Assemblyman Zwicker Statement on Net Neutrality

(TRENTON) –Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker (D-Somerset/Mercer/Middlesex/Hunterdon), who is chair of the Assembly Science, Innovation and Technology Committee, released the following statement Wednesday regarding net neutrality:

“This week, our country took a step backwards with the Trump administration rolling back net neutrality rules and allowing internet service providers to charge us more for access, or faster access, to certain websites or content. In other words, using the internet is about to become like cable TV: we’ll pay one rate for some basic level of internet access, but have to pay a higher rate for faster speed or more “premium” kinds of websites.

“Astonishingly, despite the fact that nearly 80% of all Americans support net neutrality, Congress and the Trump administration refuse to put our interests over fattening the internet providers’ bottom line. Many states, including New Jersey, have sprung into action to preserve net neutrality for our residents and filed a legal challenge to the federal government’s attempt to keep us from having a free and open internet.

“But it’s not that simple. In its order earlier this week, the FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai, not only repealed net neutrality rules, but decreed that any state’s attempts to preserve net neutrality to protect their residents and businesses is preempted – that is, that only the federal government, and not the states, have authority to require net neutrality.

“We all – individuals, families, businesses, schools, towns, state agencies, first responders, everyone – rely on the internet for almost every aspect of our lives and livelihoods. We pay a significant monthly fee to use the internet. Until this week, we were paying for unfettered access.

“While many of us won’t feel the effects of the net neutrality repeal at first, all of us will be harmed by the repeal of net neutrality over time, and our internet fees for the same access will almost certainly increase.

“We will continue to work hard here in New Jersey to ensure that internet providers doing business in our state will abide by net neutrality rules. We must and will do all we can to prevent the internet from being divided into classes, one for the haves and another, slower and lesser one for the have-nots.

Zwicker, Lopez & Mukherji Legislation to Help Displaced Professionals from Puerto Rico on Mainland Advanced by Assembly

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Members Andrew Zwicker, Yvonne Lopez and Raj Mukherji on Monday aimed at recognizing the professional licenses of displaced Puerto Rican doctors, nurses, teachers and other professionals who relocated to New Jersey following Hurricane Maria was advanced by the General Assembly by a vote of 72-0-0 and now awaits further action in the Senate.

“Prior to Hurricane Maria six months ago, New Jersey had one of the highest populations of Puerto Ricans on the mainland. Following the hurricane, we've seen more of our fellow Americans from the island seek safety with family and friends here,” said Zwicker (D-Hunterdon/Mercer/Middlesex/Somerset). “As they settle into their new lives in New Jersey, we can and should ensure that men and women from Puerto Rico are treated just as professionals moving here from any state would be, so they're able to continue in their professions and support their families here.”

The bill (A-1531) would revise state law regarding the reciprocity process for out-of-state professional and occupational licensing. Currently, licensed professionals from jurisdictions with standards that are substantially equivalent to New Jersey’s may work in their respective industries in New Jersey provided they supply the state with proof that an out-of-state license is valid, current and in good standing.

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Vainieri Huttle, Gusciora, Zwicker & Chiaravalloti Bill to Revise Requirements for Changing a Birth Certificate Due to Gender Reassignment Advanced Out of Assembly

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Reed Gusciora, Andrew Zwicker and Nicholas Chiaravalloti to make it easier for an individual undergoing gender reassignment to obtain an amended birth certificate was advanced out of the General Assembly on Thursday by a vote of 57-11-3.

“The complex process of gender transitioning goes far beyond just physical changes,” said Zwicker (D-Somerset, Mercer, Middlesex, Hunterdon). “This bill takes a sensitive approach and updates state practice to acknowledge those complexities.”

The bill (A-1718) would revise the requirements for obtaining an amended certificate of birth due to a change in sex.

“Life is not black and white like people once perceived it,” said Gusciora (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). “This bill acknowledges the nuances involved in gender reassignment in order to help make an already complex issue a little simpler for individuals who are transitioning.”

Specifically, the bill stipulates that the state registrar of vital statistics shall issue an amended birth certificate to a person born in New Jersey who submits a request for an amended certificate, which shows the sex and name of the person as it has been changed. The application may be submitted on the person’s behalf by a parent or guardian, if the person is a minor.

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Zwicker Bill to Designate Bog Turtle as Official State Reptile Clears Assembly

(TRENTON) - The endangered bog turtle just inched closer to becoming New Jersey's State Reptile.

Legislation (A-1530) sponsored by Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker to officially designate the bog turtle as the official State Reptile of New Jersey was cleared by the Assembly on Thursday with a vote of 74-0.

"The bog turtle is a unique creature, and important to New Jersey's ecosystem," said Zwicker (D-Somerset/Mercer/Middlesex/Hunterdon). "These turtles used to be prevalent. Unfortunately, because of destruction of their habitat, they are now critically endangered. There's certainly much more we need to do to protect them and preserve their habitat, and we will. This bill is an important way to raise awareness about the species and its plight, and a commitment by our state to protect it."

Earlier this month, students and teachers from two Princeton elementary schools, Riverside and Community Park, discussed with an Assembly panel their research about the bog turtle and showed their advocacy for designating it be the State Reptile.

"We received dozens of letters written by these students, each one original and compelling," Zwicker recalled. "Even the youngest children's letters were well-supported, explaining the need for the bog turtle's protection. I was persuaded and very moved seeing how these students put their learning about science and the environment into this kind of political engagement. This process has shown children that they, too, can change their world for the better."

Assembly Dem-Sponsored Bills Protecting Internet Users' Privacy Clears Assembly Panel

Prime Sponsor Andrew Zwicker Introduced Bill in Response to Trump Repeal of Federal Broadband Confidentiality Rules Last Year

(TRENTON) Two consumer protections bills sponsored by Assembly Democrats Andrew Zwicker, Daniel Benson, Paul Moriarty, Joann Downey, and Wayne DeAngelo to prohibit Internet service providers from selling or otherwise disclosing a subscriber's online browsing history and personal information and requiring commercial websites and online service operators to post privacy policy advanced in the Assembly on Thursday.

"In today's world, using the Internet is essential to everyday life, which means that Internet service providers have unparalleled access to a great deal of information about their subscribers' highly personal habits, preferences, even medical issues," said Zwicker. (D-Hunterdon/Mercer/Middlesex/Somerset) "That private data should not be up for sale to the highest bidder without subscribers' knowledge or consent.¨

The bill (A-1527) would require internet service providers (ISPs) like Verizon, Comcast and AT&T to keep their subscribers' personally identifiable information confidential, unless a subscriber expressly authorizes the ISP to disclose the information. The legislation comes after President Donald Trump signed legislation last May rescinding Federal Communications Commission protections intended to prohibit ISPs from selling their subscribers' personal data.

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Mukherji and Zwicker Bill Providing Protections to Elephants and other Exotic Animals Clears Assembly Panel

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assemblymen Raj Mukherji and Andrew Zwicker prohibiting the use of elephants and other exotic animals in traveling animal acts, such as fairs, carnivals, circuses and flea markets cleared the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee on Thursday.

“The mistreatment of any animal is inhumane and wrong,” said Zwicker (D-Somerset/Mercer/Middlesex/Hunterdon). “But it is particularly disturbing when wild, endangered animals are captured, misused, and exploited for profitable entertainment."

The bill (A-1923) will be designated as “Nosey’s Law,” in honor of Nosey the elephant, who is forced to travel the country and give rides at events despite being virtually crippled by arthritis. The arthritis has likely caused unnecessary suffering and permanent disability for Nosey, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture has failed to take action to protect Nosey, and Nosey’s owners continue to use her in shows.

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