October 16, 2014
Lampitt, Benson, O’Donnell, Vainieri Huttle & Tucker Bill to Help Residents with Disabilities Access Services Clears Panel
October 10, 2014
Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt, Daniel Benson, Jason O'Donnell, Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Cleopatra Tucker to increase awareness of the application processes for programs and services available to New Jersey residents with developmental disabilities was released Thursday by an Assembly panel.
"For many individuals with developmental disabilities, the ability to live independently and be economically stable depends on the ability to access the appropriate housing, transportation and the proper medical and behavioral care. Unfortunately, gaining that access can be a complex and confusing process," said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). "This legislation will help ensure that residents of New Jersey who have developmental disabilities can get the services they need."
The bill (A-2841) would require the Department of Human Services to develop a timeline briefly explaining and denoting the age at which individuals with developmental disabilities may apply for various services and activities so that they may better understand when and where to apply for state and federal benefits.
"When it comes to navigating matters of guardianship, Social Security benefits, employment, education and transportation, many people with developmental disabilities and their loved ones just don't know when, how or where to begin," said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "This legislation will serve as a roadmap that will help them start these processes successfully, which is the first step toward getting what they need in a timely fashion."
Gusciora, Benson, Wilson, Lampitt & Andrzejczak Bill Package to Prevent Animal Cruelty Gains Assembly Panel Approval
October 9, 2014
A comprehensive package of five animal welfare bills sponsored by Assembly Democrats Reed Gusciora, Daniel Benson, Gilbert "Whip" Wilson, Pamela Lampitt and Bob Andrzejczak to crack down on animal cruelty was unanimously approved by an Assembly panel on Thursday.
A-201, sponsored by Gusciora, Benson and Wilson, would authorize the courts to issue an animal protection order against any person found guilty of abusing an animal or otherwise violating the state animal cruelty laws. The animal protection order would require the person to refrain from interacting with an animal permanently or for a period of time specified by the court.
"As a humane society, we should not tolerate abuses against animals any more than we would against a person," said Gusciora (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "Sadly, there have been a number of high profile animal abuse cases in recent years, a good number of which arise from domestic disputes, lending even more support for this legislation. Whether it's indirect abuse, like starvation, direct abuse such as physical violence or the anger of a disgruntled spouse or partner, this bill will help protect innocent animals."
"In the same vein as a domestic violence restraining order, this measure will help protect animals from cruelty and abuse," said Wilson (D-Camden). "These innocent, defenseless creatures deserve these protections as much as people do."
October 6, 2014
Bill Would Create Three-Year Pilot Program to Help Struggling Homeowners Reduce Mortgage Principal
Legislation Assembly Democrats Troy Singleton, Jerry Green, Wayne DeAngelo, Shavonda Sumter and Pamela Lampitt sponsored to create a pilot program to assist distressed New Jersey homeowners stay in their homes and avoid foreclosure was recently released by an Assembly panel.
"Behind every financially-troubled home is a family working feverishly to stay afloat," said Singleton (D-Burlington). "This pilot program would help these homeowners be able to afford to stay in their homes without encouraging homeowners who are current on their mortgages to default, reducing the foreclosures and short sales that are stifling the recovery of the housing sector."
The bill (A-955) would establish the "Mortgage Assistance Pilot Program" in the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (NJ HMFA). The three-year pilot program would 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.
The sponsors noted that New Jersey's foreclosure inventory is the fourth highest in the nation, and we are one of the few states in the nation where the foreclosure percentage rose over the past year.
September 22, 2014
Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Joseph Cryan, Daniel Benson, Troy Singleton, Pamela Lampitt, Celeste Riley and Nancy Pinkin to boost breakfast programs in schools, particularly for underprivileged children, in order to help give them a leg up on academics was approved 38-0 on Monday by the Senate, giving it final legislative approval.
The bill (A679/2186) would require the state to make every effort to assist school districts and nonpublic schools in increasing the participation rate of students, particularly low-income students, in the federal School Breakfast Program by establishing a "breakfast after the bell" program in the first-period classroom or during the first few minutes of the day.
The Department of Agriculture, in conjunction with the Department of Education, would oversee the effort and also be charged with preparing and issuing an annual report to the governor and the legislature on the number and percentage of students participating in a school breakfast program, and the format used for providing breakfast.
"Currently, the vast majority of New Jersey school districts only serve breakfast to a fraction of eligible children," said Cryan (D-Union). "With research showing that school breakfast increases attendance and decreases tardiness, improves academic performance both in class and on standardized tests, and improves attentiveness, we need to make it a priority.