With loneliness affecting three out of four Americans, a bill sponsored by Assembly Democrats Andrew Zwicker, Matthew Milam and Vincent Mazzeo requiring the Commissioner of Human Services to study how social isolation and loneliness impact certain populations was signed into law Tuesday.
The law (formerly bill A-5314) requires the Commissioner to assess and report on the nature and frequency of social isolation in New Jersey, specifically among people aged 65 and older, individuals with disabilities, and individuals with mental illness. Other vulnerable populations, including military service members, would be included in the study as deemed appropriate.
“Social isolation is not just a social issue, but a public health concern,” said Zwicker (D-Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex and Somerset). “For elderly and other vulnerable and special populations, isolation can negatively impact health outcomes and lead to premature death. The Commissioner will have the critically important work of studying this issue and how it impacts certain populations. With the research and evidence discovered as a result, we can begin to effectively address social isolation.”
“The Commissioner’s analysis will uncover how often the people in these groups feel isolated, the number and percentage of people in the groups who feel isolated, and the number of people in the group who are more prone to feeling isolated,” said Milam (D-Atlantic, Cape May and Cumberland). “We also need to understand the triggers that contribute to such isolation.”
The report prepared by the Commissioner will identify demographic and other characteristics held in common by members of these groups. It must also include a wide array of information, including symptoms and indicators of social isolation, circumstances and situations that contribute to isolation and trends among the socially isolated.
“Many people don’t realize that loneliness really does impact health and wellness,” said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). “It’s actually a public health issue that is linked to smoking, obesity and the risk of death in older adults.”
The Commissioner’s report will also indicate ways in which other states have addressed issues of social isolation and which resources within our own state are available or could be improved.
The final report will be submitted to the Governor and Legislature, and its findings and recommendations will be published on the Department of Human Services’ website.
NOW LAW: ZWICKER & BENSON “BOT” MEASURE TO PROHIBIT MISLEADING COMMUNICATION INVOLVING PURCHASES, ELECTIONS
Looking to strike a balance between innovation, transparency and consumer protection, a bill prohibiting the use of an online “bot” to communicate or interact for the purpose of misleading a person during a purchase, or to influence the outcome of an election, was signed into law by the Governor on Tuesday.
Now law, the legislation (A-4563) sponsored by Assembly members Andrew Zwicker and Daniel Benson protects the public from bad actors who would utilize bots to spread misinformation, a problem not limited to the state of New Jersey.
“The spreading of misinformation used to influence elections or otherwise mislead consumers is a real and credible threat to our democracy and way of life,” said Assemblyman Zwicker (D-Somerset, Mercer, Middlesex, Hunterdon). “Making sure that New Jerseyans know whether they are interacting with an actual person or a computer helps keep people informed and gives them one more layer of protection against people or entities who may have malicious intent.”
As defined under this new law, a ‘bot’ is an automated online account where most of its posts are not operated by a person.
“Living in an era of rapid online social technological change has made it increasingly more difficult to discern false information from true information,” said Assemblyman Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex). “Enacting this legislation helps us better protect people who might otherwise be unsuspecting of the threats posed by bots.”
A person who violates the provisions of this law will be liable for a civil penalty of $2,500 for the first offense, $5,000 for the second offense, and $10,000 for each subsequent offense. If the individual discloses that it is, or is using, a bot, liabilities would not be applicable. The disclosure would need to be clear, conspicuous and reasonably designed.
According to a recent Pew Research Center poll, of the 66 percent of Americans who report familiarity with social media bots, 80 percent think they are used for mischievous activities. Another 66 percent view social media bots as negatively affecting Americans’ thoughts about current affairs.
The law takes effect 180 days after the date of enactment.
In an effort to maintain a fair election process in New Jersey, legislation promoting voting transparency sponsored by Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker and Assemblyman Roy Freiman was signed into law by the Governor on Tuesday.
The “Voting Precinct Transparency Act,” (A-4564) – now law – requires the filing of election district, county district and municipal ward boundary data with the Secretary of State for posting and downloading online.
It further requires the Secretary to post a table or database containing the election results per election district in a format that matches the election districts boundary data.
“Some states do a great job of providing precinct-level election results, others do a great job of providing precinct geographies,” said Assembly Andrew Zwicker (D-Somerset, Mercer, Middlesex, Hunterdon). “However, most states don’t compile either, and the few that do, don’t do so in a way that is standardized. Currently, New Jersey is one of the states that doesn’t compile and release them all. This new law would change that and indeed, would make New Jersey a leader in transparency about election data.”
Currently, all municipalities in New Jersey are divided into election districts for the purposes of election administration and voting. Essex, Atlantic and Hudson counties are divided into county districts from which voters elect some or all of the members of the county governing body. Sixty-four municipalities in New Jersey have established municipal wards from which voters elect some or all of the members of their respective municipal governing bodies.
“Election data should be accessible to all in a format that is clear and understandable,” said Assemblyman Roy Freiman (D-Somerset, Mercer, Middlesex, Hunterdon). “Our goal has always been to protect the rights of voters and ensure that all elections are fair and in compliance with federal mandates. This law is an added layer of security in order to do just that.”
Under the law, the Secretary of State must make this data available on the official website of the Division of Elections for the public to download free of charge.
It is important to have high-quality data indicating the boundaries of precincts. According to the sponsors, other benefits would include:
• establishing a precedent of releasing high quality, usable data for use by all New Jerseyans;
• possibly making election administration and ballot assignment easier; and
• making it easier for municipalities and counties to comply with federal mandates such as the Voting Rights Act.
The act goes into effect immediately.
ZWICKER, MURPHY & SUMTER BILL PROTECTING WOMEN’S RIGHTS TO HEALTHCARE COVERAGE OF CONTRACEPTIVES UNDER STATE-BASED HEALTH EXCHANGE NOW LAW
Legislation revising state law to require healthcare coverage of contraceptives sponsored by Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker (D-Somerset, Mercer, Middlesex, Hunterdon), Carol Murphy (D-Burlington) and Shavonda Sumter (D-Bergen, Passaic) was signed into law Thursday.
The law (formerly bill A-5508) provides that health insurance carriers and the State Health Benefits Program subject to the law will be required to provide coverage for certain services, drugs, devices, products and procedures, including contraceptive drugs, devices and products approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration, subject to certain conditions.
The Assembly sponsors issued the following joint statement upon the bill becoming law:
“Federal changes to the Affordable Care Act aimed to jeopardize women’s access to safe, preventive care. This law will remove those obstacles in New Jersey and preserve the benefits afforded to residents’ under the ACA. With this law, women will continue to have insurance that covers contraception without having to pay out of pocket.”
With an increasing demand for behavior analysts throughout the country – especially in New Jersey – Assembly Democrats have sponsored legislation to make licensure available and mandatory for these professionals. Upon the bill (A-4608) being signed into law Monday, Assembly sponsors Andrew Zwicker (D-Somerset, Mercer, Middlesex, Hunterdon) and Joann Downey (D-Monmouth) released the following joint statement:
“Applied behavior analysts (ABAs) offer a valuable service to their patients by scientifically determining what modifications could be made to improve behavioral outcomes. An ABA’s recommendations and interventions can help both children and adults who have been diagnosed with autism or other mental health disorders, in areas such as social skills and communication, and address other behavioral concerns.
“New Jersey has a responsibility to ensure that any healthcare professionals operating within our state are both competent and qualified. By creating a State Board of Behavior Analyst Examiners to license certified ABAs, we will be doing just that.
“This law will help families feel more secure in knowing the services their loved ones receive from an ABA are backed by both experience and licensure requirements. It will also help ABAs indicate the legitimacy of their services to the many individuals who can benefit from them.”
ZWICKER, MUKHERJI & SWAIN BILL CALLING FOR MEASURE OF GLOBAL WARMING OVER 20-YEAR TIME HORIZON NOW LAW
Seeking to better understand and reverse the effects of climate change, legislation (A-4606) requiring New Jersey’s state agencies to use a 20-year time horizon, versus the 100-year time horizon, to calculate the ‘global warming potential’ and environmental impact of greenhouse gases was signed into law by the Governor on Monday.
Sponsors issued the following statements:
Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker (D-Somerset, Mercer, Middlesex, Hunterdon): “The threat of global warming increases every day while the President has given up our leadership position in curbing greenhouse gases on the world’s stage. Through this law, New Jersey will take firm and calculated steps on how we regulate our emissions. Understanding that not all pollutants have the same impact on the Earth’s warming, measuring the global warming potential of gases over a 20-year time span will allow us to craft public policies that enable the State to better address how we’ll combat global warming.”
Assemblyman Raj Mukherji (D-Hudson): “The science is clear: climate change is real, serious and can potentially do irreversible damage to the planet and its inhabitants, including us. With this fact established, we must take every step necessary to protect the wellbeing of the only planet we call home. By switching from a 100-year time horizon to a 20-year time horizon, we will be able to more accurately represent the short-term effects of greenhouse gases on the environment, and prevent these short-term effects from becoming long-term.”
Assemblywoman Lisa Swain (D-Bergen, Passaic): “Time is running out for us to save our planet from the destruction of climate change. We don’t have 100-year periods to study the impact of greenhouse gases anymore; the time for that has passed. If we are to tackle this difficult issue, we must act swiftly and definitively. By utilizing a 20-year time horizon to study greenhouse gases, we will better be able to develop policies which work in the best short-and-long-term interest for our environment and our residents.”
The law takes effect immediately.
Zwicker & Downey Legislation Creating Licensure Board for Applied Behavior Analysts Heads to Governor
(TRENTON) – With an increasing demand for behavior analysts throughout the country – especially in New Jersey – Assembly Democrats have sponsored legislation to make licensure available and mandatory for these professionals. Upon passage of the bill (A-4608) in both the Assembly and Senate Monday, with a vote of 71-1-0 and 35-2 respectively, Assembly sponsors Andrew Zwicker (D-Somerset, Mercer, Middlesex, Hunterdon) and Joann Downey (D-Monmouth) released the following joint statement:
“Applied behavior analysts (ABAs) offer a valuable service to their patients by scientifically determining what modifications could be made to improve behavioral outcomes. An ABA's recommendations and interventions can help both children and adults who have been diagnosed with autism or other mental health disorders, in areas such as social skills and communication, and address other behavioral concerns.
New Jersey has a responsibility to ensure that any healthcare professionals operating within our state are both competent and qualified. By creating a State Board of Behavior Analyst Examiners to license certified ABAs, we would be doing just that.
This legislation will help families feel more secure in knowing the services their loved ones receive from an ABA are backed by both experience and licensure requirements. It will also help ABAs indicate the legitimacy of their services to the many individuals who can benefit from them.”
The candidate with the most support should win, right? Here’s how to make that happen in N.J., lawmaker says
Throughout our history, Americans have constantly sought ways to make our democracy stronger and more inclusive. The latest example came last week in New York City, where voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot question that will make sure no candidate for office is elected without support from a majority of voters.
Starting in 2021, when New Yorkers vote for mayor, city council, and other municipal posts they can make use of ranked-choice voting, a reform that gives voters more power by giving them more votes.
They will join nearly 20 cities, including San Francisco, Oakland, Minneapolis, and St. Paul and the state of Maine that use ranked-choice voting for their elections
It’s within New Jersey’s grasp to join them. In the process, we can increase turnout, discourage negative campaigning, provide greater choice and – while we’re at it – reduce the impact of money in politics.
The New Jersey Commission on Science, Innovation and Technology announced Friday it has approved the launch of a new program to provide technical and financial support to New Jersey small businesses pursuing federal SBIR and STTR funding. The program will initially start with $500,000 to support companies applying to the federal Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer Program programs, which provide more than $3 million nationally in early-stage funding to small businesses.“While the benefits of winning SBIR/STTR grants are clear, small businesses often face challenges in drafting and submitting competitive proposals or leveraging additional financial resources to maintain operations during the application process,” Gunjan Doshi, chairman, CSIT, said. “The SBIR/STTR support program will help New Jersey applicants overcome these challenges and maximize potential awards.”
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In the rush of budget season, Trenton passed a poorly drafted, unfair and unconstitutional disclosure bill that imposes burdensome rules on grassroots advocacy organizations like the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters while protecting politically connected business and industry interests.These new rules, which are the most invasive in the country, would have a chilling effect on advocates fighting for a stronger state while also providing a roadmap for corporate interests seeking to roll back important environmental protections.
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