News

ASSEMBLY DEMOCRATS INTRODUCE MEASURE TO PROTECT LGBTQ MARRIAGE IN NEW JERSEY

(TRENTON) – Recognizing the shift in the balance of the U.S. Supreme Court, Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Mila Jasey, Annette Quijano, Andrew Zwicker and Joann Downey on Monday introduced legislation to safeguard the right to marry for LGBTQ couples in New Jersey.

Throughout the country, LGBTQ couples are concerned that their marriages could be invalidated or that future couples may lose their right to marry if the Supreme Court reverses the landmark decision Obergefell v. Hodges.

This legislation (A-5367) would codify the right of LGBTQ couples to marry into New Jersey law.

“In 2012, I was proud to be a prime sponsor of New Jersey’s Marriage Equality Act. Following Governor Christie’s veto, advocates continued the fight to the New Jersey Supreme Court, where they were finally successful in legalizing same-sex marriage,” said Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “At the time, I received considerable backlash for my support of the LGBTQ community, as did many of my colleagues. I was right on this issue eight years ago and I am proud to once again be leading the charge to ensure that the rights of the LGBTQ community are safeguarded.”

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ZWICKER, FREIMAN & REYNOLDS-JACKSON BILL TO INCREASE ACCESS TO ADULT DIAGNOSTIC CARDIAC CATHETERIZATION, PRIMARY ANGIOPLASTY, AND ELECTIVE ANGIOPLASTY SERVICES BECOMES LAW

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 Somerset, Mercer, Middlesex, Hunterdon) and Verlina Reynolds-Jackson (Mercer, Hunterdon) sponsored legislation (A-1176), signed into law on Monday, 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.

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NJ Legislative Disability Caucus and 16th District Book Drive

19 February 2021

Dear Friends: 

The New Jersey Legislative Disability Caucus

I am proud to join this new bipartisan caucus with members of both the Assembly and Senate to focus on issues and challenges of the disability community in the Garden State. The caucus will be hosting meetings in our district offices; participating in quarterly education forums; and working to promote policies to improve the lives of people with disabilities and to consider the impact on the disability community in shaping all public policies in New Jersey. Our kick-off meeting was held via Zoom on January 26, 2021.

The pandemic has exacerbated the challenges faced by the disabled community which makes this caucus all the more relevant and important. The key to our success, however, is public input and engagement. I encourage individuals with disabilities, their families and organizations that serve, support and advocate for individuals to share their feedback and to get involved with the Caucus by visiting our website: https://njcdd.org/legislative-disability-caucus/

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Vaccine Update

4 February 2021

Dear Friends:

The good news is that so many of you are very eager to get vaccinated. The bad news is that the demand for the vaccine exceeded the state supply. 

I know the process of obtaining a COVID-19 vaccination for some has been stressful, frustrating, and exhausting. I hear your concerns loud and clear. More supplies are expected and the issues with getting the registration system working smoothly are being addressed. As the national supply chain increases and new vaccines receive federal emergency use authorization, the supply will start to better support the demand. I am working in partnership with our state and local officials to address these issues as quickly as possible.

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Celebrating Black History Month

Dear Friends, 

Today marks the first day of February and the start of Black History Month, a time when we reflect upon the sacrifices and accomplishments of Black Americans, both here in NJ and around the country.

We are a strong state because we are a diverse state – diversity in ideas, thoughts, and people. But our challenges go well beyond a month of reflecting and celebrating.

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ZWICKER, CONAWAY BILL TO PROHIBIT DECEPTIVE AUDIO OR VISUAL MEDIA CONTENT OF CANDIDATE FOR ELECTED PUBLIC OFFICE WITHIN 60 DAYS OF ELECTION CLEARS ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE

To address the emerging use of manipulated media content or deepfakes and their potential threat to our democracy and fair elections, Assemblymen Andrew Zwicker and Herb Conaway sponsor legislation that would bar the use of deceptive audio or visual media content featuring a candidate for elected public office within 60 days of an election.

The bill, (A-4985) was approved by the Assembly Science, Information and Technology Committee on Monday.

In 2018, a deepfake video created with artificial technology showed President Barack Obama giving a speech he had never given. In Belgium, a political group released a deepfake of the Belgian Prime Minister giving a speech that linked the COVID-19 pandemic to environmental damage. And ahead of the 2020 election, Facebook announced that it has banned manipulated videos and photos from its platforms.

“Deepfakes can be a malicious combination of fake narratives and false information used to mislead and misinform the public in ways we haven’t seen before,” said Zwicker (D-Somerset, Mercer, Middlesex, Hunterdon). “Deepfake videos can be used to influence voters to believe in untruths without them even knowing the content was manipulated. These deceptive machine-learning, computer-generated videos, images or audio have no place in our democracy and that is why we are requiring that their use be disclosed.”

Under the bill, unless there is a disclosure stating that the content has been manipulated, a person or other entity would be prohibited from distributing, within 60 days of any election at which a candidate for elective public office would appear on the ballot, with actual malice deceptive audio or visual media content of the candidate with the intent to injure the candidate’s reputation or to deceive a voter into voting for or against the candidate.

“Fake videos and other manipulated media content introduced during an election aims to erode public trust and faith in democracy,” said Conaway (D-Burlington). “Deepfakes have rapidly become a popular tool employed to undermine political candidates, and campaigns. Any altered content of a video, photo, or audio should always include disclosure of its manipulation, especially if there is a chance it could negatively influence an election.”

The bill would authorize a candidate for elective public office whose voice or likeness appears in audio or visual media content distributed in violation of the bill to seek injunctive or other equitable relief prohibiting the distribution of the deceptive audio or visual media content. A candidate whose voice or likeness appears in the deceptive audio or visual media would also be authorized to bring an action for general or special damages against the person or other entity that distributed the content and would authorize the court to award a prevailing party reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.

The measure will now go to the Assembly Speaker for further consideration.


ASSEMBLY DEMOCRATIC-SPONSORED BILL TO IMPOSES MORATORIUM ON COLLECTION OF BIOMETRIC IDENTIFIERS; CREATES COMMISSION ADVANCES

To ensure the responsible use of data collected from biometric identifiers such as fingerprints and facial recognition, legislation (A-3625/A-4211) sponsored by Assembly Democrats to impose a moratorium on the collection of biometric identifiers by public entities, create a commission to recommend appropriate uses, and restrict private use of biometric information cleared an Assembly Science, Innovation and Technology on Monday.

Biometric identifiers allow a person to be uniquely identified through an unchangeable physical characteristic or behavior. The most well-known biometric identifier is a fingerprint, but new technologies allow the identification of people based on how they walk or on their facial features. These features are as distinctive as fingerprints but are different because they can be collected at a distance by today’s camera and recording technology.

Sponsors of the bill, Assembly Democrats Andrew Zwicker (D-Somerset, Mercer, Middlesex, Hunterdon), Tom Giblin (D-Essex), Herb Conaway (D-Burlington), Daniel Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex), and Eliana Pintor Marin (D-Essex) issued the following statement on the bill:

“A sustained use of remote biometrics by any entity has the potential for misapplication and loss of privacy for individuals and whole communities. Although biometric technology helps us every day in many different fields including law enforcement, we still have to remain vigilant and ensure this data is only being used for good.

“There can be value in the use of remote biometrics in tracking; however, we are seeing its use on a broader scale in China and in certain areas of the United States such as cities like Detroit tracking individuals in real-time as they go about their daily lives.

“Understanding remote biometric technology, having guidance on ways to curb inappropriate uses of the technology, and setting transparency or accountability guidelines is paramount to preventing abuse of cutting edge technology. It is key to ensuring public safety and privacy protection. Bringing together a panel of experts from public policy, law enforcement, and academia will help the legislature understand how to use this technology appropriately without infringing on civil liberties.”


January Update

15 January 2021

Dear Friends: 

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:

https://www.insidernj.com/assemblyman-andrew-zwicker-names-petra-gaskins-chief-staff/

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. ([email protected])

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!

Take care, 

Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker
16th Legislative District
https://www.andrewzwicker.com/

 

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:
https://covidvaccine.nj.gov/

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.

https://covid19.nj.gov/faqs/nj-information/assistance-and-benefits/is-the-covid-19-vaccine-free-what-if-i-dont-have-insurance

 

Senior Freeze Property Tax Rebate:
https://www.state.nj.us/treasury/taxation/ptr/index.shtml

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):
https://telegov.njportal.com/njmvc

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:
https://www.myunemployment.nj.gov

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.  


Statement from Assemblyman Zwicker

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.