Press Releases

Beach, Greenwald & Lampitt Applaud Tax Relief Deadline Extension

Seniors, Disabled Homeowners Have Until August 17 to File for “Senior Freeze,” Homestead Rebate

(VOORHEES)—Senator James Beach, Assemblyman Louis Greenwald, and Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt (all D-6th) today applauded Governor Jon S. Corzine for extending the deadline for senior and disabled homeowners to file for their “Senior Freeze” property tax reimbursement and their Homestead Rebate from June 1, 2009 to August 17, 2009.

Earlier this year, the Legislature passed into law a measure expanding the eligibility requirements for the “Senior Freeze” program. Estimates suggest up to 70,000 additional households may be eligible under the expanded income eligibility requirements, which increased to $70,000 for 2008 and $80,000 for 2009.

“Now that June 1 is upon us, the new deadline for the ‘Senior Freeze’ and Homestead Rebate will allow seniors and disabled property taxpayers an extended window to apply for property tax relief,” said Beach. “By recently voting to expand eligibility, we’ve committed to doing everything we can to help seniors and disabled residents weather this economic storm.”

“In this tough economy, many seniors and disabled homeowners are truly struggling to make ends meet,” said Greenwald. “As legislators, we took the lead in expanding the eligibility for the ‘Senior Freeze’ to protect our residents from this recession. With the deadline for these programs extended from June 1 to August 17, I urge eligible residents to apply.”

Oliver/Lampitt/Greenwald/ Love/Cruz-Perez Bill Requiring State to Report Assaults/Deaths at State Psychiatric Hospitals Advances

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly members Sheila Y. Oliver, Pamela R. Lampitt, Louis D. Greenwald, Sandi Love and Nilsa Cruz-Perez to require the state to publicly report assaults and deaths at state psychiatric hospitals has been approved by the Assembly.

The legislation (A-2949) is a direct response to delays in the release of statistics on assaults at Ancora Psychiatric Hospital in Camden County.

Lawmakers had requested the information following several high-profile incidents at the hospital, including a patient escape and several deaths.

“The well-being of patients at state-operated hospitals should never be in doubt and breaches in the safety net cannot be hidden from view,” said Oliver (D-Essex). “Any violent incident at a state hospital must be made part of the public record so health officials and legislators can take appropriate and immediate action.”

The bill would require the Department of Human Services (DHS) to establish a system for reporting the number of physical assaults and unexpected deaths that occur at the state’s psychiatric hospitals: Ancora, Ann Klein Forensic Center, Greystone Park Psychiatric Center, Senator Garret W. Hagedorn Psychiatric Center and Trenton Psychiatric Hospital.

The report would be a public record, posted on the official DHS website and updated quarterly, but would not contain identifying information about patients or staff members.

Diegnan/ Cryan/ Lampitt Bill for Standard School Officials' Contracts Passes Assembly

Greatly Varying Perks, Salaries Underscore Need For Statewide Boilerplate Language

(TRENTON) – The Assembly today cleared legislation Assembly members Patrick J. Diegnan, Joseph Cryan and Pamela Lampitt sponsored to implement a statewide contract template for the hiring of all public school superintendents by a vote of 74-1 with one abstention.

“There is absolutely no reason that superintendent contracts should vary so greatly from district-to-district,” said Diegnan (D-Middlesex). “A standard contract template would level the playing field across districts and stop the end-run abuses of tax dollars meant for the classroom. Most importantly, it would insulate the vast majority of dedicated educators from seeing their reputations tarnished by the untoward practices of a few.”

The measure (A-3185) would require that all school districts in New Jersey use a standard contract template when hiring a new superintendent. The template would be created by state education officials and would address all aspects of employment including salary, health insurance, pension, sick days and vacation. School boards and prospective superintendents seeking to deviate from the standard contract would have to seek approval the Commissioner of the Department of Education.

Assembly Passes Roberts/Prieto/Voss Bill for Insurance Coverage for Autism-Spectrum Treatments

(TRENTON) – Legislation Speaker Joseph J. Roberts Jr., Assemblyman Vincent Prieto and Assemblywoman Joan Voss sponsored to require health insurers to provide coverage for medically necessary treatments of autism-spectrum disorders today passed the General Assembly.

The measure (A-2238) passed 71-4 with one abstentions. It stems from the enactment in 2007 of seven laws that made New Jersey a national leader in providing support to families affected by autism.

“Failing to help a child try to overcome the obstacles presented by autism will lead to costlier problems later,” Roberts said. “Autistic adults who have not received the proper treatment will leave our families, communities and state with new and more expensive challenges. Not only are we making people’s lives better, we’re doing it in a very cost-effective way. This is just an incredibly good investment.”

“Families living every day with this baffling disorder need the assurance that autism treatments recommended by their doctors will be covered by insurers,” said Prieto (D-Hudson). “Autism already robs a person of so much; treating it shouldn’t also rob a family of their finances.”

The measure was endorsed in committee by Bob Wright, grandparent to an autistic child and co-founder of Autism Speaks. The group was involved in successfully lobbying the United Nations to recognize World Autism Day and Congress to provide more research money.

Assembly to Consider Bills to Require Autism Insurance Coverage, Combat Medical Errors, Restrict School Chief Pay

Will Also Mull Lt. Gov. Campaign Disclosure and Finance Rules

(TRENTON) – The Assembly will meet Thursday to vote on measures to require insurance coverage for autism treatments, combat hospital medical errors, restrict excessive school chief pay and impose campaign rules on lieutenant governor candidates.

Legislation Assemblyman Speaker Joseph J. Roberts Jr. (D-Camden), Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson) and Assemblywoman Joan Voss (D-Bergen) sponsored would require insurers to provide coverage for autism treatments.

The measure (A-2238) stems from the enactment in 2007 of seven laws that made New Jersey a national leader in providing support to families affected by autism. New Jersey has the nation’s highest autism rates.

“Autistic adults who have not received the proper treatment will leave our families, communities and state with new and more expensive challenges,” Roberts said. “Not only are we making people’s lives better, we’re doing it in a very cost-effective way.”

Legislation (A-1264/3371/3633) Assemblymen Paul Moriarty, Linda Greenstein (D-Middlesex/Mercer), Lou Greenwald and Nilsa Cruz Perez (both D-Camden) sponsored would prohibit hospitals from holding patients and their insurance companies liable for medical bills related to errors and require public hospital-specific reporting.

“Patients rightly expect that their safety and wellbeing will be protected when they visit a hospital,” said Moriarty (D-Gloucester).