Teachers would get more training on suicide under bill

Asbury Park Press
January 25, 2015
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Public school teachers would undergo more suicide prevention education under a proposal from a bipartisan group of New Jersey lawmakers.

An Assembly committee approved the measure late last year while Republican state Sen. Diane Allen introduced a similar bill in the Senate this month.

The bill requires public school teachers and staff to receive two hours of suicide prevention training from a licensed health care professional every year, up from the current requirement of two hours over five years.

Democratic Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt said she and her colleagues are pursuing the change now because of the increased use of technology by students and the rise of bullying over text messages that could contribute to suicides.

The requirement that teachers undergo suicide prevention education reaches back to 2005 legislation that established the current requirement. Gov. Richard Codey signed the bill into law in 2006, making New Jersey the first state in the country to enact such a requirement.

New Jersey has a youth suicide rate of about 5 per 100,000 people, compared with nearly 8 per 100,000 nationally in 2012, the most recently available statistics from the New Jersey Department of Children and Families. The report defines youth as people from ages 10 to 24.

NJ considers dispensing quick and healthy breakfast at schools

January 20, 2015
Phil Gregory
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In an effort to get more students to participate in school breakfast programs, New Jersey lawmakers are hoping to enlist the help of a healthier version of a vending machine.

A bill advanced by an Assembly committee would create a pilot program in three school districts to make breakfast food available at kiosks stationed near a school entrance.

That would allow students to have easy access to breakfast without having to pay for a full-price meal price in the school cafeteria, said Assemblywoman Pam Lampitt.

"If you want to get the yogurt in a tube or grab a banana, you¹re able to acquire nutritious items in a more cost effective way," said Lampitt, D-Camden.

Adele LaTourette, director of the New Jersey Anti-Hunger Coalition, said a healthy breakfast can help kids learn.

"It feeds their brain. It makes sure that they have fewer issues in the classroom," she testified before the committee. "They're able to sit still, they're able to absorb information, and they're less of a problem."

Jennifer Maloney with the New Jersey Principals and Superintendents Association agreed with the strategy as a way of increasing student participation in school breakfast programs.

Bill to Create Alert System For Missing Persons With Developmental Disabilities Clears Assembly

The Bergen Dispatch
December 18, 2014
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Legislation introduced by Assembly Democrats Pamela R. Lampitt, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Daniel Benson, Gabriela Mosquera and Grace L. Spencer to facilitate the immediate circulation of information about missing persons with developmental disabilities was approved Thursday by the General Assembly.

The bill (A-2709) would establish the “Gold Alert System,” a cooperative effort between law enforcement agencies and media outlets to broadcast emergency alerts about missing persons with developmental disabilities. The alerts would include physical descriptions and other pertinent details. Under the bill, consent must be obtained prior to disseminating information about the person who is believed to be missing.

“This legislation reflects our collective duty to protect some of the most vulnerable New Jersey residents,” said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). “We must do all we can to ensure missing individuals can return home safe and sound, especially when we have all the necessary resources already in place.”

“When it comes to recovering a person who’s gone missing, we know that time is of the essence and knowledge is power,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “By creating widespread awareness as soon as possible, we can maximize the likelihood that a missing person will be found alive and unharmed.”

Paid sick leave bill advances from Assembly Budget Committe

Burlington County Times
December 16, 2014
David Levinsky
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Legislation to require all employers to provide paid sick leave for their workers took another step forward this week as theAssembly Budget Committee approved it for a floor vote by the full Assembly.

The committee voted 6-4 with one abstention Monday to release the bill, which would mandate that all public and private sector employees accrue one hour of earned sick leave for every 30 hours of work.

Earned time could be used by employees to recover or receive treatment from a mental or physical illness or injury, as well as care for a family member. Employers with more than 10 workers would be permitted to cap the amount of sick time at 72 hours. Those with fewer than 10 workers could cap the amount at 40 hours.

Supporters, including union and worker advocacy groups, claim that more than 1 million New Jersey workers aren’t able to take paid sick leave and are forced to choose between their job and caring for either themselves or a loved one.

“We need to allow people to earn the time. We need to allow people to take the time and take the time to care for their loved ones,” Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt, D-6th of Cherry Hill, said Monday during the committee hearing.

Providing Tax Relief to Those Caring for Elderly Relatives: N.J. Bill Clears Assembly Panel

NJ News Room
December 12, 2014
Regina Wilder
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Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Pamela R. Lampitt Gary S. Schaer, Gabriela Mosquera, Daniel J. Benson and Valerie Vainieri Huttle to provide a tax credit to those who take in and support an older family member was released on Thursday by an Assembly panel.

The bill (A-1855), designated as the Caregiver’s Assistance Act, provides a gross income tax credit to qualified caregivers, including resident taxpayers and resident individuals, who pay or incur qualified care expenses for the care and support of a qualifying senior family member residing with the caregiver at the caregiver’s permanent place of abode in this state.

“Those who provide older loved ones with care and support meet a critical need of the state’s aging population,” said Lampitt (D-Camden, Burlington). “There is no question that allowing seniors to remain in their own communities for longer periods of time can improve their overall quality of life and reduce the demand for long-term care services.”