In Our Community

Senator Madden Introduces Legislation to Increase Transparency In Senior Renting

Senator Madden introduced legislation on Thursday, July 26 that would require landlords of senior housing projects to provide written notice to tenants that rent increases are not unreasonably excessive.

Many people struggle to make ends meet, but seniors, many of whom live on a fixed-income, are hit especially hard with any increase in the cost of living. There are programs to help seniors with some cost of living increases including the Property Tax Reimbursement, the Homestead Benefit, and the $250 senior property tax deduction, but none of these programs apply to seniors who are not homeowners.

Currently, a landlord is permitted to increase rent annually by the lesser of 3% or the Consumer Price Index in New Jersey without any explanation. So for example, a renter who is paying $1000 per month this year could stand to see his or her rent increase by up to $30 per month next year, or a total of $360 over the entire year. This proposed legislation would require the landlord of a senior citizen housing project (a building with three or more dwelling units, renter- or owner-occupied, that are intended for and solely occupied by senior citizens) to provide a written explanation as to why rent is being increased.

Specifically, this explanation would describe why the rent increase is not unreasonably excessive; confirm that the increase complies with municipal ordinances, and other applicable laws; and list any expenses associated with the tenant’s unit and common areas of the property that have contributed to the need for the rent increase.

By ensuring that landlords of senior citizen housing projects have justification for rent increases, this legislation will help to increase transparency in the tenant-landlord relationship.

 

Assemblywoman Mosquera Bill Tackling Mortgage Discrimination and Foreclosure Practices In New Jersey Advances In Assembly

 

I’m a sponsor on A-401 which prohibits depository institutions that make mortgage loans in this state from discriminating against any person in making available a mortgage loan, or in the terms or conditions of a mortgage loan, because of the person’s familial status. It also would allow anyone discriminated against in violation of the bill to bring action in New Jersey in a court of competent jurisdiction. Upon finding that a depository institution is in violation, the court would be permitted to award actual damages, reasonable attorneys’ fees, and court costs.

I believe we need to address the concerns of mortgage discrimination and foreclosure practices. No one should be denied or delayed loans because of their familial status. As long as the candidate is qualified for the loan, whether or not they have children or are on maternity leave or expanding their families, should not be considered as part of the loan application process.

Familial status is defined as being the natural parent of a child, the adoptive parent of a child, the resource family parent of a child, having a parent and child relationship with a child as defined by state law, or having sole or joint legal or physical custody, care, guardianship, or visitation with a child, or any person who is pregnant or is in the process of securing legal custody of any individual who has not attained the age of 18.

The bill was advanced by the Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee. It is now reported out of the Assembly Committee for a 2nd reading.

 

Assemblyman Moriarty’s Bill to Invest In Local Journalism Heads to The Governor’s Desk

The Assembly and Senate voted to pass Assemblyman Moriarty’s bill to establish the Civic Information Consortium, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting local journalism.

Local news in New Jersey has dwindled due to closing newsrooms, reporter layoffs, and media consolidation. Today, many South Jerseyans rely on Philadelphia media companies for their news leading to a large deficit in coverage of local issues. This lack of coverage leaves residents in the dark on decisions and events happening in their town.

Assemblyman Moriarty believes that if people do not know what is happening in their communities they won’t be able to be help shape it. To address this, bill A-3628 establishes a consortium designed to bolster public-interest journalism, civic information, and media innovation. In turn, this will inspire more individuals to become active participants in improving their communities.

The following member universities would lead the consortium: The College of New Jersey, Montclair State University, the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Rowan University and Rutgers University. Together, with a board of directors, they will make and review grant proposals intended to improve access to public information through innovative means.

The bill will require the board to deliver annual reports to the Governor and the Legislature. The board will also make the reports available to the public. Additionally, the board will hold three public hearings annually, one in the northern, central and southern regions of the state.  At these hearings, the public will be informed about the consortium’s use of public funds and encouraged to offer their input on the consortium.

Now that the bill has passed both houses it is heading to the Governor’s desk for his consideration. The Governor has already agreed to grant an initial five million dollars to the Civic Information Consortium in the FY2019 Budget. The bill will take effect immediately upon approval.

Assemblyman Moriarty’s career in journalism and later his role as Mayor of Washington Township gave him a front-row seat to the effect that good local journalism can have on a community. If this bill becomes law, it will help to expand access to important public information in new and innovative ways and in doing so it will create stronger communities.

 

Assemblywoman Mosquera “Jake’s Law” Bill to Create Inclusive Playgrounds to Better Serve NJ Families with Disabilities Clears Senate

Bill A-2187 will make playgrounds in New Jersey
inclusive and capable of catering to children and
parents with different types of disabilities was
approved Thursday by the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism, and Historic Preservation Committee.

These parks provide a fun and safe place for children with special needs to play and engage socially.
Building more of these parks not only provides these children with this wonderful opportunity, but can also help educate other children about acceptance and inclusion.

This bill would require the DCA to:

  • to propose rules and regulations within 180 days of the effective date of the bill and adopt rules and regulations within one year of the effective date of the bill.
  • commissioner would have to invite and receive recommendations for the adoption of rules and regulations from nonprofit organizations with a demonstrated expertise in the design and construction of inclusive playgrounds.

The bill would require that the DEP prioritize any application submitted by a county seeking to acquire or develop lands for recreational and conservation purposes using Green Acres funds. Additional prioritization would be given to applications submitted by counties that do not currently operate and maintain an inclusive playground, to ensure at least one such playground is operated and maintained.

The bill would take effect immediately and now heads to the full Senate for further consideration.

Assemblyman Moriarty’s Bill to Prevent Discrimination Against Cash Paying Consumers Passes the Assembly

Assemblyman Moriarty’s sponsored legislation, to protect cash-paying consumers from discrimination, passed the General Assembly with overwhelming support. This bill would make it illegal for stores in New Jersey to refuse cash payments for goods and services.

Across the country, there have been various efforts by businesses to convert to cashless storefronts. Visa has attempted to incentivize small business with $10,000 payments to persuade them to only accept credit cards. While food chains, including Starbucks and Shake Shack, have experimented with going cashless.

Assemblyman Moriarty believes that the move towards cashless retail would marginalize people that are poor, people that don’t have access to credit and young people that have not established credit yet. This measure is meant to keep New Jersey storefronts open to all consumers.

In this spirit, the bill (A-591) would require cash to be accepted for any in-person retail transaction conducted in New Jersey. This legislation would not apply to sales made over telephone, mail or the internet.

The bill is now heading to the Senate Commerce Committee and the full Senate for approval.   If passed, the legislation would take effect immediately upon being signed into law by the Governor.

Assemblyman Moriarty has been a tireless champion of consumers rights in the marketplace. This legislation joins other measures such as those to prevent energy slamming and the Fair Repair Act in this effort. By preventing storefronts from going cashless the Assemblyman’s bill will help to ensure fair treatment for cash using consumers.

 

Two of Senator Madden’s Child Safety Bills Clear the Senate

Two of Senator Madden’s bills drafted to protect our students in schools passed the full Senate on June 21.

S2713 would direct the Commissioner of Education to collect data on certain employee misconduct including the annual collection of data from each school district on the number of school employees who were disciplined, discharged, nonrenewed, asked to resign from employment, resigned from or otherwise separated from any employment while allegations of child abuse, sexual misconduct, or sexual or other harassment were pending or under investigation, or due to an adjudication or finding of child abuse, sexual misconduct, or sexual or other harassment. The bill also requires both public and private schools to review the employment history of prospective employees who will have regular contact with students.

S2715 would require the Attorney General, in consultation with the Commissioner of Education, to develop a protocol regarding the retention of video footage from school surveillance systems.

These bills were introduced after the Senate Education and Labor Committees met jointly in response to an undercover video that was released which depicted officials indicating that they would try to hide or bend the truth about a teacher abusing a student.

If passed by the Assembly and signed into law, these bills would be a big step forward in ensuring the safety of our children while they are at school. By requiring the Department of Education to collect data that would be used to assess potential employees and by retaining school surveillance footage, there will be an extra layer of protection and accountability in our schools.

S2713 and S2715 now head to the Assembly to be heard in committee.