As I write this, the last warm days of the year have passed us by and the Chicago Cubs are in the World Series. Legislation that I helped write to authorize student loan forgiveness in the event of the borrower death or disability passed both the Assembly and Senate and is now on the Governor’s desk. The Assembly also passed a resolution I wrote urging Congress and the President to enact legislation to ensure students have access to debt-free higher education at public colleges and universities.
Growing New Jersey’s economy continues to be my top priority. My tour of local high-tech businesses is a key part of my effort to better understand how to make our state more attractive to innovative businesses.
It is my honor to represent you and, as always, do not hesitate to contact to my office at (609) 454-3147 with any questions or concerns.
My staff and I are working tirelessly both out in the community and in the office to help you directly:
Unclaimed Property: My office has sent over 700 letter to constituents who have unclaimed property in their names. You can learn more about the Unclaimed Property program at http://www.unclaimedproperty.nj.gov/ or call my staff directly at (609) 454-3147.
Diesel Fuel Refund: Recently, my staff helped a constituent with the paperwork needed to apply for a diesel fuel tax rebate through the Division of Taxation.
Letters of Support: Many qualified constituents have reached out to my office seeking my support for reappointment to several state commissions and boards. I was happy to write letters for these capable individuals.
My staff have also hosted mobile offices in Flemington, South Brunswick and Somerville, and have many planned for the future as well. These office hours give you the opportunity to receive support in matters related to state agencies, voice your opinions on state issues and familiarize yourselves with services available through my office.
Fall Open House
I will be on hand to provide information about government resources and assistance with any state or local issues. There will be a wide range of resources, some of which are listed below.
Winter Food Drive
My office will be collecting nonperishable food donations in preparation for the winter season. The donations will go to Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex and Somerset County Food Banks. We will be collecting donations at our office until Tuesday, December 13th, 2016.
On Thursday, October 13, I visited the Senior Center in Montgomery and had a great discussion with local residents on property taxes, pensions, the high cost of living in NJ, the environment, and more.
Assemblyman Zwicker Honors Future New Jersey Scientists and Engineers with Assembly Floor Resolutions
On Thursday, September 29, I had the distinct honor of presenting resolutions on the floor of the New Jersey General Assembly to some of the most outstanding future scientists and engineers in New Jersey.My gratitude to Kamana Misra for all of the work she does as the President of the New Jersey chapter of the Association for Women in Science and to my colleagues in the Assembly for their support.
Assemblyman Zwicker Speaks at Governor’s STEM Scholars Conference at Rutgers University
I was delighted to meet with the next generation of NJ scientists and engineers at the Governor’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Scholars conference at Rutgers University. I spoke about how New Jersey plays an instrumental role in the country’s STEM economy, as well as about the vast opportunities available to the students in the state.
AR183: Urges Congress and President to enact legislation to ensure students have access to debt-free higher education at public colleges and universities
I am pleased to announce that this month the Assembly passed my resolution (AR183) that urges both Congress and the President to form legislation to ensure that students have sufficient access to higher education without having to worry about going into an insurmountable level of debt to meet their goals.
AR182: Commemorates 100th anniversary of founding of Planned Parenthood
This month I also sponsored a resolution commemorating the 100th anniversary of the founding of Planned Parenthood. Since 1916, the organization has provided educational resources and vital health services to women and families all across the U.S.
Recently in the news:Zwicker Tours KWG Industries in Hillsborough, Discusses Innovation & Jobs Creation https://www.tapinto.net/towns/hillsborough/articles/zwicker-tours-kwg-industries-in-hillsborough-dis
Zwicker, Benson, Schaer & Holley Legislation Urging Congress to Ensure Students Access to Debt-Free Higher Education Clears Assembly http://www.assemblydems.com/Article.asp?ArticleID=11690
Zwicker, Prieto, Vainieri Huttle, Lampitt & Muoio Measure to Commemorate 100th Anniversary of Planned Parenthood Clears General Assembly http://www.assemblydems.com/Article.asp?ArticleID=11688
Assemblyman Zwicker Tours Manufacturer, Discusses Innovation and Job Creation https://www.tapinto.net/towns/piscataway/articles/assemblyman-zwicker-tours-manufacturer-discusses-3
Singleton, Gusciora, Benson, Zwicker & Danielsen Bill to Fight Christie Admin’s Attempt to Resurrect Cruel & Inhumane Hunting Practice Gains Assembly OK http://www.assemblydems.com/Article.asp?ArticleID=11699
Assembly Dems Bill Forgiving Student Loan Debt in Event of Borrower’s Death or Permanent Disability Heads to Governor’s Desk http://www.assemblydems.com/Article.asp?ArticleID=11709
The end of summer marks both the start of a new school year and a new session of the General Assembly. I am pleased that there will be an emphasis in this session on legislation to help make college more affordable and helping families with their student debt burden (see my legislation below). I am also worried about the increasing proliferation of telemarketing scams; many residents have expressed their concerns to me about this issue and I am working on legislation to combat this increasing problem, and I would love to hear your thoughts. Please give me a call with either your experiences or with your ideas and I will keep you updated on our progress.
Growing our “innovation economy” and helping small businesses continues to be my priority. Over the past few months, I have met with many high tech companies in the district and listened to these entrepreneurs talk about what they need to thrive. I have also spoken to many small business owners about what works and what doesn’t in order to better serve them. We have so many wonderful businesses in our area and I urge you to shop locally.
This summer, I was privileged to have the best student interns in NJ volunteer their time to help me represent our District. They were incredibly dedicated, smart and helped constituents in so many different ways. At the end of the summer, we had our own version of the show “Shark Tank.” Throughout the summer they researched ideas for legislation and then, like the show, presented their ideas to my staff and I. It was inspiring to see the thought and the professionalism they exhibited in presenting their work and I will continue to work with them to turn some of the best ideas into legislation. While it went by much too quickly, it’s been a wonderful but busy summer.
It is my honor to represent you and, as always, do not hesitate to contact to my office at (609) 454-3147 with any questions or concerns.
Not only is my office busy out in the community, we're working endlessly in the office to help you directly:
Senior Freeze Property Tax Relief: My office has called over 1000 seniors to notify them of their eligibility for a property tax relief program. You can learn more about the Senior Freeze program at http://www.state.nj.us/treasury/taxation/ptr/ or call my staff directly at (609) 454-3147.
Business License: Recently, my staff helped a constituent with the paperwork needed to start his home health care for Veterans business here in our district.
Social Services: Many constituents have reached out to my office for help with social services such as access to affordable housing, disability services and more. Please call me if I can help you.
Assemblyman Zwicker Discusses Innovation and Job Creation
On Thursday, August 11, I toured 3DMonstr and Leigh Visual Imaging, and led a roundtable discussion on creating jobs and growing New Jersey’s economy with innovative technologies. Joining me in the discussion were Ben Reytblat, CEO of 3DMonstr and Peter Dawson, President of Leigh Visual Imaging.
Our conversation was not unlike many of the other conversations I’ve had with entrepreneurs and business owners around the district. We are all in agreement that New Jersey needs to embrace and encourage an innovation economy if we are going to create the jobs necessary to compete globally and with neighboring states.
Zwicker Discusses the Economy, Taxes and Consumer Fraud with 500 AARP Members
It was a pleasure to participate in an AARP House Call on Friday, September 16, 2016. Over 500 residents in our District called in to ask questions and talk about affordability, health care costs, consumer fraud and more.
Zwicker Summer Interns Complete More Than 1,400 Hours of Volunteer Service
The list of interns that participated in the 2016 summer program in my legislative office:
Anna Hiltner, Princeton, NJ (Princeton High School)
Charlie Biondi, Skillman, NJ (Montgomery High School)
Christian Giles, Princeton, NJ (Quinnipiac University)
Efil Celek, Montgomery, NJ (American University)
Jack Wagner, Montgomery, NJ (Montgomery High School)
James Li, Monmouth Junction, NJ (South Brunswick High School)
Joann Sirimis Szela, Hillsborough, NJ (volunteer)
Julien Rosenbloom, High Bridge, NJ (Voorhees High School)
Mia Thompson, Stockton, NJ (Hofstra University)
Patrick Peralta, Monmouth Junction, NJ (South Brunswick High School)
Philip Trevisan, Princeton, NJ (University of St Andrews)
Pritom Dutta. Flemington, NJ (Hunterdon Central Regional High School)
Rachel Griffin, Flemington, NJ (Hunterdon Central Regional High School)
Rachel Newstadt, Readington, NJ (Macalester College)
Ronak Rijhwani, Montgomery, NJ (Montgomery High School)
Sid Shankar, Hillsborough, NJ (Somerset Vocational and Technical High School)
Simran Khanna, South Brunswick, NJ (University of Maryland)
Tyler Sanders, South Brunswick, NJ (American University)
William Huang, Montgomery, NJ (Montgomery High School)
Zoe Bloomfield, Montgomery, NJ (Montgomery High School)
Legislative Updates from the State House:
S-166/A-3901: Zwicker Bill to Help Combat Future Flooding in Hunterdon & Somerset Counties Becomes Law
I was pleased to work on a bipartisan bill that is crucial to our District. The new law (S-166/A-3901) establishes the Hunterdon-Somerset Flood Advisory Task Force, which is charged with reviewing past flooding events within Hunterdon and Somerset counties and recommending measures to reduce the impact of flooding on residents, businesses, and local government units in the Delaware River and Raritan River basins.
A-2761: Bill Forgiving Student Loan Debt in Event of Borrower's Death or Permanent Disability
On September 15, 2016 the New Jersey Assembly passed A-2761 with a vote of 66 Yes, 0 No, 7 Abstentions and 7 Not Voting. This bill will forgive certain student loan debt in the event of a borrower’s death or total permanent disability. The idea for this bill came after the story of Kevin DeOliveira, a college student who was tragically murdered became public over the summer. After Kevin’s death, the state continued to collect on his student loan, putting an undue burden on his family during an extremely difficult time. The New York Times, and many other outlets, covered his story: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/04/nyregion/in-new-jersey-student-loan-program-even-death-may-not-bring-a-reprieve.html
I was proud to testify in support of this legislation, and I’m glad to see the Higher Education Committee pass this bill. My hope is that the Senate will soon follow suit so that the bill can then head towards the Governor’s desk and be signed into law.
Welcome to my mid-summer update. During the last few months, I've had the pleasure of talking to people throughout the 16th Legislative District, listening to your concerns and expectations for the future. I've also met with members of our Congressional delegation, religious groups and community and business leaders.
These meetings make me feel optimistic for our towns and for New Jersey. We have some of the smartest, hard-working and diverse people I've ever met and by embracing these strengths and building upon them together, we can #InnovateNJ.
In the Statehouse, my first bill, the New Voter Empowerment Act, reached the governor's desk and I sponsored a budget resolution to bring over $10 million in Environmental Infrastructure Trust money to help 16th District municipalities invest in vital projects.
New Jersey is strong because of the remarkable diversity of our people and we should celebrate both our similarities and our differences. My resolution condemning bigotry and hatred while embracing our diversity passed the Assembly unanimously.
You can read about all of this, and more, below. As always, please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of service or just to say hello.
Innovation 2.0 Round Table Discussion
I was proud to join Congresswoman Bonnie Watson-Coleman, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. and business leaders from around the State for a roundtable discussion to launch the Congressional Innovation Agenda 2.0. NJ has a tremendous high-tech infrastructure that is growing in all areas. For example, a 2014 report found that more than 3,000 operations comprised the bio-pharmaceutical life sciences cluster in New Jersey. The pharmaceutical, medical device, and biotech industries represent an economic impact of $26 billion annually and support more than 15,000 jobs. The roundtable was part of an ongoing discussion to promote strategies to encourage continued growth in NJ.
The Assemblyman at Princeton University's Iftar
I participated in an Iftar Potluck Dinner hosted by the Muslim Life Program at Princeton University on June 12, 2016. These daily gatherings to break the fast during Ramadan are an opportunity for people of all faiths to gather to celebrate diversity and inclusion. Joining together to share a meal with a loving community was an amazing way to reflect on the necessity of diversity and appreciating one another, and our cultures, both for their similarities and differences.
My staff is always ready to help you in a variety of ways. Here are just a few things we've done lately:
- Medical Bills: Recently we’ve helped multiple people reduce their medical bills. This has included helping applicants through the Medicaid process, as well as helping constituents apply for the Middlesex County prescription discount card.
- Utilities Help: We were recently contacted by a constituent who was unable to solve a discrepancy with a home utilities company which had resulted in unauthorized charges to her account. My office helped her get claim sorted out, saving her over three thousand dollars!
- Motor Vehicles: Knowing how much frustration can be caused by a trip to the MVC on a crowded summer day, I was happy to step in and help a constituent resolve an issue preventing their license renewal.
Always remember that my office is here to help when you don’t know where else to turn!
Legislative Updates from the State House:
A3883 - Authorizes the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust to expend certain sums to make loans for environmental infrastructure projects for FY2017.
This bill, which I authored for inclusion into the FY2017 budget, authorizes the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust to expend up to $411.35 million and any unexpended balances from previous authorizations to provide loans with an interest rate at or below the prevailing market rate to local governments, public authorities, and public water utilities for a portion of the total costs of 80 eligible environmental infrastructure projects. I am happy to report that this money is going to help both Hillsborough Township and Somerville Borough, as well as many other municipalities, to make vital clean water infrastructure improvements.
AR155 — Resolution Condemning Bigotry and Hatred.
I introduced this Assembly resolution to condemn bigotry and hatred; steadfastly confirm our dedication to the rights and dignity of all citizens of all faiths, beliefs, and cultures; and denounce in the strongest possible terms the increase of hate speech, intimidation, violence, vandalism, arson, and other hate crimes. The resolution declares that the civil rights and civil liberties of all New Jersey citizens should be protected and preserved; and reaffirms the inalienable right of every citizen to live without fear and intimidation, and to practice their faith freely. In the midst of national discussions that are increasingly divisive, the people of New Jersey continue to show the world that diversity is an asset, that we can disagree without being disagreeable and that the twin evils of bigotry and hatred have no place here.
A2088/S855 – Requires Commissioner of DCA to promulgate rules and regulations providing for veterans' affordable housing assistance preference.
This bill, which I co-sponsored along with many of my colleagues, ensures that New Jersey veterans and surviving spouses receive priority status for affordable public housing. Specifically, the bill requires the Division of Housing and Community Resources in the state Department of Community Affairs (DCA), in consultation with the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, to provide preferential status to veterans who qualify for public housing assistance. This bill has passed both Houses of the Legislature as of June 16, 2016, making it the first bill which I have sponsored to make it to the Governor's desk. By making public housing more accessible to veterans in New Jersey, our state can act on its obligation to end homelessness among veterans.
A-2547 - Permits small businesses to qualify for loans from NJEDA for costs of energy audit and making energy efficiency or conservation improvements.
I co-sponsored this bill to facilitate cost-effective environmentally friendly improvements for small businesses through loans from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority. I know investing in energy efficiency can save money and create jobs, especially for small businesses where every possible savings opportunity is vital, so I was glad to see this bill passed by both the Assembly Appropriations and Commerce committees.