Press Releases

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

November 13, 2014

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 was approved Thursday by the General Assembly.

"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 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."

Bill to Require State to Reveal Complete Property Tax Data Annually Continues Advancing

December 8, 2014

Assembly approved legislation Assembly Democrats Troy Singleton, Pamela Lampitt, Annette Quijano and Elian Pintor Marin sponsored to require the state to annually post complete property tax data continued advancing on Monday.

The measure was approved 73-0 by the Assembly in September and released Monday by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.

The bill comes after the Christie administration this year deleted property tax data traditionally found on the Department of Community Affairs web site. The information detailed Christie's cuts to property tax relief that have resulted in a net property tax increase of about 20 percent.

The bill (A-3223) would require the Division of Local Government Services in the Department of Community Affairs to post on its Internet web page a summary of property tax data for each calendar year.

In each year, the data provided must include, but not be limited to, the amount of the average residential property tax bill for each municipality, the amount of the average homestead credit payment credited against the average property tax bill and the net average residential property tax bill, which would be the remainder of the average residential property tax bill minus the average homestead credit payment.

Vainieri Huttle, Lampitt & Wimberly Bill to Ensure Juvenile Offender's Right to Counsel Advanced by Assembly Panel

December 5, 2014

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Pamela Lampitt and Benjie Wimberly to ensure a fair judicial process by defining when a juvenile offender has the right to legal counsel during a court proceeding was released Thursday by an Assembly panel.

Under current law, a juvenile has a right to an attorney at every critical stage of a court proceeding in a delinquency case. This bill (A-2208) clarifies that a juvenile has a right to an attorney during every court appearance by the juvenile, any interrogation, identification procedure, or other investigative activity undertaken by law enforcement or prosecutorial personnel subsequent to the filing of the complaint; and the duration of any dispositional order entered by the court.

"The court system can be intimidating for most adults, never mind minors," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "This will help to make sure vulnerable youth do not fall through the cracks by providing needed legal representation."

In addition, this bill would establish that when a court requires out-of-home placement of a child in a delinquency case, the court must conduct a placement review hearing no later than 12 months after entry of the dispositional order. Under current law, although young people are routinely sentenced to serve three or more years in state custody, there is no court oversight of out-of-home placements in juvenile delinquency cases unless a specific request is made of the court.

Cryan, Benson, Singleton, Lampitt, Riley & Pinkin Bill to Boost Participation in School Breakfast Program Becomes Law

November 13, 2014

New Law will Create "Breakfast after the Bell" Program

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 has been signed into law.

The new law (A-­­­679) requires 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, will 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.

Singleton, Lampitt, Quijano and Pintor Marin Bill to Help Boost Suicide Prevention in Schools OK’d by Assembly Panel

October 27, 2014

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Troy Singleton, Pamela Lampitt, Annette Quijano and Eliana Pintor Marin that would better prepare teachers to help prevent student suicides was advanced by an Assembly panel on Monday.

"Effective suicide prevention among teens requires a full court press from the community," said Singleton (D-Burlington). "Teaching staff can help be our frontline guards in this battle because they are well placed to notice and act on any early signs of depression. Hopefully this enhanced training will help us avert many future tragedies."

The bill (A-3224) would require that public school teaching staff members receive two hours of instruction in suicide prevention annually as part of the professional development requirement.

"It's important that kids know that there are many resources in place to help them if they're depressed and they should never feel alone," said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). "Teachers are in one of the best positions to recognize these signs so we should make sure they're well-prepared to talk to students if the need arises."

Currently, two hours of instruction in suicide prevention is required over the course of the five-year professional development period. This bill would require public school teaching staff members to receive two hours of instruction annually, for a total of 10 hours over the course of the professional development period.