In Our Community

Mosquera Bill to Ensure Safety of “Milk Banks” Passes Assembly Panel

Find the original release on the AssemblyDems website.

An Assembly panel on Monday approved legislation sponsored by Assemblywomen Pamela Lampitt and Gabriela Mosquera to protect nursing babies as the practice of sharing breast milk through “milk banks” rises in popularity.

Human milk banks are an organized service for the selection of a donor and the collection, processing, storage, and distribution of donated human breast milk to a hospital for use by low birth weight babies or new mothers with delayed lactation, or directly to a parent, with a physician’s prescription order, who is unable to nurse, or is in need of additional breast milk to feed the parent’s child.

“The practice of sharing breast milk has a long history dating back to the days of wet nurses,” said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). “While modern day ‘milk banks’ may be a godsend in some cases, breast milk, like blood, is a bodily fluid and should be licensed and regulated with stringent medical and scientific standards.”

The lawmakers noted that there are many babies, particularly premature ones, who cannot digest formula properly, making breast milk an imperative and contributing to the rise in popularity of milk banks. However, the limited number of licensed human milk banks in the country has made it hard for families, especially those on a fixed income, to gain access to one.

“We want to make sure that any milk banks operating in New Jersey are following the strictest protocol to protect the health of the babies and their mothers,” said Mosquera (D-Camden/Gloucester). “No responsible parent would give their baby a blood transfusion without first having it tested and the same should go for breast milk.”

Their bill (A-1858) would require “human milk banks” to be licensed by the state Department of Health in order to operate. Under the bill, each approved licensed must be renewed annually. The bill also gives DOH the authority to inspect human milk banks, including records, files, and other data.

The bill also requires DOH to promulgate rules and regulations for the operation and maintenance of human milk banks, including: staff qualifications; procedures for selecting and screening potential donors; standards for the collection, processing, storage, marketing and distribution of donated breast milk; the maintenance and confidentiality of milk bank records; and license application.

In promulgating the regulations, DOH would also give consideration to applicable regulations or recommendations made by federal or national agencies or organizations. The bill also requires DOH to adopt standards for the marketing of donated human breast milk.

The rules and regulations adopted pursuant to the bill’s provisions must, at a minimum, require human milk banks to be operated in accordance with protocols that have been established by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America.

The bill also gives DOH the authority to take civil action if a milk bank violates provisions of the bill or creates dangerous conditions. Anyone found in violation of certain provisions would be subject to a penalty of anywhere from $100 to $1,000 for the first offense and anywhere from $500 to $5,000 for the second or any subsequent offense.

The bill was approved by the Assembly Women and Children Committee chaired by Lampitt.

Sexual Assault Survivor Protection Act of 2015 Continues Advancing

Read the release on the AssemblyDems website.

Legislation Would Permit Victims without Ties to Offenders to Seek Protective Orders

Assembly approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Gabriela Mosquera, John McKeon, Daniel Benson and Shavonda Sumter to allow more victims of sexual assault to seek protective orders against their perpetrators continued advancing on Thursday.

“Simply seeing an abuser – whether he or she is a new acquaintance or an old friend – forces many sexual assault survivors to relive the trauma of having been violated, and current law says they have no option but to suffer in silence,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “Every person in this state has a right to feel safe while going about his or her daily life. With this bill, we reaffirm our commitment to the notion that all residents of New Jersey should be able to seek the protection they need to live in peace.”

Under current law, in order to pursue a protective order, a victim must have had a previous or existing domestic relationship with the offender, such as a spousal or dating relationship, or must file a criminal complaint against the offender. The bill (A-4078), which is to be known as the “Sexual Assault Survivor Protection Act of 2015,” would eliminate these preconditions.

“Most times, sexual assault, much like domestic violence, is about control for the perpetrators,” said Mosquera (D-Camden/Gloucester). “This legislation will strip perpetrators of that control and help victims fight back by giving them access to law enforcement protections they never had before.”

Specifically, the bill would authorize protective orders for victims of non-consensual sexual contact, sexual penetration or lewdness or attempts at such conduct during cases in which the victim does not have a domestic relationship with the offender and does not wish to file a criminal complaint against him or her.

“Sexual violence knows no boundaries and neither should protective orders,” said McKeon (D-Essex/Morris). “These orders have saved lives in the past and should be available to all victims, regardless of their relationship, or lack thereof, with the perpetrator.”

“A protection order can be integral in helping a victim put their life back together again and move forward,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “This type of legal support is key, not only in preventing a repeat in violence, but also in preventing harassment, stalking, intimidation and other serious disruptions to a victim’s life.”

“Often times victims fear that they will be blamed or face reprisal if they come forward, which is why sexual violence continues to be an underreported crime,” said Sumter (D-Bergen/Passaic). “This measure will eliminate a major flaw in our judicial system and create a greater culture of support and protection for victims.”

While current statutes allow domestic violence victims to seek a protective order against offenders, individuals who are victims of sexual assault, but not domestic violence, do not have similar protections under the law, Vainieri Huttle said.

An order for emergency, ex parte relief pursuant to the bill would be granted when necessary to protect the safety and well-being of a victim – regardless of whether criminal charges were filed – and would remain in effect until a superior court judge issues a further order.

A violation of the bill’s provisions would be a crime of the fourth degree. A person convicted of a second or subsequent non-indictable offense be required to serve a minimum of 30 days of imprisonment.

A protective order may include, but would not be limited to, prohibiting the offender from: engaging in nonconsensual sexual contact with the victim; entering the victim’s home, school or place of employment and other places the victim regularly frequents; having contact or communication with the victim, which includes personal, written, telephone and electronic contact; stalking or following the victim or threatening to do so; and committing or attempting to commit an act of harassment, including cyber harassment, against the victim.

If the victim is under 18 years old, has a developmental disability or has a mental disease or defect that makes it impossible to provide consent, the bill would permit a parent or guardian to file the application on his or her behalf.

The bill was approved by the Assembly in February and advanced Thursday by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Mosquera Bill to Help Prevent Cardiac Illness in Student-Athletes Signed Into Law

Read the release on the AssemblyDems website.

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr., Gabriela Mosquera, Jason O’Donnell and Valerie Vainieri Huttle to help recognize and prevent cardiac illnesses in children was signed into law on Monday.

“We’ve seen far too many tragic cardiac incidents among students in recent years,” said Diegnan (D-Middlesex). “In most of these cases, the student was completely unaware of any pre-existing cardiac condition. This law will help increase detection and prevent future tragedies.”

Diegnan has consistently advocated for better policies to help prevent sudden tragic cardiac incidents among students, including sponsoring legislation to develop an information campaign about a specific type of heart disease – hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) – as well as legislation requiring automatic external defibrillators in schools.

The law (A-1473) signed today will require that an annual medical examination of any person 19 years of age and under include questions contained in the “Pre-Participation Physical Evaluation” form developed to screen students seeking to participate in school-sponsored athletics.

“Some people miss the signs of a cardiac condition because they are so accustomed to them, unaware of the danger to their health,” said Mosquera (D-Camden/Gloucester). “This can help identify at-risk children early so they can receive the proper treatment before a serious incident occurs.”

The law also requires the Commissioner of Health, in consultation with various experts, to develop a cardiac screening professional development module, which advanced practice nurses, physicians, and physician assistants performing medical examinations would be required to periodically complete. These individuals will be required to attest to their completion of the module upon renewal of certification, registration, or licensure, as applicable.

The module shall include, but need not be limited to, the following:

1) completing and reviewing a detailed medical history with an emphasis on cardiovascular family history and personal reports of symptoms;

2) identifying symptoms of sudden cardiac arrest that may require follow-up assessment with a cardiologist;

3) recognizing normal structural changes of the heart;

4) recognizing prodromal symptoms that precede sudden cardiac arrest;

5) performing the cardiovascular physical examination; and

6) reviewing the major etiologies of sudden unexplained cardiac death with an emphasis on structural abnormalities and acquired conditions.

“Prevention is key to ensuring students are heart healthy as they participate in school activities,” said O’Donnell (D-Hudson). “By requiring and performing tests for heart disease, we will be helping students not only prepare for their next activity but for a lifetime of healthy living.”

“The adage says that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “With this legislation, we can begin the process of teaching students how to safely stay active and healthy throughout their lives.”

Additionally, the law directs the Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs in the Department of Law and Public Safety, in consultation with the Commissioner of Health, to adopt rules and regulations to carry out the provisions of the law.

The bill will go into effect on September 1, 2015.

Mosquera and Moriarty Bill to Combat Opioid Epidemic Signed Into Law

Read the release on the AssemblyDems website.

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Marlene Caride, Gabriela Mosquera, Nancy Pinkin and Paul Moriarty to help law enforcement better coordinate efforts to combat the state’s growing opioid epidemic has been signed into law.

“As we’ve seen from many reports, the opioid epidemic is not confined to any particular area or demographic,” said Caride (D-Bergen/Passaic). “It crosses urban and suburban boundaries, as well as race, class and many other sectors. Giving law enforcement the tools to coordinate their efforts is a critical part of the statewide strategy to combat this epidemic.”

The law (A-1436) directs the attorney general to coordinate statewide law enforcement efforts against opioid drug abuse. The measure was inspired by one of the recommendations included in the State Commission of Investigation’s eye-opening July 2013 report, “Scenes from an Epidemic.”

“Our goal with this law is to strengthen law enforcement efforts at every level to combat the opioid trade that has gripped many families and communities,” said Mosquera (D-Camden/Gloucester). “Even though resources currently exist within these agencies to investigate these cases, coordination of those resources is key to effectively combating drug diversion.”

The law seeks to identify, investigate and prosecute the illegal sources and distribution of prescription opioid drugs and provide training for law enforcement officials, physicians, pharmacists and other health care professionals in state-of-the-art methods to detect prescription drug diversion and related abuses.

“Drug abuse is destroying communities throughout our state, and we have a collective duty to be proactive about combating the issue,” said Pinkin (D-Middlesex). “This law is about stopping the problem at the source and saving lives.”

“Opioid drug abuse, in addition to tearing families across New Jersey apart, costs our state in terms of health care expenses, law enforcement expenses and overall potential loss,” said Moriarty (D-Camden/Gloucester). “This epidemic warrants the urgent, targeted action from law enforcement for which this mandate calls.”

Under the law, the attorney general may issue appropriate directives, establish task forces and implement other measures deemed necessary to execute duties outlined in the law. Additionally, the law empowers the attorney general to call for assistance from employees of any state, county or municipal department, board, bureau, commission or agency as may be required and as may be available for these purposes.

Assemblywoman Mosquera Teams Up with Martial Arts Center for “Operation Stop Women’s Violence”

Read the press release on AssemblyDems.com.

Assemblywoman Marks Sexual Assault Awareness Month by taking part in Hands-on Self-Defense Demonstrations

Assemblywoman Gabriela Mosquera (D-Camden/Gloucester) on Monday partnered with martial arts experts at Underground Martial Arts in South Jersey to host a special forum for women called “Operation Stop Women’s Violence” as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month (April).

“This was an eye-opening and inspiring event,” said Mosquera. “As we pause to honor Sexual Assault Awareness Month, it’s important to take stock of what can and needs to be done to empower more people to protect themselves. Coupling strong public policy with self defense is a great start. I look forward to crafting more laws to protect victims of violence and, even more importantly, help prevent it in the first place.”

The event was designed to promote self-protection and defense and call attention to the public policy issues supporting the protection of assault victims. Mosquera has been one of the legislature’s leading advocates against sexual and domestic violence, most recently sponsoring a bill (A-4078) that is working its way through the legislature to enable more victims of sexual assault to seek protective orders against their perpetrators.

While current statutes allow domestic violence victims to seek a protective order against offenders, individuals who are victims of sexual assault, but not domestic violence, do not have similar protections under the law.

Mosquera’s bill would grant an order for emergency relief when necessary to protect the safety and well-being of a victim – regardless of whether criminal charges were filed – and would remain in effect until a superior court judge issues a further order.

Mosquera noted that sexual violence is a very serious public health problem that affects millions of women and men. In the United States, one in five women have been raped in their lifetime and nearly one in two women have experienced other forms of sexual violence at some point in their lives.

During the event, Mosquera took part in hands-on demonstrations involving the psychology of self-defense, defenses against common attacks, and empowering combatives. *Pictures from the event are attached.

Mosquera also hailed the efforts of Underground Martial Arts and Fitness Center to empower students to become fit, protect themselves and build unshakable confidence, which, in turn, is magnified in all areas of their lives.

Assemblyman Moriarty Pushes for Legislation to Crack Down on Dangerous Trend of “Swatting”

Read the full release at the AssemblyDems website.

Assemblyman Paul Moriarty is pushing legislation to crack down on the dangerous trend known as “swatting” after a string of recent hoax incidents in New Jersey drew large-scale law enforcement responses.

The FBI describes “swatting” as making a hoax call to 9-1-1 to draw a response from law enforcement, usually a SWAT team. The individuals who engage in this activity, many of whom are teens and twenty-somethings with ties to the online gaming community, use technology to make it appear that the emergency call is coming from the victim’s phone. The FBI notes that sometimes swatting is done for revenge, sometimes as a prank, but either way, it is a serious crime that has potentially dangerous consequences.

Moriarty first introduced the bill in November in response to a swatting incident in Millville where a law enforcement team swarmed an innocent family’s house believing a violent altercation was taking place inside.

Since then, a string of more recent swatting incidents in New Jersey — including a gaming shop in Clifton, a home in Upper Freehold and an elementary School in Homdel — have underscored the urgency of enacting swifter penalties for hoaxes and false alarms.

“This is not a harmless prank phone call like back in the day,” said Moriarty (D-Camden/Gloucester). “The very nature of the hoax is to draw a large scale law enforcement response. This diverts valuable resources from other legitimate crimes, puts innocent people in harm’s way and wastes thousands of tax dollars each time a team responds.”

Moriarty’s bill would upgrade the crime of creating a false public alarm to a crime of the second degree whenever the act involves a false report or warning of an impending bombing, hostage situation, or person armed with a firearm or other deadly weapon capable of producing death or serious bodily injury.

Under current law, such an act is ordinarily a crime of the third degree, punishable by a term of imprisonment of three to five years, a fine of up to $15,000, or both. The responsible party would also be liable for a civil penalty of $2,000 or the actual costs incurred by or resulting from the law enforcement and emergency services response to the false alarm.

Under Moriarty’s bill, the crime, as upgraded, would be punishable by a term of imprisonment of five to 10 years, a fine of up to $150,000, or both, and the responsible party would remain liable for the above described civil penalty.

“To say swatting is troublesome is a severe understatement. We’re talking about elaborate hoaxes that have drawn teams of specially trained officers, sometimes resulting in the closure of whole city blocks or roads, and occasionally even causing serious harm, like heart attacks, to the unsuspecting and innocent people who have these teams show up at their door. It’s time to send a message that this is not going to be treated lightly,” added Moriarty.

The Assemblyman hopes to see his bill posted for a hearing before the Assembly Homeland Security and State Preparedness Committee in the near future.