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Armato, Lopez, Zwicker Bill Requiring Hospitals to Include Opioid Addiction Information with Patient Discharge Papers Approved by Assembly

As part of New Jersey's ongoing, integrated approach to preventing and fighting drug addiction, a bill requiring hospitals to include a warning about the risks of addiction, overdose and death associated with opioids in a patient's discharge papers was approved 78-0-0 Monday by the full Assembly. 

The bill (A-4883) is sponsored by Assembly Democrats John Armato, Yvonne Lopez and Andrew Zwicker. As per the measure, acute care hospitals would be required to include the information provided that the patient was discharged from the hospital with a prescription for an opioid drug.

"This bill will put safeguards in place to help prevent addiction," said Armato (D-Atlantic). "It is yet another strategy in our ongoing battle to fight this disease."

"In many instances, the time period immediately following a surgery is when patients are in the most pain and exposed to increased doses of opioids in an uncontrolled setting," said Lopez (D-Middlesex). "This bill aims to educate patients at the time when their risk for becoming addicted is higher, because the more pain they experience, the more medication they may take."

"New Jersey, like many other states, is waging an ongoing battle against opioid abuse," said Zwicker (D-Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex and Somerset). "We can win this fight through a comprehensive approach aimed at preventing addiction; through awareness and educational campaigns; helping those already suffering from this addiction with compassion and understanding; and providing resources for the thousands of individuals and families impacted."

The information would include contact information for substance use disorder treatment. The Department of Health would develop the informational materials.

This measure would take effect 60 days after enactment, although the Commissioner of Health could take administrative action in advance if necessary to implement the provisions of the act.

The bill cleared the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee on February7. A companion bill (S-3342) in the Senate has been referred to the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior 


Pinkin and Zwicker Bill to Statutorily Protect Resident Interest in New Jersey Shores, Strengthen Efforts to Guard Marine Life & Endangered Species Advanced by Assembly Panel

(TRENTON) - Codifying the public's right to enjoy New Jersey's coastline as designated under the Public Trust Doctrine, legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Nancy Pinkin and Andrew Zwicker was approved by the Assembly Appropriations Committee Monday.

"Generation after generation of New Jersey families as well as visitors from out-of-state spends their summers vacationing at the shore," said Pinkin (D-Middlesex). "Although resident access to our beaches is expressed through the Public Trust Doctrine, formally adopting this principle into law will ensure continued respect of residents' rights to access New Jersey's shoreline for recreational purposes and also allow us to further our environmental efforts to protect marine life and endangered species."

The people's ownership of the tidal waters and adjacent shorelines is held in trust by the State. The bill (A-4221), through the Department of Environmental Protection, directs the State to protect the public's right of physical and visual access to public trust lands in its funding decisions and implementation of multiple State laws, including the Coastal Area Facility Review Act, the Wetlands Act of 1970, and the Flood Hazard Area Control Act, as well as New Jersey's implementation of the federal Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972.

"As the state continues to take necessary steps to protect our coastal environment, we have to make sure that the decisions we make in trying to protect our coastline do not come between or inhibit a resident's right to take part in shore activities or simply enjoy the view," said Zwicker (D-Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Somerset). "We can protect our tidal waters, our marine life and still preserve the beautiful beaches and shore communities for which New Jersey is best known." 

Under the bill, the DEP is required to ensure that any approval, permit, administrative order, or consent decree issued, or other action taken, by the DEP pursuant to the above-cited laws or any other law is consistent with the Public Trust Doctrine. 

The landmark 1821 New Jersey Supreme Court Case, Arnold v. Mundy further supported the Public Trust Doctrine reinforced by the Magna Carta and Declaration of Independence, by establishing that New Jersey's tidal waters be applied under the public trust doctrine, and belonged to the state for public use. 

The bill recently cleared the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee, of which Pinkin is chair, and now heads to Speaker for further consideration.


Zwicker, Benson & Sumter Bill Establishing Disclosure Requirements for Independent Advocacy Groups Passes Assembly

"Dark Money" Organizations Would be Subject to Greater Transparency under the Measure

(TRENTON) - Under current law, 527 groups and 501(c)4 social welfare organizations are allowed to keep their donors secret. In an effort to provide greater transparency and accountability, a bill (A-1524), sponsored by Assembly Democrats Andrew Zwicker, Daniel Benson and Shavonda Sumter passed the full Assembly on Monday, 60-1-17.

"Information is power and we need to arm voters with the most information possible," said Zwicker (D-Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex and Somerset). "More disclosure will inform residents about groups working to influence political and legislative processes. Greater transparency will lead to an increase in voter confidence and that's a good thing for New Jersey and for democracy."

Under the legislation, so-called "dark money" groups would be required to make public their donors and expenditures. An analysis by the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission found the top 25 special-interest groups in the Garden State spent $74 million in an attempt to influence elections and policies in 2017, with $41 million coming from "dark money" groups.

"This bill will bring these groups out of the shadows and into the light," explained Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex). "Voters deserve to know everything possible about 'dark money' organizations working to influence the political process in New Jersey. This legislation empowers the people."

The bill would revamp "The New Jersey Campaign Contributions and Expenditures Reporting Act" to enact new reporting requirements for contributions over $10,000 and all expenditures over $3,000 by "dark money" organizations.

"Groups that are trying to influence the outcome of any election or legislation should not be permitted to operate under a veil of secrecy," stated Sumter (D-Bergen, Passaic). "Disclosing donors and expenditures is not a novel idea. It's something we do as candidates. We're just requiring the same of advocacy organizations." 

The bill does not apply retroactively. It is prospective only. 
The measure now heads to the Senate for further consideration


DARK-MONEY BILL ADVANCES, SANS REQUIREMENT FOR RETROACTIVE REPORTING

The requirement to disclose significant contributions and spending by politically active nonprofits — known as “dark money” — is moving ahead in the Legislature, despite the elimination of what seemed to be one of the bill’s goals — to embarrass Gov. Phil Murphy after a group that supports Murphy went back on its word to reveal its donors.

Nonprofit organizations known as 501(c)(4)s engage in electioneering and lobbying, but are not currently covered by state contribution-reporting requirements. Legislation that would require them to reveal contributions of at least $10,000 and expenditures of $3,000 or more had languished in Trenton for years until it got a push from Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester), provided that it be made retroactive to the beginning of last year. That would have required the Murphy-centric group to reveal its donors from 2018.

That retroactive disclosure was not included in the Assembly version of the bill, A-1524 approved Monday by the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

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Zwicker on New Jersey Innovation Evergreen Fund

(NORTH BRUNSWICK) – Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker (D-Somerset, Mercer, Middlesex, Hunterdon) issued the following statement Wednesday on today’s press conference on the New Jersey Innovation Evergreen Fund:

“The Evergreen Fund is an innovative approach to reclaiming New Jersey’s high-tech economy. New Jersey has historically been a hub of innovation, from the manufacturing of textiles and silk in Paterson, to Trenton’s steel cables, to the transistor, radar, and fiber optics, to Edison’s invention of the telephone, to one of our State’s true unsung heroes, Beatrice Hicks, who invented a gas density switch used by NASA on the Apollo mission to the Moon.

“Times, however, have changed, and many of the transformative laboratories where history was made are no longer standing. Other states have already begun to adjust to these changes and we must not fall too far behind.

“By auctioning tax credits to large companies and using those proceeds to provide matching funds that directly invest in emerging companies in our State, we will create a thriving innovation economy that is a win-win for everyone involved.

“Our goal is to once again make New Jersey a true national leader of innovation by developing new public-private partnerships that create technological and economic advancements that improve our lives.

“I’m incredibly excited to help New Jersey reemerge as the premier destination for entrepreneurs and innovators in the world.”


Pinkin and Zwicker Bill to Statutorily Protect Resident Interest in New Jersey Shores, Strengthen Efforts to Guard Marine Life & Endangered Species Advanced by Assembly Panel

(TRENTON) – Codifying the public’s right to enjoy New Jersey’s coastline as designated under the Public Trust Doctrine, legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Nancy Pinkin and Andrew Zwicker was approved by the Assembly Appropriations Committee Monday.

“Generation after generation of New Jersey families as well as visitors from out-of-state spends their summers vacationing at the shore,” said Pinkin (D-Middlesex). “Although resident access to our beaches is expressed through the Public Trust Doctrine, formally adopting this principle into law will ensure continued respect of residents’ rights to access New Jersey’s shoreline for recreational purposes and also allow us to further our environmental efforts to protect marine life and endangered species.”

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