In Our Community

Mosquera Bill to Ensure that “Return Home NJ” Program is Compassionate and Pragmatic Gets Assembly Panel OK

Read the release on the AssemblyDems web page.

An Assembly panel on Thursday approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Pamela Lampitt, Carmelo G. Garcia, Tim Eustace and Gabriela Mosquera to ensure that individuals with disabilities living in out-of-state facilities are not transferred home under the “Return Home New Jersey” program to the detriment of their well-being.
“We need to make sure our most vulnerable are not sacrificed for savings, especially when it’s minor savings that carry major consequences,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “There may be some situations where returning an individual home is in their best interest, but there are also many circumstances where a transfer will cause a wholesale disruption to an individual’s life. These outstanding factors, as well as a family’s wishes, must all be weighed before the fate of each individual is determined.”

The legislation was proposed after Governor Christie conditionally vetoed an earlier measure (S-2249) sponsored by Vainieri Huttle. That bill would have imposed a moratorium on the “Return Home New Jersey” initiative until a plan was drafted to ensure comparable services would be offered to individuals in state and would have allowed anyone placed out of state 10 years ago or more to remain in their homes.

“While certain individuals may thrive in less restrictive settings, others rely on a controlled environment for continuity and comfort, depending on their individual circumstances,” said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). “This measure will help ensure that individuals aren’t misguidedly transferred back to New Jersey, to the detriment of their well being, like we saw in the well-documented case of Tyler Loftus.”

The bill (A-3975) would prohibit the state Division of Developmental Disabilities from transferring, or compelling the transfer of, an individual with a developmental disability who is currently residing in an out-of-state placement to a residential placement in New Jersey, under the Return Home New Jersey initiative, or a similar program, if the individual or the guardian of the individual objects to such a transfer in writing, and if one or more of the conditions described below exists.

“Given the vastly different circumstances each person is dealing with, we can’t apply a one-size-fits-all approach to serving individuals with disabilities,” said Garcia (D-Hudson). “In certain cases, a routine, stable environment is critical to a person’s advancement. Disrupting this environment would shatter the security they’ve become accustomed to and facilitate a regression. This bill will help put precautions in place to avoid that.”

The first condition would “grandfather in” certain individuals if they have resided out-of-state for 20 or more years or 25 percent of their life.

Other conditions provide for preventing the transfer of individuals with developmental disabilities who are medically fragile, behaviorally fragile, or related to certain persons residing in close proximity, as follows:

– The individual has resided out-of-state for at least four years, and the individual:
1) has received one-to-one care during the individual’s waking hours for at least the last two years;
2) has suffered uncontrolled seizures one or more times during a week, on average;
3) has been hospitalized overnight three or more times a year, on average, for the last two years; or
4) has been, or is in the process of being, admitted to hospice.

– The individual with a developmental disability has resided out-of-state for at least four years and has required personal restraint by two or more caregivers 20 or more times a year, on average, for the last two years; or

– The primary residence of two or more ancestral or collateral family members of the individual is, on the effective date of the bill, within a 15-mile radius of the current out-of-state residential placement of the individual.

“While the name of the program might have a feel-good connotation, many of the stories we’ve heard thus far have been about ‘Return Home New Jersey’ providing the very least to people in order to cut costs,” said Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic). “The bottom line should be protecting the individual’s best interests. If remaining out-of-state is better for their well being, then they should not be transferred home against their family’s wishes.”

“This measure would combine compassion and pragmatism to a very critical decision-making process,” said Mosquera (D-Camden/Gloucester). “In many cases, we’re talking about individuals with both developmental disabilities and mental health issues who simply can’t thrive in a group home the way others might. We need to make sure their care plan takes into account their individual needs, not merely the state’s bottom line.”

In determining if an individual should be transferred back to New Jersey, the bill also takes into account various funding conditions, including whether the out-of-state placement is funded, in part, by various federal programs or whether the out-of-state placement is less than or equal to the cost of in-state placement.

The measure was approved by the Assembly Human Services Committee, which is chaired by Vainieri Huttle.

Moriarty Bill to Bar Lenders from Remotely Disabling Vehicles Passed by Committee

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(TRENTON) – Legislation Assembly Democrats Paul Moriarty and Angel Fuentes sponsored to bar motor vehicle dealers or lenders from remotely disabling motor vehicles was released Monday by an Assembly panel.

The bill (A-4033) makes it an unlawful for a motor vehicle dealer or a loan lender to install a payment assurance device on vehicle in connection with its sale or lease.

The bill defines a “payment assurance device” as a device installed on a motor vehicle with global positioning system capability or starter interrupt capability allowing for the remote enabling or disabling of the motor vehicle.

It’s estimated about 2 million vehicles are equipped with the devices, but safety concerns have arisen as borrowers have reportedly had their vehicles disabled while idling or even while driving on the highway.

“No one should have their car disabled because they missed a payment by a day or two,” said Moriarty (D-Gloucester/Camden). “These devices are akin to having a predatory debt collector riding in the car with the borrower, ready to strike at the slightest mistake. It’s incredibly unsafe and unnecessary. We need this bill to protect the safety and privacy of consumers.”
“As the subprime auto lending market has expanded greatly in recent years, these devices are increasingly installed on motor vehicles as a condition of securing a loan,” said Fuentes (D-Camden/Gloucester). “Use of the devices is generally unregulated and allows predatory lenders to track and store data without any safeguards for privacy, causing potential consumer and public safety issues and other serious consequences.”

The bill was released by the Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee chaired by Moriarty.

Assembly Panel OKs Mosquera Legislation to Create Program to Train Students for Manufacturing Jobs

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An Assembly panel on Monday approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Troy Singleton, Herb Conaway, Jr., M.D., Bob Adrzejczak, Vince Mazzeo, Carmelo G. Garcia and Gabriela Mosquera to help prepare today’s generation to lead a manufacturing renaissance in New Jersey.

“The manufacturing industry has always been the embodiment of the American ideal that if you work hard and play by the rules, you can provide for your family today and for their brighter future tomorrow,” said Singleton (D-Burlington). “Workers in manufacturing jobs earn 22 percent more in annual pay and benefits than the average worker in other industries, which translates into $40,000 more than other non-farm employees in New Jersey. We need to refocus our attention on the enormous potential of this industry and how we can prepare our residents to lead it.”

The lawmakers noted that every new manufacturing job created would add another 1.6 jobs to the local service economy, and for every dollar in manufacturing sales, another $1.34 is added to the economy. Additionally, 42 percent of jobs in manufacturing will require some post-secondary education or degree by 2018, according to findings from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.

“We’ve seen unparalleled ingenuity born out of our country’s manufacturing legacy,” said Conaway (D-Burlington). “New Jersey can be at the forefront of a manufacturing renaissance if we invest now in giving the next generation the tools needed to reignite this industry and create good-paying jobs once again.”

The bill (A-3020) would require the state Secretary of Higher Education, to design a manufacturing career pathway to be offered through the county colleges and county vocational school districts to provide students interested in pursuing a career in manufacturing with the instruction and skills necessary to gain employment in the industry.

The secretary would work in consultation with the Commissioner of Education, the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development, the New Jersey Council of County Colleges, the New Jersey Council of County Vocational Schools and representatives from the business community.

“I think Democrats and Republicans alike will agree on the enormous power and potential the manufacturing industry has long demonstrated in this country,” said Andrzejczak (Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland). “It’s time to reinvest in this potential and arm today’s generation with the skills to help kick start a manufacturing renaissance in New Jersey.”

“With New Jersey’s economy still lagging behind neighboring states and the rest of the country, we have to be more aggressive in our approach towards driving jobs and economic opportunity in our state,” said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). “The one sector that has enormous potential to create new jobs and accelerate our recovery is the manufacturing industry so we need to invest in creating a skilled work force to tackle these jobs.”

Under the bill, the manufacturing career pathway will include traditional and advanced manufacturing processes and methods of production including, but not limited to, the machinery, technology, tools, and equipment used in a wide range of manufacturing industries.

“Investments in manufacturing have a stronger impact than investments in any other economic sector when it comes to growing our economy, but we need a workforce that’s prepared to fill these positions,” said Garcia (D-Hudson). “Creating jobs in this area will help us narrow the growing income inequality gap that has gripped our nation over the last thirty years.”

“Investments in manufacturing have a much broader impact on local economies than investments in any other industry,” said Mosquera (D-Camden/Gloucester). “We need to focus on policies that will allow our state to tap into the enormous potential of this industry in order to create stable, good-paying jobs for future generations.”

The measure was approved by the Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee.

11th Annual Gloucester County State Breakfast

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I want to thank Governor Ed Rendell for taking time out of his busy schedule to be the keynote speaker at the 11th Annual Gloucester County State Breakfast on Thursday, January 8th. It was an honor to have the opportunity to listen to his words of wisdom.

Moriarty Bill to Extend Permit Expiration Dates to Keep Projects Afloat While Economy Recovers Signed Into Law

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Bipartisan legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Jerry Green, John Burzichelli, Troy Singleton, Gordon Johnson, Patrick Diegnan and Paul Moriarty to extend expiration dates for certain state and local permits has been signed into law.

“As a result of the recent recession, once-approved permits are in danger of expiring or lapsing because gaining permit extensions is difficult and costly, and developers do not have the resources to obtain extensions,” said Green (D-Middlesex/Somerset/Union). “By extending permits with this law, we can prevent a waste of public and private resources.”

The new law (A-3815) will extend for one year the expiration dates of certain permits pursuant to the “Permit Extension Act of 2008.” The law originally suspended the running of certain government approvals until July 1, 2010. A 2012 law extended the end date to Dec. 31, 2014. This bill would further extend the date to Dec. 31, 2015.

“When permit approvals lapse, lenders have to re-appraise, and that substantially lowers real estate valuations established in conjunction with approved projects, which then leads to the reclassification of numerous loans,” said Burzichelli (D-Cumberland/Gloucester/Salem). “This permit extension is necessary to avoid a vicious cycle of default.”

“This law will ensure that there are sufficient funds available for future lending and that there are fewer restrictions on credit,” said Singleton (D-Burlington). “The wellness of state, regional, county and municipal agencies is dependent upon this measure.”

“The economic downturn had a negative effect on the state’s banking, real estate and construction sectors, and the extreme tightening of lending standards for home buyers and other real estate borrowers has reduced access to the capital markets,” said Johnson (D-Bergen). “The process of obtaining planning board and zoning board of adjustment approvals for subdivisions, site plans and variances can be difficult, time consuming and expensive, both for private applicants and government bodies. This extension is intended to make things easier as we continue to recover.”

“This law does nothing more than extend permits that were properly vetted and obtained. Unfortunately, many landowners and developers are seeing their life’s work destroyed by the lack of credit and dearth of buyers and tenants due to the crisis in real estate financing and the building industry, uncertainty over the state of the economy and increasing levels of unemployment in the construction industry,” said Diegnan (D-Middlesex). “This measure will give needed protection to those who have followed the rules and want to invest in our state.”

“As a result of the continued downturn of the economy, and the continued expiration of approvals which were granted by state and local governments, it is possible that thousands of government actions will be undone by the passage of time,” said Moriarty (D-Camden/Gloucester). “Obtaining an extension of an approval pursuant to existing statutory or regulatory provisions can be both costly in terms of time and financial resources, and insufficient to cope with the extent of the present financial situation. This law will avoid unnecessary costs being imposed on both the public and private sectors.”