Zwicker Bill to Designate Bog Turtle as Official State Reptile Clears Assembly

(TRENTON) - The endangered bog turtle just inched closer to becoming New Jersey's State Reptile.

Legislation (A-1530) sponsored by Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker to officially designate the bog turtle as the official State Reptile of New Jersey was cleared by the Assembly on Thursday with a vote of 74-0.

"The bog turtle is a unique creature, and important to New Jersey's ecosystem," said Zwicker (D-Somerset/Mercer/Middlesex/Hunterdon). "These turtles used to be prevalent. Unfortunately, because of destruction of their habitat, they are now critically endangered. There's certainly much more we need to do to protect them and preserve their habitat, and we will. This bill is an important way to raise awareness about the species and its plight, and a commitment by our state to protect it."

Earlier this month, students and teachers from two Princeton elementary schools, Riverside and Community Park, discussed with an Assembly panel their research about the bog turtle and showed their advocacy for designating it be the State Reptile.

"We received dozens of letters written by these students, each one original and compelling," Zwicker recalled. "Even the youngest children's letters were well-supported, explaining the need for the bog turtle's protection. I was persuaded and very moved seeing how these students put their learning about science and the environment into this kind of political engagement. This process has shown children that they, too, can change their world for the better."

Assembly Dem-Sponsored Bills Protecting Internet Users' Privacy Clears Assembly Panel

Prime Sponsor Andrew Zwicker Introduced Bill in Response to Trump Repeal of Federal Broadband Confidentiality Rules Last Year

(TRENTON) Two consumer protections bills sponsored by Assembly Democrats Andrew Zwicker, Daniel Benson, Paul Moriarty, Joann Downey, and Wayne DeAngelo to prohibit Internet service providers from selling or otherwise disclosing a subscriber's online browsing history and personal information and requiring commercial websites and online service operators to post privacy policy advanced in the Assembly on Thursday.

"In today's world, using the Internet is essential to everyday life, which means that Internet service providers have unparalleled access to a great deal of information about their subscribers' highly personal habits, preferences, even medical issues," said Zwicker. (D-Hunterdon/Mercer/Middlesex/Somerset) "That private data should not be up for sale to the highest bidder without subscribers' knowledge or consent.¨

The bill (A-1527) would require internet service providers (ISPs) like Verizon, Comcast and AT&T to keep their subscribers' personally identifiable information confidential, unless a subscriber expressly authorizes the ISP to disclose the information. The legislation comes after President Donald Trump signed legislation last May rescinding Federal Communications Commission protections intended to prohibit ISPs from selling their subscribers' personal data.

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Mukherji and Zwicker Bill Providing Protections to Elephants and other Exotic Animals Clears Assembly Panel

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assemblymen Raj Mukherji and Andrew Zwicker prohibiting the use of elephants and other exotic animals in traveling animal acts, such as fairs, carnivals, circuses and flea markets cleared the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee on Thursday.

“The mistreatment of any animal is inhumane and wrong,” said Zwicker (D-Somerset/Mercer/Middlesex/Hunterdon). “But it is particularly disturbing when wild, endangered animals are captured, misused, and exploited for profitable entertainment."

The bill (A-1923) will be designated as “Nosey’s Law,” in honor of Nosey the elephant, who is forced to travel the country and give rides at events despite being virtually crippled by arthritis. The arthritis has likely caused unnecessary suffering and permanent disability for Nosey, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture has failed to take action to protect Nosey, and Nosey’s owners continue to use her in shows.

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Freiman and Zwicker Introduce Bill to Raise Age Limit to Buy Shotguns & Rifles in N.J.

(TRENTON) Assemblyman Roy Freiman and Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker (both D-Somerset/Mercer/Middlesex/Hunterdon) have introduced a bill to raise the minimum age to buy rifles and shotguns in New Jersey.

Under current law, handguns cannot be sold to anyone under 21 although licensed gun dealers in the state are allowed to sell rifles and shotguns to buyers as young as 18.

Freiman and Zwicker's bill (A-3815) would raise the minimum age to buy rifles and shotguns in the state to 21.

"This is about preventing gun violence," said Freiman. "There is no easy solution to the proliferation of gun violence in this country, but there are measures we can take to help keep people safe. Bringing the rules on rifles and shotguns in line with the rules on handguns can help. If you have to be 21 to buy a handgun, the same standard should apply to rifles and shotguns."

"We want to make it harder for people with bad intentions from getting their hands on these weapons, but we also want to strike the right balance," said Zwicker. "We realize that some young people use these weapons for lawful hunting or as part of their work. This bill's careful exemptions recognize those pragmatic realities, while also limiting access to weapons for people who might want to use them to hurt others."

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Vainieri Huttle, Gusciora, Zwicker & Chiaravalloti Bill to Revise Requirements for Changing a Birth Certificate Due to Gender Reassignment Advances in the Assembly

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Reed Gusciora, Andrew Zwicker and Nicholas Chiaravalloti to make it easier for an individual undergoing gender reassignment to obtain an amended birth certificate was approved by an Assembly panel on Monday.

“This bill acknowledges that individuals do not necessarily undergo sex reassignment surgery when transitioning genders so it revises the process for obtaining an amended birth certificate to reflect the change in current practices,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “Essentially we’re updating a standard state procedure to be more inclusive and reflective of our changing society.” 

The bill (A-1718) would revise the requirements for obtaining an amended certificate of birth due to a change in sex.

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Chiaravalloti, Zwicker & Murphy Bill Package to Uphold Net Neutrality in the Garden State, Ensure Consumers Have Equal Access to Internet Clears Assembly Panel

(TRENTON) - An Assembly panel on Monday released a three-bill legislative package sponsored by Assembly Democrats Nicholas Chiaravalloti, Andrew Zwicker and Carol Murphy that requires Internet service providers doing business in the state to meet certain net neutrality requirements to ensure New Jersey consumers continue to have equal access to the Internet.

Net neutrality rules created under the Obama administration required internet service providers to treat all content on the Internet equally. Under these rules, providers were prohibited from blocking, slowing down or prioritizing web traffic from some sites or apps, and giving preferential treatment to their own content over rivals, or to content from those willing to pay extra fees. The rules were repealed last year by the Federal Communications Commission.

"The FCC's repeal of net neutrality regulations have made consumers vulnerable to the whims of the cable and telecomm companies," said Chiaravalloti (D-Hudson). "These measures would help protect New Jersey consumers from potential price-gouging and other unfair practices."

"A fair and open internet is critical to fostering innovation and economic growth, especially for small businesses and startups," said Zwicker (D-Somerset/Mercer/Middlesex/Hunterdon). "These bills make clear that while the FCC may have abandoned its responsibility to internet consumers, New Jersey will do what it can to safeguard an open internet for all."

"The decision to repeal net neutrality will change the way people use the internet, and not for the better," said Murphy (D-Burlington). "Weakening consumer protections should never be the goal of any government entity. These conditions can help restore some of the protections lost by forcing these companies to adhere to net neutrality principles if they want to do business in New Jersey."

The first bill (A-2131) would direct the Board of Public Utilities to prohibit an internet service provider (ISP) from installing broadband telecommunications infrastructure on any pole or post located on or over any highway or any right-of-way, or on any underground facility, belonging to a public utility or cable television company, unless the ISP: (1) publicly discloses to customers located in this state accurate information regarding the network management practices and performance, and commercial terms of its Internet service; (2) does not engage in paid prioritization; and (3) permits customers located in this state to access all lawful Internet content, applications, and services, and to use non-harmful Internet-enabled devices, without discrimination and without the impairment or degradation of Internet access speeds, subject to reasonable network management.

The bill is sponsored by Chiaravalloti and Zwicker.

The second bill (A-2132), sponsored by Chiaravalloti, Zwicker and Murphy, would provide that no public contract may be awarded to an Internet service provider that (1) engages in paid prioritization; (2) prevents customers located in this state from accessing all lawful Internet content, applications, and services or using non-harmful Internet-enabled devices; or (3) impairs or degrades Internet access speeds, subject to reasonable network management.

The third bill (A-2139) , sponsored by Chiaravalloti and Zwicker, would require a cable television company (CATV company) to commit to the principle of net neutrality for all Internet service customers as a condition of approval of an application filed with the Board of Public Utilities for a municipal consent or a system-wide franchise for the provision of CATV service.

Under the bill, a CATV company that provides Internet service in this state must commit to provide service that includes: public disclosure of accurate information regarding the network management practices and performance to customers, and commercial terms of its Internet service; the prohibition of paid prioritization; and the grant of permission to customers to: (1) access all lawful Internet content, applications, and services, and to use non-harmful Internet-enabled devices, without discrimination, subject to reasonable network management; and (2) access all lawful Internet content, applications, and services, and to use non-harmful Internet-enabled devices, without the impairment or degradation of Internet access speeds, subject to reasonable network management.

In all three bills, "paid prioritization" means the management of an ISP's network - or in the case of A-2139, the management of a CATV company's Internet network - to directly or indirectly favor some data traffic over other data traffic, including through use of techniques such as traffic shaping, prioritization, resource reservation, or other forms of preferential traffic management, either in exchange for consideration from a third party or to benefit an affiliated entity.

The bills were released by the Assembly Science, Innovation and Technology Committee, which is chaired by Zwicker.