District 11 Communities Ban Balloon Releases

In an effort to protect the environment and local wildlife from dangerous plastic pollution, Asbury Park and Tinton Falls have formally banned balloon releases in their communities.

Asbury Park and Tinton Falls are among 15 Jersey Shore communities to pass resolutions banning balloon releases, which pose a serious threat to the environment. Not only do they cause unsightly pollution and take years to break down in the environment, but they are also a choking hazard for countless coastal animals that mistake the plastic for food.

According to Clean Ocean Action’s 2017 Beach Sweep Report, the total balloons collected were the highest in 7 years and nearly a record at 4,139. The cumulative total of balloons collected during Beach Sweeps is 69,688.

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Houghtaling & Downey Bill Establishing Fund to Assist Locked-Out Workers With Regard to Health Insurance Benefits Clears Assembly Panel

In an effort to assist people who are stripped of their health insurance because of a labor dispute, Assembly Members Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey are sponsoring legislation creating the Working Family Health Security Fund. The bill was approved by the Assembly Labor Committee Thursday.

“Health insurance is one of the most critical things an individual can possess,” said Houghtaling. “It is only fair to assist individuals who, to no fault of their own, are suddenly stripped of their ability to utilize their health insurance because of a labor dispute.”

“No one should be at risk of being forced into suffocating debt because of a lack of health insurance, especially if their insurance was discontinued due to a work stoppage,” said Downey.  “It is our responsibility to protect our residents and ensure that they are provided with the health insurance they had been assured.”

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Houghtaling Bill Requiring Companies that Offshore Jobs Out of State to Return State Aid Continues to Advance in Assembly

Encouraging the return of jobs to the state, legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling to require employers that offshore call center jobs overseas to forfeit any state aid or business incentives they may have received continues to advance in the Assembly Monday.

The bill (A-1992) would require that any employer relocating a call center from New Jersey to one or more foreign countries must notify the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development, and return the value of any direct or indirect state grant, guaranteed loan, tax benefit, and any other financial support provided by the state that was not used. An employer that violates this requirement would be subject to a civil penalty of up to $7,500 for each day the violation continues.

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Downey Bill Requiring DMV to Suspend Bus Driver Endorsements for Multiple Moving Violations Continues to Advance in Assembly

Continuing to strengthen protections for New Jersey student bus riders, an Assembly panel approved Monday a bill sponsored by Assemblywoman Joann Downey mandating suspension of school bus drivers who receive multiple motor vehicle moving violations in a three-year period.

The legislation was prompted by concerns raised during the investigation of the bus accident occurring on Interstate 80 in Mount Olive last May. The bus carried students and teachers from Paramus. A student and a teacher were killed in the crash and more than 40 other bus passengers were injured.

It was discovered that the bus driver’s license was suspended 14 times over 42 years. Six of those were for parking violations; seven were for administrative or paperwork reasons. One of the violations was given for driving while his license was suspended.   He also had eight speeding tickets, was cited for an improper lane change in 2010 and was involved in five previous crashes.

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Houghtaling & Downey Bill Package to Combat Ticks, Invasive Species Clears Assembly Panel

New Jersey is especially conducive to dangerous, disease-carrying ticks because of the state’s climate, woodlands and large agricultural sector. Assembly Members Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey, however, have taken action to reduce the risk of tick-borne diseases and invasive species as two of their bills to combat these threats cleared the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee Monday.

“New Jersey has the third most tick-borne disease cases in the entire United States, yet we have never taken any action to curb the spread of these diseases through controlling the tick population,” said Houghtaling (D-Monmouth). “Diseases stemming from tick bites can be incredibly dangerous—and in rare cases, fatal—and we must put forth every effort to prevent the spread of these diseases in order to protect our residents.”

The first bill (A-4459), sponsored by both Monmouth Democrats, authorizes the state and county mosquito control commissions to create and implement measures to control the tick population.

Under current law, no statewide or countywide measures have been taken to control the tick population.

“New Jersey saw the most reported cases of Lyme disease in 2017 in nearly twenty years,” said Downey (D-Monmouth). “Ticks may be small, but the threat they pose to the health of our communities can be mammoth. This is a problem we must tackle head-on for the safety of all New Jerseyans.”

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Houghtaling and Downey Respond To Sports Betting Revenues

In response to the release of the most recent sports betting revenues, Assembly Members Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey issued the following statements:

“We initially fought to legalize sports betting here in New Jersey because we knew what a positive impact it would have on our economy,” said Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling. “These revenue reports prove that our instinct was correct. We are thrilled to see sports betting making such a positive impact on our local racetracks and we look forward to the continued success of our horse racing industry.”

“The horse racing industry is absolutely vital to our economy. Not only do these tracks generate significant revenues, but they also employ thousands of residents through direct and indirect jobs,” said Assemblywoman Joann Downey. “These recent revenue reports show that New Jersey made the right choice in legalizing sports betting at our race tracks. We are seeing influxes in revenue while securing jobs for our residents. It’s a major win for everyone.”

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