15 January 2021
A New Year marks a new beginning and I would like to share exciting news! Petra Gaskins has joined my team as Chief of Staff after serving in the office of U.S. Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman where she was Director of Outreach and Programming for the 12th Congressional District. Here’s a link to the press release:
Petra joins my ongoing staff of James Cacciola, Legislative Director, and Pam Hersh, Communications and Outreach Director, both of whom have dedicated much of their time in the past 10 months responding to challenges connected to the Covid-19 pandemic.
We are a team that strives to listen to your concerns, helps you find solutions to issues related to state services, and are eager to hear your opinions about what I can do in the Legislature to improve the quality of life for all New Jerseyans.
Please never hesitate to reach out to us - no issue is too minor and all points of view are worthy of consideration. (AsmZwicker@njleg.org)
This Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day and state offices will be closed. While the pandemic may prevent many in our community from volunteering in person this year, there are ways to serve our neighbors in the spirit of Dr. King. Socially distanced service includes donating food to a local pantry, making care packages for the homeless, or supporting organizations that mentor youth, among others. Make it a day on, not a day off!
Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker
16th Legislative District
Thank You – Holiday Veterans’ Donations Drive:
I want to thank all of you who helped out our veterans by donating to the New Jersey VFW, which will be disseminating the personal care items and clothing accessories to VFWs throughout the 16th Legislative District. Your generosity netted hundreds of items plus cash donations. I can tell you that the veterans were so appreciative of the gifts and fiscal support, but also the fact that you cared enough to reach out to them at this time of the year.
Vaccination - Registration Available; Individuals 65 Years Old and Above Now Qualify for Vaccine; and No Out of Pocket Costs for Vaccine:
As of Thursday, January 14, individuals who are 65 years old and older, plus individuals 16 through 64 years of age with chronic health conditions, will be eligible to receive the vaccine. The federal government is releasing more doses, and the state has established 259 distribution locations - this includes the six mega sites. Registration is necessary https://covidvaccine.nj.gov/.
If you pre-registered and are now eligible, you will be receiving an email assigning an appointment. The state will be announcing vaccine availability for the general public when enough supplies are available.
The vaccine is free for all participants with or without insurance.
Senior Freeze Property Tax Rebate:
The Senior Freeze application deadline has been extended to February 1, 2021. Because the COVID-19 pandemic poses ongoing challenges to taxpayers in obtaining the necessary paperwork from local governments to complete the application, there may be many eligible seniors who have not yet taken advantage of the Senior Freeze this year.
Motor Vehicles Commission (MVC):
MVC has expanded significantly its on-line service options. Check the NJ MVC online services page to see if you can "Skip the Trip" to the agency. Transactions that can be done online will not be available in person at this time. The Motor Vehicles Commission adds thousands of appointments online every day for those few transactions that do require a visit.
More Financial Support for the Unemployed:
Unemployed workers will begin receiving $300 in supplemental unemployment benefits beginning the week of January 16, for their first week of eligibility under the expanded CARES Act. The $300 weekly benefit, known as Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), is in addition to regular unemployment payments and is for anyone eligible for any amount of unemployment from any federal or state program.
8 January 2021
Like you, I watched the events at the Capitol with anger, sadness, and shock. I am appalled by the violent assault that occurred on the Capitol, which represents a dangerous and intolerable attack on our Constitution and our country. The flag of the United States of America was removed and replaced with a Trump flag. Additionally, a confederate flag was brought inside the US Capitol, a demonstrator was shot and killed, a Capitol police officer from NJ died from injuries sustained in the struggle and several others died from medical events.
This tragedy shows disdain for our institutions, traditions and our values. Our democracy is predicated on the peaceful transfer of power, and our commitment to democratic principles must be upheld.
Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker
16 Legislative District
ZWICKER, FREIMAN & REYNOLDS-JACKSON BILL TO INCREASE ACCESS TO ADULT DIAGNOSTIC CARDIAC CATHETERIZATION, PRIMARY ANGIOPLASTY, AND ELECTIVE ANGIOPLASTY SERVICES ADVANCES TO GOVERNOR’S DESK
There’s one fatality every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease. About 655,000 Americans die from heart disease each year—that’s 1 in every 4 persons.
People who are experiencing symptoms and choose to undergo an angioplasty procedure may alleviate those symptoms and prevent a more serious heart condition with this minimally invasive procedure. Expanding access to hospitals that can perform elective angioplasty safely will bolster the delivery of high-quality cardiac care for New Jersey residents.
Assembly members Andrew Zwicker, Roy Freiman (both D-Somerset, Mercer, Middlesex, Hunterdon) and Verlina Reynolds-Jackson (D-Mercer, Hunterdon) sponsored legislation (A-1176) to do just that by requiring the NJ Department of Health to license certain qualifying hospitals to provide full-service adult diagnostic cardiac catheterization, primary angioplasty, and elective angioplasty services.
The goal is to provide more options for safe and elective cardiac care treatments for patients.
Sponsors of the measure issued the following statement:
“Heart disease can be a very treatable illness when the right health measures are able to be taken by a patient in consultation with their medical professional.
“Angioplasty saves lives every day, but far too often they are performed only in emergencies. Elective Angioplasty as a preventive measure can lessen symptoms, improve quality of life, and reduce mortality rates.
“Ensuring more medical centers are licensed for full-service elective angioplasty and its linked care will increase access to safe and preventative healthcare measures for residents combatting heart disease.”
Coronary artery disease occurs when the coronary arteries, which carry blood to the heart muscle, become clogged or partially blocked by fatty deposits on the artery walls. Treatment for coronary artery disease will vary for different patients. Some may need medical procedures such as percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI, commonly known as angioplasty) or Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery (CABG).
Angioplasty reduces obstructions of fatty deposits in coronary arteries and has become an increasingly common treatment method. CABG surgery uses an artery or vein taken from another part of the body to divert blood around the clogged part of a patient’s artery or arteries. These procedures are typically preceded by a diagnostic cardiac catheterization.
The legislation was recently approved unanimously by the full Senate and now awaits further review by the Governor.
20 December 2020
Make this holiday season a little more joyful for our veterans by donating to our Veterans Clothing and Personal Items Drive through Dec. 31 to benefit the New Jersey Veterans of Foreign Wars (NJVFW). The NJVFW will connect with VFW Posts serving veterans in the 16th Legislative District.
If you would prefer making a donation by check, please mail to:
New Jersey VFW
171 Jersey Street, Building 5, 2nd Floor
Trenton, NJ 08611
Attn: Ken Hagemann, Dept. Adjutant
In addition to thanking those who already have made a donation to our Veterans Clothing and Personal Items Drive, I want to thank everyone who helped implement the successful Virtual Veterans Claims Clinic on December 16th. Ms. Jennifer Myers, who is the Veterans Administration Ambassador and Public Affairs Officer working in the VA District Office in Newark, led the initiative by helping 11 veterans solve problems related to compensation, disability, and health benefits. An extra benefit, as one veteran noted: “it was great just to connect with a friendly voice.” I also appreciate the efforts of the representatives from the VFW posts and the county veterans administration offices who helped publicized the event.
All my best,
Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker
16th Legislative District
ASSEMBLY DEMOCRATIC SPONSORS ISSUE JOINT STATEMENT ON PASSAGE OF ECONOMIC RECOVERY PLAN AND TAX INCENTIVE REFORM LEGISLATION BY THE LEGISLATURE
Supporting small businesses, driving sustainable economic growth, and the long-overdue reform of our tax incentives system— the legislation to put New Jersey on a path to economic recovery post-COVID-19 and into the future cleared the Legislature and heads to the Governor.
Receiving strong bipartisan support, the bill was approved by the Assembly, 68-11. The Senate passed the bill. The bill will now go to the Governor for further consideration.
The bill (A-4) is sponsored by twelve (12) Democratic members of the Assembly. Assembly members Lou Greenwald (D-Gloucester, Camden), Gordon Johnson (D-Bergen), Benjie Wimberly (D-Bergen, Passaic), Nicholas Chiaravalloti (D-Hudson), Annette Chaparro (D-Hudson), Anthony Verrelli (D-Mercer, Hunterdon), Vincent Mazzeo (D-Atlantic), Linda Carter (D-Middlesex, Somerset, Union), Eric Houghtaling (D-Monmouth) and Andrew Zwicker (D-Somerset, Mercer, Middlesex, Hunterdon) issued the following joint statement on the bill:
“With the New Jersey Economic Recovery Act of 2020, we’ve created a path to economic rebound for the state’s businesses and our most pandemic- affected communities. This legislation nurtures the states’ long-standing role as the hub of innovation and tech in the Northeast. It continues to help us attract viable businesses, and grow Main Street programs, boosting job creation statewide. Getting residents back to work and creating job opportunities for those who have lost jobs as a result of this pandemic was a priority of this legislation.
“COVID-19’s devastating impact on our state’s economy requires bold steps to ensure our economy rebuilds stronger and better, stabilizing families and their communities.
“A robust incentive package is a necessary economic stimulus. This legislation proudly focuses on many concerns of historically underserved communities spurring remediation and redevelopment of Brownfields sites; the rehabilitation of historic properties; and improving access to nutritious food options by creating a program to help food desert communities.
“This long-awaited legislation is what New Jersey needs to begin to heal our economy from a national public health crisis, and an unprecedented moment in recent history.”
ASSEMBLY APPROVES VERRELLI, BENSON, & ZWICKER BILL PROTECTING EMPLOYEE’S FROM EMPLOYER TRACKING DEVICE VIOLATIONS
To protect workers’ privacy, Assembly Democrats Anthony Verrelli (D- Mercer, Hunterdon), Daniel Benson (D- Mercer, Middlesex), and Andrew Zwicker (D-Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex and Somerset) sponsor legislation to ensure that employers provide written notice before using a tracking device in an employee’s vehicle. The bill was approved Monday 47-25-2 by the full Assembly.
The bill (A-3950) would provide regulation declaring companies using a tracking device in an employee’s personal vehicle, or the use of tracking devices in a company-provided vehicle without a written notice to an employee, as a crime of the fourth degree. A crime of the fourth degree includes potential imprisonment up to 18 months, a fine up to $10,000, or a combination of the two punishments.
There are currently no federal privacy laws barring businesses from tracking employees with GPS systems. Under the current legal landscape, companies do not always have to inform their employees of tracking devices, which was evident in a recent survey where more than 22 percent of employees claimed to be unaware they would be tracked when first starting a job.
This bill would further the rights of New Jersey employees under the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures by prohibiting tracking devices in an employee’s personal vehicle and only allowing such devices in a company-provided vehicle after issuing a written notice.
Assemblymen Verrelli, Benson, and Zwicker issued the following joint statement after approval of the legislation:
“In order for the FBI or other law enforcement agencies to track the location of our cars, a judge must first approve a warrant. Currently, if an employer wants to track an employee’s vehicle, there is no clear regulation prohibiting them from doing so.”
“As long as companies do not have to disclose the use of tracking devices in employee vehicles, or provide a written notice for the use of such devices in company-provided vehicles, employees’ privacy will remain at risk. Our goal is to protect the citizens of New Jersey and the privacies included in the Fourth Amendment. This bill will help accomplish that.”
Assembly Democrats Andrew Zwicker (D- Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Somerset), and Shanique Speight (D- Essex) sponsor legislation to create a permanent source of funding for the New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program, Inc. (NJMEP). This bill would establish a new source of funding up to $1.5 million from an allocation set aside for the Office of Customized Training. On Thursday, the legislation passed the Assembly 72-0 and the Senate 34-0.
The NJMEP is a private, not for profit organization that improves competitiveness of manufacturers. The program also enables organizations to enhance productivity and efficiency, improve employee performance, and reduce costs. The bill (A-3756) would help the NJMEP further their programs and services geared toward helping mid to small-sized manufacturers become more efficient and spur job creation.
Upon passage of the bill in the Assembly and Senate, Zwicker and Speight issued the following joint statement:
“Competition is what propels organizations to give consumers their best products and services and spurs innovation.
“As experts, the NJMEP can advise smaller businesses and increase success for manufacturers in New Jersey. The program continues to create and develop resources for organizations to utilize.
“The NJMEP understands the unique aspects of New Jersey’s manufacturing industry and customizes products and services to help smaller businesses thrive. Giving this nonprofit more support will enhance its ability to bolster businesses’ success and create jobs in New Jersey.”
Assemblyman Christopher DePhillips (R-Bergen) also sponsors the bipartisan legislation.
ZWICKER, CONAWAY & BENSON BILL ESTABLISHING OFFICE TO ASSIST IN EXPANDING INTERNET SERVICE THROUGHOUT NJ TO ADDRESS UNEQUAL ACCESS ADVANCES
As part of ongoing efforts to expand broadband internet service throughout the State, Assembly Democrats Andrew Zwicker, Herb Conaway and Daniel Benson sponsor a bill to establish an office within the Board of Public Utilities (BPU) to assist in providing and expanding service for those with limited access.
The measure was based on recommendations from the coronavirus recovery Economic Advisory Council, established by Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin. The council was formed with the purpose of providing the State Legislature with ideas to help New Jersey recover from COVID-19.
Under the bill (A-4808), a ‘Broadband Assistance Office’ would be established in the BPU to handle a number of responsibilities. In conjunction with several other State offices, this office would be responsible for mapping internet connectivity in New Jersey and coordinating financial and technical assistance for communities lacking service.
The Broadband Assistance Office would also be responsible for encouraging public and/or private entity involvement in providing internet service to those communities. The office would not only approve qualified entities’ proposed broadband projects, but also oversee, coordinate and provide assistance to any projects it authorizes.
The BPU would then have to prepare a report each year for the Governor and Legislature explaining the various projects underway and how they are helping local municipalities.
Upon the legislation passing the full Assembly by a vote of 70-0-1, Assemblymen Zwicker (D-Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Somerset), Conaway (D-Burlington) and Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex) issued the following joint statement:
“In this day and age, it is simply unacceptable that nearly one-third of Americans lack access to broadband internet service at home. We rely on the internet for so many aspects of our day-to-day lives, especially in the middle of a crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic we are facing now.
“New Jersey residents in underserved communities, which tend to be low-income urban and rural areas, deserve a concerted effort to bring internet service to their areas. We must make it our goal to address the inequities residents face as a result of limited access to this critical service.
“A central office responsible for gathering information on gaps in service, encouraging broadband projects in those areas and coordinating the execution of those projects would help make that goal a reality.”
ZWICKER, DANIELSEN & REYNOLDS-JACKSON BILL TO REQUIRE IN-PERSON EARLY VOTING BY MACHINE FOR GENERAL ELECTIONS AFTER 2020 PASSES COMMITTEE
(TRENTON) – Registered voters would be able to cast their ballots in person at designated polling places for about two weeks before future general elections under legislation approved Monday by the Assembly State and Local Government Committee.
Under the bill (A-4830) sponsored by Assembly Democrats Andrew Zwicker (D- Middlesex, Somerset, Mercer, Hunterdon) Joseph Danielsen (D-Middlesex, Somerset) and Verlina Reynolds-Jackson (D-Mercer, Hunterdon), designated polling sites would be available for in-person voting 15 days before a general election up until the Sunday before the election. Polls would be open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Each county board of elections would designate three to seven early polling locations, depending on the number of registered voters in the county. The voting process during the early voting period would be conducted using electronic poll books certified by the Secretary of State and voting machines. Additionally, county boards would create and execute written plans for security of voting machines, ballots and records during the early voting period.
The bill would go into effect 120 days after enactment and now goes to the Speaker for further consideration.
The sponsors released the following joint statement on the bill:
“Voting must be easy, convenient and accessible, our democracy depends on participation of the people. However, the current system makes it difficult for the people to exercise their constitutional right to vote. Heading to the polls on Election Day may require voters to take off work on a weekday, find care for their children or demand hours of their time. It shouldn’t be this hard to cast a ballot.
“New Jersey must join the ranks of two dozen other states that allow in-person early voting, giving voters more opportunities to cast their ballots at their convenience. More people voting strengthens our democracy.”
October 1, 2020
In early spring, as the pandemic shut down life in New Jersey and unemployment and food insecurity soared, I asked all of you to participate in a virtual food drive by making a donation to the food banks throughout the 16th Legislative District. Today, even though New Jersey has cautiously reopened, food insecurity remains a daily issue for so many.
I am asking once again for your help in a Fall Virtual Food Drive.
Feeding America, the nation's largest hunger-relief organization, projects a 56 percent increase in New Jersey’s food insecurity rate as a direct result of the pandemic. About 13.5 percent of our residents are expected to be food insecure by the end of 2020 and that is higher than the expected increases nationwide and in neighboring states. This translates to an additional 430,000 New Jersey residents becoming food insecure—a total of 1.2 million food insecure New Jerseyans.
For this Fall Food Drive initiative, you can make a donation to the food bank of your choice within the 16th Legislative District or to the Community Food Bank of New Jersey.
We have partnered with YouGiveGoods, which will deliver the food items to the food banks. You also can make a monetary donation directly through the food banks’ websites; the links to the various food banks are provided on the website.
The food drive will run from October 1 through November 16, ending in time to get the items to the food banks for distribution before Thanksgiving.
Thank you in advance for your generosity.
Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker
16th Legislative District