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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Houghtaling and Downey: Brookdale Too Vital To Lose Accreditation

In response to reports that Brookdale Community College is at risk of losing a key accreditation, Assembly Members Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey issued the following statements:

“Brookdale Community College is an important institution here in Monmouth County. We cannot afford for this campus to lose its accreditation and derail the education of thousands of New Jersey’s students. We must do everything we can to support Brookdale as it proves its compliance,” said Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling.

“A loss of accreditation for this vital institution threatens the federal aid funding of 14,000 students. We cannot allow this to happen,” said Assemblywoman Joann Downey. “We urge The Middle States Commission to give Brookdale Community College the opportunity to provide sufficient evidence that it is in compliance with ethical and integrity standards, as well as educational effectiveness standards.”

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Houghtaling and Downey Introduce "Marissa's Law"

Assembly Members Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey introduced a bill known as “Marissa’s Law” in an effort to increase safety on New Jersey’s roadways and hold negligent drivers accountable.

The bill (A4487), introduced September 24, provides for a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment for leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death or serious bodily injury, except if the operator reports the accident. The bill also increases the mandatory minimum term for reckless vehicular homicide.

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Houghtaling Bill to Help Prevent Vandalism on Farmlands Signed into Law

In order to better protect farmlands against the threat of vandalism and trespassing, Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling has taken action, sponsoring legislation to update and clarify penalty provisions for vandals and trespassers. The bill was signed into law Thursday by Governor Phil Murphy.

 “This helps protect agricultural businesses in the state from encroachment that can damage crops and put a damper on their business,” said Houghtaling. “Farming is an expensive venture. Damage caused by trespassing, whether intentional or not, should be rectified.”

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Gopal, Houghtaling and Downey Respond to NJ Familycare Audit

In response to an audit revealing the New Jersey Department of Human Services lost millions over a three year period due to the mismanagement of NJ FamilyCare accounts, Senator Vin Gopal and Assembly Members Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey issued the following statements:

“It is utterly unacceptable that the state’s NJ FamilyCare accounts were grossly mismanaged throughout the Christie Administration,” said Senator Vin Gopal. “Due to poor oversight, the State paid out $177.5 million in false claims, in addition to $720,000 in payments and fee-for-service claims for individuals who were deceased. New Jersey cannot afford these costly mistakes.”

“I sincerely hope the Department of Human Services takes swift action to correct these egregious errors and fulfill the responsibilities of the NJ FamilyCare program,” said Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling. “We are confident the Murphy Administration will see the severity of this issue and work quickly to get the DHS and NJ FamilyCare program back on course.”

“There are far too many hardworking New Jerseyans who rightfully deserve these funds to carelessly fulfill fraudulent claims,” said Assemblywoman Joann Downey, Chair of the Human Services Committee. “The extreme lack of care in the management of this program during the Christie Administration is appalling and has led to the waste of valuable resources. Our residents deserve better and we look forward to working with Governor Murphy to right the ship.”

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Houghtaling and Downey Support Pound the Pavement for Purple 5K

 

The 5th Annual Pound the Pavement for Purple 5K Run and 2 Mile Walk, co-founded by Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling and Freeholder Thomas Arnone, will return to Neptune on Saturday, Oct. 6.

Hosted in cooperation with the Township of Neptune, Neptune City, Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders, and with the great support of the Pound the Pavement for Purple Committee, the 5K will benefit the Lustgarten Foundation which works to advance the scientific and medical research related to the diagnosis, treatment, cure, and prevention of pancreatic cancer.

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Houghtaling Bill to Help Prevent Vandalism on Farmlands Clears Assembly

In order to better protect farmlands against the threat of vandalism and trespassing, Assembly Democrats Eric Houghtaling has taken action, sponsoring legislation to update and clarify penalty provisions for vandals and trespassers, which was approved by a 78-0 vote Thursday by the General Assembly.

“This helps protect agricultural businesses in the state from encroachment that can damage crops and put a damper on their business,” said Houghtaling (D-Monmouth). “Farming is an expensive venture. Damage caused by trespassing, whether intentional or not, should be rectified.”

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Houghtaling and Downey Bill Requiring Bi-hourly Election Reports Signed Into Law

A bill sponsored by Assembly Members Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey, which requires district boards of election to report every two hours the number of voters who have voted at each precinct, was signed into law on Friday, August 24 by Governor Phil Murphy.

This bill (A3463) requires the district boards of election to report every two hours the number of voters who have voted at each precinct, and authorizes challengers to request the reported count.      

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Downey Bill to Require Schools to Maintain Opioid Antidote Supply Signed Into Law

Legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Joann Downey to require schools to maintain a supply of an opioid antidote was signed into law by Governor Phil Murphy on Friday, August 24.

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