Valerie's Voice - March 2014

Dear Friends,

I want to take this opportunity to share with you what I have been doing on behalf of District 37 and the State of New Jersey. It has been an exciting month and I am pleased to update you on recent legislative victories and let you know about some of the issues that I have been working on.

As you may have seen in the news, my bill, A1080, which prohibits smoking at public parks and beaches passed the General Assembly. Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the state and the nation. The prohibition of smoking at public parks and beaches would better preserve the natural assets of New Jersey by reducing litter and increasing fire safety. I am very proud that this bill has advanced through the Assembly, as it is an issue I have been passionate about for several years. When I was a Bergen County Freeholder I led the effort to ban smoking in our county parks. Now I am taking that issue to the state level.

I also have been working on mental health wellness initiatives, another important issue in our community. As Chair of the Assembly Human Services Committee, I held a hearing on emergency mental health services. While I have long advocated for better access to programs and services, the sense of urgency increased after a recent experience with a constituent in crisis. I saw firsthand the need for more Early Intervention Support Services (EISS) in our state. This "living room model" setting is a more effective and less stressful environment than an emergency room for someone in crisis and even works to help individuals before they reach that difficult point. I am working to expand the program from 11 to all 21 counties in New Jersey.

Finally, I want to remind you that March is both Developmental Disability Awareness Month and Women's History Month. As part of my celebration of Women's History Month, I began the third year of my Young Women's Leadership program for high school women in District 37. As a mother of daughters and a woman in government, I believe it is so important to encourage more young women to get involved in public service. I created the Young Women's Leadership Program  to make high school students more aware of potential opportunities in government and public service. I am excited to welcome 13 students from District 37 into the program this year!

Thank you for taking a few minutes to read about my work in Trenton and District 37 on behalf of our community. As always, please feel free to reach out to me with any questions or concerns.

Valerie Vainieri Huttle
Assemblywoman District 37