Welcome to my Virtual District Office!
This page has been created to make it easier for you to learn how my office can be your advocate in Trenton and to get answers to some common questions about state government. In addition, you can visit the Web page of your town from the links below. You also can click to send me and my staff an e-mail. Whether you have a problem that needs to be solved or just want to send your opinion on a pressing state issue, my office is at your service.
As we move forward, this page will be updated and expanded, so please visit often.
Schaer, Vainieri Huttle, Chiaravalloti & Caride Bill to Increase Protections for Young Persons with Developmental Disabilities Receiving State Services Continues AdvancingThe Assembly Budget Committee on Thursday approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Gary Schaer, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Nicholas Chiaravalloti and Marlene Caride to provide protections for children under the age of 18 with developmental disabilities and individuals with developmental disabilities ages 18 to 21 receiving services from Division of Children's System of Care.
"With regards to abuse and neglect, the law fails to provide statutory provisions for our most vulnerable residents," said Schaer (D-Bergen/Passaic). "The legislation rectifies this oversight by requiring the state to institute regulations and monitor closely care service providers within the division as well as community providers."
Assembly Democratic Legislation to Boost Funding for Women’s Health Care Clears CommitteeBills Would Expand Medicaid Coverage for Women's Health, Provide $7.5M for Family Planning
A two-bill package sponsored by Assembly Democrats to boost funding for health care for low- and middle-income women and their children in the state's budget was advanced by an Assembly committee on Thursday.
"This legislation represents the fundamental idea that all residents of New Jersey have a right to health care and the freedom to make personal choices about their well-being - regardless of gender or income level," said Pintor Marin (D-Essex). "It will go a long way toward helping more women in New Jersey take charge of their health."
Schaer, Vainieri Huttle, Coughlin & McKnight Bill to Create Real-Time System to Track Available Psych Beds Continues AdvancingAn Assembly panel on Thursday approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Gary Schaer, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Craig Coughlin and Angela McKnight to create a "real-time" system to track the number of psychiatric beds available statewide to treat mental health and substance use disorders.
"Last year we hosted a number of roundtable discussions and meetings on issues related to behavioral and mental health care and professionals in the field continuously raised the need for increased information sharing on bed availability across the state," said Schaer (D-Bergen/Passaic). "Therefore, this legislation is designed to help providers and emergency rooms to quickly place patients in need of behavioral health services for the appropriate treatment."
Muoio & Vainieri Huttle Bill to Enhance Benefits Under Work First New Jersey Program AdvancesLegislation sponsored by Assemblywomen Elizabeth Maher Muoio and Valerie Vainieri Huttle to ensure that some of New Jersey's most vulnerable residents receive the assistance they need under the Work First New Jersey program was released Thursday by an Assembly panel.
The bill (A-3410) would repeal the section of the "Work First New Jersey Act" that currently prohibits a household from gaining additional cash assistance benefits as a result of the birth of a child. Such policies that prevent an increase in welfare benefits as a result of the birth of a child are commonly known as "family caps."
"If there was ever a situation that would precipitate the need for greater assistance under this program, it's the birth of a child and the enormous cost that comes along with it...," said Muoio (D-Mercer/Hunterdon).
Vainieri Huttle, Lagana, Eustace & Caride Bill to Provide Better Oversight at Bergen Regional Medical Center Clears Committee
Legislation Prompted by Reports of Violence against Patients and Staff; Weak Oversight at New Jersey's Largest HospitalAn Assembly panel on Thursday released legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Joseph Lagana, Tim Eustace and Marlene Caride to allow Bergen County to create a hospital authority to ensure proper oversight and quality of care at Bergen Regional Medical Center, which has been besieged by allegations of violence against patients and staff.
The bill (A-3951) is in response to a media report that revealed hundreds of alleged assaults logged by Bergen County Police and a federal investigation prompted by attacks on eight workers at the Bergen Regional Medical Center in Paramus. The hospital, which provides long-term care, psychiatric and substance-abuse treatment and acute care, is owned by Bergen County but operated by a private for-profit company. The hospital is the largest hospital in the state with 1,000 beds.
"The incidents cited are deeply troubling and show a serious lapse in oversight," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "Creating an entity solely dedicated to the management of the hospital will help ensure that staff can provide and patients can receive the care they need."
Eustace, Huttle, Weinberg, Gordon & Advocates Call For Improved Oil Train Safety In New Jersey
Call for Enactment of Legislation to Improve Transparency, Accountability of Rail CompaniesAssemblyman Tim Eustace, Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and Senator Bob Gordon today called for improved transparency, accountability and safety related to trains carrying crude oil through Teaneck and other densely populated communities across northern New Jersey. The legislators were joined by a number of groups, including New Jersey Work Environment Council, Environment New Jersey, and New Jersey Sierra Club, in calling for passage and enactment of legislation that will be considered by the Senate on Thursday.
"Dozens of trains carrying millions of gallons of oil travel through Bergen County every week. It is unfair that the residents who would be impacted the most if something were to go wrong are being deprived of information that could help. This is not just about transparency, but ensuring that residents are well-prepared and can contribute to a coordinated response in the case of an emergency," said Assemblyman Eustace. "An educated public can make for a smoother response to an emergency situation, and help provide a safer outcome."
Andrzejczak, McKnight & Vainieri Huttle Bill to Ensure Food Assistance Benefits for Residents Struggling to Find Work AdvancesAn Assembly panel recently approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Bob Andrzejczak, Angela McKnight and Valerie Vainieri Huttle to help ensure that residents struggling to find work can still receive critical food assistance benefits from the state.
The bill (A-3622) would require the state to pledge to ensure the availability of education, training or workfare opportunities that will permit certain participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, colloquially referred to as "food stamps") to remain eligible for benefits beyond the current three-month time limit.
"The state can help these individuals avoid the loss of SNAP benefits, while simultaneously preparing them for long-term employment, by ensuring the availability of qualifying education, training or workfare opportunities," said Andrzejczak (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland). "This important change will ensure that someone struggling to find employment is able to put food on the table for their family."
Singleton, Lampitt, Quijano, Pintor Marin & Vainieri Huttle Bill to Help Suicide Prevention Efforts in Schools Approved by Assembly PanelLegislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Troy Singleton, Pamela Lampitt, Annette Quijano, Eliana Pintor Marin and Valerie Vainieri Huttle to extend suicide prevention education to school district employees who don't currently receive it - in an effort to curb teen suicide - was released earlier this week by an Assembly panel.
"Teen suicide is the third-leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 24, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention," said Singleton ((D-Burlington). "It is imperative that all school employees who have regular contact with students receive suicide prevention instruction so they are able to respond adequately when a troubling situation emerges."
Vainieri Huttle Bill to Prohibit School Expulsions for K-2 Students Approved by Assembly PanelLegislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) to prohibit public and charter schools from expelling students in kindergarten through second grade with certain exceptions was released earlier this week by an Assembly panel.
"Suspensions and expulsions of young students for minor misbehavior is not only a misguided concept, it raises serious concerns about bias" said Vainieri Huttle. "The curtailing of unnecessary suspensions and expulsions for minor misbehavior will provide a benefit to students who are not a threat to others as well as diminish school dropout and crime rate that often follow disciplinary removal from school."
Coughlin, Vainieri Huttle, Danielsen & Wimberly Bill Ensuring Patients with Disabilities Can Physically Access Doctors' Offices Continues Advancing
Measure Would Require Certain Insurance Companies to Include Accessible Doctors for Patients with Physical DisabilitiesLegislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Craig Coughlin, Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Joseph Danielsen ensuring that people with physical disabilities have access to doctors in their insurance network whose offices are physically accessible was released last week by a Senate panel.
"It's important that a critical area like healthcare is fully accessible," said Coughlin (D-Middlesex). "While many professional buildings are fully accessible these days, not all of them are. This will help provide another measure of independence for individuals with disabilities."
Vainieri Huttle Bill to Create Ombudsman for Individuals with Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities AdvancesLegislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle creating an ombudsman to serve as an advocate for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities gained approval from an Assembly committee on Monday.
"Navigating state and federal laws and bureaucracy can be overwhelming for anyone," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "For those with intellectual and developmental disabilities, it can be downright frustrating, which can deter some individuals and families from accessing much-needed services that may be available to help them. This is counterproductive and in no one's best interest. By creating an ombudsman to help guide them through the state and federal labyrinth of services we can help individuals become more self-sufficient, thriving members of the community."
Johnson, Vainieri Huttle & Eustace Childproof Handgun Bill Gains Assembly Panel ApprovalLegislation Assembly Democrats Gordon Johnson, Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Tim Eustace sponsored to update state law to help boost the proliferation of more childproof handguns was advanced by an Assembly committee on Monday.
The bill (A-1426), which was substituted in committee, would create a roster of personalized handguns available for sale to the public and require most New Jersey gun retailers to carry them in their stores.
Vainieri Huttle Bill to Ensure Substance Abuse Education in Schools Includes Latest Evidence-Based Standards & Practices Clears Assembly PanelLegislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) to ensure substance abuse education in New Jersey schools includes the most up-to-date information available was released Monday by an Assembly committee.
"We cannot effectively reach young people about the dangers of substance abused with outdated information," said Vainieri Huttle. "Substance abuse among young people is a serious concern and, without proper intervention, can lead to lifetime addiction or worse. "This review will help ensure that the substance abuse education that our students are getting is reliable and useful."
*** Rebuilding NJ's Middle-Class ***
Schaer, Vainieri Huttle, Lampitt, Mosquera, Sumter & Wimberly "Breakfast after the Bell' Bill Continues Advancing
Measure Would Establish an Incentive Fund for the School Breakfast ProgramLegislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Gary Schaer, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Pamela Lampitt, Gabriela Mosquera, Shavonda Sumter and Benjie Wimberly to create an incentive fund to support the Breakfast after the Bell program was released Monday by a Senate committee.
The sponsors said the purpose of the fund is to provide an incentive for the school districts to move to a school breakfast model that will reach more students. They also note in the bill that low- to middle-income school districts face more fiscal challenges in covering the cost of effective breakfast programs.