Christie Budget Ignores Property Tax Problem with Decrease in Municipal Aid

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> From: “Sciortino, Jennifer” > Date: April 2, 2012 11:08:25 AM EDT > Subject: Prieto: Christie Budget Ignores Property Tax Problem with Decrease in Municipal Aid > > > News from > Assemblyman Prieto > > For Release: > April 2, 2012 > Assemblyman Vincent Prieto > Budget Committee Chairman > p: 201-770-1303 > e: AsmPrieto@njleg.org > www.assemblydems.com > > Prieto: Christie Budget Ignores Property Tax Problem with Decrease in Municipal Aid > > (TRENTON) – Assembly Budget Committee Chair Vincent Prieto (D-Bergen/Hudson) released the following statement Monday as the committee heard from the Dept. of Community Affairs: > “This budget is a continuation of the Governor’s unnerving silence on the issue of property tax relief in New Jersey. Just because we instituted a 2% cap on the property tax levy does not mean we can declare mission accomplished on the issue. > “The administration has proposed an eight percent increase in spending this year, yet it seeks to cut direct municipal aid while continuing to protect millionaires’ tax breaks. This will leave towns in the lurch once again as they struggle to deal with the rising costs of things such as health benefits with the burden ultimately falling on middle class property taxpayers. > “The residents of this state have seen a 20 percent net increase in their property taxes under Governor Christie due to his cuts in municipal aid and the Homestead rebate program. Clearly more needs to be done. That’s why the governor needs to get behind the Assembly Democratic plan for a 20 percent property tax relief credit.” > > On The Net: > > > > ___________________________ > Jennifer Sciortino > Deputy Director of Communications > NJ Assembly Democratic Majority Office > (P) 609-847-3500 > (E) jsciortino@njleg.org > www.assemblydems.com >

Speaker Oliver, Ramos & Caputo Announce Plans for Public Hearings on Gaming in Meadowlands

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> From: “Loayza, Eva” > Date: March 27, 2012 11:59:17 AM EDT > Subject: Speaker Oliver, Ramos & Caputo Announce Plans for Public Hearings on Gaming in Meadowlands > > > > FOR RELEASE: > > CONTACT: > March 27, 2012 > > Majority Press Office > 609-847-3500 > > Speaker Oliver, Ramos & Caputo Announce Plans for Public Hearings on Gaming in Meadowlands > > (TRENTON) – Speaker Sheila Y. Oliver, Assembly Regulatory Oversight and Gaming Committee Chair Ruben J. Ramos, Jr. and Assembly Regulatory Oversight and Gaming Committee Member Ralph R. Caputo today announced plans to host public hearings this year to discuss the merits of bringing casino gaming to the Meadowlands. > “We need to at least discuss the idea of bringing casino-style gambling to the Meadowlands and whether it has the potential to create jobs, incentivize the local economy and position New Jersey’s gaming industry to better compete against the casinos that have cropped up in neighboring states. These are benefits worth exploring further,” said Oliver (D-Essex/Passaic). > “Expanding gaming options to North Jersey would strengthen New Jersey against the competition in border states which has already lured customers away,” said Ramos (D-Hudson). “Any plan that could bring additional revenue to the state and create jobs deserves careful consideration.” > “The reality is that Atlantic City is losing many of its North Jersey customers to newly-opened casinos in Pennsylvania and New York,” said Caputo (D-Essex). “Bringing gaming to the Meadowlands can help us reclaim them and bring back much-needed revenue to New Jersey. > “As a former casino executive, I support a constitutional amendment. As a legislator and member of this committee, I believe, as gaming in Atlantic City was decided by the voters in 1976, people should have a say in whether gaming should be allowed in the Meadowlands,” Caputo added. > The committee is currently working on scheduling the hearings. Dates and locations will be announced at a later date. > > > On The Net: > >

Prieto Bill Cracking Down On Grave Yard Thefts Gets Assembly Approval

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> From: “Sciortino, Jennifer” > Date: March 23, 2012 10:40:19 AM EDT > Subject: Prieto Bill Cracking Down On Grave Yard Thefts Gets Assembly Approval > > > News from > Assemblyman Prieto > > For Release: > March 23, 2012 > Assemblyman Vincent Prieto > Budget Committee Chairman > p: 201-770-1303 > e: AsmPrieto@njleg.org > www.assemblydems.com > > Prieto Bill Cracking Down On Grave Yard Thefts Gets Assembly Approval > > (TRENTON) – A measure sponsored by Assemblyman Vincent Prieto that would crack down on anyone trying to sell stolen grave markers was approved 79-0 last week by the full Assembly. > “Desecrating the grave of the deceased is one of the lowest forms of theft out there,” said Prieto (D-Bergen/Hudson). “Stealing grave markers is already illegal. But by putting restrictions on the backend, to make it illegal for anyone to purchase these stolen items, it will hopefully curb such theft by making it harder for a thief to profit off of it.” > Prieto noted that the bill was inspired, in part by an incident last summer, where three Cinnaminson women were arrested for allegedly stealing 380 brass markers and flower pots from veterans’ graves and attempting to sell them to a pawn shop owner who tipped off the police. At the time, police noted that the crime is becoming more and more commonplace. > The bill (A-796) would prohibit metal dealers would from receiving or purchasing any scrap metal in the form of a cemetery, grave, or historical marker or plaque unless the person delivering or selling the scrap metal has shown that the local police department or State Police certified the metal for removal, sale, or disposal. > As with other violations of the laws pertaining to scrap metal dealers, first and second violations of the bill’s provisions would be considered disorderly persons offenses and for third and subsequent offenses it would be a crime of the fourth degree. > The law would take effect on the first day of the fourth month after enactment. The measure now awaits consideration by the Senate. > On The Net: > > > > ___________________________ > Jennifer Sciortino > Deputy Director of Communications > NJ Assembly Democratic Majority Office > (P) 609-847-3500 > (E) jsciortino@njleg.org > www.assemblydems.com >

Jasey, DeAngelo, Tucker, Benson and Ramos Bill to Help 9/11 Veterans Become Teachers Gets Final Legislative Approval

 
 
———-Original Message———-

From: “Loayza, Eva”
Date: Mar 22, 2012 10:27:47 AM
Subject: Jasey, DeAngelo, Tucker, Benson and Ramos Bill to Help 9/11 Veterans Become Teachers Gets Final Legislative Approval
 

                                                                                                                                                                                  

FOR RELEASE:

 

CONTACT:

March 22, 2012

 

Press Office

(609) 847-3500

 

Jasey, DeAngelo, Tucker, Benson and Ramos Bill to Help 9/11 Veterans Become Teachers Gets Final Legislative Approval

Pilot Program Would Expedite Certification Process and Help Fill Anticipated Teacher Shortage

 

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly members Mila Jasey, Wayne DeAngelo, Cleopatra Tucker, Daniel R. Benson and Ruben J. Ramos, Jr. to help 9/11 veterans find employment through an expedited teacher certification program recently received final legislative approval and now heads to the governor’s desk.

“This program will help provide veterans with a path to higher education and employment opportunities, while filling a predicted critical shortage in the teaching profession. It’s a win-win,” said Jasey (D-Essex).  “Our state veterans have already proven themselves in terms of leadership and would serve the students of our state well in the classroom.  This is one more way to help repay the debt of gratitude we owe them.”;

The bill (A-1294) would establish the “VETeach Pilot Program” in the Department of Education, which will create a 36-month teacher preparation program at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey for veterans who served in the armed forces on or after September 11, 2001.  The educational expenses incurred by eligible students would be covered under the “Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act,” also known as the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

“;Who better to have in the classroom teaching our children than those who bravely dedicated themselves to serving our country,” said DeAngelo (D-Mercer/Middlesex).  “The high unemployment rate among our veterans is unacceptable and there will be a great need for a new generation of teachers in coming years.  We need to establish initiatives such as VETeach that will provide an avenue for veterans to pursue careers in education while helping to place role models in the classroom.”

The establishment of the pilot program represents one of a series of veteran employment initiatives to be advanced under the auspices of Operation College Promise, which provides resources to help veterans maximize the education benefits they have earned.

 

The program will lead to a baccalaureate degree and completion of the requirements necessary to apply to the State Board of Examiners for a certificate of eligibility with advanced standing, which will authorize veterans to seek employment as a teacher in grades K through 8, and in certain secondary education fields.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for veterans who served since September 11, 2001, was 11.5% in 2010, much higher than the national average.  

Additionally, a 2009 report by the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future found that more than a third of the nation’s 3.2 million teachers could retire in the next four years. 

“The high attrition rate among new teachers of nearly 33% is also worrisome, and leaves school districts with a loss of teaching talent that is becoming more difficult to replace. The VETeach can help fill the shortage,” said Tucker (D-Essex). “The program may also serve to attract a greater number of men and minorities, groups which are currently underrepresented in the teaching profession.”;

“The unemployment number for veterans is alarming and the shortage of public school teachers to educate our children is just as troubling. Programs like VETeach address these deficiencies by providing veterans with an educational opportunity that could lead to employment, and supplying our schools with qualified teachers, who have proven their merit not only in the classroom, but in serving our country,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex).

“The VETeach program addresses two problems: anticipated teacher shortages and the high unemployment number among veterans. Our veterans deserve better than an unemployment rate that exceeds the national average,” said Ramos (D-Hudson). “Through this program, our veterans will be able to pursue teaching professions, which will help tackle the unemployment issue, and bring a unique perspective to the classroom, which could enhance learning and benefit our students.”;

The bill was approved 40-0 by the Senate in February and 79-0 by the Assembly earlier this month.

 

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Spencer, Barnes, Wimberly & Ramos Bill to Help Protect Consumers Against Repeated & Unfair ATM Fees Approved By Assembly

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> From: “Loayza, Eva” > Date: March 21, 2012 10:31:08 AM EDT > Subject: Spencer, Barnes, Wimberly & Ramos Bill to Help Protect Consumers Against Repeated & Unfair ATM Fees Approved By Assembly > > > > FOR RELEASE: > > CONTACT: > March 21, 2012 > > Majority Press Office > 609-847-3500 > > Spencer, Barnes, Wimberly & Ramos Bill to Help Protect Consumers Against Repeated & Unfair ATM Fees Approved By Assembly > > (TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly member L. Grace Spencer, Peter J. Barnes III, Benjie E. Wimberly and Ruben J. Ramos, Jr. to ensure New Jerseyans aren’t forced to fall victim to repeated unfair ATM charges was recently approved 69-10 by the Assembly. > The bill (A-595) prohibits businesses from operating an automated teller machine in this state unless the automated teller machine provides consumers with an option to withdraw $20 increments up to $200 per transaction > “Many times stores in lower-income neighborhoods underserved by banks bar people from taking out more than $20 from their ATM, for instance, thus forcing consumers to complete multiple transactions at the same ATM, all the while incurring unfair service fees,” said Spencer (D-Essex). “That is wrong and it’s time it came to a stop.” > “New Jerseyans in need of cash shouldn’t be subjected to schemes that force them to end up paying multiple transactions fees for no particular reason other than to make money for the store off of ATM fees,” said Barnes (D-Middlesex). “It’s unreasonable and unfair and this bill will put an end to it.” > “Many of these ATMs are in stores in lower-income neighborhoods. These ATMs are convenient, but that doesn’t give these stores the right to use them as their personal piggy banks,” said Wimberly (D-Bergen/Passaic). “Money is tight for many people. These processing fees can add up. This bill prevents these stores from benefitting at the expense of cash-strapped residents.” > “Most people are watching their spending and tightening their belts with good reason,” said Ramos (D-Hudson). “Making someone pay several transaction fees without any real justification than to put money in the pockets of store owners is shameful and must stop. With this bill, we can end this shady practice.” > > The bill provides for enforcement by the Commissioner of Banking and Insurance, who may also adopt rules and regulations to effectuate the bill’s provisions. > The bill also provides for a civil penalty of up to $1,000 per day for failure to comply with the provisions of the bill. > The bill now heads to the Senate for further consideration. > > On The Net: > >

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> From: “Butkowski, Jason” > Date: March 20, 2012 11:40:13 AM EDT > To: “Butkowski, Jason” > Subject: Sacco Introduces Bill to Expand DNA Database, 3-20-12 > > > > FOR RELEASE: > > CONTACT: > March 20, 2012 > > Jason Butkowski > > > (609) 847-3700 > > SACCO INTRODUCES BILL TO EXPAND DNA DATABASE > > Measure Would Expand DNA Sampling to Disorderly Persons Offenders > > TRENTON – State Senator Nicholas J. Sacco, the author of the State’s DNA Database law, has introduced legislation which would expand DNA sampling to include people convicted of disorderly persons offenses in order to increase the accuracy of the database and shed light on currently unsolved crimes. > > “If we’re serious about keeping our State’s law-abiding citizens safe, we have to give the law enforcement community every tool possible to fight crime,” said Senator Sacco, D-Hudson and Bergen. “The DNA database has been one of the most significant advances in police technology in recent years, allowing police officers to gain new insights in unsolved crimes and exonerate innocent individuals. By expanding DNA sampling to anyone convicted of a crime, we can greatly increase the accuracy and effectiveness of the database.” > > The bill, S-436, sponsored by Senator Sacco and Senator Paul A. Sarlo, D-Bergen, Essex and Passaic, would extend the DNA sampling requirement under the State’s DNA Database law to adults and juveniles convicted of disorderly persons offenses. The sample would be obtained upon imprisonment or, if the person is not sentenced to imprisonment, as a condition of the sentence. Persons imprisoned or on parole or probation for a disorderly persons offense when the law becomes effective would also have to provide a sample. > > The bill also establishes that a person who refuses to submit a blood or biological sample is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree. Fourth degree crimes are punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to 18 months, a fine of up to $10,000, or both. > > Senator Sacco sponsored the original bill establishing the DNA database which was signed in 1994, and he sponsored subsequent legislation in 2003 to expand the sampling universe. Under current law, adults and juveniles found guilty of, or adjudicated delinquent for, a crime of the first, second, third or fourth degree, or someone who was found not guilty by reason of insanity for any of those crimes, must submit to DNA sampling, to be compared against the current database of DNA evidence taken at crime scenes throughout the State. If the sampled DNA matches crime scene evidence, it could help law enforcement find a new lead in a currently unsolved crime. > > “DNA sampling is to 21st century police work what fingerprinting was for the 20th century,” said Senator Sacco. “We can quickly and easily obtain a DNA sample and compare it to an electronic database of evidence collected at crime scenes for unsolved crimes committed anywhere in the State. DNA evidence can make the difference between a cold case and a new lead, and we ought to do what we can to improve the effectiveness of this tool.” > > According to the New York Times, lawmakers in New York are considering similar legislation which would extend sampling to anyone convicted of a misdemeanor – New Jersey’s criminal code does not contain misdemeanors, but rather disorderly persons offenses. The New York legislation, which is the result of negotiations between State lawmakers and Governor Andrew Cuomo, has already garnered support from the state’s 62 district attorneys, 58 sheriffs, and 400 police chiefs. > > “I applaud New York State for expanding their own database, and believe New Jersey has to quickly follow suit to send a message that if you commit a crime within the tri-state area, chances are you will be caught,” said Senator Sacco. “DNA evidence has proven to be an accurate weapon in the war on crime. By creating an ‘all-crimes’ DNA database in New York and New Jersey, we can lead the nation in this cutting-edge area of criminal justice and crime prevention.” > > Senator Sacco’s legislation has been referred to the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee. > > Follow the Senate Democrats: >

Moriarty, Albano, Ramos & Vainieri Huttle Bill Targeting Unsolicited Checks Approved by Assembly

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> From: “Loayza, Eva” > Date: March 16, 2012 10:25:45 AM EDT > Subject: Moriarty, Albano, Ramos & Vainieri Huttle Bill Targeting Unsolicited Checks Approved by Assembly > > > > FOR RELEASE: > > CONTACT: > March 16, 2012 > > Majority Press Office > 609-847-3500 > > Moriarty, Albano, Ramos & Vainieri Huttle Bill Targeting Unsolicited Checks Approved by Assembly > Bars Sending Checks to Consumers That Once Cashed Enroll Them in Costly Programs > > (TRENTON) – Legislation Assembly Democrats Paul Moriarty, Nelson Albano, Ruben J. Ramos Jr and Valerie Vainieri Huttle sponsored to make it illegal to mail unsolicited checks that once cashed enroll consumers in costly programs was approved 79-0 Thursday by the Assembly. > Moriarty (D-Gloucester/Camden) drafted the bill after a constituent showed him an unsolicited $8.25 check they received from a company. Cashing the check would enroll the consumer in an automotive roadside assistance program that costs $15.99 per month. > “These so-called free money offers are at their best deceptive and, at their worst, downright dishonest,” Moriarty said. “Right now, consumers are at their most vulnerable to fall for a scheme that appears to offer them instant cash but would end up costing them much more in the long-run.” > “Instead of relying on tricks, companies looking to sell their services in New Jersey should go back to the old-fashioned way – earning consumers’ trust,” said Albano (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland). > “Checks related to legitimate services would be exempt, as they should, but trying to take advantage of people in these difficult economic times is just flat out wrong,” said Ramos (D-Hudson). “We can do better and this bill will make sure of that.” > “It’s unfortunate, but true, that people try to take advantage of others in this tough economy by throwing what appears to be free money their way, but nothing in life is free,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “This bill, quite simply, does the right thing by ending these scams.” > > The legislation (A-1227) would make it unlawful to send an unsolicited check to an individual which, upon being cashed or redeemed, obligates the recipient to pay fees or enrolls them in any club, service, plan or continuing agreement. > Checks related to legitimate banking services or stemming from a pre-existing and direct business-to-consumer relationship would be exempt from the measure’s provision. > An unlawful practice under the Consumer Fraud Act is punishable by a fine of not more than $10,000 for a first offense and not more than $20,000 for any subsequent offense. > Violations can also result in cease and desist orders by the Attorney General, the assessment of punitive damages and the awarding of treble damages and costs to the injured party. > > > On The Net: > >

Cunningham Measure to Increase Funding for Unemployed and Displaced Workers Training Programs Receives Final Legislative Approval

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> From: “Roderer, Alise” > Date: March 16, 2012 9:13:06 AM EDT > To: “Roderer, Alise” > Subject: Cunningham Measure to Increase Funding for Unemployed and Displaced Workers Training Programs Receives Final Legislative Approval > > > > FOR RELEASE: > > CONTACT: > March 16, 2012 > > Alise Roderer > > > (609) 847-3700 > > CUNNINGHAM MEASURE TO INCREASE FUNDING FOR UNEMPLOYED AND DISPLACED WORKERS TRAINING PROGRAMS RECEIVES FINAL LEGISLATIVE APPROVAL > > > TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Sandra Bolden Cunningham that would allow the New Jersey Community College Consortium for Workforce and Economic Development to request additional funding from the state to provide basic skills training to help displaced and disadvantaged workers learn the skills they need to successfully return to the workforce passed the General Assembly yesterday and now heads to the Governor for consideration. > > “Many workers in New Jersey continue to remain unemployed because they do not posses the skills needed to enter a global job market that is based more on technology, math and sciences,” said Senator Cunningham, D-Hudson. “The New Jersey Community College Consortium for Workforce and Economic Development offers unique programs throughout the state to train and educate displaced and unemployed workers so they may enhance and grow their skills and find employment in today’s economy.” > > Currently the Consortium receives 13 percent of all funds appropriated annually to the Supplemental Workforce Fund for Basic Skills (SWFBS) to provide basic skills programs to New Jersey’s displaced or disadvantaged workers and unemployed. The bill, S-873, would allow the Consortium to request additional funds from the SWFBS up to 25 percent of the total fund which is allocated for basic skills training grants. > > Additionally, the bill would allow employers to apply for a waiver removing them from the burden of paying their employees while receiving basic skills training at the Consortium. Due to feedback from small businesses who financially could not release their employees during business hours to attend basic skills training or afford to pay employees’ hourly wage during weekend and evenings trainings, the state Department of Labor recently made a regulatory change allowing for this waiver at non-Consortium training centers. > > “This partnership between New Jersey’s county colleges, the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development, New Jersey’s businesses and unemployed New Jerseyans is a nationally-pioneering collaboration,” added Senator Cunningham. “By continuing to support these programs by allowing the Consortium to apply for and receive additional funding, the state can help expand this successful model and provide more New Jerseyans with access to cutting-edge educational opportunities.” > > The NJ Workforce Consortium is a collaboration between New Jersey’s 19 county colleges to provide coordinated one-stop workforce training and education services for businesses and unemployed and displaced workers. The Consortium offers workforce skills programs such as time management, computer skills, remedial math, English as a second language and job safety courses. > > The bill was approved by the Assembly with a vote of 78-0. It passed the full Senate last month with a vote of 39-0. > > Follow the Senate Democrats: >

Cunningham Bill to Revise NJ STARS Approved by Legislature

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> From: “Roderer, Alise” > Date: March 15, 2012 6:13:34 PM EDT > To: “Roderer, Alise” > Subject: Cunningham Bill to Revise NJ STARS Approved by Legislature > > > > FOR RELEASE: > > CONTACT: > March 15, 2012 > > Alise Roderer > > > (609) 847-3700 > > CUNNINGHAM BILL TO REVISE NJ STARS APPROVED BY LEGISLATURE > > TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Sandra Bolden Cunningham that would revise the NJ STARS and NJ STARS II programs was approved today by both the State Senate and the General Assembly and now heads to the Governor’s desk for consideration. > > “With the ever-increasing costs of higher education, many New Jersey families have found sending their children to college to be nearly impossible. This is especially disconcerting as workforces become more competitive and the need for higher education more important for our children’s future success,” said Senator Cunningham, D-Hudson. “The NJ STARS and STARS II programs have been successful in providing higher education opportunities to high-performing New Jersey students, making the dream of college a reality, while keeping their skills and talents in the state.” > > The bill, S-874, revises the New Jersey Student Tuition Assistance Reward Scholarship (NJ STARS) program to cover the costs of tuition at one of New Jersey’s 19 county colleges for New Jersey students who rank in the top 15 percent of their high school graduating class. Previously the program covered both the cost of tuition and fees. According to the NJ Council of County Colleges, the average yearly tuition cost for a New Jersey county college is just under $3,000. > > The bill would also revise the NJ STARS II Program – which provides additional scholarships to NJ STARS students who have completed an associate’s degree with a 3.25 GPA or higher at a county college to continue their education at a New Jersey four-year college or institution by: > > Expanding the program to allow for students to attend either one of New Jersey’s public universities or one of New Jersey’s independent four-year institutions including for-profit institutions; > Eliminating the provision of the program that calculates scholarship amount based on the student’s GPA and instead providing a scholarship of $1,250 per semester for all NJ STARS students who maintained a 3.25 GPA or higher during their tenure at a New Jersey county college; > Providing that 100 percent of the scholarship amount – $1,250 per semester – would be paid for by the state rather than 50 percent by the state and 50 percent by the attending school – as previously administered; and > Encouraging county colleges to host annual recruitment days and to invite representatives from New Jersey’s public and independent colleges and institutions to recruit students for the NJ STARS II Program. > The bill includes two grandfather provisions. For students graduating from high school prior to 2010, the NJ STARS Program would continue to cover both tuition and fees at a New Jersey county college. Additionally, the bill also grandfathers in third year NJ STARS II students, so that will receive scholarship funds in accordance with the current law – either $6,000 or $7,000 per year depending upon their GPA. > > “New Jersey’s colleges and universities and the state recognize that changes to these programs are necessary in order to reduce the programs’ overall costs and ensure that they can be funded for years to come,” Senator Cunningham said. “These revisions will help to stabilize the programs, so that the schools can continue to provide scholarships and funding to the recipients and the students can depend on the program as they determine the financial feasibility of higher education.” > > The bill passed the Senate with a vote of 38-0 and the Assembly with a vote of 79-0. > > > > Follow the Senate Democrats: >

**CORRECTED** Conaway, McKeon, Ramos & Vainieri Huttle Bill to Combat Illegal Steroid Use Approved by Assembly

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> From: “Loayza, Eva” > Date: March 15, 2012 6:16:27 PM EDT > Subject: **CORRECTED** Conaway, McKeon, Ramos & Vainieri Huttle Bill to Combat Illegal Steroid Use Approved by Assembly > > > > FOR RELEASE: > > CONTACT: > March 15, 2012 > > Majority Press Office > 609-847-3500 > > Conaway, McKeon, Ramos & Vainieri Huttle Bill to Combat Illegal Steroid Use Approved by Assembly > > (TRENTON) – Legislation Assembly members Herb Conaway, Jr., M.D., John McKeon, Ruben Ramos, Jr., and Valerie Vainieri Huttle sponsored to crackdown on illegal steroid abuse in New Jersey’s law enforcement and firefighting communities was approved Thursday by the full Assembly. > The legislation comes after an extensive series by The Star-Ledger revealed widespread steroid abuse in police and fire departments. In one case, at least 248 officers and firefighters reportedly obtained prescriptions for these drugs from a single Jersey City doctor. > The bill (A-1827), which was approved by the Assembly with a 79-0 vote, would require the Department of Law and Public Safety to include human growth hormones among the drugs to be monitored in the state’s Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP). > The PMP was created in 2007 to monitor controlled dangerous substances dispensed in most outpatient settings. > “This steroid abuse is frightening from both a public policy and public health perspective,” said Conaway (D-Burlington/Camden). “Taxpayers have been stung and public safety has been put at risk, as has the health of the abusers. We cannot sit idly by and let this abuse continue. This bill is a step in the proper direction.” > “State taxpayers have been wrongly paying for millions of dollars in insurance costs for prescriptions that were, in many cases, issued illegally,” said McKeon (D-Essex/Morris). “Taxpayers also have been footing the bill for the side effects of this abuse. It’s long past time for this outrage to finally stop. Taxpayers and public safety deserve better.” > Human growth hormone is not a controlled dangerous substance under federal and state laws. Therefore, prescriptions for human growth hormones would not be monitored as a matter of course under the PMP. > However, the program’s Director is authorized to expand the program to monitor drugs such as human growth hormones after a lengthy and protracted process. The process requires that the director initially determine that the drug should be monitored, taking into consideration various factors, including potential for abuse, scientific evidence or its pharmacological effects, history and current patterns of abuse, and the risk to the public health. The director is then required to monitor the drug on a temporary basis, after which the director has the discretion to permanently add the drug to the monitoring program, which must follow the regulatory process of publication in the New Jersey Register. > In light of the investigations that have revealed significant abuses in the use of human growth hormones throughout New Jersey that pose a risk to the public’s health and safety, this bill is intended to ensure that human growth hormones are added to the monitoring program as soon as possible. > “It’s bad enough that this abuse has been costing the taxpayers of this state millions of dollars,” said Ramos (D-Hudson). “But law enforcement officers susceptible to ‘roid rage’ pose a grave danger to the public safety. This measure will increase accountability and awareness and send a message that this behavior must stop.” > “Steroid abuse often comes with increased aggression, so this illegal activity by those assigned to protect our safety has been costly to taxpayers and put people at risk,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “It cannot continue. This bill will prevent abuse, save taxpayers money and hopefully lead to these abusers getting the help they need before it’s too late.” > > > On The Net: > >

If New Jersey Politics is a circus, then Hudson County is the sideshow.