In Our Community

Mosquera Bill to Provide Tax Relief to Those Caring for Elderly Relatives Clears Assembly Panel

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(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Pamela R. Lampitt Gary S. Schaer, Gabriela Mosquera, Daniel J. Benson and Valerie Vainieri Huttle to provide a tax credit to those who take in and support an older family member was released on Thursday by an Assembly panel.

The bill (A-1855), designated as the Caregiver’s Assistance Act, provides a gross income tax credit to qualified caregivers, including resident taxpayers and resident individuals, who pay or incur qualified care expenses for the care and support of a qualifying senior family member residing with the caregiver at the caregiver’s permanent place of abode in this state.

“Those who provide older loved ones with care and support meet a critical need of the state’s aging population,” said Lampitt (D-Camden, Burlington). “There is no question that allowing seniors to remain in their own communities for longer periods of time can improve their overall quality of life and reduce the demand for long-term care services.”

“The efforts of family caregivers are so critical yet typically go unnoticed,” said Schaer (D-Passaic/Bergen). “The credit provided by the bill will alleviate a portion of the overall cost associated with providing in-home care to elderly relatives, and illuminate the critical role family caregivers’ play in supporting the health and well-being of the state and its senior residents.”

The bill (A-1855), designated as the Caregiver’s Assistance Act, provides a gross income tax credit to qualified caregivers, including resident taxpayers and resident individuals, who pay or incur qualified care expenses for the care and support of a qualifying senior family member residing with the caregiver at the caregiver’s permanent place of abode in this state.

“We must recognize and provide financial assistance to our residents who provide uncompensated care and support to elderly relatives,” said Mosquera (D-Camden, Gloucester). “Their work often has significant impacts on the emotional and financial health of those providing care.”

“This is long overdue recognition and much-needed financial help for caregivers who devote their time to taking caring of another,” said Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex). “They enrich lives by helping a family member who needs care as they grow older.”

“Growing older should not mean that you grow a part from the community you call home,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “It’s only right that we help the caregivers who selflessly step up and support a person in need. Caregivers deserve the tax break this bill would provide them.”

The bill stipulates that qualified caregivers must have gross income that does not exceed $100,000, or $50,000 if married or a civil union partner filing separately or if unmarried, not a partner in a civil union and not filing or eligible to file as head of household or as a surviving spouse for federal income tax purposes, to be allowed the credit.

As provided in the bill, the amount of the credit is equal to 22.5 percent of the qualified care expenses paid or incurred by the qualified caregiver during the taxable year for the care and support of a qualifying senior family member that are not in excess of $3,000. The bill’s limitation on the amount of qualified care expenses caps the maximum amount of each credit at $675 per year.

The credit is in addition to the benefit of the dependent deduction that may be received by the qualified caregiver for claiming the qualifying senior family member as a dependent on the caregiver’s gross income tax return. Also in the bill, the credit is refundable: the amount of any credit that reduces the qualified caregiver’s tax liability to an amount less than zero is required to be refunded to the caregiver as an overpayment of tax. The bill specifies that a qualified caregiver is eligible to receive the benefits of the credit, even if the caregiver has gross income below the statutory minimum subject to tax.

The bill was approved by the Assembly Women and Children Committee, of which Lampitt is chair.

Mosquera Sponsored ‘Lisa’s Law’ to Electronically Monitor Domestic Violence Offenders Advances out of Committee

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Pilot Program Named for Letizia Zindell,A Domestic Violence Victim Murdered by her Former Fiancée

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Troy Singleton and Gabriela M. Mosquera that would establish a pilot program for the electronic monitoring of domestic violence offenders in New Jersey was released Thursday by the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

“Under our current system, it is far too easy for domestic violence offenders to get close to their victims again after an initial attack has occurred,” said Singleton (D-Burlington). “It is a recipe for tragedy and is, frankly, unacceptable. Letting domestic violence victims literally see when trouble is heading their way will help them stay one step ahead of attackers hell bent on becoming repeat offenders.”

On August 13, 2009, Letizia “Lisa” Zindell, of Toms River was murdered by her former fiancée, Frank Frisco, who then killed himself. The murder-suicide attack occurred just one day after Frisco was released from jail for violating a restraining order that Ms. Zindell had filed against him.

The Singleton/Mosquera bill (A-3806), named “Lisa’s Law” in honor of Ms. Zindell, would establish a four-year pilot program in Ocean County for electronic monitoring of domestic violence offenders and notification to victims.

The pilot program would apply to individuals charged with or convicted of contempt of a domestic violence order, such as violating the terms of a restraining order. When choosing whether or not to place a domestic violence offender under electronic monitoring, the court would weigh factors such as the seriousness of the attack, the previous domestic violence history of the offender and whether participation in the program would likely deter the offender from harming the victim again. Offenders placed on electronic monitoring would be required to pay the costs and expenses related to the monitoring and victim notification on a sliding scale, based on their finances.

Offenders under electronic monitoring would be observed 24-hours-a-day. Violation or noncompliance with the terms of the electronic monitoring would generate a notice sent to the victim and would be investigated by police in an expedited fashion.

“Nowhere is safe for a victim of domestic violence,” said Mosquera (D-Gloucester), herself a witness to domestic violence attacks on her mother. “Every trip home or around town, every unfamiliar shadow, every out-of-place bump or creak carries the potential of another attack. It is as unnerving as it is horrible and for most victims, even police intervention and court orders do nothing to stem that dread.”

“However, giving victims the ability to know precisely where their attackers are, at all times, gives them power over the most insidious part of a domestic violence attack: the fear,” continued Mosquera. “And that simple level of control will go a long way towards helping the victims put their lives back together again.”

Under the bill, tampering, removing or vandalizing a monitoring device would carry penalties of up to $15,000 and between three to five years in jail. Once implemented, the bill would require anyone convicted of a domestic violence offense to pay a civil penalty of $200 per year for five years. These funds would be used to establish a “Domestic Violence Victim Notification Fund,” a dedicated, non-lapsing fund in the state budget, administered by the state attorney general, which would be used to defray the costs of the electronic monitoring program. Additionally, to fund the initial equipment investment for the program, $2.5 million would be allocated from the state budget to the notification fund.

The pilot program would begin immediately upon enactment of the legislation and would run for four years. At the end of that time, the state attorney general would submit a report to the governor and the legislature evaluating the program and recommending whether it should be implemented statewide.

The measure was released unanimously. It now heads to the full Assembly for consideration.

Moriarty Bill To Tighten Rules on Mailed Rebates Advances in Assembly

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(TRENTON) – Legislation Assembly Democrats John Burzichelli, Wayne DeAngelo, Paul Moriarty and Daniel Benson sponsored to ensure consumers who are entitled to a manufacturer’s rebate actually receive their check was recently approved by an Assembly panel.

The bill (A-1876) would prohibit manufacturers, retailers or third-party rebate clearinghouses from mailing rebate checks to consumers, unless the refund is enclosed in a sealed envelope.

“Some rebate refunds or payments have been mailed to customers as little checks attached to post cards,” said Burzichelli (D-Gloucester/Cumberland/Salem). “Refunds and payments sent in this way could easily be lost or stolen, or even confused for junk mail.”

“Requiring checks to be mailed in clearly marked and sealed envelopes will ensure that consumers don’t lose the opportunity to receive their rebate,” said Moriarty (D-Gloucester/Camden), who is also chair of the committee.

“Some manufacturers continue to mail-out rebate checks to consumers in extremely unsafe methods ways that open the system up to fraud and theft,” said DeAngelo (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “This is money that deserves to be in consumers’ pockets.”

“When a consumer submits a rebate application, they expect to receive it,” said Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex). “By requiring proper packaging and labeling of rebate checks, we make them more recognizable among other pieces of mail and help ensure that consumers receive the money they are due.”

The bill was released by the Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee, chaired by Moriarty, on Thursday, December 4.

FOXNY Interview: Moriarty on Automobile Black Boxes & Personal Driving Data

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Assemblyman Paul Moriarty was recently interviewed by Fox New York regarding his legislation to ensure that the data recorded by the boxes in automobiles, also known as electronic control modules, would remain the property of the vehicle’s owner, and that no one could retrieve or distribute that information without going through the court system. You can watch the interview at the FOXNY website using the link above.


Assemblyman Moriarty Receives CAMCA Award for Consumer Protection

CAMCA Consumer Protction Award

Assemblyman Paul Moriarty received an award from the County and Municipal Consumer Agencies of New Jersey (CAMCA) in recognition for his support and sponsorship of legislation promoting consumer protection and product safety. The award was presented to him by Hal Spence, Head of Consumer Affairs in Gloucester County, Donna Giovannetti, Head of CAMCA and Director of Mercer County Consumer Affairs and Ed McBride, who is Secretary of CAMCA and Deputy Director Of Ocean County Consumer Affairs (pictured from left to right). The award was given out as part of CAMCA’s 40th Anniversary celebration held in October.


Moriarty Bill to Ban Misleading Advertisements for “Free” Products & Services

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By Michelle Caffrey | South Jersey Times


Companies that offer “free” deals, only to surprise customers with big bills, extra fees and hidden costs, are the targets of a new bill proposed by N.J. legislators.

The “Free Means Free Act” — introduced by Assemblyman Paul Moriarty (D-4 of Washington Township, Assemblyman Charles Mainor (D-31 of Jersey City) and Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan (D-18 of South Plainfield) last week — would ban the advertisement of a product as free or at no cost if it isn’t ultimately free.

The bill is specifically aimed at advertising, offering or selling a product as “free” if they charge a customer with a return or restocking fee if they attempt to return a product, charge cancellation fees for ending a contract service early if the fee includes the product’s cost, or tacks on any extra fee intended to cover the cost of the product onto a regular bill for service.

“Advertisements that claim a product will be given away free take advantage of consumers in need,” Moriarty said in a statement. “Many families are still struggling to make ends meet in this economy. It’s deceptive and unfair to consumers who work hard for every dollar earned to be misinformed and then nickel and dimed with extra costs.”

Additionally, the ‘Free Means Free’ act requires companies to disclose a number of details about a product offered as free, including its retail value, if its included as part of signing a contract or making another purchase, if a cancellation fee could apply to early termination of a contract and any return or restocking fees a customer could face if they bring the product back.

The bill would place misleading “free” advertising practices under the Consumer Fraud Act, meaning any violation could result in a $10,000 maximum fine for a first offense, and a $20,0000 fine for a second offense.

“I am sure that the reputable businesses of New Jersey will welcome this common sense legislation. Free should mean exactly that….FREE,” said Diegnan in a statement. ” Any added costs or required purchases should be clearly stated in the advertisement.”