Friday, March 10, 2017

If Gov. Christie is Sincere about Expungement, he would Work with the Assembly


News from
Speaker Pro Tempore Green
For Release:
Speaker Pro Tempore Jerry Green
Housing & Community Development Committee Chair
p: 609-465-0700
March 10, 2017

Green: If Gov. Christie is Sincere about Expungement, he would Work with the Assembly
Law to reform NJ’s expungement laws was spearheaded by Assembly Democrats

            (TRENTON) – Speaker Pro Tempore Jerry Green (D-Middlesex/Somerset/Union) issued the following statement on Friday chastising the governor for excluding the Assembly as he works on expungement legislation, when it was the Assembly that spearheaded the issue and initiated the law to reform the state’s expungement laws. Sponsored by the Green, the law (A-206-471-1663-2879-3060-3108) reduced the statutory waiting period for an expungement of a criminal conviction.

“It took years to finally get the governor to support this issue.
“We worked on the bill, sent it to him, adhered to the recommendations in his conditional veto for the sake of those who we were trying to help, and got the bill signed into law.
“For the governor to now ignore the Assembly as he focuses on expungement is a slap in the face.
“He had the opportunity to add to the bill back then, but he didn’t.
“Instead, he’s reached out to the Senate to help craft legislation, even though we already have something in the books. I would be happy to work with him if he wanted to strengthen the law. I would’ve been happy to do it last year, when we sent the measure to his desk for final approval.

“But to ignore the Assembly leadership, as if we have not been working on this before he thought it was a good idea, is disrespectful, and makes me question his sincerity about who he’s really trying to help.”

GREEN ON SCHOOL FUNDING


News from
Speaker Pro Tempore Green
For Release:
Speaker Pro Tempore Jerry Green
Housing & Community Development Committee Chair
p: 609-465-0700
March 10, 2017

Green on School Funding: “I Will Not Accept Getting Less than What Our Students Deserve”
Lawmaker raises concerns about impact of flat school funding in governor’s proposed budget on public school districts that are already struggling financially

            (TRENTON) – Speaker Pro Tempore Jerry Green (D-Middlesex/Somerset/Union) issued a statement Friday in support of Plainfield students who protested against budget cuts proposed by the school district, and reiterated that he would not support any budget proposals by Gov. Christie that would make the financial burden even greater for Plainfield and other public school districts.

            “I commend those students who made their voiced heard, respectfully and peacefully, about the impact these cuts would have on their education. The Plainfield School District is proposing cuts to plug an $8 million budget hole, that if approved, would have a detrimental impact on the quality of educational services these students receive. If this wasn’t worrisome enough, school aid remains flat in the governor’s proposed budget, meaning there might be greater financial challenges ahead for Plainfield and similar districts.
            “The governor has challenged us to work with him on a new school funding plan. I don’t know how long this spirit of collaboration will last, but I will do my due diligence to ensure that our students are not deprived of the resources needed to succeed. I will not accept getting less than what these students deserve.”

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

ASSEMBLYMAN GREEN JOINS WITH HOUSING ADVOCATES TO ANNOUNCE HOUSING OPPORTUNITIES COMING TO UNION COUNTY

fshc logo


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                                                    FEBRUARY 15, 2017
               ASSEMBLYMAN GREEN JOINS WITH HOUSING ADVOCATES TO 
ANNOUNCE HOUSING OPPORTUNITIES COMING TO UNION COUNTY

Contact:
Assemblyman Green's office: Maria C. Del Cid - (908) 561-5757
Fair Share Housing Center: Anthony Campisi - (732) 266-8221, AnthonyCampisi@Fairsharehousingcenter.org

Plainfield - Assemblyman Jerry Green (D-Middlesex/Somerset/Union), the Chairman of the Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee, together with the Fair Share Housing Center, the New Jersey State Conference of the NAACP, and the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey, is proud to highlight initiatives taken by seven Union County municipalities to expand access to homes affordable to working and moderate-income families. 

For more than a decade, the Legislature, with the leadership of Assemblyman Green, has stood firm against proposals meant to undermine New Jersey's commitment to fair housing. Following the failure of the Council on Affordable Housing to comply with those laws, the New Jersey Supreme Court issued decisions requiring municipalities to meet their fair housing obligations under the Mount Laurel doctrine under the supervision of the state's trial courts.

Aided by a series of strong laws that have remained on the books, Fair Share has worked with seven Union County municipalities to implement fair share plans that establish fair housing obligations of more than 2,000 homes. These plans focus on revitalizing the county's historic downtown areas, increasing transit access and promoting the redevelopment of vacant office parks, strip malls, and industrial centers into vibrant new communities.

"Homes in New Jersey cost too much, and I am proud that so many Union County municipalities have stepped up to the plate to provide opportunities for lower-income New Jerseyans," Assemblyman Green said. "Encouraging redevelopment is good for towns and good for working folks and people with disabilities.  

Taxpayers overwhelmingly support New Jersey's fair housing laws and don't want their money wasted on fighting those laws.  I am proud to have stood strong against attacks of the landmark Mount Laurel doctrine. Our support of New Jersey families is now paying off with agreements that will lead to the development of tens of thousands of new homes throughout the state. I am particularly pleased that towns in Union County have led the way in reaching fair settlements that put plans in place to expand opportunities in Central Jersey."

Seven towns in Union County currently have agreements in place resolving their housing obligations: Berkeley Heights, Clark, Fanwood, New Providence, Roselle Park, Springfield, and Summit. Several additional municipalities are in active negotiations with housing advocates and are expected to soon announce settlements.

Together, the seven municipalities are working with for-profit developers on projects to fight blight through redevelopment. They are also partnering with non-profits to provide homes for people with disabilities.

"Many municipalities in New Jersey support our state's fair housing laws," said Kevin D. Walsh, Executive Director of the Fair Share Housing Center. "A growing consensus is now solidifying among municipalities that they can and should meet their fair housing obligations. Assemblyman Green and the Legislature have shown strong leadership in standing by working families, seniors, and people with disabilities so that good homes are provided throughout our state in all communities."

"Non-profits around the state are working with local municipal officials and residents to make sure that their communities meet their responsibilities and create homes that people can afford," said Staci Berger, president and chief executive officer of the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey.  

"In Summit, for example, non-profit developers won a commitment to include 50 homes around the community; this is a model that can be used in other towns that integrate new homes in neighborhoods.  We are proud to work with Assemblyman Green and others in the Legislature to ensure that all residents can afford to call New Jersey home."

Assemblyman Green also believes that January's unanimous ruling from the New Jersey Supreme Court affirming municipalities' fair housing obligations will lead to additional settlements throughout the state and create more much-needed homes.

"The recent Supreme Court victory is a pivotal moment in the fight for access to opportunity for everyone in our state," said Richard T. Smith, President of the New Jersey NAACP. "Despite being one of the most diverse states in the country, restrictive zoning laws have long excluded African American and Latino families from moving into certain communities. As a longtime champion of minority and working families, we look forward to continuing to advance an opportunity agenda in partnership with Assemblyman Green."

In addition to leading the fight to protect the Mount Laurel doctrine, Assemblyman Green also sponsored landmark legislation in 2008 that prevented a small group of wealthy towns from avoiding meeting their fair housing obligations by paying for minimal improvements to existing homes in urban areas through the use of Regional Contribution Agreements.

"Our work prohibiting additional RCAs laid the groundwork for the successes we are seeing in the ongoing fair housing process," Assemblyman Green explained. "RCAs were the wrong approach to fair housing and I will not support calls to bring them back. We can now be confident that these fair housing plans will lead quickly to the construction of new homes for families, seniors and people with disabilities. As the current housing process moves into the next phase, I look forward to working with advocates to increase state resources dedicated to revitalizing our communities and expanding opportunities for New Jersey families."

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Bill to Protect Sandy Victims Still Rebuilding from Costly Bureaucratic Setbacks Signed into Law



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Contact
Feb. 10, 2017

Majority Press Office
609.847.3500



Singleton, Quijano, Caputo, Taliaferro, Green, Caride & Houghtaling Bill to Protect Sandy Victims Still Rebuilding from Costly Bureaucratic Setbacks Signed into Law



(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Troy Singleton, Annette Quijano, Ralph Caputo and Adam Taliaferro, Jerry Green, Marlene Caride, and Eric Houghtaling to ensure the fairness of project deadlines, enhance transparency, and create foreclosure protections for Superstorm Sandy victims was signed into law on Friday.

“Thousands of homeowners due to receive funding from grant programs set up to help them have complained of extraordinary delays,” said Singleton (D-Burlington).  “It is shameful that almost four years after the storm, resident are still dealing with these types of setbacks. This helps ensure that residents who are still rebuilding are not hurt by bureaucratic stumbling blocks.”

“It is incredibly unfair that residents who have been through so much already have to delay their recovery process even further because of circumstances beyond their control,” said Quijano (D-Union). “We need to put provisions in place that will help protect residents affected by Sandy who are still trying to rebuild, but keep getting tangled up in governmental red-tape.”

Under the new law (A-333), the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) will have to extend the completion deadline for projects funded through the Rehabilitation, Reconstruction, Elevation and Mitigation (RREM) or Low to Moderate Income Homeowners Rebuilding (LMI) grant, for applicants who can demonstrate the delay was the fault of their builder or due to delays by the DCA in approving the builder doing the project. If an application for aid under the Tenant-Based Rental Assistance Program (TBRA), LMI, or RREM program is denied, the DCA would have to provide the applicant with an explanation for the denial, and an explanation for ways to remedy the application.

The law also offers temporary protections against foreclosure to certain Sandy victims. Under the law, homeowners who have either been approved for assistance through the RREM or LMI program, or have received rental assistance from FEMA as a result of damage to their primary residence could apply to the DCA for a certificate of eligibility for mortgage forbearance.

The forbearance period would conclude when whichever of these scenarios happens first: a year after a certificate of occupancy for recovery and rebuilding program work has been issued; July 1, 2019; or regarding a property in foreclosure proceedings, 10 days after a sheriff’s sale.

“It is inexcusable that the same governmental snags that have kept Sandy victims from rebuilding now threaten their homes,” said Caputo (D-Essex). “These provisions can help these residents stay afloat while they wait for the powers that be to get it right once and for all.”

“The idea of Sandy victims facing foreclosure because of problems they did not create is asinine,” said Taliaferro (D-Cumberland/Gloucester/Salem). “This law will help address the economic crisis that many families continue to experience as a result of Superstorm Sandy.”

“It is maddening that almost four years after Sandy, there are people who still have not been made whole,” said Green (D-Middlesex/Somerset/Union). “This is the least we can do for homeowners who trusted those in charge to make things right, and were severely disappointed.”

“This is bureaucracy at its worse. These families deserve better than the delays and inconsistencies that have plagued the recovery process,” said Caride (D-Bergen/Passaic). “This will help prevent any more impediments so these families can finally get back to normal.”

“As if having your life disrupted by Mother Nature was not enough, these homeowners were failed by the very entities tasked with their recovery,” Houghtaling (D-Monmouth). “These provisions can help cut the red-tape they’ve been dealing with and finally get them back on track.”

Under the law, DCA would have to publicly report the reason for each application denial, wait-list placement, and withdrawal from the RREM, TBRA, and LMI programs since the start of the recovery effort, and to report the reasons for new denials, wait-list placements, and withdrawals on a quarterly basis through 2018. Concerning withdrawn applications, the public reporting requirements would apply only after DCA has conducted a reasonable effort to contact the withdrawn applicant.

The law also requires DCA to publicly report where all funding associated with application denials, wait-list placements, and withdrawals has instead been allocated. The law applies this requirement to all application denials, wait-list placements, and withdrawals since the start of the recovery effort, and would require ongoing reporting on a quarterly basis through 2018.

 The law also requires DCA to maintain a RREM appeals process for at least six months. The appeals process would have to be open to any applicant to the RREM program who submitted an initial application by the deadline of August 1, 2013, regardless of the reason the applicant had been denied or removed from the application process.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Bill to Establish Penalties for Pyramid Scheme Participation Continues Advancing



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Feb. 6, 2017

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Green, Benson, Moriarty, Mukherji & Pintor Marin Bill to Establish Penalties for Pyramid Scheme Participation Continues Advancing

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Jerry Green, Daniel R. Benson, Paul Moriarty, Raj Mukherji and Eliana Pintor Marin to establish criminal penalties for promoting or participating in a pyramid scheme continued advancing Monday, receiving approval from a Senate panel.
          “Pyramid schemes make victims out of vulnerable people who often are just looking for a way to make ends meet,” said Green (D-Middlesex/Somerset/Union). “Individuals who understand that an enterprise is a pyramid scheme and still choose to participate ought to face serious consequences.”
The bill (A-2004), which was approved by the full Assembly in May, would make it a crime of the second degree, generally punishable by five to ten years’ imprisonment, for a person to conspire with another person as an organizer, supervisor, financier or manager of a pyramid promotional scheme. The bill also would permit the court to impose a fine of up to $250,000. 
Recruiting for a pyramid promotional scheme, or soliciting or inducing another person to participate in a scheme, would be a crime of the fourth degree, generally punishable by up to 18 months’ imprisonment.
Under the bill, a pyramid promotional scheme is defined as “any scheme or course of conduct by which a person gives consideration for the opportunity to receive compensation that is derived primarily from a person’s introduction of another person to participate in the scheme or course of conduct rather than from the sale of a product by a person introduced into the scheme or course of conduct.” 
“New Jersey is the only state in the nation without a statute that clearly categorizes a pyramid scheme as the crime that it is,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “This legislation is a declaration that this kind of deception will not be tolerated as a business model.”
“Outlining a clear definition of, and penalty for, a pyramid scheme in our state will make it easier for prosecutors to identify and file charges against individuals who participate in these scams with malicious intent,” said Moriarty (D-Camden/Gloucester). “Pyramid schemes ruin lives. New Jersey must ensure that those who engage in them face the appropriate punishment.”
“Unfortunately, unsuspecting individuals who get involved in pyramid schemes often suffer economic consequences they cannot afford,” said Mukherji (D-Hudson). “Making it easier to penalize the perpetrators of these schemes will help address the root of the problem.”
“Pyramid schemes hurt everyone, but it’s particularly devastating when they’re used to exploit more vulnerable populations, like seniors and low-income individuals,” said Pintor Marin (D-Essex). “Legislation addressing pyramid schemes will facilitate prosecution and protect New Jersey residents.”

          The bill was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Bill to Establish Rules for Handling of Hazardous Drugs, Protect Health Care Personnel that administer them Continues Advancing


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Feb. 1, 2017

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Jimenez, Green, Mukherji & Sumter Bill to Establish Rules for Handling of Hazardous Drugs, Protect Health Care Personnel that administer them Continues Advancing

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Angelica Jimenez (D-Bergen/Hudson), Jerry Green (D-Middlesex/Somerset/Union), Raj Mukherji (D-Hudson) and Shavonda Sumter (D-Bergen/Passaic) to adopt regulations concerning the handling of hazardous drugs that could be harmful to health care personnel was advanced by a Senate panel earlier this week.  
“These hazardous drugs pose a real risk to health care personnel who may be exposed to them in the air, and through contact with work surfaces, clothing, medical equipment and patients,” said Jimenez (D-Bergen/Hudson). “This bill would help ensure that all necessary precautions are taken so that health care professionals who must work with these drugs are well protected.”
The bill (A-837) would establish the “Hazardous Drug Safe Handling Act,” which would require the Commissioner of Health and the director of the Division of Consumer Affairs in the Department of Law and Public Safety, in consultation with a defined group of stakeholders in the areas of health care and workplace safety, to adopt standards and regulations concerning the handling of hazardous drugs by health care personnel.
Hazardous drugs, including antineoplastic drugs used in chemotherapy, have been associated with a number of adverse acute, short-term, and chronic effects, including skin rashes, infertility, miscarriage, birth defects, various cancers, and damage to the liver, kidneys, bone marrow, heart, and lungs.
“The risks associated with these drugs could very likely keep people from pursuing this work,” said Green (D-Middlesex/Somerset/Union). “This would help reduce the potential for harmful exposure and ensure patients get the care they need from well-trained health care professionals.”
“The effects of these drugs on an individual range from birth defects to heart damage,” Said Mukherji (D-Hudson). “Given the severity of the health risks, it is imperative that guidelines be set up to ensure the proper handling of these drugs and reduce the risk of exposure.”
 “These health care professionals are providing an important service to patients battling cancer,” said Sumter (D-Bergen/Passaic). “It is critical not just for these professionals, but the patients they care for, that we make their working environment as safe and risk-free as possible.”
Under the bill, the Commissioner, the Director, and the stakeholder group would be required to adopt consensus-driven standards and regulations concerning the handling of hazardous drugs by health care personnel in a health care facility, pharmacy practice site, or an animal or veterinary facility.  The standards and regulations would describe the hazardous drugs for which handling would be regulated, the methods and procedures for handling such drugs, an implementation plan, and such other requirements as would be necessary to protect the health and safety of health care personnel.  
The standards and regulations could include, but are not limited to: (1) written, site-specific hazardous drug control programs to avoid occupational exposure through transporting, compounding, administering, disposing, or other handling of hazardous drugs; (2) hazard assessments to determine precautions necessary to protect health care personnel from exposure; (3) engineering controls to eliminate or minimize exposure; (4) personal protective equipment and the circumstances under which personal protective equipment must be used by health care personnel; (5) safe handling practices, including handling, receiving, storage, preparing, administering, waste handling, cleaning, housekeeping, labeling and signage, and maintenance practices; (6) spill control and response procedures; (7) training standards and practices; (8) requirements for recordkeeping, including records related to training sessions, qualifications, incident reports, and other pertinent information; and (9) appropriate medical surveillance for health care personnel who directly handle hazardous drugs.
Under the bill, the standards and regulations must also include requirements for inspections by the appropriate licensing or inspection authority, provide a schedule of penalties for violations of the bill and must be based on the most recent recommendations set forth by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Employers of health care personnel would have to provide hazardous drugs training to all employees who have or are likely to be exposed to hazardous drugs. The training would take place at the time of the employee’s initial job assignment, and on an annual basis thereafter.
The bill would take effect immediately.

The bill was approved by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee on Jan. 30. The Assembly approved the bill, 70-0-1, on May 26.

Homeowners with Negative Home Equity Avoid Foreclosures & Short Sales Advance in the Assembly



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February 1, 2017

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Singleton, Green, DeAngelo, Sumter & Lampitt Bill to Help Homeowners with Negative Home Equity Avoid Foreclosures & Short Sales Continues to Advance in the Assembly
By preventing foreclosures and short sales, sponsors hope to help homeowners keep homes & prevent further damage to state’s troubled housing market

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Troy Singleton, Jerry Green, Wayne DeAngelo, Shavonda Sumter and Pamela Lampitt to help homeowners with negative home equity avoid foreclosure and short sales, and prevent further agitating the state’s troubled housing market continues to advance in the legislature with recent approval by the Assembly Appropriations panel.
The bill (A-303) would establish the "Mortgage Assistance Pilot Program" in the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (HMFA) for a period of three years to allow homeowners, who have negative home equity and who are in default on an agency owned mortgage, to lower their principal balances by transferring shares of equity in the mortgaged property to the agency.
Negative home equity occurs when the remaining principal owed on a mortgage is greater than the current value of the home. New Jersey continues to lead the nation in foreclosure rates.
“The housing downturn of the past several years has substantially reduced the value of homes all across New Jersey, leaving many homeowners with negative home equity,” said Singleton (D-Burlington). “This pilot program would allow New Jersey homeowners, with negative home equity and who have defaulted on a mortgage owned by the agency, to be able to afford to stay in their homes, reducing the foreclosures and short sales that are stifling the recovery of the housing sector.”
“Unfortunately, for homeowners in default, foreclosure is not that far behind. This hurts the homeowner, the neighborhood where the property is located and our housing market, which is still struggling to bounce back,” said Green (D-Middlesex/Somerset/Union). “This would allow homeowners to hold on to their properties and help avoid the ripple effects of foreclosure.”
“Homeowners with negative home equity are much more likely to default on their mortgages than those with positive home equity, leading to more foreclosures and short sales, which further depress the value of neighboring homes,” said DeAngelo (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “This bill gives these homeowners another option, and helps avoid any additional strain on the state’s housing market.”
“The high number of homeowners with negative home equity is a major impediment to the recovery of the housing sector,” said Sumter (D-Bergen/Passaic). “The well-being of our economy depends on a robust housing sector. This program can help homeowners at risk of foreclosure keep their homes, and help prevent the state from falling further behind as it struggles to recover.”
“The high rate of foreclosures in the state continues to bog down our housing market. To reverse this stubborn trend, we must be proactive,” said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). “Through this program, homeowners with negative home equity who are in default would be able to keep their homes and avoid the foreclosure or short sale route, which would further set our recovery back.”
The bill’s pilot program requires NJ HMFA to invite each homeowner who is in default of a qualified mortgage to apply for a principal reduction agreement. The bill would limit the reduction to no more than 30 percent, and would allow the interest rate to be reset to lower existing rates, if applicable. The bill would condition the principal balance reduction upon the homeowner’s conveyance of an equity share to NJ HMFA equal to the percentage of the principal reduction.
As to NJ HMFA’s equity shares, the bill would provide that the equity share interest does not give rise to a government property tax exemption on the property.  This bill also denotes that an NJ HMFA equity share does not constitute a property encumbrance or lien for purposes of municipal tax sales. This means that a property tax foreclosure may be initiated and proceed without regard to an outstanding NJ HMFA equity share.
The bill would require the Department of the Treasury, in consultation with NJ HMFA, to produce a report on the pilot program that must be submitted to the Legislature and the governor no later than the first day of the tenth month following the conclusion of the three-year pilot program. Under the bill, the report must address the extent to which the pilot program enabled NJ HMFA to minimize losses and reduce foreclosures and short sales.
The bill would authorize the Commissioner of Community Affairs and NJ HMFA to adopt rules and regulations necessary to effectuate this bill’s provisions.
If enacted, the bill would take effect on the first day of the fourth month next following the date of enactment, but would allow the Commissioner of Community Affairs and the Executive Director of NJ HMFA to take anticipatory administrative action prior to this bill’s effective date.

The bill was approved by the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee on January 27, 2016 and the Assembly Appropriations Committee on January 30 of this year. It now heads to the Assembly Speaker for further consideration.