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Proposed Gun Laws Take Aim at Domestic Abuse, But from Two Different Angles

NJ Spotlight
Hank Kalet
June 22, 2015
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Democrats seek to take all weapons away from abusers while GOP calls for making easier for victims to get gun permits

As the tragic mass shooting in Charleston once again revives the national debate over gun laws, legislators in New Jersey -- which has some of the strictest gun regulations in the country – are focusing on the specific issue of domestic violence and firearms.

Bills that would increase penalties for convicted abusers and include new offenses under the definition of domestic abuse -- are working their way through the Legislature, apparently with bipartisan support.

But two other pieces of legislations are predictably pitting advocacy groups against each other. While advocates and lawmakers agree that there should be that the all-important goal is ensuring the safety of victims, how that should be accomplished is what’s being debated.

Pro-gun groups are calling a Democratic proposal (S- 2886), which would make it easier to take away guns from abusers, an infringement on gun rights that punishes those accused but not necessarily convicted of domestic violence.

The bill is supported by gun-control groups and advocates for domestic-violence victims, who say the best way to keep victims safe is to keep guns out of the hands of abusers.

New Jersey State Assemblywoman Lampitt Honored as BIO State Legislator of the Year

Business Wire
June 17, 2015
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PHILADELPHIA--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) announced today its selection of New Jersey State Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt (6th District) as a state Legislator of the Year for 2015. Assemblywoman Lampitt is the prime sponsor of A-2477, which authorizes the prescription and dispensing of biosimilar products in New Jersey. Assemblywoman Lampitt received this honor during the 2015 BIO International Convention.

“Assemblywoman Lampitt’s has worked hard to ensure the people of New Jersey have quality health care,” said BIO President and CEO Jim Greenwood. “We are pleased to name Assemblywoman Lampitt as a Legislators of the Year to recognize her leadership in working with fellow lawmakers to craft legislation that will ensure patients have choices when it comes to prescription medication, as well as ample information to help them make smart decisions.”

“BioNJ is proud to have nominated Assemblywoman Lampitt for this prestigious honor," said Debbie Hart, President and CEO, BioNJ. "We applaud Assemblywoman Lampitt for her continued support for finding cures for patients and thank her for her leadership in advancing the biosimilars legislation in New Jersey."

NJ’S BIOTECH INDUSTRY BACKS BILL SETTING RULES FOR NEW DRUG PRESCRIPTIONS

NJSPOTLIGHT
May 13, 2015
Andrew Kitchenman
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Exactly what pharmacists will have to do to meet state regulations when dispensing a new class of drugs -- and whether that’s a necessary step to increase the safety of patients or a waste of money -- has moved to the center of an ongoing legislative lobbying battle.

A bill that would require pharmacists to notify doctors and other prescribers when they substitute a class of drugs known as biologics with substitutes called biosimilars is currently being debated in the state legislature.

Biologics are cultivated from living cells, unlike traditional drugs, which are synthesized in labs. This difference in chemistry means that each biologic is unique, according to industry representatives who argue that’s a key reason why doctors should know each time a pharmacy makes a substitution of a biosimilar for a biologic. Biosimilars are akin to name-brand biologics, but cheaper. While the government is expected to certify that some biosimilars are interchangeable with biologics, they won’t be chemically identical in the same way that generic drugs can be identical to name-brand drugs.

The bill, A-2477/S-1705, is supported by the biotechnology industry, which sees these notices as a necessary step to ensure that doctors are aware that a substitution has been made.

Breast milk banks may be regulated in NJ

NewsWork
May 11, 2015
Phil Gregory
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New Jersey lawmakers are considering a measure to require breast milk banks be licensed by the state Department of Health.

Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt is concerned that unregulated, shared breast milk might not be stored at the proper temperature.

"Bacteria can come in to the breast milk, and, when an infant is then receiving breast milk that has a high content of bacteria,it can cause severe problems and sometimes death," said Lampitt, D-Camden, Monday during an Assembly committee hearing.

Lampitt's bill, which would require screening of the milk, would also set standards for processing and storage.

But the measure could discourage milk banks from opening in New Jersey, according to Ellen Maughan with the New Jersey Breastfeeding Coalition.

"It does stand to increase costs a bit on a commodity that's really needed for sick babies and is already pretty expensive and is not always covered by insurance," Maughan said at the hearing.

Maughan said funding intended for the regulations in Lampitt's measure would be better spent on a public awareness campaign to promote breastfeeding.

"That money could be put toward increasing breastfeeding rates to lessen the demand for shared or banked human milk," she said.

Fifteen nonprofit breast milk banks in other states now provide supplies to New Jersey hospitals.

Christie sticks fork in vegetarian bill

Courier Post
May 8, 2015
Jim Walsh
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Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a bill Thursday that would have required school districts to consider "culturally sensitive" menu choices for students, including vegetarian fare.

Advocates said the measure, overwhelming approved by the Legislature, would benefit students whose diets reflect religious or cultural restrictions. Among other provisions, it would have require districts to make "all reasonable efforts" to offer hot and cold vegetarian and vegan choices if requested by a student.

But Christie said the measure "would unnecessarily burden" more than 500 school districts across the state.

In a veto message Thursday, he noted the bill would require districts to conduct "food surveys" of middle- and high-school students, and to form an advisory committee if any student indicates an "unmet food preference."

"In light of the many challenges school districts already encounter in order to provide an education worthy of our children's future, I cannot support the additional costs and burdens this bill would impose," Christie said in the statement.

He said parents or students unhappy with cafeteria food could "raise their concerns to the local board of education or elected officials."

The bill won approval by votes of 58-16 in the Assembly and 34-5 in the Senate.