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Assembly Speaker Taps Downey to Chair Human Services Committee, Houghtaling to be Vice Chair of Agriculture and Regulatory Oversight

Assembly Speaker Craig J. Coughlin has named Assemblywoman Joann Downey as the new chair of the Assembly Human Services Committee as the legislature begins its new session. Coughlin also tapped Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling to serve as Vice-Chair of both the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee and the Assembly Regulatory Oversight and Reform and Federal Relations Committee.

Downey (D-Monmouth) will helm the Human Services Committee, which is responsible for legislation that impacts individuals and families with mental illnesses, developmental disabilities and addictions; and services for low-income individuals and families.

“Joann fights tirelessly for her constituents and has been an integral part of our team since joining the Assembly,” said Coughlin. “I have no doubt her intellect and compassion will serve the people of New Jersey well in this new role.”

Downey, who is beginning her second term in the General Assembly, is a trial lawyer who also holds a graduate degree in social work. She previously served on the Assembly Women and Children, Financial Institutions and Insurance, and Regulated Professions committees

“I take this opportunity very seriously and I thank the Speaker for placing his faith in me,” said Downey. “The Human Services Committee has long served as an advocate for some of our most vulnerable residents. I am eager to get to work and serve as a champion for families who often have nowhere else to turn.”

Houghtaling (D-Monmouth), who is also beginning his second term in the General Assembly, is an electrician by trade and served on the Neptune Township Committee before joining the Assembly. Last legislative session he served on the Assembly Labor, Telecommunications, and Agriculture and Natural Resources committees

“Over the last two years, Eric has shown that he’s willing to roll up his sleeves and do what it takes to help improve the lives of residents both in his district and throughout the state,” said Coughlin. “I know he will serve us well in these new capacities.”

As the new Vice-Chair of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, Houghtaling will help steer the committee that is responsible for monitoring issues and legislation that affect parks, farmland preservation, water resources and the growing agricultural industry.

Houghtaling will also serve as vice-Chair of the Assembly Regulatory Oversight Committee, which focuses on legislation to reduce governmental bureaucracy or “red tape;” works to ensure that the Executive Branch implements laws as intended by the Legislature; and liaises with counterparts at the federal level on laws and issues that impact New Jersey.

“I’m grateful to the Speaker for entrusting me with both of these opportunities to expand my reach on policies that affect residents up and down our state,” said Houghtaling. “I look forward to making sure New Jersey lives up to its reputation as the ‘Garden State’ while also working to maximize and protect taxpayer dollars.”

The Assembly will resume its committee schedule beginning January 29.