MONMOUTH COUNTY - Assembly Members Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey are inviting local elementary schoolers to the second annual Kids Congress, a non-partisan, kid-friendly event with locations in Freehold, Neptune Township, and Eatontown that offers Monmouth County children aged 6 to 10 an opportunity to learn how their government works, why legislators pass laws, and how a law is made in a through fun games and group activities.
"We’ve both found public service to be one of the most interesting and rewarding experiences of our lives," said Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling. "We hope to help every child develop the same passion for serving their communities. Last year’s Kids Congress was a smash hit with local Monmouth County families, and we can’t wait to bring it back for a new group of future leaders.”Read more
OCEAN TOWNSHIP - Working to protect wildlife and marine animals from choking on or becoming entangled by helium balloons, Assemblymembers Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey are introducing legislation (A-5747) to prohibit the intentional release of lighter-than-air balloons, with offenders subject to a $500 fine per violation.
“Balloons filled with helium and other lighter-than-air gases make for great fun at parties, but if they’re not disposed of properly, they can post unnecessary risks to our environment,” said Houghtaling (D-Neptune). “Many animals, both on land and in the ocean, are attracted to their bright colors and can mistake them for food, causing severe injury or death. Many more animals become entangled by balloon strings, and can become injured or strangled to death as a result. Folks at the Jersey Shore have enjoyed balloons at celebrations and other events for decades, but it’s important that we do so responsibly, without littering or damaging the world around us.”Read more
OCEAN TOWNSHIP - In response to inappropriate and horrific comments made by Monmouth County Judge James Troiano regarding an alleged rape case in which he dismissed the assault as not a “traditional case of rape,” which he defines as involving “two or more” men and said that the suspect should not be tried as an adult because he “comes from a good family” and attended an “excellent school,” Assembly Members Joann Downey and Eric Houghtaling are calling for Judge Troiano to immediately and permanently resign all judicial and legal positions.
“It should be clear to anyone that Judge Troiano’s comments were vile, unacceptable, and harmful to any survivor of sexual assault or abuse,” said Downey (D-Freehold).Read more
OCEAN TOWNSHIP - For years, seniors making more than $70,000 annually have been banned from entering New Jersey’s Senior Freeze program, which allows homeowners to freeze their property taxes at their current level after applying. That will change next year due to major reforms secured by Assembly Members Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey which raises the annual income cap to allow homeowners making up to nearly $90,000 to qualify for the program.
“When it was first designed, the Senior Freeze program was supposed to help residents under a certain income level keep their property taxes affordable,” said Houghtaling (D-Neptune). “Unfortunately, it hasn’t kept up with inflation for years, forcing seniors out of the program and preventing new applicants from qualifying.”Read more
RED BANK - Senator Vin Gopal and Assembly Members Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey announced $13,000 in state funding awarded to Red Bank RiverCenter, a Red Bank-based nonprofit that works to promote local merchants, recruit business, stage downtown events, and beautify streetscapes.
The funding, which was approved under the Main Street New Jersey District Transformation Grant program, will provide funds to enhance safety and amenities for pedestrians and strengthen the connections between Red Bank’s arts, the river and its people. The award will also provide funds for lighting, benches, landscaping and two murals.Read more
OCEAN TOWNSHIP - A bill sponsored by Assembly Members Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey that would prohibit pharmacy benefits managers (PBMs) from common abusive practices that harm community pharmacies was passed by the State Senate last week, and now proceeds to the Governor for approval. A PBM is a third-party administrator of prescription drug programs for a commercial, self-insured, Medicare Part D, Federal employee, or state employee health plan.
“If you pay a restaurant or cashier for a product or service, no person in their right mind would reasonably allow you to then demand a “fee” from the business in exchange for making that purchase,” said Houghtaling (D-Neptune). “Even so, this is exactly the relationship that many PBMs have forced community pharmacies into. It’s a demonstrably ridiculous system, and badly needs to be reformed.”Read more