Bill Package Dedicated to Land Preservation Clears Assembly Panel

Looking to maintain the beauty and applicability of New Jersey's farm and historic lands, Assembly Members Eric Houghtaling and Joann sponsored legislation included in a multi-bill package, which cleared the Assembly Appropriations Committee Monday.

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

“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.”

The second bill (A-4735), also dedicated to farmland preservation, and sponsored by Assemblyman Houghtaling, appropriates CBT funds to certain nonprofit organizations dedicated to land conservation.

“Without the support of vital nonprofit groups working to make New Jersey’s farmlands the best in the country, our agriculture industry would not be able to thrive," said Houghtaling (D-Monmouth). "It is important to support these organizations in their efforts to preserve our farmlands so our agricultural sector can remain strong for years to come.”

The bills originally cleared the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee and now go to the Assembly Speaker for further consideration.

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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.”

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Downey and Houghtaling Bill Including Atlantic County in “Common Sense Shared Services Pilot Program Act” Advances

Recently, the Governor signed a law our bill that allows Atlantic and Monmouth Counties entry into the “Common Sense Shared Services Pilot Program Act” for purposes of sharing resources including a municipal clerk, a chief financial officer, an assessor, a tax collector, a municipal treasurer, or a municipal superintendent of public works.

This bill (A-4390) allows, in addition to the positions listed in the new law, the sharing of services provided by a municipal court administrator between municipalities.

“New Jersey residents pay the highest property tax rates in the nation and sharing services is a viable path for municipalities to provide taxpayer relief,” said Downey (D- Monmouth). “Many towns have already begun to discuss sharing opportunities with neighboring towns. Our ‘Common Sense Shared Services Pilot Program’ will encourage and better enable municipalities to find new ways to coordinate services and in the long run lessen the property tax burden on our residents.” 

“Simply put, shared services programs are something we should always take advantage of here in Monmouth County, especially when it comes to cost-saving measures such as the ‘Common Sense Shared Services Pilot Program Act,” said Houghtaling (D-Monmouth). “This act will allow our municipalities to work together by combining their resources and expertise in order to increase efficiency and lower costs for our hard-working residents.”

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Houghtaling Bill Promoting Shared Services Clears Committee

Both lowering the coasts to taxpayers and increasing government efficiency, legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling was approved by the Assembly State and Local Government Committee on Thursday.

The bill (A-4390) would allow two or more adjoining counties to enter into an agreement to share a county tax administrator along with their respective staff.

“Shared services programs are cost-saving measures that we should always take advantage of,” said Houghtaling (D-Monmouth). “This bill allows our municipalities to work together by combining resources and expertise in order to ultimately lower costs for our hard-working residents.”

Houghtaling and Downey Respond to Distasteful NJ 101.5 Article

In response to an article published on New Jersey 101.5’s website insensitively titled, “NJ’s Move Over Law: Dead Cops Make Bad Laws,” Assembly Members Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey issued the following statements:

“I am absolutely shocked by the lack of sensitivity on the part of Judi Franco, who used a sensational headline to diminish the legacy of the late New Jersey State Trooper Marc Castellano, who was killed in the line of duty by a driver who did not adhere to the Move Over Law,” said Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling. “At the end of the day, our bill is about raising awareness for this important law — one that has been ignored countless times and has cost far too many officers and maintenance workers their lives. How someone could trivialize the death of a police officer, I will never understand. Her lack of morality and decency is appalling, while her baseless argument lacks any shred of accuracy.”

“As the daughter of a retired State Trooper, I am disgusted and insulted by Judi Franco’s complete lack of respect for the memory of Marc Castellano and apparent lack of care for the safety of New Jersey’s police officers,” said Assemblywoman Joann Downey. “This man lost his life while serving and protecting the people of New Jersey. Do our officers not deserve the protection and sense of security the Move Over Law provides? How anyone can argue that this law is unnecessary — when its violation has already resulted in the loss of numerous innocent lives — is unfathomable. Ms. Franco is unconscionable and her argument is rooted in sheer ignorance. She should be ashamed.”

Houghtaling and Downey Bill Imposing Points on License for Violation of “Move Over Law” Clears Assembly Panel

To better protect law enforcement officers in the line of duty, Assembly Members Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey are sponsoring legislation to revise the penalties associated with violations of New Jersey’s “Move Over Law.” The bill was advanced out of the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee Monday.

“Violators of the move over law are putting officers at serious risk of injury or death, and they must understand that the severity of their actions,” said Houghtaling (D-Monmouth). “This bill shows how seriously we take the safety of our state’s brave police officers and will create more awareness for the current Move Over Law.”

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