Welcome to my mid-summer update. During the last few months, I've had the pleasure of talking to people throughout the 16th Legislative District, listening to your concerns and expectations for the future. I've also met with members of our Congressional delegation, religious groups and community and business leaders.
These meetings make me feel optimistic for our towns and for New Jersey. We have some of the smartest, hard-working and diverse people I've ever met and by embracing these strengths and building upon them together, we can #InnovateNJ.
In the Statehouse, my first bill, the New Voter Empowerment Act, reached the governor's desk and I sponsored a budget resolution to bring over $10 million in Environmental Infrastructure Trust money to help 16th District municipalities invest in vital projects.
New Jersey is strong because of the remarkable diversity of our people and we should celebrate both our similarities and our differences. My resolution condemning bigotry and hatred while embracing our diversity passed the Assembly unanimously.
You can read about all of this, and more, below. As always, please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of service or just to say hello.
Innovation 2.0 Round Table Discussion
I was proud to join Congresswoman Bonnie Watson-Coleman, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. and business leaders from around the State for a roundtable discussion to launch the Congressional Innovation Agenda 2.0. NJ has a tremendous high-tech infrastructure that is growing in all areas. For example, a 2014 report found that more than 3,000 operations comprised the bio-pharmaceutical life sciences cluster in New Jersey. The pharmaceutical, medical device, and biotech industries represent an economic impact of $26 billion annually and support more than 15,000 jobs. The roundtable was part of an ongoing discussion to promote strategies to encourage continued growth in NJ.
The Assemblyman at Princeton University's Iftar
I participated in an Iftar Potluck Dinner hosted by the Muslim Life Program at Princeton University on June 12, 2016. These daily gatherings to break the fast during Ramadan are an opportunity for people of all faiths to gather to celebrate diversity and inclusion. Joining together to share a meal with a loving community was an amazing way to reflect on the necessity of diversity and appreciating one another, and our cultures, both for their similarities and differences.
My staff is always ready to help you in a variety of ways. Here are just a few things we've done lately:
- Medical Bills: Recently we’ve helped multiple people reduce their medical bills. This has included helping applicants through the Medicaid process, as well as helping constituents apply for the Middlesex County prescription discount card.
- Utilities Help: We were recently contacted by a constituent who was unable to solve a discrepancy with a home utilities company which had resulted in unauthorized charges to her account. My office helped her get claim sorted out, saving her over three thousand dollars!
- Motor Vehicles: Knowing how much frustration can be caused by a trip to the MVC on a crowded summer day, I was happy to step in and help a constituent resolve an issue preventing their license renewal.
Always remember that my office is here to help when you don’t know where else to turn!
Legislative Updates from the State House:
A3883 - Authorizes the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust to expend certain sums to make loans for environmental infrastructure projects for FY2017.
This bill, which I authored for inclusion into the FY2017 budget, authorizes the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust to expend up to $411.35 million and any unexpended balances from previous authorizations to provide loans with an interest rate at or below the prevailing market rate to local governments, public authorities, and public water utilities for a portion of the total costs of 80 eligible environmental infrastructure projects. I am happy to report that this money is going to help both Hillsborough Township and Somerville Borough, as well as many other municipalities, to make vital clean water infrastructure improvements.
AR155 — Resolution Condemning Bigotry and Hatred.
I introduced this Assembly resolution to condemn bigotry and hatred; steadfastly confirm our dedication to the rights and dignity of all citizens of all faiths, beliefs, and cultures; and denounce in the strongest possible terms the increase of hate speech, intimidation, violence, vandalism, arson, and other hate crimes. The resolution declares that the civil rights and civil liberties of all New Jersey citizens should be protected and preserved; and reaffirms the inalienable right of every citizen to live without fear and intimidation, and to practice their faith freely. In the midst of national discussions that are increasingly divisive, the people of New Jersey continue to show the world that diversity is an asset, that we can disagree without being disagreeable and that the twin evils of bigotry and hatred have no place here.
A2088/S855 – Requires Commissioner of DCA to promulgate rules and regulations providing for veterans' affordable housing assistance preference.
This bill, which I co-sponsored along with many of my colleagues, ensures that New Jersey veterans and surviving spouses receive priority status for affordable public housing. Specifically, the bill requires the Division of Housing and Community Resources in the state Department of Community Affairs (DCA), in consultation with the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, to provide preferential status to veterans who qualify for public housing assistance. This bill has passed both Houses of the Legislature as of June 16, 2016, making it the first bill which I have sponsored to make it to the Governor's desk. By making public housing more accessible to veterans in New Jersey, our state can act on its obligation to end homelessness among veterans.
A-2547 - Permits small businesses to qualify for loans from NJEDA for costs of energy audit and making energy efficiency or conservation improvements.
I co-sponsored this bill to facilitate cost-effective environmentally friendly improvements for small businesses through loans from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority. I know investing in energy efficiency can save money and create jobs, especially for small businesses where every possible savings opportunity is vital, so I was glad to see this bill passed by both the Assembly Appropriations and Commerce committees.