News

Assembly Dem Bill to Help Students Facing a Medical Condition or Family Death to Maintain NJ STARS Scholarships Now Law

Legislation is Sponsored by Assembly Democrats Benson, DeAngelo, Jasey, Johnson, Mosquera, Downey, Zwicker & Lampitt


The law (A-2565) allows NJ STARS and NJ STARS II scholarship recipients to maintain program eligibility in the event that medical condition or recent death of a parent or spouse prevents enrollment as full-time student.

"This is the decent thing to do," said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "College is the gateway to a brighter future, and for many students, these scholarships are a lifeline. No one should lose their eligibility because they must deal with a medical condition or tragic loss."

"We should be removing all obstacles to a higher education not further burdening them with the threat of losing their scholarship while facing a medical condition or a family death," said DeAngelo (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "This law protects students in their most vulnerable state and ensures them the opportunity to continue their education under the NJ STARS scholarship program."

Under current law, a recipient of an NJ STARS or NJ STARS II scholarship must maintain status as a full-time student unless on a medical leave or emergency leave or unless called to partial or full mobilization for state and federal active duty as a member of the National Guard or a Reserve component of the Armed Forces of the United States. 

"Unexpected situations arise in life," said Jasey (D-Essex, Morris). "Nothing, if we can help it, should disrupt a student's education, especially those who have earned a scholarship for commitment and excellence to their studies."

"This law supports students who may experience a change in life that requires them to take on fewer courses," said Johnson (D-Bergen). "Things happen in life. It is only right that their scholarship money remain intact as they work through a medical condition or family loss."

"We should always encourage students to continue their education, not discourage," said Mosquera (D-Camden/Gloucester). "To lose a scholarship can mean the difference between pursuing collegiate goals and not pursuing them. This law gives comfort during unexpected times in life by enabling students to keep their scholarship and continue their education."

"NJ STARs scholarship recipients have worked hard to get to where they are and deserve every opportunity to succeed in college," said Downey (D-Monmouth) "With this law, students will be supported and reassured during their time of need that their scholarship and place at the school will still be there when they return."

"Ensuring these students the opportunity to achieve their educational goals is the least we can do, especially during the difficult times," said Zwicker (D-Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Somerset). "This is the right thing to do for the students in the NJ STARS program and for their families."

"These students are a part of NJSTARS for a very good reason - educational excellence," said Lampitt (D-Camden, Burlington). "This legislation gives them time to address an unexpected life circumstance and continue to pursue their dreams of attaining a college degree under scholarship." 

The law provides that a student who receives a scholarship or is already in the program is eligible to take less than 12 credits in a semester if the student presents to the institution at which the student is enrolled a written note from a physician or other licensed health care professional indicating the student's need to take a reduced number of credits due to a physical or mental health condition. A student who receives a medical exemption from the full-time course of study requirement will be eligible for additional semesters in the scholarship program, as necessary. 


Eustace, Benson, Zwicker & Wimberly Bill to Provide Credits to Customers who Use Certain Renewable Energy Sources Becomes Law

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Tim Eustace, Daniel Benson, Andrew Zwicker and Benjie Wimberly to allow customers connected to hydropower facilities to receive credit on their bills through "virtual" net metering was signed into law this week. 

Virtual net metering (VNM) is a bill crediting system in which a customer receives credits on their electric bill for excess energy drawn from a hydropower facility.

"For residents who have invested in a renewable energy source for their homes, this legislation would reduce their utility bill by giving them credit for the excess energy produced," said Eustace (D- Bergen, Passaic). "Virtual net metering allows the customers to keep tabs on how much energy they actually use through alternative energy sources. Because of their investment, residents should see the savings on their utility bills from month to month."

Under the new law (A-2204), a small scale hydropower facility put into service after the effective date with the capacity of 3 MW or less is eligible for net metering. The law authorizes a facility to deliver or sell power to up to 10 end-use customers, who are located within 10 miles of the facility and net-metered within the service territory of a single electric public utility, and designate the end-use customers to be credited by the electric power supplier or basic generation service provider with the excess generations of the facility. 

"Many residents are looking to renewable energy sources as alternative ways to heat and cool their homes," said Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex). "Residents should be able to reap the rewards of turning to solar or other resources and see the difference in their utility bill."

The law also requires an electric public utility, electric power supplier, or a basic generation service provider to provide standby power at the request of the facility or an end-use customer who uses power generated by the facility. Under the law, "standby power" means power made available during a facility outage to a facility or to win - use customer who uses power generated by the facility. 

"Virtual net metering is a way for more residents to take advantage of renewable energy sources," said Zwicker (D-Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, and Somerset). "Families who subscribe to a hydro power facility should receive credit on their electric bill for the excess energy their home has produced."

"Families are always trying to find ways to save money, especially on utilities," said Wimberly (D-Bergen, Passaic). "If they use or produce renewable energy in their homes, then residents should be able to receive credit for the excess produced."


Zwicker Named to Lead New Assembly Science, Innovation & Technology Committee

Speaker Coughlin Appoints Physicist to Panel Key to Boosting NJ’s Middle-Class

(TRENTON) – Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin has named Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker, a physicist, to chair the newly created Assembly Science, Innovation and Technology Committee, which Coughlin intends to make a key part of the Assembly’s efforts to create jobs and economic development and boost the middle-class.

“We must look for ways to make our state vibrant, such as focusing on our science and innovation ecosystem as a source of jobs and economic development for our state,” said Coughlin (D-Middlesex). “I created the new Science, Innovation and Technology Committee to enable New Jersey to take advantage of our location and human capital, and I consider New Jersey fortunate to have Andrew Zwicker to chair it. I can think of no more perfect fit than Andrew Zwicker with science and technology. I’m excited to see Andrew use his vast expertise, smarts and leadership, but even more excited to see the results of his vital work in the months and years ahead.”

Zwicker (D-Hunterdon/Mercer/Middlesex/Somerset) is the Head of Science Education at the Princeton University Plasma Physics Laboratory, where he has worked with hundreds of teachers and students, inspiring professionals and the next generation in the promise of technology. The American Association of Physics Teachers named him as one of the country’s top 75 Leading Contributors to physics education. 

Zwicker was for many years an academic advisor at Princeton University, a part-time lecturer in the Princeton University Writing Program and the President of the Princeton Chapter of Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society.

He was also the editor for the newsletter, Physics and Society, a publication from the American Physical Society where he is also a Fellow.

Zwicker has a B.A. in physics from Bard College, and a M.A. and Ph.D., both also in physics, from Johns Hopkins University. His post-doctoral work focused on fusion energy research at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and internationally.

Currently, Zwicker is on the Board of Directors of the Research and Development Council of NJ, Vice-Chair of the NJ Biotechnology Task Force, and a member of the NJ Legislative Manufacturing Caucus.  Zwicker is serving his second term in the Assembly, representing the 16th Legislative District.

“I thank Speaker Coughlin for this appointment and am thrilled at this committee’s potential for helping build a better and stronger New Jersey,” Zwicker said. “Science and technology are my passion and my profession, but they’re also key to our economic and academic future. We’ve seen elected officials in Washington put politics ahead of science, while other countries make innovation a top priority. We’ve seen other states outpace New Jersey, despite our state’s science and technology legacy. None of this is acceptable.”

Zwicker added, “New Jersey must capitalize on its competitive advantage. We need initiatives that support world-class science and technology industries, and the vision to harness our assets to make our state a national leader in the science and technology economy. We have no choice but to embrace this opportunity, and I look forward to leading this committee, working with my colleagues and finding new and innovative solutions to boost our economy.”

 


McKeon, Prieto, Wimberly, Zwicker & Greenwald Bill to Create Statewide Gun Buyback Program Clears Assembly, Heads to Gov

(TRENTON) - Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman John F. McKeon, Speaker Vincent Prieto, Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly, Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker and Assemblyman Lou Greenwald that would create a statewide gun buyback program in an effort to reduce the number of firearms in New Jersey communities was given final legislative approval in the Assembly on Monday. The bill will now go to the Governor's desk. 

"Gun violence claims lives every day. In some communities, it is an-all too common reality," said McKeon (D-Essex/Morris). "We realize a gun buyback program alone will not eliminate gun violence, but it can help enhance public safety by reducing the number of firearms in circulation."

The bill (A-2374) would require the New Jersey Attorney General to establish a statewide gun buyback program, which would allow New Jersey citizens to voluntarily and anonymously surrender firearms and weapons in their possession in exchange for a monetary reward.

"A gun in the hands of a violent or disturbed individual is a bad combination," said Prieto (D-Bergen, Hudson). "This can help keep guns from falling into the wrong hands by creating a controlled environment where individuals looking to get rid of their weapons can do so safely and anonymously."

Under the bill, state Office of the Attorney General would be required to hold at least nine gun buyback programs a year throughout the state; three each in the northern, central and southern regions. At least one program in each region would be required to be held in an urban area with a high crime rate, as determined by the uniform crime report.

"Every extra gun we get off the streets is another potential life saved," said Wimberly (D-Bergen/Passaic). "We've had a great deal of success in getting unwanted, and often illegal guns, off our city streets through previous gun buybacks, so absent nationwide gun reforms, we need to do everything we can in New Jersey to make our streets safer."

"The more we can do to get guns off our street, the better," said Zwicker (D-Mercer/Middlesex/Somerset). "This is about public safety. If people want to voluntary give up guns, then we should make it easier for them to do so. Each gun turned in can mean a life saved."

"Some people will find any reason to attack proposals meant to protect the public from gun violence," said Greenwald (D-Camden/Burlington). "This bill would simply give gun owners who want to get rid of their weapons another avenue to do so. Surely this is something even they can get behind." 

Funding for the program would primarily be generated by captured proceeds from criminal activities in the state and private donations from corporations, small businesses, and individuals.

The Office of the Attorney General held a similar gun buyback initiative in 2012. Through 10 buybacks across the state a total of 15,958 firearms were collected, including more than 7,300 handguns and nearly 1,900 illegal guns.

The full Assembly approved the bill, 51-6-0.


Eustace, Benson, Zwicker, Wimberly Bill to Authorize Virtual Net Metering For Certain Customers Clears Legislature, Goes to Gov's Desk

(TRENTON) - Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Tim Eustace, Daniel Benson, Andrew Zwicker, and Benjie Wimberly to allow "virtual" net metering for customers connected to hydropower facilities was approved by the full Assembly on Monday. 

Virtual net metering (VNM) is a bill crediting system. A customer receives credits on their electric bill for excess energy drawn from a hydropower facility.

"For residents who have invested in a renewable energy source for their homes, this legislation would reduce their utility bill by giving them credit for the excess energy produced," said Eustace (D- Bergen, Passaic). "Virtual net metering allows the customers to keep tabs on how much energy they actually use through alternative energy sources. Because of their investment, residents should see the savings on their utility bills from month to month."

Under the bill (A-2204), a small scale Hydro power facility put into service after the effective date with the capacity of 3 MW or less is eligible for net metering. The bill authorizes a facility to deliver or sell power to up to 10 end-use customers, who are located within 10 miles of the facility and net-metered within the service territory of a single electric public utility, and designate the end-use customers to be credited by the electric power supplier or basic generation service provider with the excess generations of the facility. 

"Many residents are looking to renewable energy sources as alternative ways to heat and cool their homes," said Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex). "Residents should be able to reap the rewards of turning to solar or other resources and see the difference in their utility bill."

The bill also requires an electric public utility, electric power supplier, for a basic generation service provider to provide standby power at the request of the facility or an end - use customer who uses Power generated by the facility. 

"Standby power," under the bill, means power made available during a facility outage to a facility or to win - use customer who uses power generated by the facility. 

"Virtual net metering is a way for more residents to take advantage of renewable energy sources," said Zwicker (D-Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, and Somerset). "Families who subscribe to a hydro power facility should receive credit on their electric bill for the excess energy their home has produced."

"Families are always trying to find ways to save money, especially on utilities," said Wimberly (D-Bergen, Passaic). "If they use or produce renewable energy in their homes, then residents should be able to receive credit for the excess produced."

The bill was release by the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee in June. The bill will now go to the Senate for further consideration. 

The Assembly approved a concurrence vote, 68-1-1. The Senate approved the bill in December. 


Assembly Approves Wisniewski, Coughlin, Danielsen, Benson & Zwicker Wind Energy Development Bill

(TRENTON) - Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats John S. Wisniewski, Craig Coughlin, Joseph Danielsen, Daniel Benson and Andrew Zwicker to provide incentives for companies exploring wind energy development cleared the full Assembly, 54-15-1, on Monday. 

"Rising electricity costs and environmental concerns urge us to seek new ways to create, conserve and protect our energy resources," said Wisniewski (D-Middlesex). "Wind farms and the production of clean, renewable energy will be keys to creating the sustainable future New Jersey greatly deserves."

"Encouraging the development and expansion of wind energy initiatives is good business for the state," said Coughlin (D-Middlesex). "Attracting wind energy facilities, in the long run, will create jobs, increase our sustainability, and position our state as one of the few pioneers developing this new energy frontier."

The bill (A-1899) would amend the Offshore Wind Economic Development Act to expand the definition of "wind energy zone" to include property located in the project area of the "Portfields Initiative," designated as a portfield site by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) and within a county of the second class with at least 700,000 residents (Middlesex County). This amendment would also allow the Economic Development Authority to provide tax credits for qualified wind energy facilities located in this area.

"With this legislation, we can encourage business and job growth in New Jersey," said Danielsen (D-Middlesex, Somerset). "We can also shift the state's dependence on current energy resources by exploring the potential of natural resources through wind farming. This is New Jersey's chance to take the lead in wind farming nationally and set an example other states can follow."

"If we are going to meet our state's renewable potential, we must expand wind farming as an essential green energy resource in New Jersey," said Benson (D-Middlesex, Hunterdon). "We can only realize this potential by enabling businesses to discover the benefits of wind farming in New Jersey. Growing wind energy in the state will mean more jobs and greener, cleaner energy too." 

"To effectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we need to develop strategic policy supports for renewable energy resources, including wind power," said Zwicker (D-Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Somerset). "This bill's business incentives and classification of wind energy zones are two important steps for New Jersey towards a comprehensive and competitive renewable energy plan."

The measure cleared the Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee.