Press Releases

Bill Creating Commission to Study, Recommend Ways to Make NJ Colleges More Affordable Gains Final Legislative Approval

January 29, 2015

The Assembly on Thursday unanimously passed legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats John Wisniewski, Dan Benson, Pamela Lampitt, Paul Moriarty, Benjie Wimberly and Carmelo G. Garcia to create a task force charged with studying different ways to help make college more affordable for New Jersey students, giving it final legislative approval.

Having received amendments to concur with a previous conditional veto, the bill (A-2236) now returns to the governor's desk.

"Rising tuition costs are placing unbearable financial burdens on New Jersey college students and families," said Wisniewski (D-Middlesex). "The findings of the commission have the potential to open doors for students who otherwise could not afford a college education. Making higher education more affordable not only helps these students, but the state, which would benefit from a well-educated workforce."

"It is a terrible tragedy when our best and brightest cannot further their education due to the rising cost of college tuition," said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "The commission will examine all avenues to make higher education in New Jersey more affordable and accessible to our students."

Mazzeo, Vainieri Huttle, Lampitt, Mosquera & Benson Bill to Allow Service Animals to Board School Buses Advances

January 28, 2015

Assembly approved legislation Assembly Democrats Vincent Mazzeo, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Pamela Lampitt, Gabriela Mosquera and Daniel Benson sponsored to allow students with disabilities to bring service animals onto school buses in New Jersey continued advancing on Monday.

"This legislation ensures that New Jersey aligns with what federal law prescribes," said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). "What's more important, however, is our commitment to ensuring that students with disabilities can have the highest quality of life possible and access the same opportunities as their peers."

The measure was approved by the Assembly in November and advanced Monday by the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee.
The bill (A-3690) would expand state law to allow students with disabilities to board a school bus with a service animal. Current law only permits students with disabilities to enter classrooms and school grounds with service animals. Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act protects individuals with disabilities from discrimination in services provided by state and local government entities.

"For certain students with disabilities, service animals are required for optimal learning and development," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "If a student needs a service animal in school and is allowed to have that, it is common sense to allow the student to bring the service animal onto the school bus as well."

Bipartisan Bill to Make Sure “Return Home NJ” Program is Compassionate and Pragmatic Gets Assembly Panel OK

January 15, 2015

Vainieri Huttle, Lampitt, Garcia, Eustace & Mosquera Bill Will Ensure Individuals with Disabilities Aren't Transferred Home Against their Will

An Assembly panel on Thursday approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Pamela Lampitt, Carmelo G. Garcia, Tim Eustace and Gabriela Mosquera to ensure that individuals with disabilities living in out-of-state facilities are not transferred home under the "Return Home New Jersey" program to the detriment of their well-being.

"We need to make sure our most vulnerable are not sacrificed for savings, especially when it's minor savings that carry major consequences," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "There may be some situations where returning an individual home is in their best interest, but there are also many circumstances where a transfer will cause a wholesale disruption to an individual's life. These outstanding factors, as well as a family's wishes, must all be weighed before the fate of each individual is determined."

The legislation was proposed after Governor Christie conditionally vetoed an earlier measure (S-2249) sponsored by Vainieri Huttle. That bill would have imposed a moratorium on the "Return Home New Jersey" initiative until a plan was drafted to ensure comparable services would be offered to individuals in state and would have allowed anyone placed out of state 10 years ago or more to remain in their homes.

Benson, Jimenez, Lampitt & Caride Bill to Protect Quarantined Health Care & Public Safety Workers Advanced by Assembly Panel

January 15, 2015

Legislation protecting first responders who are quarantined or placed in isolation as a result of a health condition sustained on the job was advanced Thursday by the Assembly Labor Committee.

The bill, sponsored by Daniel R. Benson, Angelica Jimenez, Pamela Lampitt and Marlene Caride, requires an employer to pay a health care worker or first responder regular compensation for any period of time that the health care worker or first responder is placed in isolation or quarantine and unable to work.

It comes after concerns about the treatment of health care workers amid the ongoing Ebola outbreak.

"Healthcare workers and first responders are exposed to many job hazards in their line of work," said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "Quarantine may not happen often, but can be required in some of the more serious health cases occurring today. Our support must never waver for the men and women who save lives in today's unpredictable world."

"Emergency personnel risk their lives to save others when tragedy strikes," said Jimenez (D-Hudson/Bergen). "The dedication and sacrifice first responders' make should be returned if they fall ill and require isolated medical care as a result of just doing their jobs."

Assembly Panel Advances 2-Bill Package to Boost Access to School Breakfast

January 15, 2015

An Assembly panel on Thursday approved a two-bill package sponsored by Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt, Gary Schaer and Valerie Vainieri Huttle to help ensure that more students receive breakfast every day to boost their chances of success in school.

The first bill (A-3889), sponsored by Lampitt, would establish a school breakfast kiosk pilot program to ensure students have greater accessibility to breakfast items in school.

“This program will help more children start the school day with a nutritious breakfast in order to learn, grow, and develop to their full potential,” said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). “Research shows that school breakfast increases attendance and decreases tardiness, improves academic performance and attentiveness and reduces emotional and behavioral problems among students from all backgrounds.”

A school district seeking to participate in the two-year pilot program shall submit to the Department of Agriculture a plan outlining how the school will make food available on a cart, cubicle, or kiosk on the way into the school or to a classroom, dining room, or other designated area. The plan shall also outline food choices, including how they will be consistent with federal guidelines, pricing, and packaging requirements, as well as location, support, and disposal needs.