Statement from Governor Murphy on Proposed STEM Loan Forgiveness Program

TRENTON - Governor Phil Murphy announced support for S2723/A4183, a bill introduced by Senator Paul Sarlo and Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker to establish a loan forgiveness program for New Jersey residents who graduate with degrees in the fields of science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM).

“I applaud Senator Sarlo and Assemblyman Zwicker for taking action to allow our STEM graduates the chance to offset some of their loans, stay in New Jersey, and contribute to our local economy,” Governor Murphy said. “While this legislation is still in the very early stages, I look forward to reviewing it when it reaches my desk. It is through initiatives like these that New Jersey can fuel growth and reclaim our state’s position in the innovation economy.”

In May, Governor Murphy announced his goal to work with the Legislature to pass legislation establishing the STEM Loan Forgiveness Program. According to program requirements, after an employee has worked four years in a designated high-growth STEM occupation in New Jersey, the New Jersey Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESAA) will redeem eligible qualifying student loan expenses for up to four years. HESAA would provide eligible employees with $1,000 annually to defray outstanding loans. Employers would be required to at least match this award – or otherwise partner with the State – to provide a total benefit worth at least $8,000 over the four-year period.

“A long-term strategy to expand NJ’s innovation economy depends upon training and retaining the best and brightest of the next generation of our high-tech 21st century workforce,” said Assemblyman Zwicker. “This initiative acknowledges that we must ensure that these students, regardless of their economic status, receive the training they need while reducing their financial burden.  In return, our innovation ecosystem grows and our businesses have access to the finest NJ has to offer.”

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Zwicker, McKeon, Greenwald, Jasey, Murphy & Moriarty Bill to Keep Guns Away from Dangerous Persons Now Law

(TRENTON) – The Extreme Risk Protective Order Act of 2018 - which authorizes new protective orders against those who pose a significant danger by either possessing or purchasing a firearm – sponsored by Assembly members Andrew Zwicker, John McKeon, Majority Leader Lou Greenwald, Mila Jasey, Tim Eustace, Carol Murphy and Paul Moriarty has been signed into law.

The order prohibits the subject from possessing or purchasing a firearm or ammunition and from holding a firearms purchaser identification card, permit to purchase a handgun and permit to carry a firearm.

“This law provides a sensible process that protects the rights of lawful gun owners while allowing concerned family members to take action when there are ‘red flags’ that indicate a gun owner poses a serious risk to others,” said Zwicker (D-Somerset/Mercer/Middlesex/Hunterdon). “This is the right thing to do, and I’m certain it will save lives.”

The law (A-1217) establishes a process and procedures for obtaining a protective order against persons who pose a significant danger of bodily injury to themselves or others by possessing or purchasing a firearm.  

The order prohibits the subject of the order from possessing or purchasing a firearm or ammunition and from holding a firearms purchaser identification card, permit to purchase a handgun, and permit to carry a handgun.

A look at the law:

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Vainieri Huttle, Zwicker & Chiaravalloti Bill to Revise Requirements for Changing a Birth Certificate Due to Gender Reassignment Signed Into Law

TRENTON, NJ – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Andrew Zwicker and Nicholas Chiaravalloti to make it easier for an individual undergoing gender reassignment to obtain an amended birth certificate was signed into law Tuesday.

“This new law acknowledges that individuals do not necessarily undergo gender 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 law (formerly bill A-1718) would revise the requirements for obtaining an amended certificate of birth due to a change in gender. 

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Zwicker, Lopez & Mukherji Legislation to Help Displaced Professionals from Puerto Rico on Mainland Heads to Governor

Bill Would Revise Law on Out-of-State Licenses to Include Professionals from Storm-Ravaged Island

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Members Andrew Zwicker, Yvonne Lopez and Raj Mukherji on Monday aimed at recognizing the professional licenses of displaced Puerto Rican doctors, nurses, teachers and other professionals who relocated to New Jersey following Hurricane Maria was advanced by the General Assembly on Monday by a vote of 75-0-0 and now heads to the governor after being moved through the Senate earlier in the day.

“Prior to Hurricane Maria six months ago, New Jersey had one of the highest populations of Puerto Ricans on the mainland. Following the hurricane, we've seen more of our fellow Americans from the island seek safety with family and friends here,” said Zwicker (D-Hunterdon/Mercer/Middlesex/Somerset). “As they settle into their new lives in New Jersey, we can and should ensure that men and women from Puerto Rico are treated just as professionals moving here from any state would be, so they're able to continue in their professions and support their families here.”

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Schaer, Lampitt, Houghtaling & Zwicker Bill Package to Boost Security, Enhance Response to Emergencies at Schools Clears Assembly Panel

TRENTON, NJ – A two-bill legislative package sponsored by Assembly Democrats Gary Schaer, Pamela Lampitt, Eric Houghtaling and Andrew Zwicker to help facilitate law enforcement response to school emergencies and ensure school buildings are safe was released Monday by an Assembly panel.

The two bills were prompted by the discourse that took place during the joint hearings held by the Senate and Assembly Education Committees on school security earlier in the spring. 

The first bill (A-4112) would require public and nonpublic school to provide to local law enforcement authorities a copy of the current blueprints and maps for all schools and school grounds within the school district or nonpublic school. The bill is sponsored by Schaer.

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Assemblyman Zwicker Statement on Net Neutrality

(TRENTON) –Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker (D-Somerset/Mercer/Middlesex/Hunterdon), who is chair of the Assembly Science, Innovation and Technology Committee, released the following statement Wednesday regarding net neutrality:

“This week, our country took a step backwards with the Trump administration rolling back net neutrality rules and allowing internet service providers to charge us more for access, or faster access, to certain websites or content. In other words, using the internet is about to become like cable TV: we’ll pay one rate for some basic level of internet access, but have to pay a higher rate for faster speed or more “premium” kinds of websites.

“Astonishingly, despite the fact that nearly 80% of all Americans support net neutrality, Congress and the Trump administration refuse to put our interests over fattening the internet providers’ bottom line. Many states, including New Jersey, have sprung into action to preserve net neutrality for our residents and filed a legal challenge to the federal government’s attempt to keep us from having a free and open internet.

“But it’s not that simple. In its order earlier this week, the FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai, not only repealed net neutrality rules, but decreed that any state’s attempts to preserve net neutrality to protect their residents and businesses is preempted – that is, that only the federal government, and not the states, have authority to require net neutrality.

“We all – individuals, families, businesses, schools, towns, state agencies, first responders, everyone – rely on the internet for almost every aspect of our lives and livelihoods. We pay a significant monthly fee to use the internet. Until this week, we were paying for unfettered access.

“While many of us won’t feel the effects of the net neutrality repeal at first, all of us will be harmed by the repeal of net neutrality over time, and our internet fees for the same access will almost certainly increase.

“We will continue to work hard here in New Jersey to ensure that internet providers doing business in our state will abide by net neutrality rules. We must and will do all we can to prevent the internet from being divided into classes, one for the haves and another, slower and lesser one for the have-nots.