This past January I was sworn into my eighth term as a member of the General Assembly and my fourth term as Deputy Speaker. I am humbled and honored to represent District 37 in the legislature.
This 2020-2021 legislative session, I am proud to announce that I have been selected to serve as the inaugural chair of the Assembly Committee on Aging and Senior Services. New Jersey is home to a growing and diverse older adult population, the mission of this committee will be to assess the needs of New Jersey’s aging population and work to support them across the spectrum of living. As Chair of this committee I will be a voice for New Jersey’s aging population.
In addition, I will also serve as a member of the Assembly Human Services and the Assembly Tourism, Gaming and the Arts Committees.
As a new year and decade begins to unfold, I look forward to another successful term in the General Assembly as I strive to make New Jersey a great place to live. I am confident that 2020 will be yet another year of progress for the Garden State.
Updates from the Capitol: Legislation Signed into Law
Safeguarding Against Financial Exploitation
Unfortunately, it is far too common that senior citizens fall victim to exploitation. It is for this reason that I sponsored legislation (A5091) that establishes reporting protocols when fraud and exploitation are suspected. So often, these crimes go unreported and undetected. However, financial exploitation can be prevented if we put the right protections in place.
Keeping our Teens Healthy
In the last year alone, e-cigarette use among high school students has risen 78 percent. Study after study has shown that flavors such as cotton candy and mango not only draw teens in, but keep them coming back when it comes to electronic cigarettes. As a sponsor of A3178, legislation to ban the sale of flavored vaping products, I was grateful to see this measure signed into law.
Preventing Sexual Abuse and Misconduct in New Jersey’s Prisons
Following reports of systemic sexual abuse in New Jersey prisons, I am proud to see that Governor Murphy has signed my bill package (A4087, A4090, A4086) into law preventing sexual abuse and misconduct at New Jersey’s correctional facilities. No one forfeits their humanity or civil rights when they are incarcerated, this legislative package helps to ensure that all incarcerated individuals can maintain their dignity while serving their sentences.
Safeguarding Access to Care
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, as many as 133 million people – or 51% of Americans – who have pre-existing conditions are guaranteed that their conditions will be covered by their insurance. However, with attacks to the Affordable Care Act mounting over the last few years, it is critical that we safeguard these protections for New Jerseyans, this is why the passage of A1733 is so important.
Protecting our Communities from Bias Crime
As rates of bias crime continue to rise in New Jersey and across the country, we must do everything within our power to keep our communities safe from harm. I was proud to sponsor legislation (A6123) that increased funding to the State’s Non-Profit Security Grant Pilot Program.
Expanding Access to Driver’s Licenses
I was proud to sponsor legislation (A4743) that creates a pathway for a New Jersey resident to acquire a driver’s license, regardless of their immigration status. This legislation will help to keep our roads safer by ensuring that all drivers can access a license and insurance protection. In addition, this measure gives everyone, regardless of immigration status, the ability to provide for themselves and their families, making it easier for undocumented individuals to get to work, school and the doctor.
Streamlining the Adoption Process for Non-Biological Parents
In New Jersey, a birth certificate does not create legal parental rights for the couple listed as the child’s parents. In fact, a person is considered a legal parent of the child only if they are biologically related. Same-sex couples, LGBTQ couples, and heterosexual couples struggling with fertility who use assisted reproduction procedures may not be aware that the non-biological partner is not considered their child’s parent under the law. In these cases, parents need to adopt their own children to have legal rights. The adoption process is painstaking and lengthy, and reform has been long overdue.
In the Community
Town Hall with Korean American Civic Engagement (KACE)
I was proud to join my colleagues for a town hall in Fort Lee with Korean American Civic Engagement; we discussed recently signed legislation such as online voter registration, automatic voter registration and expanding access to driver’s licenses. Our democracy is at its strongest when everyone participates and voices their opinions. Thank you to KACE for inviting me to participate.
Standing up Against Hate and Intolerance
In the wake of several high-profile attacks, including the incident in Jersey City, I was proud to stand with Congressmen Pascrell and Gottheimer, local leaders and members of the faith community. It seems like every day we are gathering together as a community to once again denounce these incidents. However, as the rate of bias crimes continues to rise, so does the size of the crowds responding, calling out for more inclusivity and respect. Our voices are only getting louder.
Governor Murphy’s State of the State Address
Each year, the Governor of New Jersey presents their road map to success for the state. The State of the State is an opportunity for the legislature to come together with the Governor as we reflect on recent successes and where we can do better. This year I was honored to be accompanied by two incredible women: Bergen County Freeholder Chair Mary Amoroso and Helen Archontou, CEO of YWCA of Northern New Jersey. Both Ms. Archontou and Chairwoman Amoroso play a pivotal role in improving the lives of Bergen County’s residents, I am grateful for their advocacy and dedication.
In the News
“I think because we are facing that silver or grey tsunami today, I think it is so important that we really do need a separate committee,” said Huttle, adding that because senior issues used to fall under the auspices of the health committee in the Assembly they “got swallowed up” by general health topics. The hearing “really gave us an overview of the obstacles and challenges that are facing our adult population that is aging.”
“Work schedules impact not only employees but their families. When individuals do not have a voice in their schedules they lose the ability to plan their lives, they lose the ability to ensure that their families are cared for. Workers need consistent schedules in order to be able to balance the demands of work and home; this legislation will ensure that they have the ability to do so.”
“I think we need to work to eliminate the mentality that rape is connected to alcohol. At the end of the day, people are still harassing because they want to, not because of the liquid courage. And it’s not just in politics, it’s everywhere.”
“I think we all know the critical role that zoning officers and land-use board administrators play in our towns; obviously, they play a vital role in the development of our communities and the installation of new infrastructure projects,” Huttle said. “To professionalize zoning officers and land-use administrators is the right direction we can take.”
“We’re seeing these heinous acts we thought were things of the past and not just against the Jewish religion, although unfortunately the Jewish religion has been the highlight,” said Vainieri Huttle. “This kind of hate cannot be tolerated nor will we allow it to be tolerated in New Jersey.”
“I and most people think he’s nothing short of a New Jersey icon,” Vainieri Huttle told NJ Advance Media. “In addition to being a talented musician, he’s a hero of the working class."
Valerie Vainieri Huttle
Assemblywoman, District 37