News

Hillsborough Teachers Running Out of Time to Save Jobs

HILLSBOROUGH, NJ – Inevitability could be catching up with members of the Hillsborough Education Association.

No progress was made trying to save the jobs of 51 teachers at Tuesday night’s Board of Education meeting, and with just one more board meeting left before the union teachers’ contract expires June 30, HEA president Henry Goodhue said members seem to be moving on.

The Board of Education at last month’s meeting announced the job cuts; 37 teachers were fired, with the balance of the jobs eliminated through retirements.

 

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ASSEMBLY BILLS DESIGNED TO INCREASE SENIOR PARTICIPATION IN STATE NUTRITION PROGRAM CLEAR ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE

Looking to simplify and streamline seniors’ access to New Jersey  Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) programs, a three-bill legislative package cleared the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee Monday.

One bill (A-5311) would establish a $140 standard medical deduction for qualifying seniors under the SNAP Program. It is sponsored by Assembly Democrats John Armato (D-Atlantic), Andrew Zwicker (D-Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex and Somerset) and Matthew Milam (Atlantic, Cape May and Cumberland).

The other legislative effort, (A-5312), would require the Commissioner of Human Services to review and streamline the SNAP application process for seniors and conduct outreach regarding their participation. It is sponsored by Assemblymen John Armato (D-Atlantic), Roy Freiman (D- Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex and Somerset) and R. Bruce Land (A- Atlantic, Cape May and Cumberland).

The third measure (A-5313) would permit self-verification of shelter expenses, utility expenses, childcare expenses, and adult dependent care expenses, unless the information is questionable, on the SNAP application for qualifying seniors. Assemblymen Land, Armato and Freiman are the bill’s sponsors.

The legislators released the following joint statement:

“Less than half of New Jersey residents 60 and older who are eligible for SNAP benefits use them. These bills look to increase senior participation by simplifying the application process, allowing seniors to apply for SNAP through multiple points of entry, and utilizing a comprehensive community outreach and public awareness campaign.

“Taking these steps will make seniors more likely to take advantage of the SNAP benefits which can help them maintain a healthy diet.”

The bills were introduced on May 13 and complement an anti-hunger bill package introduced by Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin last fall. They now await further Assembly consideration.


ZWICKER MEASURE ESTABLISHING “ENERGY INFRASTRUCTURE PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP ACT” CLEARS ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE

A measure sponsored by Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker (D-Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex and Somerset) to establish the “Energy Infrastructure Public-Private Partnership Act” cleared the Assembly Science and Technology Committee Thursday.
The bill (A-4535) would allow private entities to propose energy-related projects to government entities, at government facilities, as part of a public-private partnership.  The measure would create an Energy Public-Private Partnership Unit, known as the Energy P3 Unit, within the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA). The unit would be responsible for formulating and executing comprehensive, statewide policy for public-private partnership agreements.
Assemblyman Zwicker, chair of the Committee, issued the following statement:

“The benefit of this bill is that it will allow government entities to leverage the expertise and financial resources of the private sector to develop a number of energy-related projects. The Energy EP3 Unit would be fully engaged in this process by evaluating the private entity’s qualifications, financial strength, adequacy and other pertinent parameters deemed necessary by the unit.

“With collaborations being a key component of sound energy infrastructures, this legislation will help government entities partner with the private sector to develop crucial state-of-the art, energy-related projects that can help improve the reliability, efficiency and lower the cost of energy services provided to government facilities.”

The bill is now poised for a vote by the full Assembly.


ZWICKER: DON’T LET YOUR INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDER FORCE YOU TO BEND THE KNEE

Assemblyman Wants Restoration of “Net Neutrality”

Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker (D-Somerset, Mercer, Middlesex, Hunterdon), chair of the Assembly Science, Innovation and Technology Committee, is staunchly advocating for the passage of three bills in the New Jersey Legislature that would help restore “net neutrality.” Zwicker issued the following statement today:

“Imagine being a ‘Game of Thrones’ fan and having to pay extra to watch the series finale on Sunday simply because your internet service provider (ISP) wanted to make extra profit off of what will be one of the most-watched television shows in history.  If we don’t take steps to preserve the principle of ‘net neutrality,’ this type of scenario will likely be part of our future.

“Under net neutrality, when you pay your ISP a monthly fee for accessing the internet, whether it is to check email, watch a movie, post a photo with friends on social media, or research a topic, you are in control, not the ISP.

“However, under the Trump administration, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) changed the rules and allowed ISPs to engage in content-based discrimination, specifically, speeding up, slowing down, or blocking access to lawful online content based on the ISPs’ political view or business interests.

“This is simply unacceptable.

“Last year, the NJ General Assembly Science, Innovation and Technology Committee, of which I am chair, held hearings on three different net neutrality bills sponsored by my colleague, Assemblyman Nicholas Chiaravalloti (D-Hudson). (A-2131, A-2132, A-2139)

“During these hearings, many New Jersey state legislators, from both parties, supported the need for us to do what the FCC and Congress will not do: protect consumers from a slower internet while ensuring that small businesses, content creators and community-based organizations are not discriminated against.

“The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill in March, the ‘Save the Internet Act,’ that restored net neutrality rules and received bipartisan support.  However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declared the bill ‘dead on arrival’ and it stands no chance of passing the Senate and becoming law.

“The NJ legislature can do what Congress cannot and protect our right to a free and open internet. I hope, in the very near future, to pass our package of bills in both the Assembly and Senate and send them to the Governor’s desk for his signature.

“Don’t let your internet service provider force you to bend the knee.”


ASSEMBLY SPONSORS OF MEDICAL MARIJUANA LEGISLATION RESPOND TO BILL MOVING FORWARD BY JULY

Assembly Democrats Joann Downey, Joseph Danielsen, Eliana Pintor Marin, Andrew Zwicker, Eric Houghtaling and Carol Murphy released the following joint statement following Senate President Steve Sweeney’s announcement that the Senate will act on this legislation (A-10-3740-3437) fixing the flaws in the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act and making medical marijuana more accessible to patients:

“We are glad to see this critical bill move forward. It’s been a long road, but we have not lost sight of our goal of removing restrictions on access to medical marijuana for patients who could benefit from it. This bill will put patients and doctors back in charge of a patient’s medical care plan. We look forward to taking the next steps to ensure more New Jersey residents have access to this potentially life-changing treatment.”


SINGLETON AND ZWICKER CONDEMN GOVERNOR’S CV OF DARK MONEY BILL

The following is a statement by Senator Troy Singleton and Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker in response to Governor Phil Murphy’s conditional veto of their “dark money” legislation, Senate Bill 1500/ Assembly Bill 1524:

“To say we were disappointed to learn that the Governor planned to conditionally veto this landmark legislation via press reports, before hearing from the administration, is a severe understatement. However, upon reading the conditional veto today, we are truly flabbergasted by the explanation presented.

“The Governor says that this bill ‘falls short’ of the goal to bring greater transparency to our political process. That is a gross misrepresentation of months, and frankly, years of hard work by not just those of us who prime sponsored this legislation, but the highly esteemed Executive Director of the Election Law Enforcement Commission, Jeff Brindle, who has long championed this issue. The only thing that “fell short” today was the Governor’s will to truly address the behemoth of dark money that has eroded the public’s trust in our government and the political process.

“While we are pleased we were able to draw attention to this important issue, and elevated the conversation about the need for true reform in this area, the Governor’s actions today are, ironically, an example of politics at its worst.”