Gopal, Houghtaling, & Downey Laud State's Filing Against Offshore Drilling

OCEAN TOWNSHIP -  Senator Vin Gopal, Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling, and Assemblywoman Joann Downey issued the following statement in response to the announcement by Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe that the State of New Jersey had joined a motion in federal court seeking to block drilling-related seismic testing activity:

“Opening portions of the Atlantic Ocean for offshore drilling would put beaches, fisheries, and marine life all along the coast at risk,” said Assemblyman Houghtaling, who serves as Chair of the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. “Seismic testing alone has the potential to inflict great harm on our local populations of marine mammals and other wildlife. An oil spill off the New Jersey coast would harm our fragile marine ecosystem; kill off endangered and threatened species of fish, birds and other wildlife; and poison the many types of fish and shellfish that are enjoyed by millions of people. We have seen time and again that offshore drilling can irreversibly damage precious marine and coastal resources, which itself would cause great harm to our fishing industry and local conservation efforts. It is only right that our federal courts recognize the priceless value that our pristine coast holds for our State.”

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Downey and Houghtaling Bill to Simplify Medicaid Applications Passes Assembly Human Services Committee

OCEAN TOWNSHIP - Assemblywoman Joann Downey and Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling released the following statement in response to the approval of Assembly Bill A4569 by the Human Services Committee today:

“Those seeking benefits under Medicaid and the New Jersey FamilyCare programs are among the most vulnerable people in our state,” said Assemblywoman Downey, who chairs the Human Services Committee. “This important legislation recognizes the need for a process that determines an applicant’s eligibility for these programs while sparing them and their loved ones from further anxiety and financial hardship.”

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Bill Package Dedicated to Farmland and Historic Site Conservation Clears Assembly

Fighting to protect New Jersey’s farmland and historic sites, Assembly Democrats sponsored a series of bills appropriating constitutionally dedicated corporate business tax (CBT) revenues to preserve the state’s farms and historic sites. The bills cleared the full Assembly Monday.

The first bill (A-4733), sponsored by Assembly Members Adam Taliaferro, Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey, appropriates $15,000,000 from CBT revenues to the State Agricultural Development Committee for municipal planning incentive grants for farmland preservation purposes. The bill passed 79-0-0.

“New Jersey’s farmlands are the foundation for a strong agricultural industry and a way of life for generations of farm families”, said Taliaferro (D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland). “Farmland preservation is a key component for our agriculture industry to sustain itself and for it to continue to be a pillar of our state’s economy.”

“The 20 municipalities receiving grants are reliant upon the agriculture industry and must have adequate farmlands in order to thrive,” said Houghtaling (D-Monmouth). “These funds will allow for farmers to build upon an industry which has remained a key part of our state’s economic sector for years to come.”

“Our agriculture industry has been a way of life for generations of New Jerseyans. It is one of the backbones of New Jersey,” said Downey(D-Monmouth). “It is our responsibility to provide the municipalities most dependent upon this industry with the resources necessary to keep our farmlands beautiful and functional.”

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Houghtaling Bill to Publicize Information of Farm-to-Table Restaurants Signed by Governor, Now Law

Seeking to bring awareness of the benefits of fresh, clean food, Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling has sponsored legislation to publically promote farm-to-table restaurants on the New Jersey Division of Travel and Tourism website. The bill was signed into law by Governor Murphy Monday.

“In the age of mass production and processed food, it is important to promote establishments that are providing New Jerseyans with the freshest, cleanest food,” said Houghtaling (D-Monmouth). “This will also encourage our citizens to shop and eat locally grown and produced food, which is good for our economy.”

The law (A-1039) would have the New Jersey Division of Travel and Tourism publish all pertinent information on farm-to-table restaurants, including the name and address of the establishments, divided by region. There would be three regions, namely, north, south, and central New Jersey.

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Houghtaling Bill Establishing Farm Liaison in Department in Agriculture to Encourage Farmers to Participate in Anti-Hunger Programs Clears Assembly

Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling issued the following statement Monday on the advancement of their bill (A-4708) out of the full General Assembly by a 78-0-1 vote, which establishes a Farm Liaison in the Department of Agriculture to encourage farmers to participate in New Jersey’s agricultural programs:

Houghtaling (D-Monmouth): “The responsibilities of farmers are so vast that they often lack the time or resources to learn about every program offered by the Department of Agriculture, which include taxation programs, food donations, anti-hunger initiatives, as well as other programs. By creating a Farm Liaison who can assist and encourage farmers to enroll in these programs, we will expand access to food for hungry people across New Jersey, as well as ease some of the financial and physical burdens for our state’s farmers.”

FDA: 30-40 Percent of the Nation’s Food is Uneaten

In response to the disturbing U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) statistic that nearly 30-40 percent of food in the United States goes uneaten, a bill introduced by Assemblywoman Joann Downey to teach consumers strategies for eliminating food waste cleared the Assembly Appropriations Committee Monday.

 The bill (A-4707) would mandate the Department of Agriculture to develop a food waste public awareness campaign with the Community FoodBank of New Jersey, the state’s largest anti-hunger and anti-poverty organization. The campaign would educate the general public about the nearly 20 pounds of food the FDA estimates each consumer wastes monthly.  According to the FDA, such waste costs the nation $165 billion each year. 

“Through this bill, we want to educate consumers and help them realize that by taking steps as simple as using a grocery shopping list, they can reduce food waste,” said Downey (D-Monmouth). “By using a list, consumers are less likely to purchase unwanted, unneeded food. This is often the food that is wasted.”

As part of the campaign, consumers would also be educated on proper meat storage as well as the correct meaning of common food shopping terms such as “expiration,” “use by,” “best buy,” and “sell buy.” 

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