Assembly Democrats

Sumter Joins Call for Sheriff's Saudino's Resignation

Assembly Majority Conference Leader Shavonda Sumter (D-Passaic/Bergen) released the following statement Friday regarding Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino:

"When you are one of the top law officers in the state and exhibit such racism, bigotry and hatred, the communities you serve can no longer place their full trust in you to do your job with fairness and unprejudiced.

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Jones, Benson Bill Requiring Placing "No Turn on Red" Sign closer to Traffic Lights Clears Committee

Placing "No Turn on Red" signage in a more visible position for drivers, legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Patricia Egan Jones mandating the location of the sign to be closer to the traffic light was recently approved by the Assembly Transportation committee.

"There should be a set location for "no turn on red" signs where any driver can see it prior to and when they arrive at the light," said Jones (D-Camden, Gloucester). "Oftentimes the sign is so far before the light, drivers may miss it. We can turn on red here in New Jersey with some exceptions. These need to be clear for pedestrian safety and driver safety."

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Wimberly Joins Fellow Lawmakers in Calling for Bergen Sheriff Saudino to Resign

Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly (D-Bergen, Passaic) issued the following statement calling for the resignation of Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino:

"Unfortunately, this is just the latest display of racism, bigotry and hateful rhetoric we have heard recently in this country. Let's be clear, it's not alright. No apology can take it back and it will not be ignored or tolerated in our state.

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Quijano on One Year Anniversary of Hurricane Maria

Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (D-Union) released the following statement on the one year anniversary of the Hurricane Maria:

"It still saddens me to think of the devastation and destruction Hurricane Maria brought to Puerto Rico and its communities' vibrant way of life just a year ago. The lack of sympathy and support from the White House for the situation and people since September has only added insult to injury. For More             

DeAngelo, Benson Bill to Create Oversight Commission for Mercer County Public Water System Clears Assembly Panel

Measure Establishes a 17-member Board to Establish Accountability,
Improve Service for All Trenton Water Works Customers

(TRENTON) - In continuing his efforts to address long-standing problems with the public water system serving much of Mercer County, legislation Assemblymen Wayne P. DeAngelo and Daniel Benson (Both D-Mercer, Middlesex) sponsored to create an oversight commission to ensure greater regional representation, economic accountability, and water quality for all towns serviced by the Trenton Water Works (TWW) was approved by an Assembly panel Thursday.

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Assembly Panel Approves Danielsen Bill Requiring Sufficient Notification of Disconnection of Public Utilities

Amending Law to Establish Stronger Protections for Residents with Medical Conditions

Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Joe Danielsen to prohibit public utilities from terminating service for nonpayment unless customer is provided certified letter at least 10 business days prior to scheduled termination date was released by the Assembly Telecommunication Committee Thursday.

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Johnson Statement on Bergen County Sheriff Saudino

Assemblyman Gordon Johnson (D-Bergen), who formerly served as Bergen County Sheriff, issued the following statement regarding Michael Saudino:

"Sheriff Saudino's racist and bigoted comments are unacceptable and offensive. His hate-filled words are beneath the values we share as a community and they violate the integrity we demand and expect of those in law enforcement.

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DeAngelo Bill to Prevent Power Outages Caused by Downed Trees Advances in Assembly; Affects 1.2 Million Customers

In light of severe storms last March prompting power outages and causing damage to utility poles throughout the state, an Assembly panel approved legislation Assembly Democrat Wayne DeAngelo sponsored to develop a plan for tree trimming and vegetation maintenance.

Last March, New Jersey was struck by a series of severe weather events that impacted more than 1.2 million electric utility customers, leaving some without power for up to 11 days, and causing millions of dollars in property damages. The frequent storms presented response and recovery challenges to each electric distribution company in the state. Some of the extended power outages occurred because power lines were damaged by uprooted trees and toppled branches.

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Sumter, Reynolds-Jackson, Rice Led Discussion on Racial Disparities in Pre-Natal Services and Infant Mortality in NJ

(TRENTON) - The Legislative Black Caucus recently convened a hearing to discuss the high rate of mortality of African American mothers and infants in New Jersey.

Led by Senator Ron Rice, chair of the caucus, and Assemblywomen Shavonda Sumter and Verlina Reynolds Jackson, the roundtable discussion was held in the statehouse in Trenton. Among the invited guests were Mrs. Tammy Murphy, Commissioners, Carole Johnson and Shereef Elanahal of the Department of Human Services and the Department of Health, respectively.

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Coughlin Statement on Bergen County Sheriff Saudino: "He has disgraced his position and his community."

Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Middlesex) issued the following statement regarding Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino:

"The racial, homophobic and hateful slurs heard on the tape are abhorrent and beyond unacceptable.

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** MEDIA ADVISORY - Saturday, September 22 **

Speaker Coughlin to Participate in NJ Gleaning Week - Welcomes Volunteers

Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Middlesex) will host an event Saturday to participate in New Jersey Gleaning Week. All produce collected will be donated to M.C.F.O.O.D.S., a community food bank in Middlesex County.

Gleaning is the act of collecting leftover crops from farmers' fields after being commercially harvested in an effort to reduce waste.

"One of my top priorities as Speaker has been to address hunger in the state, which is a real issue," said Speaker Coughlin. "New Jersey is one of the wealthiest states in the nation, yet about 12 percent of New Jersey residents go to bed hungry. That's about 1 of every 8 residents..."

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Speaker Coughlin’s Announcement of New Anti-Discrimination/Anti-Harassment Policy: What They’re Saying

Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Middlesex) announced a resolution to implement a new, comprehensive anti-discrimination/anti-harassment policy, designed to create a work environment as safe and welcoming as possible. The move is receiving across-the-board praise from a wide array of legal, political and social groups and organizations.

Here’s what they’re saying:

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Chairwoman Tucker Hosts New Jersey's First African-American Adjutant General, Brigadier General Jemal J. Beale

Assembly Military and Veterans Affairs Chair Cleopatra G. Tucker hosted a reception honoring New Jersey's first African-American Adjutant General, Brigadier General Jemal J. Beale of the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMAVA) on Wednesday.

"I am excited and honored to have the privilege of welcoming this history-maker back to our city," said Tucker (D-Essex). "While a student at Kean University, Brigadier General Beale made Newark his home, and we still claim him as one of our own. He is a shining example of a soldier who is proudly serving our state and nation. This is our way of thanking him and recognizing his stellar military career."

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Vainieri Huttle on Bergen County Sheriff Saudino: If the Allegations are True, He Must Step Down

Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) issued the following statement today in response to the allegations against Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino:

"The comments made in that recording are despicable and unbecoming of a public official, especially one tasked with enforcing the law. It is these kinds of attitudes that make people distrust the justice system and how it treats certain segments of the population..."

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Swain & Tully Call for Resignation of Bergen County Sheriff Saudino

Assemblywoman Lisa Swain and Assemblyman Chris Tully (both D-Bergen/Passaic) today called upon Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino to resign his position in light of his racist and homophobic statements.

"The statements of Sheriff Saudino are abhorrent and unbecoming of a public servant representing Bergen County. We condemn what was said on the tape in the strongest possible terms. Hate and bigotry have no place in our society…"

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*MEDIA ADVISORY - TOMORROW, Thursday, September 20* Wimberly to Host Assembly Housing and Community Development Public Hearing on Foreclosure & Vacant Property Concerns

Assembly Housing and Community Development Chair Benjie E. Wimberly will convene a hearing at Kean University on Thursday to discuss the issues of foreclosure and vacant properties in the state. The committee will receive testimony from invited speakers and the public.

The hearing will be held Thursday, September 20 at 10:00 AM on the 6th Floor of the North Avenue Academic Building at Kean University in Union, New Jersey.

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Speaker Coughlin Sets Landmark Anti-Discrimination, Anti-Harassment Policy for New Jersey General Assembly, Measure to Move Next Voting Session

Strengthening protections for New Jersey General Assembly employees, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin announced Wednesday a resolution detailing its Anti-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy will be considered and voted on by the full body Thursday, September 27 during the voting session. The legislation underscores the commitment to providing its members, employees and third parties with a work environment free from all forms of discrimination and harassment.

Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Middlesex): “The time to have in place a comprehensive anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policy that applies to everyone connected in any way to the General Assembly is long overdue. This new mandate illustrates that we fully recognize there must be zero tolerance for any form of harassment or discrimination. Every legislator and every staff member deserves a safe, inclusive and welcoming workplace. This measure represents the most rigorous policy possible.”

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Assembly Speaker Craig J. Coughlin today announced the appointment of Kevin McArdle as the new communications director for the New Jersey Assembly Majority Office

Assembly Speaker Craig J. Coughlin today announced the appointment of Kevin McArdle as the new communications director for the New Jersey Assembly Majority Office.

“I’m proud to have someone on our team with the expertise, intelligence and professionalism that Kevin possesses,” said Speaker Coughlin (D-Middlesex). “He will be an asset to our outstanding communications team and also to our caucus, as we continue to promote an agenda of affordability for middle-class families in New Jersey.”

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***Media Advisory- Thursday, Sept. 20***

Fighting for Consumers: Trenton Water Works Oversight, Preventing Power Outages, Increasing Energy Assistance Revenue & Requiring Certified Notice of Utility Termination

Also: BPU Representatives to Testify before Assembly Telecommunications Panel on Report Concerning Utility Response and Restoration of Winter Storm Power Outages;

Housing Chairman Wimberly to Hold Second Hearing on Affordable Housing at Kean University, Foc on Foreclosure For More             

Murphy Named New Judiciary Committee Vice-Chair

Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin has named Assemblywoman Carol Murphy as the Assembly Judiciary Committee Vice-Chairwoman.

“It is such a great honor to serve as the Vice-Chair of the Judiciary Committee, especially at such a critical time when we must be proactive in ensuring the rights of all of New Jersey’s residents, said Murphy (D-Burlington). “It is the responsibility of us as legislators to do our best to make New Jersey a fair and welcoming place to live and to be a national leader in the area of civil rights. I am looking forward to working with my fellow committee-members to continue the excellent work that this Committee is known for.”

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Houghtaling & Downey Introduce First-of-its-Kind Tick Control Bill in New Jersey

New Jersey is especially conducive to dangerous, disease-carrying ticks because of the state’s climate, woodlands and large agricultural sector. Assembly Members Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey, however, have taken action to reduce the risk of tick-borne diseases, as they introduced legislation on Thursday to authorize the state and county mosquito control commissions to create and implement measures to control the tick population.

“New Jersey has the third most tick-borne disease cases in the entire United States, yet we have never taken any action to curb the spread of these diseases through controlling the tick population,” said Houghtaling (D-Monmouth). “Diseases stemming from tick bites can be incredibly dangerous—and in rare cases, fatal—and we must put forth every effort to prevent the spread of these diseases in order to protect our residents.”

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Moriarty, Schaer & Quijano Bill Banning Ghost Guns, 3-D Plastic Firearms in NJ Advances in Assembly

If Enacted, New Jersey Would Have the Strongest Law in the Nation

(TRENTON) - No Ghost Guns. No 3-D Firearms. And no purchasing any component used in making either of these weapons. Legislation banning the manufacturing of any untraceable or covert firearm was approved by the Assembly Judiciary Committee Monday.

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Swain, Tully, Benson, Jones 4-Bill Package Reinforcing School Bus Safety for Student Riders Gets Assembly Panel OK to Advance

Continuing to strengthen state policies concerning school transportation, an Assembly panel Monday advanced four bills sponsored by Assembly members Lisa Swain, Chris Tully, Daniel Benson, and Patricia Egan Jones that would expand current law to keep students safe on school buses.

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Pinkin Lauds BPU Decision to Open Up Application Window for 1,100 Megawatts of Offshore Wind Capacity

Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee Chairperson Nancy Pinkin (D-Middlesex) issued the following statement Monday on the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities’ unanimous vote to open up an application window for 1,100 megawatts of offshore wind capacity, the largest single-state offshore solicitation in the country:

“This is major step in making New Jersey the national and global leader in clean energy we ought to be…"

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Johnson, Schaer & Vainieri Huttle Bill Granting New Jersey Jurisdiction to Prosecute Child Endangerment Cases that take Place Out-of-State Clears Panel

Bill in Response to Sexual Misconduct on Bergen County School Trip to Germany

A bill expanding New Jersey's jurisdiction to prosecute crimes of child endangerment occurring outside of the state -- sponsored by Assembly Democrats Gordon Johnson, Gary Schaer, and Valerie Vainieri Huttle -- cleared its first legislative hurdle Monday.

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Swain Bill Banning Sale and Distribution of Products Containing Asbestos Clears Assembly Panel

Asbestos is a real and oft-forgotten danger in the United States, taking the lives of as many as 15,000 Americans every year. Assemblywoman Lisa Swain, however, is taking action to protect the health of New Jerseyans through her bill prohibiting the sale and distribution of products containing asbestos, which cleared the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee on Monday.

“There is absolutely no reason why any New Jerseyans should be at risk of asbestos exposure,” said Swain (D-Bergen/Passaic). “While the current Administration in Washington may be okay with rolling back environmental health standards that protect so many Americans, here in New Jersey we are not, and this bill ensures we will stay proactive in protecting our residents.”

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Lampitt, Moriarty, DeAngelo & Chiaravalloti Bill Protecting Minimum Wage Workers Clears Labor Committee

A bill sponsored by Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt, Paul Moriarty, Wayne DeAngelo, and Nick Chiaravalloti revising part of the Prevailing Wage Act was approved by the Assembly Labor Committee on Monday.

“There are bad actors in New Jersey who have found it more cost effective to pay the penalty for wage and hour violations rather than pay their employees full wages,” said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). “The penalties for violations of New Jersey’s Wage and Hour laws have not been updated in nearly three decades it is critical that adjustments be made to protect our workers and ensure that they are fairly paid for their labor. Our workers are a priority in New Jersey, and this bill would increase paycheck security.”

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Houghtaling & Downey to Join Nurses and Health Professionals Fighting for Patient Safety and Workers' Rights with Congressional and State Representatives

Assembly Members Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey (both D-Monmouth) will join Health Professionals and Allied Employees (HPAE) President Ann Twomey, HPAE Local 5058 President Kendra McCann, Congressman Frank Pallone and Senator Vin Gopal to urge Hackensack Meridian Health to reach a contract agreement with HPAE to ensure patient health and safety after months of bargaining.

The event will be held on Monday, September 17 at 4:30 PM at Gables Park, on the corner of Highway 33 and Wakefield Road in Neptune, New Jersey 07753.

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Lampitt Bill Increasing Penalties for Failing to Secure a Child in a Motor Vehicle Cleared by Committee

Increases Fines from $10-25 to $100, Allows Provisions for First-time Offenses

A bill sponsored Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt (D-Burlington, Camden) increasing penalties for motor vehicle operators who fail to secure a child under age eight, and weighing less than 80 pounds in a child passenger restraint system or booster seat in a rear seat, cleared the Assembly Women and Children Committee Monday.

The current penalty for failing to take this crucial safety precaution is a fine ranging between $10-$25. The bill, (A-2095), increases the penalty for a first offense to a fine of $100, however, for a first offense, the court is to waive the fine if the defendant demonstrates that he or she has a child passenger restraint system. The fine for second and subsequent offenses would be no less than $250 and no more than $500.

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NJ Education Commissioner Discusses PARCC Changes, Plans for New Statewide Assessment at Joint Assembly & Senate Education Committee Hearing

With changes slated for the PARCC test as part of the plan by the Murphy administration to transition to a different statewide assessment, the Assembly and Senate Education committees held a joint hearing on Monday to hear from the commissioner of education about the proposed changes to ensure they do not interfere with the delivery of education in the state.

"While education has placed an overemphasis on standardized testing in recent years, these assessments still serve as a critical tool in gauging student growth, and are one of the only objective measures in assessing teacher performance," said Assembly Education Chair Pamela Lampitt (D-Burlington). "We need to ensure that whatever direction the department takes, takes this into account. We cannot help students if we don't know what areas they are struggling with."

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Bills Granting Priority College Course Registration to Military Service Members and Veterans, Academic Credit to Certain Veterans Clears Assembly Committee

Making the path to higher education easier for New Jersey service members and veterans, two bills sponsored by Assembly Democrats assisting with college course registration and earning credit for their skills were advanced by the Assembly Military and Veterans Affairs Committee Monday.

The first bill (A-790), known as the "Combat to College Act," and sponsored by legislators Bob Andrzejczak, R. Bruce Land, Gabriela Mosquera, Raj Mukherji, Joann Downey, Andrew Zwicker and Vincent Mazzeo, provides military service members and veterans living in New Jersey and attending a public institution of higher education with priority status when registering for courses. The priority registration benefit would apply to current military service members serving on active duty and to veterans honorably discharged or released under honorable circumstances. This registration procedure would occur using the same methods as those used by other segments of the student population, if any, for priority registration purposes at the institution.

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Pinkin Leads Fight to Keep New Jersey’s Air Clean with Advancement of Resolution

Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Chairwoman Nancy Pinkin has long been a staunch defender of protecting our environment, and she remains steadfast in her efforts to push back against dangerous, anti-environmental policies coming out of Washington.

She made this clear by sponsoring a resolution expressing opposition to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Affordable Clean Energy rule proposal, which was advanced out of the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee on Monday.

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Mukherji, Chaparro & Chiaravalloti Cyberinfrastructure Strategic Plan Bill Clears Assembly Panel

Rutgers Discovery Informatics Institute, New Jersey Big Data Alliance to Lead Effort

Big data" requires new forms of processing in order to enhance decision making, insight discovery, and optimal processing. Providing support for the state's cyberinfrastructure, legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Raj Mukherji, Annette Chaparro and Nicholas Chiaravalloti directing various entities to coordinate and establish an advanced strategic plan was released by the Assembly Science, Innovation and Technology Committee Monday.

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Cracking Down on Untraceable Firearms, Continuing to Improve School Bus Safety, Boosting Veterans' Access to College, Higher Penalties for Violating Wage/Hour Law, Prohibiting Sale of Asbestos Products & Increasing Fines for Not Buckling Kids Properly in Car Seats Top Panel Agendas

Also: Joint Education Committee with Senate Discussing DOE's Plan Moving Forward After PARCC & Assembly Agriculture Committee Discusses NJ Department of Agriculture's Recent Changes to School District Food Service Contracts

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** MEDIA ADVISORY - Thursday, September 20 ** Wimberly to Host Assembly Housing and Community Development Public Hearing on Foreclosure & Vacant Property Concerns

Assembly Housing and Community Development Chair Benjie Wimberly will convene a hearing at Kean University on Thursday to discuss the issues of foreclosure and vacant properties in the state. The committee will receive testimony from invited speakers and the public.

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McKeon Bill Requiring Use of Minority, Women-Owned Financial Institutions Clears Committee

A bill sponsored by Assemblyman John McKeon (D-Essex, Morris) requiring the Director of the Division of Investment in the Department of Treasury to attempt to use qualified minority and women-owned financial institutions for the state's brokerage and investment management services cleared the Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee Thursday.

"Qualified minority and women-owned financial institutions have services that are as professional and on a par with any other, and we should always consider them for the state's brokerage and investment needs," said McKeon. "When given the opportunity, women and minority-owned businesses can thrive, excel and make significant contributions to our state."

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Conaway, Lampitt & Murphy Bill to Require Depression Screenings for Students Clears Assembly Panel

Measure Hopes to Address Alarming Rise in Teen Depression & Suicide

Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Herb Conaway, M.D., Jr., Pamela Lampitt and Carol Murphy to require annual depression screenings for certain public school students to address the rise of teen depression and suicide was released Thursday by an Assembly panel.

"Teens today are navigating a very different world. The stressors that arise around puberty are now intensified by social media, which can be used to bully and make young people who are already susceptible to social pressure feel like they are not measuring up," said Conaway.

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McKeon Bill Promoting Walkable Communities Near Public Transit Systems Approved by Assembly Panel

An Assembly committee approved Thursday legislation sponsored by Assemblyman John F. McKeon establishing the "New Jersey Transit Villages Act" that would encourage individual municipalities to influence land use patterns, densities, and the general character of their communities improving the overall quality of life for their residents.

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DeAngelo Bill to Boost Jobs, Workforce Training For Military Veterans in STEM Fields Clears Committee

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Wayne DeAngelo to support the development of manufacturing jobs and workforce training for New Jersey veterans in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics was approved Thursday by an Assembly panel.

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Quijano, Kennedy & Vainieri Huttle “Tiny Home Pilot Program” Clears Committee

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Annette Quijano, Jim Kennedy, and Valerie Vainieri Huttle establishing a “Tiny Home Pilot Program” was approved by the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee on Thursday.

“This program provides an inexpensive, efficient way to house our homeless community along with New Jersey residents in need of affordable housing,” said Quijano (D-Union). “The number of people that fall into these categories in our state is currently unreasonably high. Tiny homes provide for a reasonable alternative solution for the families and communities in New Jersey.”

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Swain & Tully Bill Authorizing County-Municipality Shared Services Clears Committee

Legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Lisa Swain and Assemblyman Chris Tully authorizing a county government to adopt an ordinance appointing a construction official to enforce the “State Uniform Construction Code Act” was approved by the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee on Thursday.

“The goal of this bill is to provide an additional opportunity for counties and municipalities to work together,” said Swain (D-Bergen/Passaic). “Allowing towns to enter into a cost-saving shared services program is beneficial to both counties and their municipalities by increasing access to resources which will enable projects to get done in a timely, efficient manner.”

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Reynolds Jackson & Wimberly Bill to Expand LLC Liability for Landlords Clears Committee

Legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Verlina Reynolds Jackson and Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly to expand liability of residential landlords associated with limited liability companies (LLCs) and other commercial entities was approved by the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee on Thursday.

“The ultimate purpose of this bill is to strengthen the relationship between tenants and their landlords,” said Reynolds Jackson (D-Mercer). “Separating individuals from an LLC will help to promote accountability and transparency among the two parties and will ultimately make for a more pleasant renting or property owning experience.”

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Lampitt, Schaer, & Mukherji Bill Requiring Increased Transparency on Mandatory Student Fees at Colleges Gets Assembly Panel Approval

Legislation Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt, Gary Schaer, and Raj Mukherji sponsored to increase transparency surrounding the collection and use of student fees at New Jersey colleges and universities gained approval from the Assembly Higher Education Committee on Thursday.

“Too often, a term bill will just say ‘campus fee’ or ‘school fee’ without any explanation of how the money will be used, and there’s an expectation that students will just pay,” said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). “When many students are taking on unbearable debt in order to pay for higher education, they at least deserve to know how these fees are spent.”

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Conaway, Murphy & Singleton Stress Need for Depression Screenings for Young People to Combat Teen Depression & Suicide

7th Legislative District Team Sponsoring Bill to Address Rise of Teen Depression & Suicide

Noting the alarming rise in teen depression and suicide, Assemblyman Herb Conaway, Jr., M.D., Assemblywoman Carol Murphy and Senator Troy Singleton (all D-Burlington) on Thursday highlighted the need to screen young people for depression, and discussed how a bill they are sponsoring could help identify warning signs of depression so they could be addressed before it is too late.

Their bill, which was released today by the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee chaired by Conaway, would require depression screenings for public school students in grades 7-12.

"The data is startling," said Conaway. "The worst part is that many young people are not diagnosed until they become adults, which means they have spent their formative years battling a disease that can be managed with proper diagnosis and intervention."

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Coughlin, Vainieri Huttle, Lampitt, Danielsen, Downey, Quijano & Jasey Bill to Expand Health Coverage for Behavioral Health Care, Enhance Enforcement and Oversight of Mental Health Parity Clears Assembly Committee

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Craig Coughlin, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Pamela Lampitt, Joe Danielsen, Joann Downey, Annette Quijano and Mila Jasey to expand health insurance coverage for behavioral health care services and enhance enforcement and oversight of mental health parity cleared the Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee Thursday.

The bill (A-2031) would require plans to provide coverage for medically necessary behavioral health care services and to meet the requirements of a 2008 federal law, which prevents certain health insurers that provide mental or substance use disorder benefits from imposing less favorable benefit limitations on those benefits than on medical or surgical benefits, commonly referred to as mental health parity.

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Calabrese Bill Requiring Criminal Background Checks for Certain DOBI Employees Clears Assembly Committee

A bill sponsored by Assemblyman Clinton Calabrese (D-Bergen, Passaic) requiring criminal history background checks for certain Department of Banking and Insurance (DOBI) employees cleared the Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee Thursday.

The bill (A-4059) requires the Commissioner of Banking and Insurance to conduct a criminal history record background check, including a name and fingerprint identification check, of each DOBI employee handling sensitive personal, financial and proprietary information.

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Murphy Bill to Create Commission to Review Life Sentences for Juvenile Offenders Clears Assembly Panel

Recent US & NJ Supreme Court Rulings Have Raised Questions About Constitutionality of Life Sentences for Juveniles

An Assembly panel on Thursday released a measure sponsored by Assemblywoman Carol Murphy to create a commission to review life sentences for juvenile offenders given recent court rulings that have questioned the appropriateness of these sentences.

"In certain circumstances, long-term sentences can be an appropriate response to serious, violent crimes committed by an adult. But there is legitimate concern about the fairness of life sentences for juvenile offenders," said Murphy (D-Burlington).

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Greenwald on the Passing of Former Assemblyman Peter Barnes II

(TRENTON) - Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald issued the following statement on the recent passing of former state legislator Peter Barnes II :

"It was an honor to serve with Peter Barnes II in the Assembly. It was even more an honor to know him personally and his family. Peter was the real deal. A stalwart legislator, he was a champion for the people of New Jersey not only on environment matters but for many issues critically important to bettering the lives of residents. There was no one better to have on your side when you're in a fight to do the right thing for the state.

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Lopez Named New Environment and Solid Waste Committee Vice-chair

Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin has named Assemblywoman Yvonne Lopez as the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee Vice-chairwoman.

“I am honored to serve as the Vice-chair of the Environment and Solid Waste Committee, especially at such a critical time when we must be proactive in protecting our environment,” said Lopez (D-Middlesex). “It is a responsibility for us as legislators to play a significant role in making New Jersey a clean and healthy place to live, as well as preserving all of the resources our state has to offer. I look forward to tackling the many environmental concerns that are affecting New Jersey residents throughout our state.”

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Jasey Statement on Delay of New Recess Requirement for Elementary Schools

Assemblywoman Mila Jasey (D-Essex/Morris) on Tuesday issued the following statement in response to the decision by the Department of Education to delay the implementation of the new recess requirement for elementary schools until the 2019-2020 school year.

“The law requiring recess for all elementary school students, which was signed by Governor Murphy on August 10th, with the expectation that it would go into effect at the start of this school year, has been delayed until September, 2019. While I am disappointed in this turn of events, I am gratified that the governor signed the bill and that the public support for it was so overwhelming. I encourage school districts to embrace the intent of this law and commit resources to ensure that recess is available to all students. Let kids play!”

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Speaker Coughlin Statement on Passing of Former Assemblyman Peter J. Barnes, Jr

Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Middlesex) issued the following statement Tuesday on the passing of former Assemblyman Peter J. Barnes, Jr.

"I want to extend my deepest condolences to the Barnes family on the passing of former Assemblyman Peter J. Barnes, Jr. Peter was the true definition of a gentleman; a man of great integrity who led an exemplary life of public service. A former FBI agent, he brought his law enforcement experience to the Assembly where he championed legislation to help keep New Jersey safe. He represented Middlesex County and New Jersey honorably and dutifully. New Jersey lost one of its very best today."

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Speaker Coughlin Statement on Sept. 11 Anniversary

Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Middlesex) issued the following statement today commemorating the 17th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks:

"Today is not just another day on the calendar. Today's date is etched in the hearts and minds of all Americans. It is still difficult to comprehend the senseless loss of human life and the extent of human cruelty. Our sense of security was shaken perhaps like never before or since. Today we mourn once again for those lost 17 years ago. .."

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Tucker, McIver Host “Teach a Girl to Lead” Session

Shared Journeys, Experiences as Elected Officials; Girls Participated in a Mock Campaign

Assemblywoman Cleopatra G. Tucker (D-Essex); Councilwoman LaMonica McIver, Newark Municipal Council, Central Ward; Newark Municipal Council President Mildred C. Crump; and Dawn Haynes, Vice-chairperson, Newark Public Schools Board of Education led a Rutgers Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP) Teach a Girl to Lead™ session on Saturday.

The program featured conversation and empowerment during which these leaders shared their journeys and experiences as female elected officials. A total of 15 girls ages 10-14 participated in the fun-filled session which was held at the office of Assemblywoman Tucker.

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Zwicker, Freiman Help Host Prescription Drug Disposal Event at Hunterdon Healthcare

Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals Donates 5,000 Drug Deactivation Pouches

Assembly Democrats Roy Freiman and Andrew Zwicker yesterday joined other elected officials, healthcare executives, law enforcement officers and community leaders for a prescription drug disposal event at Hunterdon Healthcare featuring 5,000 drug deactivation pouches that were donated by Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals.

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Tucker, McIver to Host Teach a Girl to Lead
Will Share Journeys, Experiences as Elected Officials;

Allow Girls to Participate in a Mock Campaign

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Lampitt Statement on New Teacher Evaluation Rules

New Standards Reduce Weight of PARCC Scores on Teacher Evaluations

Assembly Education Committee Chair Pamela Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington) issued the following statement Wednesday in response to new rules announced by the Murphy administration to reduce the weight of PARCC test scores on teacher evaluations:

"New Jersey has some of the most exceptional educators which is why our schools consistently rank among the best in the nation. However, without proper evaluations for teachers, it is much harder to ensure that our children are receiving the high quality education they deserve. While education has placed an overemphasis on standardized testing in recent years, these assessments still serve as a critical tool in gauging student growth, and are one of the only objective measures in assessing teacher performance…"

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Lagana, Swain & Tully Asking District 38 Residents to Provide Public Comment on Westmoreland Well Field Contamination

Senator Joseph Lagana, Assemblywoman Lisa Swain and Assemblyman Chris Tully (D-Bergen/Passaic) are encouraging residents in the 38th district to provide public comment to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on how they have been affected by contaminated groundwater at the Westmoreland Well Field in Fair Lawn.

“The contaminants of the groundwater at the Westmoreland Well Field pose long term health risks for the residents of Fair Lawn and our district as a whole,” said Swain. “Completing the remediation of this well field as quickly as possible is our highest priority. With the help of our constituents, we will be able to convey how vital it is for us to work with the EPA to get this issue resolved.”

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Zwicker, Freiman to Help Host Prescription Drug Disposal Event at Hunterdon Healthcare

Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals Will Donate 5,000 Drug Deactivation Pouches

Assemblyman Roy Freiman, (D-Somerset, Mercer, Middlesex, Hunterdon)

Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker, (D-Somerset, Mercer, Middlesex, Hunterdon)

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Houghtaling & Downey Introduce Bill to Help Alleviate Medical Debt for Residents

Assembly Members Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey introduced legislation on Monday designed to assist New Jersey residents facing debt collection for unpaid medical bills.

“Medical bills should not consume someone’s life,” said Houghtaling (D-Monmouth). “It is only fair that patients are provided with feasible methods to pay off their debt.”

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Houghtaling & Downey Hold First Annual Kids Congress Event

Assembly Members Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey held their first annual Kids Congress events on Monday and Tuesday, with over twenty local children in attendance.

The Monmouth County legislators treated children to two days of fun and learning through group activities and educational games. Nearly two-dozen children spent their morning learning how a bill is made, who their representatives are, and testing their knowledge of U.S. Government through games and activities. Kids Congress was hosted at the Eastern Branch Library in Shrewsbury and at the Ocean Township library.

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Holley Introduces Bill Calling for Marketing Campaign to Increase Participation in School Breakfast, Lunch Programs

Nearly 540,000 New Jersey Students Qualify for Free or Low-Cost Meals

Assemblyman Jamel C. Holley (D-Union) introduced legislation Monday that would require the Department of Agriculture, in consultation with the Department of Education, to create a targeted marketing campaign for the purpose of increasing student participation in the federal School Lunch and Breakfast Programs.

"There are approximately 540,000 New Jersey students living in families who qualify for the nutritious, well-balanced meals that are offered in these free and low-cost programs," said Holley. "A marketing campaign geared toward eligible children and their families would help ensure that as many students as possible receive nutritious meals that can help them remain focused on learning while in school, not on being hungry. The facts are clear: children are less likely to learn when they are hungry, because they just can't focus."

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Benson Statement on Bill to Make Major Investment in Career/Technical Education & School Security & Water Infrastructure Now Law

Assemblyman Dan Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex) issued the following statement on the "Securing Our Children's Future Bond Act" becoming law: "Making this necessary investment in career and technical education programs will help us maintain and attract high-demand industries that are the engine of New Jersey's economic growth.

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Wimberly, Reynolds Jackson Bill Creating Specialty License Plates for Renowned Sorority Signed into Law

Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly and Assemblywoman Verlina Reynolds Jackson to create a New Jersey specialty license plate for the renowned sorority, Delta Sigma Theta, was signed into law by the Governor on Friday.

“Specialty license plates allow residents to proudly exhibit their support for a worthy cause, a hobby or an organization,” said Wimberly (D-Bergen/Passaic). “Delta Sigma Theta would be added to the state list of national service organizations that residents can represent with a specialty license plate. Its members who live and work in New Jersey will now have another way to show pride in an organization with a long, esteemed presence in America.”

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Lopez Applauds Legislation Focused on Seat Belt, School Bus Safety Becoming Law

Assemblywoman Yvonne Lopez (D-Middlesex) issued the below statement Saturday following the signing of legislation promoting seat belt and school bus safety into law:

"Today, New Jersey leads by example in requiring by law the use of 3-point seat belt systems in school b The bus crash that took place on May 17th in Paramus shocked our entire state - and prompted the legislature to take action in order to prevent another tragedy like it from ever happening again.

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Lopez, Benson, Swain and Tully Bill Focused on Seat Belt, School Bus Safety Signed Into Law

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Yvonne Lopez, Daniel Benson, Lisa Swain and Chris Tully requiring new school buses to be equipped with 3-point lap and shoulder safety belts was signed into law by the Governor on Saturday.

"Children's safety should always be our priority," said Lopez (D-Middlesex). "This is a clear way for us to improve the safety of our students, so it is absolutely a step we should take."

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Wimberly on Signing of Bill A-4249 Into Law

Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly (D-Bergen, Passaic) issued the following statement on the signing of his bill A-4249:

"New Jersey is facing a shortage of primary care physicians throughout the state and urban centers like the City of Paterson are taking the biggest hit. The creation of a "Safety Net Graduate Medical Education Subsidy" will help to address health disparities among medical staff in hospitals within New Jersey's low-income and undeserved communities.

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Greenwald, Moriarty & Murphy Bill to Create New Jersey Civic Information Consortium Now Law

Legislation Assembly Majority Leader Louis D. Greenwald and Assembly Democrats Paul Moriarty and Carol Murphy sponsored to establish a New Jersey Civic Information Consortium was signed into law on Friday.

"New Jersey's reliance on New York and Philadelphia media outlets for information means that a lot of our residents' news is coming not from their neighbors, but rather outside reporters who may be unfamiliar with the links between the state's past and its present," said Greenwald
(D-Camden/Burlington). "Local news is the lifeblood of a community. It adds local context to stories and keeps those in power accountable. Supporting it is undoubtedly in the public's best interest."

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McKeon & Jasey Bill "Tommy's Law" to Establish NJ Transit Policies Signed into Law

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats John McKeon and Mila Jasey to require New Jersey Transit to put in place policies in case a person is injured or killed in an accident involving motor buses and rail or light rail vehicles was signed into law on Friday.

The new law (formerly bill A-3904) is known as "Tommy's Law "in memory of Thomas Ryan, age 27, who tragically died when he was struck by a train traveling approximately 70 mph at the main street station in Ramsey located in Bergen County.

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McKeon Statement on Recent Federal Actions to Dissuade States from Easing Tax Burden under SALT Limitations

Assemblyman John F. McKeon (D-Essex, Morris) issued the following statement Friday:

"The SALT cap is grossly unfair to taxpayers who live in the states with some of the highest property taxes in the country.

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Mazzeo, Andrzejczak, Zwicker, Land, Benson & Downey Bill to Require Schools to Maintain Narcan Supply Now Law

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Vince Mazzeo, Bob Andrzejczak, Andrew Zwicker, Bruce Land, Dan Benson & Joann Downey to require schools to maintain a supply of an opioid antidote was signed into law by the Governor on Friday.

“The harsh reality is that opioids are killing thousands of people in this country, many of them young people,” said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). “Narcan has been proven to save lives. Having it readily available in schools can help ensure that our schools are ready to respond in every emergency situation.”

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Pintor Marin, Tucker & DeAngelo Bill Authorizing Assessments, Bonds to Fund Replacement of Lead-Contaminated Water Lines Signed into Law

Law Aims to Ensure Safer, Cleaner Drinking Water for Thousands of Homes

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Eliana Pintor Marin, Cleopatra Tucker and Wayne DeAngelo authorizing municipalities to levy special assessments, and issue bonds, to replace certain lead-contaminated water service lines, has been signed into law.

"This law will put us one step closer to ensuring that our drinking water is safer to drink and lead free," said Pintor Marin (D-Essex). "In Newark alone, there are approximately 15,000 homes in which the water service lines connecting the property to the city's main water line are lead. This can lead to contaminated home drinking water."

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Jasey, Lopez & Sumter Bill to Ensure New Jersey's Participation in 2020 Federal Decennial Census Now Law

Legislation sponsored by Assemblywomen Mila Jasey, Yvonne Lopez and Shavonda Sumter to establish the "New Jersey Complete Count Commission," which will help ensure the state's full participation in the 2020 federal decennial census, has been signed into law.

"Because federal funds, grants and support to states, counties and communities are based on population totals and breakdowns by sex, age, race and other factors, communities benefit the most when the census counts everyone," said Jasey (D-Essex/Morris). "We need all hands on deck in New Jersey to ensure that our communities are fully represented in the 2020 census."

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Downey Praises 22 Years of TANF, but Says it Must Extend Reach

Assembly Human Services Committee Chairwoman Joann Downey (D-Monmouth) released the following statement Friday on the 22nd anniversary of President Bill Clinton signing a law creating the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant and drastically restructuring cash assistance for families with children living in poverty:

"Wednesday, August 22 was the 22nd anniversary of the implementation of TANF. TANF, or the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, has provided hundreds of thousands of disadvantaged residents living in poverty over the years, providing a temporary safety net for those in need of the most support.

"Over time, however, the reach of monetary assistance has declined significantl.."

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Joint Legislative Environment Hearing in Toms River Opens Discussion on Single-Use Plastics and Plastic Waste in New Jersey

(TOMS RIVER) - The Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee met jointly with the Senate Environment and Energy Committee on Thursday at the Toms River Municipal Complex Building to discuss single-use plastics and plastic waste, the harmful effects they have on the environment and how New Jersey can minimize and eventually end our reliance on single-use plastic items.

"Each day, Americans use 500 million plastic straws, and each year, Americans use 100 billion plastic bags and throw away 25 billion Styrofoam coffee cups," said Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee Chairwoman Nancy Pinkin (D-Middlesex). "All of this waste inevitably ends up sitting in landfills or polluting our oceans, killing over one million seabirds and 100,000 marine animals every year and it contributes to global warming. Climate change is a real, serious threat, and it is an issue we must work to tackle swiftly and decisively for the sake of our children and grandchildren."

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Greenwald, Lampitt & Mosquera "Jake's Law" Bill to Create Inclusive Playgrounds to Better Serve NJ Families with Disabilities Now Law

(TRENTON) - Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Lou Greenwald, Pamela Lampitt and Gabriela Mosquera to make playgrounds in New Jersey inclusive and capable of catering to children and parents with different types of disabilities was signed into law Thursday.

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Lampitt Statement on Betsy DeVos Considering Federal Funds to Put Guns in Schools

Assembly Education Committee Chair Pamela Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington) on Thursday issued the following statement concerning reports that U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is considering allowing states to use federal grant money to buy guns for schools.

"After the horrific events in Parkland earlier this year, the Assembly and Senate Education Committees moved to learn what more we could do to improve school security in our state. After hearing hours of testimony from students, administrators, parents, members of law enforcement, and other community members, we identified many strategies to make our students safer. Throughout this process, not one person offered the suggestion of arming teachers.

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**FRIDAY ADVISORY** Assemblyman Schaer, Mayor Lora, HHS Regional Director Ferreri & Other Elected Officials Hold Press Conference to Promote Release of New Medicare Cards in NJ

New Cards Will Help Prevent Fraud

Assemblyman Gary Schaer, Passaic City Mayor Hector Lora, and United States Department of Health & Human Services Regional Director Anthony Ferreri will be joined by Congressman Bill Pascrell, Assemblyman Clinton Calabrese, Clifton Mayor James Anzaldi and Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop in Passaic on Friday to promote the release of new Medicare cards to help protect seniors against fraud.

Nearly 60 million Americans are receiving updated Medicare cards which will now have a random identification number in place of the individual's Social Security number.

New Jerseyans are receiving their cards this month.

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Quijano Applauds the Closing of State Maintained Lands to Bear Hunting This Season

Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (D-Union) issued the following statement regarding the recent action by the Governor to close state forests, parks, recreation areas, historic sites, wildlife management areas and natural areas to bear hunting for the 2018 season:

"I applaud the efforts of the Governor to limit bear hunting this season. Until we have a more humane management plan in place, we should not condone this activity, at the very least, on state-owned lands.

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Mazzeo Bill Rescheduling Tax Appeal Process Now Statewide Option

Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Vincent Mazzeo allowing New Jersey counties to operate under alternative real property tax assessment dates was signed into law by the Governor on Friday.

“The goal of this piece of legislation is to put an organized, efficient program in place that will ultimately save money for both municipalities and their taxpayers,” said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). “The current tax assessment calendar can impose a significant burden on towns that are unable to plan for potential refunds on excess property taxes; or on residents, who may end up having to pay a refund. This law will help to do that math in advance.”

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Coughlin Bill to Begin Preparations for Observance of America's 250th Anniversary Now Law

Plans Also Include Commemoration of NJ's 1st Constitution Adopted in 1776

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Middlesex) to begin planning the commemoration of the 250th anniversary of the United States and the anniversary of New Jersey's first constitution was recently signed into law.

"New Jersey played a central and crucial role in the events of the Revolutionary War. Considered the Crossroads of the American Revolution, the state hosted the most battles during the war. In fact, George Washington spent much of his time as Commander-in-Chief in New Jersey," said Speaker Coughlin. "This history deserves to be celebrated with great fanfare."

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Houghtaling, Downey & Egan Bill Expanding Issuance of Alcoholic Beverage Licenses Now Law

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Eric Houghtaling, Joann Downey and Joseph Egan to help revitalize shuttered military bases in Monmouth County by providing additional liquor licenses was signed into law by the Governor on Friday.

“By allowing additional alcoholic beverage licenses to be distributed in our municipalities, we are bringing an ample amount of opportunities to Monmouth County,” said Houghtaling (D-Monmouth). “It will promote small businesses, encourage tourism, and create jobs for our constituents.”

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DeAngelo Bill Clarifying Training Requirements for HVACR Contractors Signed into Law

Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo clarifying training requirements of certain HVACR contactors was signed into law by Governor Murphy Friday.

“HVACR is an incredibly lucrative and necessary field, and this law is designed to encourage people with a certain set of hands-on and entrepreneurial skills to get involved,” said DeAngelo (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “We need talented individuals filling the skills gap we currently have, and I believe this law will help remedy this.”

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Jasey Bill Package to Help Reduce the Financial Burden of Higher Ed on Students & Families Now Law

A two-bill legislative package sponsored by Assembly Higher Education Committee Chair Mila Jasey to promote college affordability has been signed into law.

"Combined, these measures both inform students and their families of what it takes to graduate in four years, and asks institutions to be mindful of ensuring it is possible for students to earn a degree in four years, which will ultimately save on tuition costs, resulting in less debt and less stress," said Jasey (D-Essex/Morris).

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Assembly Democratic Bill to Establish Loan Program for N.J. Wineries Advanced by Assembly Panel

Sponsored by Houghtaling, Andrzejczak, Mazzeo, Taliaferro

Legislation aiming to help New Jersey's burgeoning winery industry create jobs and economic development was advanced Monday by the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

The bill (A-1046) -- sponsored by Assembly Democrats, Eric Houghtaling, Bob Andrzejczak, Vince Mazzeo, and Adam Taliaferro - directs the EDA, in consultation with Department of Agriculture, to establish a loan program for certain vineyard and winery capital expenses.

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Lampitt: PARCC Changes Must Help NJ Students

Jasey: It’s Time to Streamline Education Testing

Andrzejczak on "Combat to College" Bill Package to Support Veterans Education

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