Please join me and my staff at my Fall Open House on Monday, November 14, 2016.
I look forward to meeting you and having the opportunity to discuss issues that are of importance to you. My staff will also be on hand to provide information about government resources and assistance with any state or local issues. I am also excited to bring together a wide range of resources at the Open House, some of which are listed below, and I am happy to help connect constituents to these organizations.
Fall Open House
Office of Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker
Monday, November 14, 2016
6:00 pm to 8:00 pm
23 Orchard Road,
Skillman, NJ 08558
Offices of U.S. Senators Bob Menendez & Cory A. Booker (NJ)
Office of Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (CD-12)
NJ Department of Military & Veterans Affairs
NJ Army & Air National Guard
NJ Shares (provides energy assistance)
STEM | The Research & Development Council of New Jersey
South Brunswick Social Services
Mercer Street Friends Food Bank
Enable Inc. (disability services and resources)
NJ Library Association
Raritan Valley Community College
American Cancer Society
Safe & Sound
NJ Community College Consortium
Light refreshments and food will be served. The event is open to all. To RSVP, please email: AsmZwicker@njleg.org by Sunday, November 13th, 2016.
Directions: Orchard Road is off of Rt. 206, just north of the Montgomery movie theater. When you enter the building complex, bear right and head toward the back of the office complex. Parking is located near the field of solar panels.
Zwicker Statement Regarding Fatal Hillsborough Fire
Tragic Blaze Killed Three Township Residents
Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker issued the following statement regarding the deadly fire on Monday night that took the lives of three people:
"I am deeply saddened by the tragedy that struck our community in Hillsborough Monday evening," said Zwicker (D- Hunterdon/Mercer/Middlesex/Somerset). “A family of three lost their lives because of the blaze. My deepest condolences go out to their relatives, friends, and our community.”
“I thank all of the first responders, the fire stations, EMS, police, and others that responded and put their lives on the line to protect us."
Andrew Zwicker is a New Jersey Assemblyman in Legislative District 16 which includes Delaware Township, Borough of Flemington, Township of Readington, Township of Raritan, and Borough of Stockton in Hunterdon County; Princeton in Mercer County; Township of South Brunswick in Middlesex County; and Township of Branchburg, Hillsborough Township, Borough of Manville, Millstone Borough, Montgomery Township, Borough of Rocky Hill, and Borough of Somerville in Somerset County. For more information on Assemblyman Zwicker visit [www.andrewzwicker.com].
Assembly Dems Bill Forgiving Student Loan Debt in Event of Borrower’s Death or Permanent Disability Heads to Governor’s Desk
Mazzeo, Zwicker, Jasey, Vainieri Huttle, Schaer, Jones, Eustace, Land, Gusciora, Andrzejczak, Downey, Houghtaling & Mukherji Bill would Eliminate Student Loan Debt in the Event of Death or Permanent Disability
The Senate granted final legislative approval Thursday to a bill that would forgive certain student loan debt in the event of a borrower's death or total permanent disability, a measure sponsored by Assembly Democrats Vince Mazzeo, Andrew Zwicker, Mila Jasey, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Gary Schaer, Patricia Jones, Tim Eustace, Bruce Land, Reed Gusciora, Bob Andrzejczak, Joann Downey, Eric Houghtaling and Raj Mukherji.
"Imagine you're a family who always pays their bills, has good credit and then you lose a child and in the midst of your grief, you're saddled with tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars in their remaining student loan debt," said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). "That's just something we can't allow to happen on our watch."
"To expect a student's family or other survivors to pay their college loan debt in the event of their death is cruel and unacceptable. We can do better than that," said Zwicker (D-Somerset/Mercer/Middlesex/Hunterdon).
"I've heard a number of heartbreaking stories of grieving parents being saddled with their child's student loan debt after they passed away. That's something no one should have to endure," said Jasey (D-Essex/Morris), Chair of the Assembly Higher Education Committee.
The bill (S-743/A-2761), which was approved by the Assembly last month, directs the state Higher Education Student Assistance Authority to forgive certain student loans in the event of a student borrower's death or total and permanent disability and grant deferment for temporary total disability.
"One would think this would already be an existing clause, but sadly it's not," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "If someone's life is cut short, we shouldn't expect their family to pay for a future they never got to fulfill. It's as simple as that,"
"Given the exorbitant cost of college, it's unthinkable that we would expect a family to have to pay off their loved one's student loan debt should they pass away," said Schaer (D-Bergen/Passaic).
"This is one student loan program that we have authority over as a state and we should be exerting it to help surviving families," said Jones (D-Camden/Gloucester).
The bill applies to loans issued under the NJCLASS program - New Jersey College Loans to Assist State Students - which helps cover college costs not already covered by other sources of grants, scholarships and loans. The program offers low-cost rates on supplemental loans to New Jersey residents attending an eligible in-state or out-of-state school, as well as out-of-state students attending a school in New Jersey.
In the event of the death of an eligible student borrower under the NJCLASS Loan Program, the authority shall fully discharge the obligation of the student borrower and a parent or guardian who cosigned the loan. The executor or administrator of the student borrower's estate shall provide written notification to the authority of the student borrower's death and shall provide the authority with a certified copy of the death certificate within 120 days of the student's borrower's death.
"Dealing with the loss of a loved one is hard enough. Getting a bill for their student loan debt just adds salt to the wound, something no one should endure," said Eustace (D-Bergen/ Passaic).
"On top of an already painful grieving process, some families have actually been harassed by loan collectors. That should never happen in New Jersey," said Land (D-Cape May/Atlantic/ Cumberland).
"It might seem macabre to think about this situation, but the fact is that it occurs. This bill will eliminate that painful scenario," said Gusciora (D-Mercer/Hunterdon).
In the event that an eligible student borrower becomes totally and permanently disabled, the authority shall fully discharge the obligation of the student borrower and a parent or guardian who cosigned the loan. To qualify for the loan discharge the student borrower shall provide the authority with a written statement from a physician, who is a doctor of medicine or osteopathy and is legally authorized to practice, certifying that the student borrower is totally and permanently disabled.
"In some cases, a spouse ends up widowed and struggling to support a family and then they are hit with a student loan bill on top of it all. This bill will make sure that doesn't happen," said Andrzejczak (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland).
"Federal student loan debt is already forgiven in the event of a borrower's death. We should exercise compassion and common sense at the state level and follow suit," said Downey (D-Monmouth).
In the event that an eligible student borrower becomes temporarily totally disabled, the authority shall grant a deferment of payment of loan principal and interest. To qualify for the loan deferment, the student borrower shall provide the authority with a written statement from a physician, who is a doctor of medicine or osteopathy and is legally authorized to practice, certifying that the student borrower is temporarily totally disabled.
"If someone's life is cut short, before they were able to put their education to use, the compassionate thing to do, for the sake of their grieving families, is to forgive these loan debts," said Houghtaling (D-Monmouth).
"The price of a college education has skyrocketed over the last few decades. To tell a grieving family that they now have to pay these exorbitant bills, even though they will never get to see their loved one fulfill their promise, is unacceptable," said Mukherji (D-Hudson).
The deferment would begin on the date that the student borrower's temporary total disability is certified to begin and shall end on the date that the temporary total disability is certified to end. Interest on the loan would not accrue during the period of deferment.
Singleton, Gusciora, Benson, Zwicker & Danielsen Bill to Fight Christie Admin’s Attempt to Resurrect Cruel & Inhumane Hunting Practice Gains Assembly OK
The full Assembly on Thursday approved legislation (ACR-25) sponsored by Assembly Democrats Troy Singleton, Reed Gusciora, Daniel Benson, Andrew Zwicker and Joe Danielsen that would overturn the Christie administration's decision to resurrect a cruel and inhumane hunting practice that the Legislature outlawed over 30 years ago.
"This is yet another blatant attempt by the Christie administration to circumvent existing state law," said Singleton (D-Burlington). "Enclosed foothold traps are cruel and inhumane. The Legislature made that clear in 1984 when it passed a law prohibiting the use of steel-jaw, leg-hold animal traps in order to improve animal welfare and prevent extreme cruelty."
"This is more about politics than it is about New Jersey's fishing and gaming policies," said Gusciora (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). "This rule was first proposed when the Governor was pandering to right wing conservatives in battleground states during the presidential primary. We're not going to take a step backwards as a state in the wake of his failed presidential aspirations. This practice is barbaric, plain and simple."
The legislation was first introduced last fall in response to a new rule adopted at the time by the State Fish and Game Council that allows the use of "enclosed foothold traps." The measure was approved by the Assembly but failed to gain Senate approval before the legislative session expired in January. The measure was then reintroduced earlier this year.
"Like the steel-jaw, leg-hold trap the Legislature outlawed, enclosed foothold traps clutch the limb of an animal with a clamping force that inflicts trauma, restricts blood flow, and results in significant injury to the animal in a cruel and inhumane way," said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "This is a cruel practice, period, and our state should not turn the clock back by employing this method of inhumanity."
The proposal went into effect last November despite attempts by a coalition of conservation, environmental and animal welfare groups to appeal to the courts for a stay. The lawmakers noted that fur traders have been lobbying for use of the enclosed foothold traps.
"In addition to being cruel and inhumane, these traps also pose a threat to unsuspecting people and their pets, as well as many other species that are dexterous and can be wrongly captured by these traps," said Zwicker (D-Somerset/Mercer/ Middlesex/Hunterdon). "This inhumane method goes against the will of the Legislature and should never have been resurrected in the first place."
"The Legislature made its intent very clear several decades ago when it outlawed these types of cruel hunting traps," said Danielsen (D-Middlesex/Somerset). "The vast majority of New Jerseyans frown upon these inhumane tactics and our laws should reflect that."
Under New Jersey's Constitution (Article V, Section IV, paragraph 6), the Legislature may review any rule or regulation adopted or proposed by an administrative agency to determine if it is consistent with the intent of the Legislature as expressed in the language of the statute which the rule or regulation is intended to implement.
Upon a finding that the rule or regulation is not consistent with legislative intent, the Legislature may transmit the finding to the Governor and the head of the appropriate agency or agencies. Once the legislation that was advanced today receives approval from the full Assembly and Senate it will be transmitted to the Chair of the Fish and Game Council and the Commissioner of Environmental Protection.
The Fish and Game Council and the Commissioner of Environmental Protection will then have 30 days to amend or withdraw the adopted rules and regulations or the Legislature may, by passage of another concurrent resolution, exercise its authority under the Constitution to invalidate the rules and regulations in whole or in part.
The measure was approved 51-10-11 by the Assembly and now heads to the Senate for consideration.
Zwicker, Prieto, Vainieri Huttle, Lampitt & Muoio Measure to Commemorate 100th Anniversary of Planned Parenthood Clears General Assembly
Resolution Reaffirms Women's Fundamental Right to Reproductive Health Care
Legislation Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker, Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto and Assemblywomen Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Pamela Lampitt and Elizabeth Muoio sponsored to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Planned Parenthood's founding gained approval Thursday in the General Assembly.
Since its founding in Brooklyn, New York in 1916, Planned Parenthood has grown to more than 600 health care centers across the country. The organization, founded upon the notion that women should have the information and health care needed to live strong, healthy lives, provides high-quality, affordable reproductive and preventative health care services to women regardless of their marital or economic status, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation and acts as a safety net for the medically underserved.
Sponsors of the resolution (AR-182) noted the importance of honoring an organization that provides care for one in five women in the United States, particularly in the face of threats to defund Planned Parenthood and limit access to vital health care services.
"We will not rest until access to health care is a reality for all people," said Zwicker (D-Hunterdon/Mercer/Middlesex/Somerset). "We must build equity into a health care system that has left many communities behind. In the world we want, all people have full control of their own bodies and can determine their own destinies. Planned Parenthood is determined to fight for this vision, now and always."
"Planned Parenthood is essential to our communities," said Speaker Prieto (Bergen/Hudson). "In New Jersey, thousands of people are served by Planned Parenthood every year, which makes clear how vital these services are to the health and well-being of all New Jerseyans."
"The dogmatic ideological attacks on Planned Parenthood are really attacks on the health and wellness of economically disadvantaged women who rely on this organization for life-saving care," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen), chair of the Assembly Human Services Committee. "Honoring Planned Parenthood is about commemorating its century of service, but more importantly, it's about standing with women everywhere."
"For 100 years, access to family planning and other reproductive health care services has improved and transformed the lives of women, men and young people in the United States and around the world, and that's largely because of Planned Parenthood," Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington), chair of the Assembly Women and Children Committee. "This organization has played a major role in empowering women, and we have a responsibility to ensure that it continues doing so for years to come."
"Planned Parenthood provides care regardless of a person's gender, sexual orientation or socio-economic background. That's how the provision of health care should be," said Muoio (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). "This organization is dedicated to a healthy New Jersey, and so it is in our best interest as a state to commemorate it and commit to ensuring its longevity."
New Jersey Planned Parenthood health centers conducted 98,000 tests and treatments for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV tests, and 30,000 pap smears and breast cancer screenings in 2015. Each year, the centers offer education and outreach programs providing sexuality and family planning education to more than 37,000 women, men and young people throughout the state.
The Assembly passed the measure 48-18-4.
Zwicker, Benson, Schaer & Holley Legislation Urging Congress to Ensure Students Access to Debt-Free Higher Education Clears Assembly
Legislation Assembly Democrats Andrew Zwicker, Daniel Benson, Gary Schaer and Jamel Holley sponsored urging Congress and the President of the United States to enact legislation ensuring students have access to debt-free higher education at public colleges and universities gained approval from the General Assembly on Thursday.
The cost of college has risen more than 250 percent over the last three decades while income for typical families grew by only 16 percent, making it difficult for a student to graduate without debt, as reported by the White House.
"A college education is one of the most valuable investments a family can make, but it has never been more difficult for families to afford the dream of a college education, as the cost has grown exponentially in decades," said Zwicker (D-Hunterdon/Mercer/Middlesex/Somerset). "As a result, an increasing number of young Americans, including many from New Jersey, have been forced to assume significant student loan debt to afford the cost of higher education."
"Student loan debt saddles the very students who most depend on a college degree to level the economic playing field. This debt constrains their career choices, hurts their credit ratings and prevents them from fully participating in the economy," said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "Excessive student loan debt places in jeopardy the quintessential milestones of the American Dream, such as buying a home or car, starting a family and saving for retirement. Our goals for higher education in this country must include providing a debt-free education for college-bound students."
"Young people in New Jersey and throughout the country should have the same opportunity offered to those who went to college in previous generations, including the ability to attend public colleges and universities without taking on burdensome debt," said Schaer (D-Bergen/Passaic). "It should be a public policy goal of the federal government to establish a debt-free public higher education system to enable students to attain a college degree without burdensome debt."
"Given the importance of higher education to the nation's economy, the national goal should be to expand the opportunity to pursue and attain a college degree in this country," said Holley (D-Union). "It should become easier not harder for students to meet their educational goals and obtain a degree. Establishing a debt-free public higher education system should be included in national public policy objectives for higher education."
New Jersey ranks ninth in the country in student loan debt, with the average student loan debt for New Jersey's public and private college and university graduates at more than $30,000 in 2016, according to a study conducted by LendEDU.
The Assembly passed the measure 61-0-13.