable services and venues.
The General Assembly on Monday approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Gary Schaer, Gordon Johnson, Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Tim Eustace to protect monetary reparations received by Holocaust survivors from being seized.
"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."
"Those most directly affected by the Holocaust suffered in indescribable ways, and while reparations can never undo that suffering, they do serve as a small measure of redress," said Eustace (D- Bergen/Passaic). "This legislation is about preserving justice in honor of the men, women and children who experienced countless acts of violence and cruelty during this dreadful period."
Measure Would Penalize Sale of DXM-Containing Products to Minors
Legislation Assembly Democrats Paul Moriarty, Patrick Diegnan, Benjie Wimberly, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Reed Gusciora and Shavonda Sumter sponsored to help address the prescription drug and opioid abuse epidemic plaguing New Jersey cleared the General Assembly on Monday.
The bill (A-622/1469) would prohibit the sale of dextromethorphan (DXM) to minors. Under the measure, any person who sells a product containing DXM as an active ingredient to someone under 18 years of age would be subject to a maximum civil penalty of $750. The provisions of the bill would not apply to a prescription medication dispensed by a pharmacist pursuant to a valid prescription.
The bill would also require the Department of Health to include a comprehensive list of products that contain DXM as an active ingredient on its website.
"DXM abuse is becoming increasingly worrisome for law enforcement, parents and health care officials across the country," said Moriarty (D-Gloucester/Camden). "It's a scary thought, but adolescents are the primary abusers, mainly because it's cheap and easy to obtain and many parents simply don't know about its potential abuse. With a few simple steps like the ones outlined in this bill, we can combat the risk and ensure this medicine is used properly."
Eustace, Benson, Vainieri Huttle, Lagana & Caride Legislation to Encourage Safe Disposal of Prescription Drugs Approved by Assembly
(TRENTON) - 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 approved, 69-3, Monday by the Assembly. The measure has passed both houses and will now go to the Governor's desk for further consideration.
"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 bill (A-2859) requires the Division of Consumer Affairs to supply and install a secure prescription medicine drop-off receptacle where the public many dispose of unused prescription medications in every state police barracks and county sheriff's department and every county police department and full-time municipal police department which agrees to participate. The receptacles are to be available to the public seven days a week. Police departments that choose not to have receptacles on site would be required to post notification advising the public of where the closest receptacle is located.
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.
Diegnan, Mosquera, O'Donnell & Vainieri Huttle Bill to Use Student-Athlete Screening Procedures to Recognize & Prevent Cardiac Illnesses in all Children Heads to Governor's Desk
(TRENTON) - 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 received final legislative approval Monday and now heads to the governor's desk.
"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 bill 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.
The bill (A-1473) approved today would require that an annual medical examination of any person 19 years of age and under include questions contained in the "Pre-Participation Physical Evaluation" form developed to screen students seeking to participate in school-sponsored athletics.
"Some people miss the signs of a cardiac condition because they are so accustomed to them, unaware of the danger to their health," said Mosquera (D-Camden/Gloucester). "This can help identify at-risk children early so they can receive the proper treatment before a serious incident occurs."
The bill also requires the Commissioner of Health, in consultation with various experts, to develop a cardiac screening professional development module, which advanced practice nurses, physicians, and physician assistants performing medical examinations would be required to periodically complete. These individuals would be required to attest to their completion of the module upon renewal of certification, registration, or licensure, as applicable.
Vainieri Huttle, Mosquera, McKeon, Benson & Sumter Bill to Protect Sexual Assault Victims Clears Full Assembly
Legislation Would Permit Victims without Ties to Offenders to Seek Protective Orders
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 was unanimously approved by the full Assembly on Monday.
"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.
Gusciora, Vainieri Huttle & Quijano Bill to Better Inform Public about Available Substance Abuse Treatment Services Clears Assembly Panel
(TRENTON) - An Assembly panel on Thursday approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Reed Gusciora, Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Annette Quijano to make information about the availability of substance abuse treatment services in the state more accessible to residents.
"Admitting that you need help is the first step towards recovery. We should make it easier for individuals who are battling with substance abuse and are ready to make a change to find the services they need," said Gusciora (D- Mercer/Hunterdon). "This bill would help facilitate that by having one central location where an individual can go to find the most suitable treatment facility for them."
The bill (A-226) would require each licensed residential or outpatient substance abuse treatment facility in the state to provide the health department in the county where it is located with certain information about the availability of services at the facility, on an estimated average basis.