Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker testifies on Freelancer Bill in Assembly Labor Committee

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Andrew Zwicker and Gordon Johnson to ensure fair treatment of freelance workers was approved Monday an Assembly committee. The bill (A-1526) provides that a freelance worker must be paid the compensation earned according to work terms agreed to by the freelance worker and its client, and requires the Department of Labor and Workforce Development to act as a regulatory agency regarding these work agreements.

Kennedy, Johnson, Eustace & Zwicker Bill to Encourage Municipalities to Plan for, Build Electric Car Charging Stations Clears Assembly Panel

(TRENTON) - Legislation sponsored by Assemblymen James Kennedy, Gordon Johnson, Tim Eustace and Andrew Zwicker to encourage municipalities to plan for the development of electric vehicle charging infrastructure at appropriate locations was released Monday by an Assembly panel.

A report by the New Jersey Energy Master Plan Alternative Fuels Work Group identified the development, installation, and maintenance of electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure, both at home and at strategically selected public places, as one of the most significant opportunities for, and barriers to, advancing the deployment and use of EVs in New Jersey. 

"Including charging systems in municipal land planning not only benefits the environment and environmentally conscious consumers, but the economy as well," said Kennedy (D-Middlesex/Somerset/Union). "Planning for and developing this infrastructure can help create jobs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce our reliance on foreign fuels."

The bill (A-1371) would help improve and expand the state's EV charging infrastructure by encouraging each municipality, at the time of the reexamination of its master plan, pursuant to the "Municipal Land Use Law," to identify existing sites of public EV charging infrastructure, and propose locations for future development of public EV charging infrastructure. 

The bill would also amend the "Local Redevelopment and Housing Law" to provide that the development of public electric vehicle charging infrastructure in appropriate locations be considered for inclusion in local redevelopment plans.

"The lack of charging infrastructure can discourage people who are interested in electric vehicles, but are concerned about their recharging options," said Johnson (D-Bergen). "No one wants to get stuck on the side of the road. Ensuring there is sufficient charging stations can help alleviate these consumer fears and encourage more people to invest in environmentally-friendlier vehicles."

"Although most EV charging occurs at home, drivers still rely on publicly available charging," said Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic), who owns an electric vehicle. "Planning ahead can help ensure that EV owners or consumers interested in electric vehicles will have the supporting infrastructure to meet their needs."

"Limited driving distance between battery charges is a fundamental disadvantage and obstacle to broad consumer adoption of vehicles powered by electricity," said Zwicker (D-Somerset/Mercer/ Middlesex/ Hunterdon). "If we want to encourage more people to buy these vehicles, it is essential that a network of convenient electric vehicle charging opportunities be developed." 

The bill was approved by the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee.

Zwicker: New Jersey Must Be a Leader in Climate Change

The full Assembly on Thursday gave final legislative approval to legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Raj Mukherji, Andrew Zwicker, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Tim Eustace, Joann Downey, James Kennedy and Nancy Pinkin requiring New Jersey to take part in the U.S. Climate Alliance to uphold the Paris Climate Accord and the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.

Here is the statement Asm. Andrew Zwicker gave on the floor:


Assembly Democrats Bill Requiring NJ to Uphold Paris Climate Agreement Reintroduced Approved by Assembly

Mukherji, Zwicker, Vainieri Huttle, Eustace, Downey, Kennedy & Pinkin Legislation would Join NJ with Three other States in Opposition to Trump Decision

(TRENTON) - The full Assembly on Thursday gave final legislative approval to legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Raj Mukherji, Andrew Zwicker, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Tim Eustace, Joann Downey, James Kennedy and Nancy Pinkin requiring New Jersey to take part in the U.S. Climate Alliance to uphold the Paris Climate Accord and the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. The measure passed 49-23.

The bill was first introduced last session, and given final approval by the Assembly on January 8. It was among many bills subjected to a pocket veto under the previous Governor.

"Science is a thing, and global warming is real," said Mukherji (D-Hudson). "Abandoning the Paris Climate Accord was a mistake that will be paid for by generation after generation if we do not take action, assuming the world doesn't end under the Trump administration. Aligning ourselves with the U.S. Climate Alliance is the first step."

The bill (A-1929) would require New Jersey to join the United States Climate Alliance, a group formed to pursue policies to uphold the United States' commitments to the Paris Climate Accord in order to address the threats posed by climate change. The group was formed by the Governors of California, New York, and Washington after President Trump announced his intention to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord.

"This legislation sends the message that we do not agree, along with other states, with pulling out of the Paris Climate Change Agreement," said Zwicker (D-Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Hunterdon). "We should be a part of the international effort to stop global warming. It is only together that we can make a real environmental change."

"The global effort to affect climate change and global warming began here in the United States and we should remain a leader among nations in these efforts," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "As one of four countries that contribute the most global greenhouse gas emissions, we must work with other countries and strengthen the accord with our participation."

"Pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord would be detrimental to our effect as a nation," said Eustace (D-Passaic/Bergen). "Climate change and global warming is very real and it is not going away unless we join with other nations in the fight to end it."

"The United States will pay a heavy price for withdrawing from the Paris agreement," said Downey (D-Monmouth). "We must do our part, alongside other nations, in curbing the effects of climate change and global warming on our environment."

"While other nations have taken a step forward, the United States has taken a step back," said McKeon (D-Essex/Morris). "It's nonsensical. For this reason, New Jersey should join other states in entering the U.S. Climate Alliance."

"The U.S., China, India, and the European Union contribute about half of global greenhouse gas emissions," said Kennedy (D- Middlesex/Somerset/Union). "It is imperative that we join the rest of the world in combating the effects of climate change. Future generations depend on our nation to take a proactive stance against these environmental concerns."

"To effectively address global warming, we must stand with our international partners," said Pinkin (D-Middlesex). "This is a global challenge. We must do our part."

The Assembly State and Local Government Committee released the bill on February 2. It will now go to the Governor for further consideration.

Zwicker, Benson & Barclay Bill to Designate Safe Areas for Online Marketplace Transactions Approved by Assembly

(TRENTON) – An Assembly panel on Thursday advanced legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Andrew Zwicker, Daniel Benson and Arthur Barclay to have police departments establish safe areas with video surveillance for residents to conduct internet purchase transactions.

The bill was approved by the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee and will now be considered for a vote by the full Assembly.  “Searching for the best deal on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace is widely popular today,” said Zwicker (D- Somerset, Mercer, Middlesex, Hunterdon). “Unfortunately, meeting up for these purchases are not always safe for residents. Establishing safe, well-lit and surveilled areas outside police stations for these transactions will keep residents safe.”

The bill (A-1522) allows municipal and county police departments to establish designated safe areas which may be used by members of the public to conduct sales transactions for items listed on classified websites, such as craigslist.  “While online marketplace users are encouraged to meet in public places, this bill takes it a step further,” said Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex). “A public awareness campaign for safe, designated places will help residents make safer decisions when choosing a place to pick up or sell goods.”  

This is an effort to reduce the risk of crime associated with purchases arranged through Craigslist and other online marketplaces,” said Barclay (D-Camden, Gloucester).  “By allowing police departments to reserve safe areas at police stations, we reduce the potential for criminal activity during these transactions and provide protection for residents.”

Under the bill, municipal and county police departments would be allowed to install a video camera capable of recording a clear image of the designated safe area at all times the area is made available to the public.  The local police departments, the bill specifies, and their members would not be responsible for regulating the sales transactions or civilly liable for crimes or offenses committed by participants to the sales transactions.

The bill also requires the Attorney General to notify chief law enforcement officers that they are permitted to establish a designated safe area on municipal and county police department property. The Attorney General would also be required to conduct a public awareness campaign, utilizing the Internet and any other available resources, to inform the general public about designated safe areas established throughout the state.

Zwicker Statement on First Science, Innovation & Technology Hearing

(TRENTON) - Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker (D-Mercer/Somerset/Middlesex/Hunterdon) released the following statement Thursday after the committee he chairs - the Assembly Science, Innovation, and Technology Committee - held its inaugural meeting:
"I want to thank everyone who testified today and offered invaluable insight into what New Jersey must do to foster innovation. Today was a great start on what I'm convinced will be exciting work by this new committee.

"Our science and innovation ecosystem is a vital source for jobs and economic development throughout New Jersey, but as we heard today, we must find ways to enable New Jersey to take advantage of its location and talent. We cannot rest on our legacy and allow other states and the rest of the world to outpace us when it comes to science, innovation and technology. 
"We have to put science before politics, and make smart policy decisions to create jobs and economic development to help boost our middle-class.

"The informative testimony we heard today will help guide us toward those goals in the weeks and months ahead. I look forward to positioning New Jersey's science and technology industries for great success."

Assembly Dem Bill to Help Students Facing a Medical Condition or Family Death to Maintain NJ STARS Scholarships Now Law

Legislation is Sponsored by Assembly Democrats Benson, DeAngelo, Jasey, Johnson, Mosquera, Downey, Zwicker & Lampitt

The law (A-2565) allows NJ STARS and NJ STARS II scholarship recipients to maintain program eligibility in the event that medical condition or recent death of a parent or spouse prevents enrollment as full-time student.

"This is the decent thing to do," said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "College is the gateway to a brighter future, and for many students, these scholarships are a lifeline. No one should lose their eligibility because they must deal with a medical condition or tragic loss."

"We should be removing all obstacles to a higher education not further burdening them with the threat of losing their scholarship while facing a medical condition or a family death," said DeAngelo (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "This law protects students in their most vulnerable state and ensures them the opportunity to continue their education under the NJ STARS scholarship program."

Under current law, a recipient of an NJ STARS or NJ STARS II scholarship must maintain status as a full-time student unless on a medical leave or emergency leave or unless called to partial or full mobilization for state and federal active duty as a member of the National Guard or a Reserve component of the Armed Forces of the United States. 

"Unexpected situations arise in life," said Jasey (D-Essex, Morris). "Nothing, if we can help it, should disrupt a student's education, especially those who have earned a scholarship for commitment and excellence to their studies."

"This law supports students who may experience a change in life that requires them to take on fewer courses," said Johnson (D-Bergen). "Things happen in life. It is only right that their scholarship money remain intact as they work through a medical condition or family loss."

"We should always encourage students to continue their education, not discourage," said Mosquera (D-Camden/Gloucester). "To lose a scholarship can mean the difference between pursuing collegiate goals and not pursuing them. This law gives comfort during unexpected times in life by enabling students to keep their scholarship and continue their education."

"NJ STARs scholarship recipients have worked hard to get to where they are and deserve every opportunity to succeed in college," said Downey (D-Monmouth) "With this law, students will be supported and reassured during their time of need that their scholarship and place at the school will still be there when they return."

"Ensuring these students the opportunity to achieve their educational goals is the least we can do, especially during the difficult times," said Zwicker (D-Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Somerset). "This is the right thing to do for the students in the NJ STARS program and for their families."

"These students are a part of NJSTARS for a very good reason - educational excellence," said Lampitt (D-Camden, Burlington). "This legislation gives them time to address an unexpected life circumstance and continue to pursue their dreams of attaining a college degree under scholarship." 

The law provides that a student who receives a scholarship or is already in the program is eligible to take less than 12 credits in a semester if the student presents to the institution at which the student is enrolled a written note from a physician or other licensed health care professional indicating the student's need to take a reduced number of credits due to a physical or mental health condition. A student who receives a medical exemption from the full-time course of study requirement will be eligible for additional semesters in the scholarship program, as necessary. 

Eustace, Benson, Zwicker & Wimberly Bill to Provide Credits to Customers who Use Certain Renewable Energy Sources Becomes Law

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Tim Eustace, Daniel Benson, Andrew Zwicker and Benjie Wimberly to allow customers connected to hydropower facilities to receive credit on their bills through "virtual" net metering was signed into law this week. 

Virtual net metering (VNM) is a bill crediting system in which a customer receives credits on their electric bill for excess energy drawn from a hydropower facility.

"For residents who have invested in a renewable energy source for their homes, this legislation would reduce their utility bill by giving them credit for the excess energy produced," said Eustace (D- Bergen, Passaic). "Virtual net metering allows the customers to keep tabs on how much energy they actually use through alternative energy sources. Because of their investment, residents should see the savings on their utility bills from month to month."

Under the new law (A-2204), a small scale hydropower facility put into service after the effective date with the capacity of 3 MW or less is eligible for net metering. The law authorizes a facility to deliver or sell power to up to 10 end-use customers, who are located within 10 miles of the facility and net-metered within the service territory of a single electric public utility, and designate the end-use customers to be credited by the electric power supplier or basic generation service provider with the excess generations of the facility. 

"Many residents are looking to renewable energy sources as alternative ways to heat and cool their homes," said Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex). "Residents should be able to reap the rewards of turning to solar or other resources and see the difference in their utility bill."

The law also requires an electric public utility, electric power supplier, or a basic generation service provider to provide standby power at the request of the facility or an end-use customer who uses power generated by the facility. Under the law, "standby power" means power made available during a facility outage to a facility or to win - use customer who uses power generated by the facility. 

"Virtual net metering is a way for more residents to take advantage of renewable energy sources," said Zwicker (D-Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, and Somerset). "Families who subscribe to a hydro power facility should receive credit on their electric bill for the excess energy their home has produced."

"Families are always trying to find ways to save money, especially on utilities," said Wimberly (D-Bergen, Passaic). "If they use or produce renewable energy in their homes, then residents should be able to receive credit for the excess produced."

Zwicker Named to Lead New Assembly Science, Innovation & Technology Committee

Speaker Coughlin Appoints Physicist to Panel Key to Boosting NJ’s Middle-Class

(TRENTON) – Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin has named Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker, a physicist, to chair the newly created Assembly Science, Innovation and Technology Committee, which Coughlin intends to make a key part of the Assembly’s efforts to create jobs and economic development and boost the middle-class.

“We must look for ways to make our state vibrant, such as focusing on our science and innovation ecosystem as a source of jobs and economic development for our state,” said Coughlin (D-Middlesex). “I created the new Science, Innovation and Technology Committee to enable New Jersey to take advantage of our location and human capital, and I consider New Jersey fortunate to have Andrew Zwicker to chair it. I can think of no more perfect fit than Andrew Zwicker with science and technology. I’m excited to see Andrew use his vast expertise, smarts and leadership, but even more excited to see the results of his vital work in the months and years ahead.”

Zwicker (D-Hunterdon/Mercer/Middlesex/Somerset) is the Head of Science Education at the Princeton University Plasma Physics Laboratory, where he has worked with hundreds of teachers and students, inspiring professionals and the next generation in the promise of technology. The American Association of Physics Teachers named him as one of the country’s top 75 Leading Contributors to physics education. 

Zwicker was for many years an academic advisor at Princeton University, a part-time lecturer in the Princeton University Writing Program and the President of the Princeton Chapter of Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society.

He was also the editor for the newsletter, Physics and Society, a publication from the American Physical Society where he is also a Fellow.

Zwicker has a B.A. in physics from Bard College, and a M.A. and Ph.D., both also in physics, from Johns Hopkins University. His post-doctoral work focused on fusion energy research at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and internationally.

Currently, Zwicker is on the Board of Directors of the Research and Development Council of NJ, Vice-Chair of the NJ Biotechnology Task Force, and a member of the NJ Legislative Manufacturing Caucus.  Zwicker is serving his second term in the Assembly, representing the 16th Legislative District.

“I thank Speaker Coughlin for this appointment and am thrilled at this committee’s potential for helping build a better and stronger New Jersey,” Zwicker said. “Science and technology are my passion and my profession, but they’re also key to our economic and academic future. We’ve seen elected officials in Washington put politics ahead of science, while other countries make innovation a top priority. We’ve seen other states outpace New Jersey, despite our state’s science and technology legacy. None of this is acceptable.”

Zwicker added, “New Jersey must capitalize on its competitive advantage. We need initiatives that support world-class science and technology industries, and the vision to harness our assets to make our state a national leader in the science and technology economy. We have no choice but to embrace this opportunity, and I look forward to leading this committee, working with my colleagues and finding new and innovative solutions to boost our economy.”


McKeon, Prieto, Wimberly, Zwicker & Greenwald Bill to Create Statewide Gun Buyback Program Clears Assembly, Heads to Gov

(TRENTON) - Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman John F. McKeon, Speaker Vincent Prieto, Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly, Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker and Assemblyman Lou Greenwald that would create a statewide gun buyback program in an effort to reduce the number of firearms in New Jersey communities was given final legislative approval in the Assembly on Monday. The bill will now go to the Governor's desk. 

"Gun violence claims lives every day. In some communities, it is an-all too common reality," said McKeon (D-Essex/Morris). "We realize a gun buyback program alone will not eliminate gun violence, but it can help enhance public safety by reducing the number of firearms in circulation."

The bill (A-2374) would require the New Jersey Attorney General to establish a statewide gun buyback program, which would allow New Jersey citizens to voluntarily and anonymously surrender firearms and weapons in their possession in exchange for a monetary reward.

"A gun in the hands of a violent or disturbed individual is a bad combination," said Prieto (D-Bergen, Hudson). "This can help keep guns from falling into the wrong hands by creating a controlled environment where individuals looking to get rid of their weapons can do so safely and anonymously."

Under the bill, state Office of the Attorney General would be required to hold at least nine gun buyback programs a year throughout the state; three each in the northern, central and southern regions. At least one program in each region would be required to be held in an urban area with a high crime rate, as determined by the uniform crime report.

"Every extra gun we get off the streets is another potential life saved," said Wimberly (D-Bergen/Passaic). "We've had a great deal of success in getting unwanted, and often illegal guns, off our city streets through previous gun buybacks, so absent nationwide gun reforms, we need to do everything we can in New Jersey to make our streets safer."

"The more we can do to get guns off our street, the better," said Zwicker (D-Mercer/Middlesex/Somerset). "This is about public safety. If people want to voluntary give up guns, then we should make it easier for them to do so. Each gun turned in can mean a life saved."

"Some people will find any reason to attack proposals meant to protect the public from gun violence," said Greenwald (D-Camden/Burlington). "This bill would simply give gun owners who want to get rid of their weapons another avenue to do so. Surely this is something even they can get behind." 

Funding for the program would primarily be generated by captured proceeds from criminal activities in the state and private donations from corporations, small businesses, and individuals.

The Office of the Attorney General held a similar gun buyback initiative in 2012. Through 10 buybacks across the state a total of 15,958 firearms were collected, including more than 7,300 handguns and nearly 1,900 illegal guns.

The full Assembly approved the bill, 51-6-0.