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Jamel Lauds Legalization of Marijuana in New Jersey


New Jersey lawmakers finalized the legalization of marijuana this morning, which will end the countless arrests each year in our most struggling communities.

This bill signing followed the will of the voters of New Jersey, who have resoundingly voiced their support for recreational marijuana, projected to generate millions of dollars in new revenue for state coffers each year. 

I am pleased that my colleagues have recognized the critical component of social justice in adopting legalization bills, ensuring that juveniles in our poorest communities are no longer unfairly targeted with arrest and prosecution. I look forward to the swift enactment of this legislation that New Jersey has been waiting months to see happen.

Today’s landmark bill signing finally puts an end to antiquated, ineffective, broken anti-drug law.  It is being replaced with a new business stream for New Jerseyans, based on a smart, sustainable and scalable cannabis market.

Yours, for the 20th Legislative District,


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Jamel Leads the Charge for Fairer Auto Insurance Rates in New Jersey

Jamel is a prime sponsor on a bill designed to finally put an end to auto insurance rates hinging on a driver’s level of education, credit score and employment.

“I have been saying it for years: it is unfair that auto insurers are discriminating against lower-income drivers in New Jersey,” Jamel said. “There is now support in both houses of the Legislature to finally put a stop to it.”

The proposed legislation (A-1657), co-sponsored by Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (D-20th Dist), would finally force insurance companies to establish rates based solely on a driver’s driving habits and not his or her socioeconomic status.

According to, Consumer Reports reports that credit score can play a bigger role in determining insurance premiums than almost any other single factor. A New Jersey driver with a clean driving record but poor credit may be forced to pay as much as $1,700 a year more for insurance than a driver with a similar driving history but excellent credit.

“That is like having a couple of tickets on your record,” Jamel said. “It is punishment for being less fortunate than others. Why are the people who are most struggling in New Jersey subsidizing the rich people who live in the right zip codes? When are we putting an end to it? To me, the time is now.”

Jamel introduced the bill with other primary sponsors on January 14. It is now awaiting a hearing in the state Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee.

Other prime sponsors: Sen. Nia Gill, Sen. Teresa Ruiz, Sen. Nilsa Cruz-Perez, Sen. Nellie Pou, Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo and Assemblywoman Verlina Reynolds-Jackson.

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Jamel Urges Residents to Support Make Our Schools Safe

Three years ago, 14 students and three educators were senselessly and brutally murdered at Marjory Stoneman Douglas School in Parkland, Florida.

Lori Alhadeff, who has become a very personal friend of mine, lost her daughter Aylissa. Aylissa grew up in NJ and later moved to Florida.

As we all witnessed this tragic Valentine's Day story, Lori never stopped advocating for our children's school safety.

As a result of Lori's efforts, we now have a law named after Aylissa. Aylissa's Law provides schools across the state with the necessary dollars to secure and keep our schools safe to help prevent these incidents from happening again.

As the primary sponsor of the law, it was one of the best pieces of legislation I've worked on because I admired the tenacity and drive of Lori and others that had the continued willingness to protect other children.

I humbly ask that you support Make Our Schools Safe and purchase merchandise to help Lori and others to pass similar laws across the United States. To learn more or purchase, click here.

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ADL and NJ NAACP Sign Joint Agreement to Collaborate in the Fight Against Extremism, White Supremacy, and Antisemitism




Contact:  Alana Burman ([email protected])

                Marcus Sibley ([email protected])

Click Here for the Full Release


ADL and NJ NAACP Sign Joint Agreement to Collaborate in the Fight Against Extremism, White Supremacy, and Antisemitism


New Jersey, February 3, 2021 …ADL NY/NJ Region (the Anti-Defamation League) and the New Jersey Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NJ NAACP) today signed an agreement to expand efforts to collectively combat discrimination, bigotry, bullying and hate crimes in New Jersey.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between ADL NY/NJ and NJ NAACP commences the second phase of a multi-year partnership working to fight back against the rising tide of hate crimes and discrimination facing marginalized communities in this state.

The agreement was signed today by Richard Smith, President of NJ NAACP, and Scott Richman, ADL’s NY/NJ Regional Director.

“We will fight racism wherever it rears its ugly head and we will call out anti-Semitism where we see it. We will not allow anyone or anything to drive a wedge between our communities. Over the long haul of the years, we both have proven that we are too strong for that,” NJ NAACP President Richard Smith stated. “Today we re-embrace the spirit of oneness and leave here committed, like never before, to walk, march and fight arm-in-arm as one. We agree that coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress and working together is success.”

The partnership is rooted in shared values between ADL and the NJ NAACP: opposing hate and discrimination; promoting safe and inclusive communities, and protecting people’s civil rights.

“For over a century, ADL and the NAACP have been united in a shared mission to ensure equal rights and dignity under the law,” noted ADL NY/NJ Regional Director Scott Richman.  “We know that the communities we represent face a common enemy in white supremacy and hate, and that we must face this threat by working together.”

As part of the partnership, ADL and NJ NAACP will launch a series of town halls and listening sessions throughout the state to raise awareness among different New Jersey communities about the two organizations’ collaboration and the importance of identifying and reporting incidents of bias and hate. The campaign also aims to build bridges of acceptance and understanding among ADL and NAACP constituents, and to respond with a united voice to racism, antisemitism, and all forms of hate in New Jersey.

To mark this momentous occasion, Senator Cory Booker had a message for the signing to show his support for two civil rights groups.

“This pledge by the ADL and NAACP to build a stronger and more just society together speaks not only to the history of collaboration between the Black and Jewish communities, but also this moment in history,” said U.S. Senator Cory Booker. “We are facing trying times, but by joining together we can fight the scourge of white nationalism and intolerance in our nation as we march towards equality and justice for all.”

New Jersey Assemblyman Jamel Holley also attended and was called on by President Smith to speak.

"The African American and Jewish communities can only build stronger bridges through ongoing communication. That is why I have been one of the leading proponents of this partnership and look forward to playing a leading role in town halls and listening sessions that are being planned," said Assemblyman Jamel Holley (D-20th Dist.) "Through collaboration, debate and discussion, we can truly mend our fences and sow the seeds for a future where bigotry, hate and anti-Semitism are no longer rooted in our communities. That is why this partnership between the ADL and the NJ NAACP is so critical and why I pray it is everlasting. Together, we are the united voice against the bias that has historically torn so many of our communities apart."

In 2019, ADL tracked 2,107 antisemitic incidents, more than recorded at any other point in the last 40 years. According to recent FBI hate crime data, 2019 was the deadliest year on record with 51 hate crime murders – a 113-percent increase over the previous record of 24 set in 2018. Race-based hate crimes remained the most common type of hate crime (54%), as has been the case every year since the FBI began reporting hate crime data.


ADL is a leading anti-hate organization. Founded in 1913 in response to an escalating climate of anti-Semitism and bigotry, its timeless mission is to protect the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment for all. Today, ADL continues to fight all forms of hate with the same vigor and passion. ADL is the first call when acts of anti-Semitism occur. A global leader in exposing extremism, delivering anti-bias education and fighting hate online, ADL’s ultimate goal is a world in which no group or individual suffers from bias, discrimination or hate.




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With Scarce Vaccine, There Are Options to Find Appointments

Vaccines are to be available to anyone who lives, works or studies in New Jersey, and the state is working to vaccinate as many eligible people as possible with the very limited doses available to the state.

The limited vaccine impacts appointment availability and has prompted questions among those eligible for the vaccine on how to get one.

Who can schedule an appointment:

Vaccine eligibility currently includes healthcare workers in Phase 1A; sworn law enforcement and fire professionals who are the first group in Phase 1B to be included; individuals age 65 and over, and those age 16-64 with certain medical conditions.

While people are encouraged to pre-register, there are currently many more people seeking vaccination than appointments available. State health officials continue to work to improve information on sites and accessibility.

How to pre-register and schedule an appointment:

Option 1: Individuals can pre-register for a vaccination appointment using the New Jersey Vaccine Scheduling System (NJVSS) at

As appointments become available, the system will send emails prompting pre-registrants to schedule their first dose. Email notifications will be sent in batches based on recipient eligibility and availability of appointments. The email will contain a link to schedule an appointment with sites using NJVSS, as well as a link to a list of community-based sites that use their own scheduling system.

Option 2: Individuals can make appointments online or by phone at open sites listed by county. There are megasites and other community-based sites serving as vaccination points of dispensing that have their own registration systems. Additional sites continue to be added.

Please see below the link to make online appointments:

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Wimberly, Quijano, Holley, Timberlake & McKnight Bill to Set New Regulation for Possession, Personal Use Advances to Governor’s Desk, Clears Legislature

Moving to create more equitable laws on the possession and personal use cannabis and establish expedited and virtual expungements, the full Assembly approved legislation Thursday, 64-12-3, sponsored by Assembly members Benjie Wimberly, Annette Quijano, Jamel Holley, Britnee Timberlake, and Angela McKnight. The Senate approved the bill 31-2.

“This is only one piece of the many parts of change that must be done in the name of social justice for our communities. The War on Drugs in many ways became a war on particular communities, incarcerating millions of people and affecting families irreparably for decades,” said Wimberly (D-Bergen, Passaic). “The action we take now to help our black and brown communities who have been disproportionately affected by current laws surrounding cannabis use is critical to trauma for future generations.”

“There have been far too many people, especially those from Black and Hispanic communities, who have been negatively impacted by the criminalization of cannabis,” said Quijano (D-Union). “There have been long term impacts on the lives of all people in this state, but considerably those of color. This legislation is the product of taking a hard look at our current laws, listening to the will of the majority of New Jerseyans and taking a common-sense approach to cannabis offenses.”

The bill (A-1897) provides for certain criminal and civil justice reforms, particularly with respect to legal consequences associated with certain cannabis offenses as well as broadening awareness of available expungement relief.

“Black New Jerseyans are up to four times more likely to be arrested on cannabis charges than White people. It is a sad fact, a further painful reminder that so people in our communities have been disenfranchised for far too long,” said Assemblyman Jamel Holley (D-Union). “There have always been glaring social justice concerns and obvious inequity in the high number of arrests of minority residents. Now, finally, is the time for it to stop.”

New Jersey law enforcement officers made over 24,000 arrests for marijuana possession in 2012, more than in the previous 20 years – approximately one every 22 minutes. African Americans are nearly three times more likely to be arrested for cannabis passion than white New Jerseyans, despite similar usage rates with white counterparts. Cannabis possession arrests also constituted three out of five drug arrests in 2012.

The state spends approximately $127 million per year on cannabis possession enforcement costs.

“It’s time for the change we seek,” said McKnight (D-Hudson). “New Jersey residents are not happy with the status quo and we need to move in a direction of compassion for the communities that have long been targeted by current regulatory criteria. The call for action, for social justice reform, is resounding throughout our nation. And it begins with legislation such as this.”

“Decriminalization and expungement for those who have been disproportionately incarcerated for marijuana offenses is well overdue in New Jersey and many other states throughout this nation,” said Timberlake (D-Essex). “A criminal marijuana charge has a detrimental effect on an individual’s opportunity to access higher education, obtain gainful employment, receive housing support, and address child custody issues.  Not all communities are impacted equally by marijuana enforcement, measures to reduce the collateral consequences of criminal records are ones of racial, social, and economic justice. This legislation is about social justice for a people who have endured the inequities in the law for generations.”

The bill would regrade the unlawful distribution of, or possessing or having under control with intent to distribute, less than five pounds of marijuana or less than one pound of hashish.

Under current law, distribution of less than five pounds, but at least one ounce or more, of marijuana, or distribution of less than one pound, but at least five grams or more, of hashish, is punishable as a crime of the third degree; this crime can be punishable by a term of imprisonment of three to five years, a fine of up to $25,000, or both.  Distribution of any smaller amounts, that is, less than one ounce of marijuana or less than five grams of hashish, is punishable as a crime of the fourth degree; this crime can be punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to 18 months, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.

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Jamel Congratulates Elizabeth Native for Reaching the Super Bowl

Todd Bowles, a football standout at Elizabeth High School, who went on to a career as a NFL safety and then head coach of the New York Jets, is heading to the Super Bowl in Tampa as the defensive coordinator of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Bowles, from the Class of 1981, famously returned to Elizabeth in 2016 as the city’s waterfront football field has been renamed in his honor.

“Todd Bowles, an Elizabeth native-turned-Super Bowl champion for the Redskins in 1988, has come to symbolize hope for Elizabeth’s future,” Jamel said, noting that Bowles presented the city schools with a $25,000 check, receiving a standing ovation from the crowd.

“We could not be more proud of a native son of Elizabeth heading back to the big game,” Jamel said. “While we may not all be Buccaneer fans, we are all certainly Todd Bowles fans.”

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Karabinchak, Holley ‘Safe Stop’ Bill to Educate Drivers on Rights, Responsibilities When Stopped by Police Now Law

Many new drivers are unaware of their rights and proper protocol when being pulled over by a police officer. To help educate residents to that extent, a bill encouraged by national dialogue on incidents occurring during routine law enforcement stops was signed into law on Monday.

“Teaching drivers their rights as wells as how to safely interact with police during a stop must be a part of the driver curriculum. Surprisingly, the New Jersey Driver’s Manual currently does not include any language referencing what to do if stopped for a traffic violation,” said Karabinchak (D-Middlesex). “We are a diverse state comprised of many cultural backgrounds. Many new drivers may have their own perceptions of the police and do not know what a police stop entails. This new law aims to correct that discrepancy with a visual aid and tutorial of a standard police stop. An equally prepared driver and officer will make for more ‘safe stops’.”

The new law (formerly bill A-3871) — sponsored by Assembly Democrats Robert Karabinchak and Jamel Holley—would require a potential driver to watch a video, created by the Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) and the Attorney General, before they take a written examination for a validated permit.  The video will explain the rights and responsibilities of a driver stopped by a law enforcement officer.

“Over the years, police-involved shootings of unarmed people of color have made national news time and time again. These particular incidents have fueled conversations on how we can better prepare our communities for interactions with police,” said Holley (D-Union). “The one way we can, in conjunction with the policies many police departments have already put into place, is to help drivers understand their rights and what to expect as the driver of the vehicle if they are ever pulled over. At the end of the day, we want to make sure the members of our community and our police officers get home safely.”

The State Troopers Fraternal Association applauds the bill sponsors on taking the initiative in improving police and community relations and public safety with this new law.

“Assuming control of a motor vehicle is a tremendous responsibility for all drivers but especially new and young drivers. Police officers in the State of New Jersey are among the most highly trained and professional in the nation and continually practice fair enforcement of the State’s traffic laws while ensuring the safety of the public and the police,” said Wayne Blanchard, President of the New Jersey State Troopers Fraternal Association. “The new law underscores and the importance of educating new and young drivers on the importance of knowing their Rights on a motor vehicle stop but more importantly their safe and respectful interaction with police officers during the course of the motor vehicle stop. This will ensure that the motor vehicle stop ends in a safe and positive manner. Unfortunately, new and young drivers are susceptible to extreme misguidance by the media and other outlets with incorrect information as to what they are entitled to during an encounter with police officers which ultimately results in a breakdown in police and community relations.”

The new law also requires the MVC to expand the written examination to include a question, developed in conjunction with the Attorney General, testing the applicant’s knowledge of the rights and responsibilities of a driver stopped by a law enforcement officer.


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Kennedy, Holley & Zwicker Bill to Aid 9/11 First Responders Signed Into Law – New Jersey Assembly Democrats

Legislation to assist first responders who voluntarily participated in 9/11 rescue and recovery efforts was signed into law Monday by Governor Phil Murphy.

The new law, sponsored by Assemblymen James Kennedy, Jamel Holley and Andrew Zwicker, expands eligibility for accidental disability allowance to include members or retirees of the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System (PFRS) and the State Police Retirement System (SPRS) who voluntarily responded to the attack.

“When police and firefighters in New Jersey, received word that two planes had struck the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, many of them didn’t hesitate before responding to the scene, even though they were not specifically ordered to go,” said Kennedy (D-Middlesex, Somerset, Union). “Unfortunately, some suffered permanent or total disability. Due to the fact that they responded as volunteers, they are not entitled to the same compensation as their counterparts who were considered to be ‘on the job that day. It’s time to change that.”

The law (A-4882) provides that a member or retirant of the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System (PFRS) and the State Police Retirement System (SPRS) is eligible to receive an accidental disability retirement allowance for a permanent and total disability resulting from participation in 9/11 World Trade Center rescue, recovery, or cleanup operations, whether or not they are instructed by an employer to participate. If a member participated in World Trade Center rescue, recovery, or cleanup operations for a minimum of eight hours, a disability resulting from a qualifying condition or impairment of health would be presumed to have occurred during and as a result of a member’s regular or assigned duties and not the result of the member’s willful negligence, unless the contrary can be proved by competent evidence. The presumption is available whether or not the member was assigned to participate.

A member who did not participate in those operations for a minimum of eight hours would be eligible for the presumption provided that:

  • the member participated in the rescue, recovery, or cleanup operations at the World Trade Center site between September 11, 2001 and September 12, 2001;
  • the member sustained a documented physical injury at the World Trade Center site between September 11, 2001 and September 12, 2001 that is a qualifying condition or impairment of health resulting in a disability that prevented the member from continuing to participate for a minimum of eight hours; and the injury that resulted in a disability that prevented the member from doing so is the qualifying condition or impairment of health for which the member is seeking a presumption.

“All of the heroic men and women who responded to Ground Zero deserve our utmost respect and admiration, regardless of whether they were on the clock,” said Holley (D-Holley). “They all saw the same terror, took the same risks, and worked towards the same goal. If their health has been affected in the time since, they all should be eligible for the same disability allowance. “

“Our country is still feeling the effects of 9/11 today. The impact on those who were there – particularly our first responders – remains even more prevalent,” said Zwicker (D-Somerset, Mercer, Middlesex and Hunterdon). “We can go further to honor our first responders by ensuring they are recognized and compensated for their service on 9/11, voluntary or otherwise. They deserve nothing less.”

The law also provides for a reclassification of a service retirement or an ordinary disability retirement as an accidental disability retirement if the retirant, while a member of the retirement system, participated in the World Trade Center rescue, recovery, or cleanup operations a minimum of eight hours and incurred a disability in retirement caused by a qualifying condition or impairment of health which the medical board determines to be caused by the member’s participation in World Trade Center rescue, recovery or cleanup operations. The board of trustees is required to promulgate rules and regulations and to notify members and retirants in the retirement system of the enactment of the bill within 30 days of enactment.

Additionally, the measure delineates the diseases recognized as qualifying conditions or impairments of health, and defines “World Trade Center rescue, recovery, or cleanup operations” to mean the rescue, recovery, or cleanup operations at the World Trade Center site between September 11, 2001 and October 11, 2001. The law also defines “World Trade Center site” to mean any location below a line starting from the Hudson River and Canal Street, east on Canal Street to Pike Street, south on Pike Street to the East River, and extending to the lower tip of Manhattan.

The law was approved in June by the full Assembly, 76-0, and the full Senate, 37-0.

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Holley statement of legalization of marijuana

Holley statement of legalization of marijuana


“The New Jersey Legislature has delivered the most progressive legislation in the nation regarding marijuana legalization, incorporating critical components of social justice and social equity that communities of color and others have been demanding for years.

“This is a defining moment in the history of our state, as we finally put an end to a failed ‘War on Drugs’ that has shattered the lives of many, forced into lengthy, senseless incarceration. Families have been destroyed; neighborhoods have suffered for generations.”

“Today, we begin to rebuild. This legislation serves as an opportunity to welcome many back into our community through expungements and the adjudication of minor drug offenses. I applaud my colleagues and Gov. Phil Murphy, who I know will quickly sign this bill for the sake of so many residents of this state.”

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