News

Zwicker Statement on Amtrak, NJ Transit Hearing

(Trenton, NJ) -- Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker issued the following statement Monday afternoon after receiving testimony from Amtrak and New Jersey Transit executives during a joint legislative hearing on rail maintenance, repairs, contingency planning and commuter delays on Friday:

“Our infrastructure, which is our roads, buses and of course our trains are crucial to our economic vitality. We know that every dollar invested in public transportation yields four dollars in economic returns. Investing in making the Northeast Corridor a safer, reliable option for commuters, is of paramount importance to our state’s economy and the livelihood of our residents.

“Over the long term, I look forward to working with my colleagues in the legislature in urging New Jersey’s congressional delegation to secure funds for the Gateway Project as soon as possible. The last month has been a wake-up call for those who have underestimated the amount of stress put on just two antiquated rail tunnels every single day. The current system simply is unsustainable, and New Jersey residents deserve a continued effort to hold Amtrak, NJ Transit, the governor and federal officials accountable.” 


Legislative Leaders and Activists Join Forces to Protect New Jersey Residents from Trump Agenda

Unprecedented "Resistance Coalition" to counter federal attacks on women, immigrants, the environment; other Trump targets

(Trenton, NJ) -- Activists and community leaders joined Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and Speaker Emeritus Sheila Oliver as well as Assemblywoman Annette Quijano, Assemblywoman Liz Muoio, and Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker to launch the statewide "Resistance Coalition" to protect New Jersey residents from the Trump agenda, which is putting women, immigrants, and working families at risk. 

The coalition -- which is unprecedented in New Jersey politics -- will champion a legislative and policy agenda to counter the Trump administration. The legislators in the Resistance Coalition will introduce state legislative measures to protect rights that New Jersey's working families need to live and prosper, including funding health care, upholding fair labor standards, and proactively protecting our immigrant communities.

For months, activists have employed town halls, vigils, protests and public forums to push against Trump administration initiatives, including immigration bans, mass deportations, repeal of the Affordable Care Act, roll backs of environmental protections, and other attacks on our democracy. Hundreds of activists and dozens of local organizations have now enlisted state legislators to play a key role in the resistance movement.

"The policies and pronouncements coming out of the Trump Administration are dangerous. From the president's inhumane attack on immigrants and refugees to his commitment to repeal the landmark healthcare law, he has put forth policies that are contrary to New Jersey values and the values of this country," said Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg . "We have a responsibility to fight on behalf of our residents and protect them from the impact of the harmful actions that are taken in Washington. We are committed to doing that through legislation and advocacy that will resist the Trump agenda and help to protect our state."

Initial legislation will include measures to ensure voting rights; ban the use of dangerous pesticides; protect online privacy; advance workers' rights; and divest pension investments from companies that help build Donald Trump's border wall.

"I am proud to stand with the Working Families Alliance and allies, and to join with Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg in locking arms and exerting legislative muscle to our Resistance Movement," said Assembly Speaker Emeritus Oliver (D-Essex, Passaic)." When I think about all the sacrifices made by New Jerseyans as well as people throughout the country to ensure that there is liberty and justice for all, I know that as a legislator, civic leader and grassroots representative, I must be in the line of defense against the horror being perpetrated by Trump and his" Billionaires Boys Club" that has invaded our nation's capital. As the late Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm proclaimed many decades ago, " You can't stand on the sidelines whimpering and complaining, if you don't have a seat at the table, then bring a folding chair! Today we proclaim that we are ready, armed with our folding chairs?"

"We need to be here. We need to call this administration out every time it attacks our values and our safety. And we need to take action on the state level to make up for the lack of moral leadership coming from Washington. I'm proud of my colleagues here today and know that together we will do everything we can to right this president's wrongs where we can," said Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (D-Union). 

The coalition is organized by the New Jersey Working Families Alliance, a nonpartisan organization that has spearheaded a progressive policy agenda in the state, in collaboration with grassroots partners and allies.


Zwicker Encourages Innovation in Advanced Manufacturing, STEM at RVCC Roundtable

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(Branchburg, NJ) – Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker joined Raritan Valley Community College President Michael J. McDonough on Thursday, April 27th in hosting a roundtable discussion on fostering the growth of advanced manufacturing and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) businesses in New Jersey.

“In order for New Jersey to thrive and meet the demands of the 21st-century global economy, we must take advantage of the many new opportunities that breakthroughs in the STEM fields have made available. This requires our state to recognize and understand the needs of the modern workforce and make investments that prepare our residents for high-quality, high-paying jobs,” said Zwicker (D-Hunterdon/Mercer/Middlesex/Somerset). “Innovation has spurred a revitalization in the manufacturing sector that New Jersey must celebrate and support in its effort to remain competitive.”

During the roundtable, representatives from Betar Inc., CompuSecure, McIntosh Industries Inc., Symrise Inc., and UTC Aerospace discussed the importance of workforce development as well as ways to strengthen and support local manufacturing in the state. 

 “Trained machinists are difficult to find, as we have a 30-year skills gap of training workers. It is great to have community colleges and the state working together and involving manufacturing companies to develop training programs,” said John M. Lohse, president at Betar Inc. “Every company has immediate openings, and trained people can enter the workforce making a sustainable wage in an exciting career.”

“McIntosh Industries has been a proud and grateful employer-partner of the state of New Jersey since the inception of the Community College Consortium and the Advanced Manufacturing Program,” said Sonia Frontera, McIntosh Industries co-owner. “These partnerships result in win-win situations for employers and job seekers and have been a lead source of talent in our competitive market.”

Somerset County Business Partnership President and CEO Michael Kerwin and representatives from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority and the New Jersey Business Action Center also provided insights on how New Jersey can prosper in an innovation economy.

Prior to the roundtable, Zwicker and the other participants were given a tour of RVCC’s workforce training center. The center, which opened last summer, partners with local industry leaders to design a curriculum that prepares students for careers in various sectors, including advanced manufacturing, automotive technology and heating, ventilation and air conditioning technology.

“Community colleges in our state are doing their part to train students for success in the new economy, but the extraordinary work happening on their campuses is just one piece of the puzzle,” said Zwicker. “Government has the capacity to invest in research and development, foster public-private partnerships and attract capital investment that will drive long-term economic growth. By cooperating with, and building upon the efforts of, New Jersey’s community colleges, our state can be a pioneer in the innovation economy while also increasing the availability of good jobs that allow people to put food on the table and keep a roof over their families’ heads.”

 


Zwicker & the Department of Veterans Affairs Hold Claims Clinic for Veterans

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(Asm. Andrew Zwicker pictured speaking with local veterans)

 

(Skillman, NJ) -- On Tuesday, Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker partnered with the Department of Veterans Affairs and other veterans organizations to host a claims clinic for local veterans at his Skillman legislative office.

“Both my father and uncle were Army veterans who served during World War II, so veterans’ issues hold a personal significance for me,” said Zwicker (D-Hunterdon/Mercer/Middlesex/Somerset). “Making sure that our local veterans are receiving the services they both need and deserve is a priority and that is why events like this one are so important.” 

The claims clinic gave veterans, service members, and their dependents the opportunity to meet one-on-one with representatives from the Newark regional office of the VA and receive information about VA benefits and entitlements, submitting claims for benefits and providing information about the status of a pending VA claim.   The Somerset and Montgomery Veterans Service Organizations, Raritan Valley Community College, Rolling Thunder Inc., and Jewish Veteran’s Association were in attendance to provide information and community support.  

By the end of the half-day long event, over a dozen veterans were able to start a claim or get updates on pending claims.  “Our state has a duty to respect and care for its veterans, and I appreciate any opportunity I have to assist these honorable men and women,” said Zwicker. “All that this country holds dear – freedom, democracy and equal opportunity – is preserved through the courage and dedication of its veterans. The very least we can do is help ensure that they receive what they earned.”


Zwicker Bill Package to Fund Farmland & Historic Preservation Projects in NJ Clears General Assembly

(Trenton, NJ) -- A three-bill bipartisan legislative package Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker sponsored aimed at funding historic land and farmland preservation and state acquisitions of land for recreation and conservation use gained General Assembly approval on Thursday. The legislation follows the 2014 constitutional amendment to dedicate six percent of corporation business tax (CBT) revenue each year for the preservation of open space, farmland and historic sites.

The first bill (A-4583) would appropriate $3 million from the 2009 Historic Preservation Fund and constitutionally-dedicated CBT revenues to fund certain historic preservation projects. The list of 25 eligible projects includes Case-Dvoor Farmstead in Raritan Township and the Daniel Robert House in Somerville.

“The Daniel Robert House, which houses Borough Hall and the borough’s library, is a center of civic life in Somerville,” said Zwicker (D-Hunterdon/Mercer/Middlesex/Somerset). “Historic sites like this are all over our state, these sites bind us, not just to each other, but to our state's rich past.  We must invest in preserving them.”

The second bill (A-4584) would appropriate $7.5 million to the State Agriculture Development Committee from CBT revenues for planning incentive grants to municipalities for farmland preservation purposes. The legislation would provide grants in amounts ranging from $250,000 to $500,000 to 19 municipalities, including Delaware Township in Hunterdon County.

“Farmland is the foundation of the agriculture industry. It’s what gives New Jersey its identity as the ‘Garden State,’” said Zwicker. “In addition to providing direct economic benefits to the entire state, investing in farmland preservation can help limit sprawl and create stability for New Jersey’s farmers.” 

Both measures, which received unanimous Assembly approval, now await further Senate consideration.

The third bill (A-4597), known as the “Preserve New Jersey Act, would appropriate $59.5 million to the Department of Environmental Protection from CBT revenues for the acquisition of land for recreation and conservation purposes. The measure would fund capital and park development projects, and the appropriations include allocations of funds for projects for all 14 towns of the 16th legislative district.

“The people of New Jersey want to ensure that we preserve our open space,” said Zwicker. “This appropriation will provide funding to protect our water, preserve wildlife habitats and improve the quality of life in New Jersey overall.” 

The bill, which received unanimous approval from both houses of the legislature, now goes to the governor.


Eustace, Zwicker, Benson & Mazzeo Legislation Urging Resident Participation in "Earth Hour 2017" Approved by Assembly

(Trenton, NJ) -- Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrat Timothy Eustace, Andrew Zwicker, Daniel Benson and Vincent Mazzeo to encourage resident participation in Earth Hour, a worldwide movement to raise awareness of the effects of climate change was approved by the full Assembly, 62-9-1, on Thursday.

Specifically, the Assembly Resolution urges statewide participation in Earth Hour 2017, an annual event sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund, during which people from all walks of life, in communities large and small, dim their lights for one hour in order to "cast a vote in favor of action" to combat climate change. 

"Since its inception in 2007 as a single-city initiative, Earth Hour has become a global phenomenon," said Eustace (D-Bergen, Passaic). "It has raised worldwide environmental awareness. The effects of climate change are expected to continue and worsen in future years. Coastal communities, like our towns along the New Jersey shore are projected to lose up to $7 trillion in buildings, transportation, and other assets by mid-century if climate change is not properly addressed." 

"As a scientist, I have devoted my career to the development of non-fossil fuel sources of electricity," said Zwicker (D-Hunterdon, Mercer and Middlesex). "Climate change is real and it is a threat to New Jersey's economy. Reducing the impact of climate change is imperative for us and for future generations. Earth Hour is an opportunity to stand in solidarity with others in this nation and throughout the world." 

"In its 10th year, Earth Hour has been celebrated by cities, businesses and treasured landmarks across the nation and around the world," said Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex). "Earth Hour is an important movement as we continue to raise awareness of the effects of climate change and devise ways to reduce our overall environmental footprint."

A number of hotels and casinos have registered participation in this year's Earth Hour movement, including: Bally's Atlantic City Hotel and Casino, Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, Caesars Atlantic City Hotel and Casino, Harrah's Resort. Verizon Wireless, Walgreen's, Sealed Air Corporation, H&M and Marriott International are among the corporations who have committed to participating in Earth Hour. 

"I applaud the participation of New Jersey businesses in Earth Hour 2017," said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). "This is an opportunity to stand in solidarity with others throughout the world and encourage efforts to effectively address global warming and work toward creating a more sustainable and environmentally friendly future."

According to the Earth Hour website, in 2016, over 1.23 million individual actions were taken to help reduce climate change in more than 7,000 cities worldwide.

Earth Hour is scheduled to take place from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 25, 2017, and marks the 10th anniversary of Earth Hour. 

The resolution, as filed with the Secretary of State, will be transmitted by the Clerk of the General Assembly to the Governor, the Commissioner of Environmental Protection, and the President and Chief Executive Office of the World Wildlife Fund in the United States. 

For more information about Earth Hour click HERE


Einstein Alley and Growing the High Tech Economy

 

On March 16th, I sat down with Jill Horner from Comcast Newsmakers and spoke about my vision for 21st century jobs here in New Jersey.  With a highly skilled and highly educated workforce in place, we have all the elements of a high-tech innovation-based economy.  My job as a legislator is to foster an infrastructure for next generation manufacturing, small businesses, and high-tech job creation.


Mazzeo, Lagana, Andrzejczak, Zwicker, Land, Benson & Downey Bill to Require Schools to Maintain Narcan Supply Clears Panel

Bill Would Allow School Nurses to Administer Opioid Antidote During an Emergency

(Trenton, NJ) -- Legislation Assembly Democrats Vince Mazzeo, Joseph Lagana, Bob Andrzejczak, Andrew Zwicker, Bruce Land, Daniel Benson and Joann Downey sponsored to require schools to maintain a supply of an opioid antidote was advanced Monday by an Assembly committee.

The bill (A-4177) would require high schools to maintain a supply of naloxone hydrochloride, such as Narcan or a similar opioid antidote, and permit the school nurse to administer the antidote to a student or staff member who is experiencing an overdose. The board of education may designate additional employees who may be trained and authorized to administer the antidote in the absence of the nurse.

"Narcan has been proven to save lives," said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). "Having it readily available in schools can help ensure that our schools are ready to respond in every emergency situation."

"In the same way that schools are prepared to deal with life-threatening incidents like allergic reactions and cardiac arrest, they also should be equipped to deal with overdoses," said Lagana (D-Bergen/Passaic). "We have a means of saving children's lives, and there's no excuse for failure to employ it."

"Every parent who sends his or her children to school for the day wants to know that it's a safe place for them to be in an emergency," said Andrzejczak (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland). "All schools in New Jersey should be equipped to act if a student or anyone else at the school has an overdose."

"Our response to the opioid epidemic in New Jersey must go beyond 'Just say no,'" said Zwicker (D-Hunterdon/Mercer/Middlesex/Somerset). "Having Narcan in schools is one element of a larger comprehensive effort to stem the tide of this enormous public health challenge."

"Ensuring the safety of every student must be a priority for all schools in New Jersey," said Land (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland). "Part of that is being ready to respond in a life-threatening emergency like a drug overdose."

"Narcan is a resource that we've seen save lives as New Jersey works to overcome a major problem with opioid drugs," said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex), chair of the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee. "Making this antidote available in schools will ensure that school nurses can take action to help students in a crisis."

"Ideally, no student would use drugs, but the reality is that kids in New Jersey - whether their parents know it or not - are using them and are dying," said Downey (D-Monmouth). "This legislation acknowledges that hard truth and responds accordingly."

The measure was advanced by the Assembly Appropriations Committee, of which Lagana is vice-chair.


Assemblyman Zwicker Tours Manufacturer, Discusses Innovation and Job Creation

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(Branchburg, NJ) – On Friday, March 10, 2017, Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker (D-16 Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Somerset,) toured Symrise, Inc. in Branchburg, NJ and discussed ways to create jobs and grow New Jersey’s economy with innovative technologies. Symrise, Inc. is a leading provider of fragrances, flavors and aroma chemicals. Zwicker, a physicist at the Princeton University Plasma Physics Laboratory, toured the production plant and talked with the Symrise leadership about what the business needs to grow and continue to be successful.

“Symrise, Inc., has been part of the Branchburg community since 1983 and is one of the leading manufacturers in the fragrance and flavor industry worldwide,” said Zwicker.  “Companies like Symrise that have the history in New Jersey, employ locally, and invest in their community are the foundation of our economy.  State and local municipalities working together with businesses like Symrise are what we need to make New Jersey a catalyst for high-tech jobs and innovation.”  

William Ruby, VP of Human Resources at Symrise, stated, “New Jersey is the hub of our industry in the United States, with all of the top flavor and fragrance companies well represented in the state.  Our Branchburg location serves Symrise well in many ways, from access to and availability of top talent to infrastructure that supports our operations and access to our customers.  We see a positive future for Symrise here in New Jersey."

To learn more about Symrise, visit the website at www.symrise.com 


Muoio, Zwicker, Gusciora & Benson Introduce Bill to Boost Confidence in Election Results by Requiring Paper Voting Trail

(Trenton, NJ) -- Assembly Democrats Elizabeth Maher Muoio, Andrew Zwicker, Reed Gusciora and Daniel Benson have introduced legislation to protect the integrity of elections by requiring a paper trail for all voting machines in New Jersey.

The bill (A-4619) would require that new voting machines purchased or leased following the bill's effective date must produce a paper record of each vote cast.

"The more dependent our society becomes on technology, the more we realize that it's not always fail-proof. Given the tumultuous election we just went through, it's more pressing than ever that we make sure voters have faith in our democratic system," said Muoio (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). "Paper voting records will create an auditable trail to help ensure the integrity of our elections and provide voters with peace of mind."

"In the past, equipment failures and programming errors have resulted in costly disputes that cast doubt on election results and undermine our democratic process," said Zwicker (D-Somerset/Mercer/Middlesex/ Hunterdon). "Paper ballot verification can help prevent all that and assure voters that their ballots will be counted properly." 

"Truly democratic elections require independent verification of results," said Gusciora (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). "In these tenuous times, our democracy must be able to rely on indisputable results. A paper trail will allow both voters and independent auditors to examine the results." 

"Without a paper record there is really no way to independently audit election results," said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "Paper records will ensure that ballot choices have been recorded as intended to the satisfaction of the voter and for the benefit of our democracy."

Under current law, the requirement for the purchase of new voting machines or retrofitting of existing voting machines to produce a paper record of the votes cast has been suspended until funding is made available from state or federal sources. 

Therefore, the bill stipulates that each voting machine that is purchased or leased following the bill's effective date would be required to produce an individual permanent paper record for each vote cast, which must be made available for inspection and verification by the voter at the time the vote is cast, and preserved for later use in any manual audit. 

In the event of a recount of the results of an election, the voter-verified paper record of each purchased or leased machine would be used in the calculation of the official tally in that election.

The bill also deletes a provision in current law that allows the Secretary of State to grant a waiver from the requirement to purchase new voting machines or retrofit all existing voting machines if the technology to produce a permanent voter-verified paper record for each vote cast is not commercially available. This change is intended to reflect that the technology is now commercially available.

This bill is prospective in application, and would apply to voting machines purchased or leased following its effective date. The bill would take effect on the next January 1st following its enactment.

The measure has been referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee.