Press Releases

Assembly Panel Approves Bill to Help Bring Food Assistance Program Directly to Residents after Chronic Programming Delays

March 24, 2015

An Assembly panel has approved legislation sponsored by Assemblywomen Pamela Lampitt and Valerie Vainieri Huttle to establish an enrollment program to help make sure New Jersey's most vulnerable families get the food assistance they need.

The bill (A-4090) would establish the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) enrollment program in the Department of Human Services (DHS).

"We need to be more creative in making sure this program works for the people who need it most because clearly the long-running approach has not been working," said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). "Long delays and a lack of communication have left many needy families in the lurch. This will help provide more clarity and make sure more residents are aware of this critical assistance."

The bill was designed to help combat New Jersey's "chronically poor performance" in administering the SNAP program. Reports last summer ranked the state 52nd out of 53 state agencies nationwide in terms of timeliness when it comes to processing applications for the program.

"These changes will bring this program directly to residents, make them more aware of it, and help them enroll onsite," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "Hopefully this will help alleviate some of the issues that have forced some of our most vulnerable residents to wait an exorbitant amount of time to find out if they qualify for crucial assistance to help feed their families."

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

March 23, 2015

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Vincent Mazzeo, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Pamela Lampitt, Gabriela Mosquera and Dan Benson to allow students with disabilities to bring service animals onto school buses in New Jersey was signed into law on Monday.

"This will ensure 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 new law (A-3690) will expand state law to allow students with disabilities to board a school bus with a service animal. Previous law only permitted 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."

Bill to Create Tax-Free Savings Accounts for Individuals with Disabilities Advanced by Assembly Panel

March 20, 2015

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt, Majority Leader Louis Greenwald, Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Daniel Benson to create tax-free savings accounts for individuals with disabilities was approved by an Assembly panel on Thursday.

The bill (A-3956) would establish a program within the New Jersey Division of Developmental Disabilities known as ABLE - Achieving a Better Life Experience - in accordance with the federal "Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2014," which was signed into law by President Obama in December 2014.

"The goal of this law is to ease the financial strains faced by individuals with disabilities by making tax-free savings accounts available to cover many day-to-day expenses," said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). "This is an important tool to help provide financial security throughout their lives."

"This new law will allow people with disabilities to open specialized accounts where they can save up to $100,000 without risking eligibility for Social Security and other government programs," said Greenwald (D-Camden/Burlington). "Even more importantly, individuals can keep their Medicaid coverage no matter how much money they accrue in an ABLE account."

To be eligible, individuals must have a condition that occurred before age 26 and each person may only open one ABLE account. As set forth in the federal law, qualifying disability expenses would include expenses made for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including:

· education expenses;

· housing and transportation expenses;

Lampitt & Diegnan Bill to Help Guide a Student's Return to School after a Concussion Advances in Assembly

March 20, 2015

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt and Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr. to help guard against exacerbating conditions in students who suffer concussions was approved by an Assembly panel on Thursday.

Specifically, the bill (A-4207) stipulates that a student enrolled in a school district who sustains a concussion must receive an evaluation by a physician trained in the evaluation and management of concussions and written clearance from the physician to return to school.

"The CDC emphasizes the importance of a collaborative approach by all those involved in managing a student's recovery from a concussion - school professionals, parents, personal physicians," said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). "This bill would incorporate that approach to ensure the utmost caution is taken during their return to school and related activities so that they can safely meet the challenges ahead of them."

"School professionals play an important part in a student's development given the host of side effects that can arise from a concussion-related injury," said Diegnan (D-Middlesex). "It's critical that we make sure that everyone involved in their care has knowledge of the student's concussion and input into their integration back into school. This is crucial for a full recovery."

Greenwald, Eustace, Moriarty, Lampitt & McKeon Bill to Strengthen Auto Industry & Keep Tesla in New Jersey Signed into Law

March 18, 2015

Legislation New Jersey Assembly Democrats Majority Leader Lou Greenwald, Timothy Eustace, Paul Moriarty and Pamela Lampitt sponsored to permit certain zero emission vehicle manufacturers to directly sell motor vehicles to consumers and require them to operate service facilities has been signed into law.

The law (A-3216) keeps Tesla in operation in New Jersey. Under a Motor Vehicle Commission decision, automobiles had to be sold through franchises.

Under the law, Tesla will be allowed to sell directly to consumers at up to four licensed locations in New Jersey. Manufacturers engaging in direct sales will also be required to operate at least one retail facility in the state for vehicle service, thus addressing public safety and consumer protection concerns.

"Tesla is an innovative company that has produced a top-rated, environmentally conscious product," said Greenwald (D-Camden/Burlington). "Their commitment to innovation, job-creation and customer satisfaction is precisely the kind of entrepreneurial spirit we should be encouraging in New Jersey. That's why getting this bill signed into law was so important."

"As an electric car driver, I'm honored to be part of this effort to find solutions to keep a state-of-the-art product and the future of the auto manufacturing industry right here in New Jersey," said Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic). "This will incentivize entrepreneurship, create jobs, promote environmental protection and address the important concerns of consumers in our state."