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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