Thursday, October 30, 2014


PLAINFIELD---The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders today announced a $784,490 grant award from North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority that will fully fund intersection improvements along West Seventh Street, one of the County’s busiest sections of roadway in Plainfield.

The three intersections slated for an overhaul include West Seventh Street at Grant, Plainfield and Central Avenues. The upgrades are aimed at improving driver and pedestrian safety, alleviating accidents, and improving traffic flow. Construction is expected to begin by the summer of 2015.

Union County Freeholder Angel G. Estrada, who also serves as the second Vice Chairman of the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority, thanked the County’s Engineering Division for putting together the award-winning grant submission and noted the improvements are “much needed” to ensure a productive and safe flow of traffic in the westward Plainfield region of Union County.

“This roadway services important institutions such as the Muhlenberg Campus of the JFK Medical Center, the Plainfield Boys Club, numerous businesses, churches and residences,” Estrada said. “It’s a heavily traveled area with plenty of pedestrians and drivers that will benefit from these safety improvements.”

Assemblyman Gerald Green (D-22), who also supported and urged the improvements, agreed.

“Besides protecting our residents, this investment will also improve the flow of commerce and commuter traffic in an area that is economically important for jobs and health services,” Green said. “This is a win-win situation for Plainfield and Union County as a whole.”

Freeholder Linda Carter, a resident of Plainfield, joined Green and Estrada in hailing the news of funding for the project.

“Providing safer intersections has a positive effect that will also positively impact a number of  economic and quality of life factors, as pedestrians will be able to get to work, visit their church, get home quicker or to the business they may be shopping or using,” Carter said. “

The improvements will include new traffic signal equipment consisting of 12” LED signals; vehicle image detection, traffic signal controllers and cabinets, battery back-up power, traffic signal poles and mast arms with mounted street name signs, LED pedestrian countdown signals and push buttons.

Also included will be new pavement markings, regulatory and warning signs, high visibility crosswalks, construction of ADA compliant handicapped ramps including detectable warning surfaces and NJDEP compliant storm water management upgrades.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Top 50 Most Powerful Elected Officials

After reading today’s blog, I want to thank all, as Chairman of the Union County party and the people of the City of Plainfield who have been very supportive me over the years. Being an elected official for over thirty years and never been accused or convicted of doing anything wrong, to me, that makes me proud. That I have been able to accomplish this. I showed the people of Union County, that not only as the Chairman for the party, I can be a person they can be proud of. 

Yesterday, we had a packed house at our annual breakfast, from U.S. Senator Cory Booker to Congressional candidate and those running county-wide. They all came together under my leadership to move Union County in the right direction. The hardest thing that I have to work through is periodically a handful of people will try to drown me in  negative comments. Recently, because of my success in Union County in representing the County of Union, I have chosen to ignore these outlandish and childish remarks that are not true. The most common remark being that I have done nothing for the City of Plainfield. Because of my efforts for the City of Plainfield within the last years, I was able to bring in 1.5 billions dollars to help our children of Plainfield. When it came to our train station, I was able to seek funds to bring both stations up to date and make them what I consider stations that we can be proud of. As a Freeholder, I was able to bring Union County College into Plainfield. Currently, I am working on securing 6 million to expand the colleges. So when people question what I have done, my question is what have they done? As Democratic Chairman, the biggest laugh I get, to me it’s a joke, that I do not support all the candidates on column A, when that is my job to do so. Even when some of them have chosen to be negative to the party and myself personally. 

As of today, it has been brought to my attention that I was ranked as one of the 50 most powerful elected officials of 2014. I take great honor of being part of that group. All these individuals that have taken part in trying to embarrass me & I did not even see their names on the lists. So again, I wanted to thank everyone in Plainfield who have been highly supportive of me. I want to go on record in saying that I am proud of the fact that I will continue to do what will be for the good for the County of Union and especially for the City of Plainfield. Unfortunately, I have 20 other owns who support me totally. So it is embarrassing to me and to the people of Union County, when a few people in this town will try everything in their power with their same negative remarks to destroy my reputation, when my reputation speaks for itself.  [ ]

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Democratic Bill to Promote Cost-Cutting Small Business Improvements Gets Panel OK

(TRENTON) – Legislation Assembly Democrats Troy Singleton, Herb Conaway Jr., Paul Moriarty, Jerry Green, Pamela Lampitt and Vincent Mazzeo sponsored to facilitate cost-effective environmentally-friendly improvements for small businesses was advanced Thursday by an Assembly panel.
“Making their locations more energy efficient has the potential to save small businesses thousands of dollars each year,” said Singleton (D-Burlington). “This legislation will go a long way toward helping to keep the costs of lighting, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems and other similar expenses at a minimum and increasing overall profitability for small businesses in New Jersey.”
The bill (A-943) would permit small businesses to qualify for New Jersey Economic Development Authority loans to cover the costs of conducting energy audits and making energy efficiency and conservation improvements.
“Energy efficient upgrades can reduce operating costs for small businesses while also making them eligible for the additional benefit of tax credits,” said Conaway (D-Burlington). “In coupling the advantages for our economy and our environment, this bill presents a simple yet significant way to move New Jersey forward.”
In consultation with the Department of Community Affairs and the Board of Public Utilities, the NJEDA would be permitted to establish and administer low-interest loans to small businesses for 100 percent of any unreimbursed costs of an energy audit conducted by a licensed contractor and for 100 percent of any unreimbursed costs of the purchase and installation of energy or conservation equipment deemed necessary as a result of the energy audit.
The bill defines a “low-interest loan” as a loan for a maximum 10-year term at a maximum rate of either 3 percent or one-half of the prime interest rate reported in a financial newspaper published and circulating in New York City, whichever is greater.
“For most small businesses, energy costs rank among the top operating expenses, so keeping those bills as low as possible can make a real difference for a business’s bottom line,” said Moriarty (D-Camden/Gloucester). “This legislation will help businesses reduce their costs as well as their carbon footprints.”
“More and more, entrepreneurs are realizing that environmental leadership is fundamental to an effective modern business model,” said Green (D-Middlesex/Somerset/Union). “Regardless of whether they are primarily motivated by saving the environment or by saving money, this bill will enable small business owners to rein in on wasteful practices.”
“As we move toward an economy in which sustainability is increasingly a principal factor, it’s becoming clear that going green can help a small business stay in the black,” said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). “By supporting energy efficient transitions for New Jersey’s small businesses, this legislation will give New Jersey’s economy a competitive edge, and it will also be essential in our fight against climate change.”
“Like small business owners all over the state, I’m constantly thinking about how to manage costs effectively so that ultimately I can both make payroll and provide customers with the best service,” said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic), owner of B.F. Mazzeo. “Through this legislation, small business owners in New Jersey will be able to save on operating costs and market to a client base that values environmental sustainability.”   
The measure was released by the Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Lampitt, Andrzejczak, Mazzeo, Tucker, Singleton & Mukherji Bills to Make It Easier for Veterans to Get Services Released by Assembly Panel

Bills Come After Special Joint Hearing on Issues Facing Women Veterans

(TRENTON) – Legislation Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt, Bob Andrzejczak, Vince Mazzeo, Cleopatra Tucker, Troy Singleton and Raj Mukherji sponsored to help New Jersey’s veterans – especially women veterans -  obtain the help and services they need was released Wednesday by an Assembly panel.
The Assembly Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee chaired by Tucker released the bills after a joint hearing with the Assembly Women and Children Committee chaired by Lampitt on issues facing women veterans.
Under A-3749, sponsored by Lampitt, Mazzeo, Andrzejczak and Mukherji, the Department of Military and Veterans’ Affairs is to establish a program to provide assistance to qualified veterans in in-patient and out-patient treatment programs to travel to attend counseling programs within this state.
Many veterans are unable to take advantage of helpful treatment programs in New Jersey because of the difficulty in arranging transportation," said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington).  "This bill will promote transportation assistance to veterans in order to ensure our veterans have the access to quality care they deserve."
“Counseling programs are vital for many of our veterans, who sacrificed so much serving our country,” said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). “Unfortunately, getting to these programs can prove difficult for many veterans, so the least we can do is create a program to ensure they can travel to attend these programs.”
“Having programs for our veterans is important, but our veterans need to be able to travel to them for them to be of value, which can be a difficult task for many,” said Andrzejczak (D-Atlantic/Cape May/Cumberland), who is a disabled U.S. Army veteran wounded in Iraq. “If we truly want to help veterans, we need to ensure they can take full advantage of the programs there to help them, so that’s the goal of this bill.”
“Making sure our veterans can get to the programs they need is basic common sense,” said Mukherji (D-Hudson), who served in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. “Veterans in treatment programs who need counseling programs deserve basic services, especially when it can be easily accomplished.”
Under the bill, the department would:
·     Develop, in cooperation with NJ Transit, a program to provide assistance to qualified veterans to travel to and from counseling within the state using any motorbus or rail passenger service conducted by the corporation, whenever possible, without charge or the payment of a fee by the veteran;
·         Develop, in coordination with NJ Transit, a form of identification that permits a qualified veteran to be identified as a participant in the program established by this section; and
·         Notify the general public and eligible veterans that the program established by this section is available to qualified veterans.
The bill also directs NJ Transit to cooperate with the Department of Military and Veterans’ Affairs to effectuate the program.
Meanwhile, A-3750, sponsored by Lampitt, Tucker, Andrzejczak and Singleton, would require the Adjutant General to create a public webpage with information specifically for female veterans. 
"We know that dedicated programs and information to assist female veterans returning from service can prove extraordinarily helpful in helping female veterans transition to civilian life," Lampitt said. "This legislation ensures that this information to benefit female veterans is easy to find and provides one stop for all the essential information they need."
“The webpage must include, but is not limited to, veterans’ legal rights, benefits, medical and insurance issues, education and the transition from active service to civilian life,” said Tucker (D-Essex). “This web site should be easily accomplished and would surely prove immensely helpful to women veterans.”
“We should make it as easy as possible for veterans to get the help and services they need,” Andrzejczak said. “We all need to support ways to make it easier for veterans to transition to civilian life.”
“A webpage for female veterans would be a comprehensive source of information so that female veterans may be informed of the rights of veterans and the resources available to veterans without having to gather such information in a piecemeal fashion,” said Singleton (D-Burlington). “Creating a one-step web site for women veterans makes common sense and would go a long way to ensuring they get the help they need.”

Monday, October 20, 2014

Garcia, Coughlin, Green, McKeon, Andrzejczak & Fuentes Bill to Speed Process for Maintaining Vacant Properties Advanced by Assembly Panel

(TRENTON) – Legislation Assembly Democrats Carmelo Garcia, Craig Coughlin, Speaker Pro Tempore Jerry Green, John McKeon, Bob Andrzejczak and Angel Fuentes sponsored to provide an expedited process for foreclosing vacant and abandoned residential properties in uncontested actions was released Thursday by an Assembly panel.
The bill (A-3793) would provide that, notwithstanding any other law or rule to the contrary, if a residential mortgage lenders action to foreclose a mortgage on real property is uncontested, and the property is vacant and abandoned, the lender may file a Motion for Expedited Judgment and Sale. The motion would be accompanied by an affidavit from a person having personal knowledge of the contents and would plead the specific facts to establish that the action is uncontested and that the property is vacant and abandoned. 
"We've seen vacant properties throughout New Jersey destabilize neighborhoods and hurt property values," said Garcia (D-Hudson). "I view this as common sense - if a property is vacant and abandoned in an uncontested situation, then let's speed the process by which somebody will become responsible for it."
"New Jersey's continued foreclosure crisis is hurting neighborhood and promoting blight," said Coughlin (D-Middlesex). "Providing an expedited process such as this in uncontested cases is a smarter approach to protecting our communities."
"We need to do more to combat the scourge of vacant properties," said Green (D-Union/Middlesex/Somerset). "Allowing vacant properties to sit there causing problems when the case is uncontested just makes no sense at all."
"Making someone responsible for these properties sooner rather than later is the responsible thing to do," said McKeon (D-Essex/Morris). "It serves no one to have vacant properties spreading blight and destroying property values when a simple step such as this can go a long way toward improving the situation."
"Government bureaucracy can be frustrating in all circumstances, but especially if your neighborhood is being negatively impacted by a vacant property that could otherwise be maintained," said Andrzejczak (D-Atlantic/Cape May/Cumberland). "Quite simply, this bill is common sense."
"Too many neighborhoods have suffered due to needless red tape," said Fuentes (D-Camden/Gloucester). "This bill does the right thing for all involved."
Under the bill, if the Motion for Expedited Judgment and Sale and affidavit are found to be in compliance with the provisions of the bill, have been served on the debtor and other appropriate parties in accordance with the Rules Governing the Courts of the State of New Jersey, and are otherwise satisfactory, the Superior Court would: (1) enter final judgment in foreclosure; (2) direct issuance of a writ of execution to the Sheriff of the county in which the real property is situate that provides for the public sale of the property within 90 days of the filing of the service of the notice of intention that commenced the foreclosure action pursuant to the “Fair Foreclosure Act”; and (3) order payment by the lender of $1,000 as a fee for costs associated with the use of the process for expedited judgment and sale of the property as provided for in this bill.
In a manner consistent with the Rules Governing the Courts of the State of New Jersey, any debtor or interested party would be able to present a defense in response to the Motion for Expedited Judgment and Sale.  The bill would also require that the defense would need to be accompanied by an affidavit stating that the defense is not made solely for the purpose of delaying the relief requested pursuant to the Motion for Expedited Judgment and Sale. The bill would also require the defense to be presented within 90 days of the filing of the service of the notice of intention that             commenced the foreclosure action. Finally, any defense that is presented without the affidavit, or that is not presented within the 90 day time period, shall not be considered by the court.
The bill would further provide that nothing in the bill would be construed to affect the rights of a tenant to possession of a leasehold interest under the Anti-Eviction Act, the “New Jersey Foreclosure Fairness Act, or any other applicable law.
The bill was released by the Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee chaired by Coughlin.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Garcia, Mukherji, Vainieri Huttle, Mainor & Eustace Bill to Help Empower Teens to Seek Mental Health Treatment OK’d by Assembly Panel

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Carmelo G. Garcia, Raj Mukherji, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Charles Mainor and Tim Eustace to help empower minors to seek treatment for mental illness and emotional disorders was approved by an Assembly panel on Thursday.
“This bill takes into account the fears and stigmas associated with mental illness, particularly for young people,” said Garcia (D-Hudson).  “Hopefully by creating a more private means for them to seek treatment we can drastically improve and ultimately save lives.  I’m grateful to the young men and women of the Hudson County Boys and Girls Club who prompted me to sponsor this legislation.”
The bill (A-3435) is designated as the “Boys & Girls Clubs Keystone Law” in honor of the members of the Keystone Club of the Hudson County Boys & Girls Clubs who were concerned about suicide and self harm among teenagers.
“It’s inspiring to see the young men and women of the Hudson County Boys & Girls Club concerned with the welfare of their peers,” said Mukherji (D-Hudson).  “They understand, firsthand, what it’s like dealing with these hurdles as teens.  This legislation will allow teens in need to seek mental health treatment and, hopefully, aid in preventing suicides.”
Specifically, the bill would amend current law to permit a minor to give consent for behavioral health care for the treatment of mental illness or emotional disorders. 
“Research has shown that one of the greatest barriers to mental health treatment for teens is stigma,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen).  “Millions of young people forego treatment every year because of this.  Hopefully this bill will help them overcome that and seek the much-needed help they deserve.”
The bill provides that the minor’s consent to treatment under the supervision of a physician, an individual licensed to provide professional counseling, including, but not limited to, a psychiatrist, licensed practicing psychologist, certified social worker, licensed clinical social worker, licensed social worker, licensed marriage and family therapist, certified psychoanalyst, licensed psychologist or licensed clinical social worker, or in a health care facility would be valid and binding as if the minor were an adult.
“Social acceptance plays a huge role in the lives of teens,” said Mainor (D-Hudson).  “If they’re afraid to talk to a parent or guardian about any mental health issues or emotional disorders they might be experiencing then they may never seek the treatment they need.  This bill can change all that.”
Additionally, under the bill, the treatment would be considered confidential information between the physician, the individual who is licensed to provide professional counseling, or the health care facility, as appropriate, and the patient.
“Breaking down cultural ‘norms’ and overcoming stigma is hard at any age, but can feel impossible as a teen,” said Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic).  “By granting them the same measure of privacy afforded to adults, hopefully we can help them overcome whatever fears they may have to seek the treatment they need.”
The provisions of the bill are similar to those which already permit a minor to consent to treatment for venereal disease, HIV, AIDS, sexual assault, or drug or alcohol abuse.
The bill was approved by the Assembly Women and Children Committee and now awaits consideration by the full Assembly.

Assembly Panel OK’s Diegnan Bill to Use Student-Athlete Screening Procedures to Recognize & Prevent Cardiac Illnesses in all Children

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr. to help recognize and prevent cardiac illnesses in children was approved by an Assembly panel on Thursday.
            “We’ve seen far too many tragic cardiac incidents among students in recent years,” said Diegnan (D-Middlesex).  “In most of these cases, the student was completely unaware of any pre-existing cardiac condition.  This bill will help increase detection and prevent future tragedies.”
Diegnan has consistently advocated for better policies to help prevent sudden tragic cardiac incidents among students, including sponsoring legislation to develop an information campaign about a specific type of heart disease – hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) – as well as legislation requiring automatic external defibrillators in schools.
The bill (A-1473) approved today would require that an annual medical examination of any person 19 years of age and under include questions contained in the “Pre-Participation Physical Evaluation” form developed to screen students seeking to participate in school-sponsored athletics.
The bill also requires the Commissioner of Health, in consultation with various experts, to develop a cardiac screening professional development module, which advanced practice nurses, physicians, and physician assistants performing medical examinations would be required to periodically complete.  These individuals would be required to attest to their completion of the module upon renewal of certification, registration, or licensure, as applicable.
The module shall include, but need not be limited to, the following:
1)     completing and reviewing a detailed medical history with an emphasis on cardiovascular family history and personal reports of symptoms;
2)     identifying symptoms of sudden cardiac arrest that may require follow-up assessment with a cardiologist;
3)     recognizing normal structural changes of the heart;
4)     recognizing prodromal symptoms that precede sudden cardiac  arrest;
5)     performing the cardiovascular physical examination; and
6)     reviewing the major etiologies of sudden unexplained cardiac death with an emphasis on structural abnormalities and acquired conditions.
Additionally, the bill directs the Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs in the Department of Law and Public Safety, in consultation with the Commissioner of Health, to adopt rules and regulations to carry out the provisions of the bill.
The bill would take effect on the first day of the fourth month following its enactment, but authorizes the Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs and the Commissioner of Health to take prior administrative action as necessary for its implementation.
The bill was approved by the Assembly Women and Children Committee and now awaits consideration by the full Assembly.

Assembly Panel Approves Democratic Legislation Requiring Schools to Inform Parents about New State Testing

Jasey, Vainieri Huttle, Mainor, Watson Coleman, Wimberly, Oliver Bill requires public & charter schools to inform parents of new exams used to evaluate student achievement

(TRENTON) – An Assembly panel on Thursday released legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Mila Jasey, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Charles Mainor, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Benjie Wimberly and Sheila Oliver that would require public and charter schools to annually inform parents early in the school year of new state exams that will be administered to K-12 students.
The current state tests given to public school students to evaluate student achievement will be replaced with assessments developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers specifically designed to test for the Common Core State Standards. The purpose of the bill is to ensure that all parents and guardians of K-12 students are provided timely, clear, and accessible information about the purposes, costs, frequency, and length of the assessments that students will be required to take during the school year, and the rules and policies associated with those assessments.
“There is a serious concern among parents about testing in general, the new assessments and the academic impact the tests will have on their children,” said Jasey (D-Essex/Morris). “This bill attempts to ease those concerns by requiring school districts to keep parents fully informed about the new tests as well as all required state tests and what this means for our state’s students and schools.”
 “This is new territory for parents, who have been accustomed to a specific type of test to measure how well their children are learning in school,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “We owe it to parents who want to be involved in their children’s education to keep them informed.”
“Parents are understandably hesitant about these new evaluations and how they will impact their children academically,” said Mainor (D-Hudson). “This bill can help ease some of those fears by making parents aware of how these evaluations will work before they are administered to students.”
The bill (A-3077) provides that no later than October 1 of every school year, a school district and a charter school must provide parents or guardians of a student information on any State assessment or commercially-developed standardized assessment that will be administered to the student in that school year. The information will include, but need not be limited to, the following:
·       the subject area of the assessment and grade levels covered by the assessment;
·       the date or dates of the administration of the assessment;
·       whether the assessment has been screened for bias;
·       the time in which a student is expected to take and complete the assessment;
·       whether students are required to take the assessment online or have the option of using paper and pencil;
·       the special accommodations available for qualifying students;
·       how the assessment results will be used, including whether results will be used for placement in gifted and talented programs, placement in other programs or interventions, grade promotion, graduation, or in any other district or school decisions affecting students;
·       information on how and when the student and his parent or guardian can access both the  assessment and the  results;
·       the cost to the district associated with the purchase of the assessment from a commercial vendor, if applicable; and
·       whether the assessment is required by the State, the federal government or both, or is required only by the district or charter school.
 “Giving parents this information early in the school year helps them better understand the material being taught in the classroom, and helps avoid any confusion or misunderstanding when the time comes to administer these new tests,” said Watson Coleman (D-Mercer/Hunterdon).
“These tests measure student achievement, so parents are obviously apprehensive” said Wimberly (D-Bergen/Passaic). “It is only fair that we give parents as much information as possible about these new evaluations so they will be better able to help and advocate for their children.”
“There is a lot of conflicting information about these new assessments,” said Oliver (D-Essex). “Having schools supply information directly to parents can help clear up any half-truths and make parents feel better about the decisions that are being made on behalf of their children.”
The Commissioner of Education must provide a model document to each school district and charter school to provide the required information to parents or guardians.
The information provided annually to parents or guardians must also be available at the meeting of the board of education of the school district or the meeting of the board of trustees of the charter school at which the annual School Performance Reports are presented to the public.
The bill was approved by the Assembly Education Committee.

Vainieri Huttle Bill to Prevent Steroid Use Among High School Athletes Advanced by Assembly Panel

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) that would create measures to deter the use of steroids and performance enhancing substances among high school student-athletes in the state was approved Thursday by an Assembly panel.
“Student-athletes who turn to steroids to get an edge over the competition may not realize the serious risks they are taking with their health,” said Vainieri Huttle. “Many see their sporting heroes achieve impressive feats with the help of steroids and think it is okay for them to do the same, not understanding how detrimental these drugs can be to their physical and psychological health.”
The bill (A-2699) would implement the recommendations of the December 2005 report of the Governor’s Task Force on Steroid Use and Prevention. The bill would require the Department of Education (DOE) and the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) to work jointly to develop and implement, by the 2015-2016 school year, a program of random steroid testing of student-athletes. The bill would appropriate $45,000 to the DOE to fund the testing.
 “Young people are impressionable and often engage in risky behavior, believing nothing can go wrong until something does,” added Vainieri Huttle. “Random testing coupled with education is essential if we really want to prevent the use of these dangerous drugs among our student athletes.”
Under the bill, any person who coaches a public school district or nonpublic school interscholastic sport, dance, or cheerleading team must incorporate into the team’s training activities a gender-specific program designed to reduce the use of steroids and performance enhancing supplements, alcohol, and drugs, and to promote healthy nutrition and exercise. The program must have a team-centered design that provides a non-stigmatizing atmosphere and includes gender-specific content to address the risk of substance abuse unique to male and female adolescents. The program developed by the coach must be submitted to the athletic director of the school district or nonpublic school for approval.
The bill also requires the NJSIAA to develop and implement, by the 2015-2016 school year, a steroid and performance enhancing supplement prevention information program for all public and nonpublic high school coaches and athletic directors. The program would establish procedures and protocols designed to: provide coaches and athletic directors with information on the dangers of steroids and performance enhancing supplements; identify the use of steroids and performance enhancing supplements in student-athletes; and effectively incorporate healthy alternatives for strength building into coaches’ training programs.
The bill also requires the NJSIAA to provide anti-steroid and anti-performance enhancing supplement advertisements in any brochure, pamphlet, handout, program, book, or other type of material produced for sale or distribution at a tournament sanctioned by the association. The association may use any existing materials produced by the Partnership for a Drug Free New Jersey.  Under the bill, the Commissioner of Education is charged with ensuring that information and materials about preventing steroid use are available on the Department of Education’s website.
Lastly, the bill establishes the third week in September as “Steroid Awareness Week” in New Jersey and requires school districts to observe this week by organizing activities to raise awareness of the hazards of using steroids and performance enhancing supplements.
The bill was released by the Assembly Education Committee.

Assembly Panel Releases Legislation to Promote Donations to ALS Research

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Troy Singleton, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Daniel R. Benson, Herb Conaway Jr., Carmelo Garcia, Celeste Riley, Gabriela Mosquera and Ralph Caputo to allow gross income taxpayers to use their returns to make voluntary contributions to the Greater Philadelphia and Greater New York Chapters of the ALS Association for services provided to New Jersey residents was advanced recently by an Assembly panel.
The bill (A-3290) requires gross income tax returns to include a provision to allow taxpayers to make voluntary donations to the ALS Association for taxable years beginning on or after the date of enactment. The measure establishes the ALS Association Support Fund as a depository for the donations.
“The mission of the ALS Association is to lead the fight to treat and cure ALS through global research and nationwide advocacy, while also empowering people with Lou Gehrig’s Disease and their families to live fuller lives by providing them with compassionate care and support through a nationwide network of chapters,” said Singleton (D-Burlington). “Making it easier for New Jerseyans to donate to support this cause is the right thing to do.”
The bill directs 50 percent of deposits to the ALS Association Support Fund to be appropriated to the Greater Philadelphia chapter of the ALS Association for services the organization provides to residents located in southern New Jersey and 50 percent of deposits to be appropriated to the Greater New York Chapters of the ALS Association for services provided to residents in central and northern New Jersey. The bill additionally authorizes the Division of Taxation to retain sufficient receipts from the donations to cover administrative costs.
“ALS is a terrible disease and we need to make it as easy as possible to support the effort to overcome it,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “A simple step like this could go a long way toward finding a cure, which is our shared goal.”
“For New Jerseyans able to do so, this option could make it easier to donate to this worthy cause,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “We all want to put an end to ALS, and anything that helps the cause is a step forward.” 
“ALS advocacy and funding are critical in the effort to care for and support men and women with this illness,” said Conaway (D-Burlington). “This legislation will provide New Jersey residents with the means to help improve the overall quality of life for those living with ALS and end the disease altogether.”
“During the past few months, we’ve seen unprecedented funding and attention go toward curing ALS, and this bill has the potential to keep that momentum going,” said Garcia (D-Hudson). “The easier we make it for people across New Jersey to contribute to the ALS Association, the more likely it is that they will join in the fight against this debilitating illness.”
“When people know how they can help and that they’re giving to a reputable organization, they want to contribute,” said Riley (D-Cumberland/Gloucester/Salem). “This legislation will facilitate giving and provide New Jersey residents with a way to support those living with ALS.”
“Every year, thousands of men and women across the nation receive an ALS diagnosis, and along with the physical difficulties, they must prepare for new financial burdens,” said Mosquera (D-Camden/Gloucester). “The recent surge in awareness and fundraising for the ALS Association was outstanding, but we can’t let that be a one-time thing. This bill will help provide much-needed support for New Jersey residents with ALS well into the future.”
“In a single month this summer, concerned donors across the nation raised $100 million for the ALS Association, making it clear that people want to give to this cause,” said Caputo (D-Essex). “This legislation establishes a means for New Jersey taxpayers to continue giving to the ALS Association as it works to support residents dealing with this devastating disease.”
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as "Lou Gehrig's Disease," is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord and is estimated to impact some 30,000 Americans at any given time, with an estimated 5,600 individuals newly diagnosed with the disease each year.
The bill was released by the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

*** TUESDAY *** Assembly Panel to Hold Second Special Hearing on New Jersey’s Transportation Funding Crisis

(TRENTON) – The Assembly Transportation panel will meet Tuesday in Piscataway for the second of several hearings on New Jersey’s transportation funding crisis.
The Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee will meet on Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014 at 10:00 a.m. in the Multipurpose Room, Busch Campus Center, Busch Campus, Rutgers University. The Busch Campus Center is at 604 Bartholomew Road, Piscataway, New Jersey, 08854.
The committee will take testimony from transportation experts and the public concerning the Transportation Trust Fund and its impact on the state’s economy. The committee will examine how a first-class transportation network for moving goods, services and people is essential to attract businesses and create jobs in New Jersey.

DeAngelo, Quijano, Andrzejczak & Wilson Bill to Establish Fund for Veterans Organizations Clears Panel

Legislation Would Allow Donations Through Gross Income Tax Returns
(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Wayne P. DeAngelo, Annette Quijano, Sgt. Robert Andrzejczak and Whip Wilson that would allow New Jersey taxpayers to make donations to nonprofit veterans’ organizations via their gross income tax returns was recently approved by an Assembly panel.
The bill (A-2313) would establish the Fund for the Support of New Jersey Nonprofit Veterans Organizations, to which taxpayers may indicate they would like to donate on their tax returns. An annual grant program drawing from contributions to the fund would assist private nonprofit veterans organizations in providing programs and services for veterans. Many such organizations have experienced financial hardship due to the recent economic downturn.
“Organizations like the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion and the Marine Corps League are sources of support and community for veterans in New Jersey,” said DeAngelo (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “With this bill, we show our appreciation for those who have given so much for the sake of the people of this state and this nation.”
“As more troops return from Afghanistan over the next few years, veterans organizations will play a vital role in their transition to civilian life,” said Quijano (D-Union). “Giving New Jersey residents a means to contribute to this cause will facilitate their display of gratitude for these veterans and all the patriotic men and women before them who have demonstrated their commitment to our nation’s freedom.”
“Our nation’s veterans have put their lives on the line in defense of the United States of America,” said Andrzejczak (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland), a U.S. Army veteran who was wounded while serving in Iraq. “This bill will help ensure that New Jersey residents may express their appreciation for all veterans, no matter when or where they served.”
“Veterans organizations provide ways for those who served to connect with one another,” said Wilson (D-Camden/Gloucester), a U.S. Air Force veteran who served in Vietnam and Thailand. “This legislation will help foster those bonds and honor the men and women who were willing to make great sacrifices for this nation.”
The bill was approved by the Assembly Appropriations Committee on Thursday, Oct. 2.  The Assembly Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee released the measure in June.

Assembly Panel Approves Moriarty, Diegnan Pro-Consumer Legislation to Inform Used Car Buyers of Motor Vehicle Recalls

(TRENTON) – The Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee recently released a pro-consumer bill sponsored by Assembly Democrats Paul Moriarty and Patrick Diegnan that would require a car dealer to provide information to a potential buyer of a used motor vehicle with outstanding recalls.
“Buyers should be informed of motor vehicle recalls before a purchase is made,” said Moriarty (D-Camden, Gloucester). “Recalled vehicles sold unwittingly to consumers pose a safety risk. Whether the vehicle has been recalled is critical information for families to know before buying.”
Under the bill, it would be an unlawful practice under the consumer fraud act for the dealer to sell a used vehicle without first contacting, or accessing information provided by, the vehicle manufacturer or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to determine if there are any recalls specific to a particular vehicle, not just the vehicle’s make and model, which have not been corrected or addressed. In the event that a recall is discovered, the dealer would provide the recall information to the prospective purchaser prior to finalizing the sale of the vehicle.
“This legislation will keep used car sales honest and fair, as they should be,” said Diegnan (D-Middlesex). “Consumers should be informed so that they may make the best decision possible.”
An unlawful practice under the consumer fraud act is punishable by a monetary penalty of not more than $10,000 for a first offense and not more that $20,000 for any subsequent offense. In addition, violations can result in cease and desist orders issued by the Attorney General, the assessment of punitive damages, and the awarding of treble damages and costs to the injured party.
 The bill applies only to retail sales, excluding wholesale sales, sales between dealers, and sales to owners or operators of motor vehicle junk businesses or motor vehicle junk yards, or any other persons or entities engaged in the business of dismantling, destroying, or recycling motor vehicles.

Eustace, Benson, Vainieri Huttle, Lagana & Caride Legislation to Encourage Safe Disposal of Prescription Drugs Advances in Assembly

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Timothy Eustace, Daniel Benson, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Joseph Lagana and Marlene Caride to provide a safe way for New Jersey residents to dispose of prescription drugs was released recently by an Assembly panel. 
“Disposing of unused prescription drugs properly is equally as important as taking them as prescribed,” said Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic). “Prescription drug abuse is prevalent in many communities, and much of that abuse begins at home where the drugs are easily accessible.”
The bill (A-2859) requires the Division of Consumer Affairs to supply and install a secure prescription medicine drop-off receptacle where the public many dispose of unused prescription medications in every state police barracks and county sheriff’s department and every county police department and full-time municipal police department which agrees to participate. The receptacles are to be available to the public seven days a week. Police departments that choose not to have receptacles on site would be required to post notification advising the public of where the closest receptacle is located.
In June of 2011, following a public hearing outlining the changing dynamics of the criminal drug trade, the State of New Jersey Commission of Investigation (SCI) found that a growing number of young people are abusing prescription drugs, and noted that the practice has led to increases not only in the number of young people addicted to painkillers, but also in the number of young people using heroin. The report issued by the SCI in July 2013, “Scenes from an Epidemic,” confirms this finding and notes that addiction often begins with leftover prescription medicines in the home.
The sponsors proposed the legislation to encourage residents to throw away unused prescriptions in a safe manner and help prevent youth access and potential abuse.
 “The number of young people experimenting with and becoming addicted to prescription drugs is rapidly rising,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “Unfortunately, there are a number of ways to access these types of drugs, but studies show that in many cases access begins at home with unsecured prescriptions.”
The division has developed a program called “Project Medicine Drop” in an effort to combat the abuse and diversion of prescription drugs.
“Drop-off receptacles will provide a safe place to throw away prescription drugs and keep them out of the hands of any people trying to sell the drugs or take them without a prescription,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “This legislation will be a crucial element in our statewide battle against addiction.”
“Prescription drug abuse kills more people each day than heroin and cocaine overdoses combined in America,” said Lagana (D-Bergen/Passaic).  “Unfortunately, addiction to these drugs can have its origin not on the street corner, but in the medicine cabinet. By giving clear directions on how to properly dispose of these drugs, we can help stop problems before they begin.”
“Whether they go into the trash and unauthorized individuals abuse them or they are flushed down the toilet and into our waterways, unused prescription drugs are poisons that threaten the wellness of our communities,” said Caride (D-Bergen/Passaic). “These receptacles will require minimal cost and effort from law enforcement, but they will go a long way toward curbing addiction in New Jersey.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has classified prescription drug abuse as an epidemic. While there has been a marked decrease in the use of some illegal drugs like cocaine, data from the Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) show that nearly one-third of people aged 12 and over who used drugs for the first time in 2009 began by using a prescription drug non-medically.
According to the United States Centers for Disease Control, 40 Americans die every day from an overdose caused by prescription painkiller abuse.
 “Project Medicine Drop” has expanded so there is presently at least one drop-off location in every county. This bill will expand the program even further to ensure that New Jersey residents are able to access secure drop-boxes within their communities easily and safely dispose of their unused and potentially dangerous medications.
The measure was released by the Assembly Appropriations Committee.