Houghtaling & Downey Bill Stripping State Officials of Law Enforcement-Style Badges Signed Into Law

OCEAN TOWNSHIP - Aiming to prevent non-law enforcement officials from using police-style badges to garner favor, evade tickets, or avoid fines, legislation that would prevent state and local officials from obtaining such badges that was sponsored by Senator Vin Gopal (D-Long Branch) and Assembly Members Eric Houghtaling (D-Neptune) and Joann Downey (D-Freehold) was signed into law Friday by Governor Phil Murphy.

The legislation was inspired by a 2018 incident in which the former Port Authority Commissioner verbally attacked two Tenafly police officers during a routine traffic stop and attempted to leverage her authority for personal gain by utilizing her badge.

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Houghtaling & Downey Bill to Protect Shore Homeowners from Short-Term Rental Tax Signed Into Law

OCEAN TOWNSHIP - Last year, a new law extended New Jersey’s sales and occupancy tax to short-term rentals. A measure rolling that tax back for private homeowners who use classified ads and other traditional platforms to find renters - and especially those on the Jersey Shore - was signed into law this Friday. The measure was sponsored by Senator Vin Gopal (D-Long Branch) and Assembly Members Eric Houghtaling (D-Neptune) and Joann Downey (D-Freehold)

Last year’s tax, which established an 11.625 percent levy in most towns for short-term rentals lasting fewer than 90 days, was intended solely for transactions brokered by online property rental site AirBnB, rather than traditional week-long summer rentals. However, while the law specifically exempted rentals booked through licensed real estate brokers, it failed to exempt homeowners who rent out their property through informal means such as Craigslist, Facebook, or word-of-mouth.

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Assembly Human Services Chair Joann Downey Condemns Proposed Cuts to SNAP Benefits

OCEAN TOWNSHIP - Assembly Human Services Chair Joann Downey (D-Freehold) released the following statement in response to a proposal by the Trump administration to cut benefits to needy households under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Under the proposed rule, states would not be permitted to expand access to SNAP benefits by raising or eliminating income and asset limits, an options used by forty states and Washington D.C. to expand access for households with high expenses.

“This proposal is a horrific attack on some of our nation’s most vulnerable households,” said Downey, who oversees legislation related to New Jersey’s SNAP program as Assembly Chair of Human Services. “The SNAP program is an essential support system for working low-income families who face incredibly high expenses in areas including child care, housing. and healthcare. When states have the freedom to tailor the program to suit their own needs, SNAP benefits are provided more efficiently and more effectively by the states than under a ‘one-size-fits-all’ program directed by the federal government.

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Houghtaling & Downey Bill Expanding Veteran Property Tax Relief Signed Into Law

OCEAN TOWNSHIP - This Monday, Acting Governor Sheila Oliver signed legislation sponsored by Senator Vin Gopal and Assembly Members Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey that would expand the veterans’ property tax exemption program to include veterans living in continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs). Tinton Falls Borough President and retired Air Force veteran Gary Baldwin lauded the move, calling it a major step forward for veterans Across New Jersey.

Houghtaling, who introduced the bill for a vote in the Assembly, credited residents, local leaders, and the many veterans living in CCRCs for their consistent efforts to express their support for the expansion in Trenton and at home. "Veterans from Seabrook Retirement Community in our district, including Ron Whalin and Tinton Falls Council President Gary Baldwin, have been tireless advocates for this legislation,” said Houghtaling (D-Neptune). “Thanks to them, this legislation is well on its way to becoming the law of the land, making this program fairer and more accessible to hardworking retired service members across New Jersey.”

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New Downey-Sponsored Law Expands Access to Nurses for New Jersey Patients

Legislation entering New Jersey into the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC) will allow licensed New Jersey nurses to practice in any state that has also entered into this agreement. The bill (A-1597), sponsored by Assembly Democrats Herb Conaway, Paul Moriarty, Shavonda Sumter, Angela McKnight, Raj Mukherji and Joann Downey, was signed into law Friday.

Prior to this licensure agreement, nurses had to obtain a license from each state in which they intended to practice nursing. This process involved applications, fees and possibly even testing that could make it more complicated for nurses to relocate or treat patients in other states.

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#EveryKidCounts Campaign Wins $10 Million for LD11 Schools

OCEAN TOWNSHIP - Today, Senator Vin Gopal and Assembly Members Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey announced that Monmouth County school districts in New Jersey’s 11th Legislative District will receive nearly $10 million in extraordinary special education aid following the victory of their #EveryKidCounts campaign this summer.

This additional state funding will go toward the high costs of extraordinary special education in Monmouth County schools, reducing the burden on local property taxpayers. The three 11th District legislators credited the win to the hundreds of Monmouth County residents who supported and signed the #EveryKidCounts petition, raising awareness of the issue and fighting to include an additional $55 million for extraordinary special education aid in the State budget - ten times the increase originally proposed.

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