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Mosquera, Holley, Moriarty & Quijano Bill to Promote Communication Between Comptroller, Governor & Legislature Regarding Audits Clears Assembly

Legislation Assembly Democrats Gabriela Mosquera, Jamel Holley, Paul Moriarty and Annette Quijano sponsored to ensure that both the executive and legislature branches are familiar with the steps government entities are taking to increase efficiency recently gained approval from the General Assembly.

“The governor and the legislature determine how much of the taxpayers’ money goes toward certain government agencies,” said Mosquera (D-Camden/Mosquera). “The people of New Jersey deserve to know that these agencies are making the best use of their hard-earned money. It’s important that the executive and legislature branches are apprised of all the comptroller’s reviews and thus able to keep state entities accountable.”

The bill (A-1185) would require the Office of the State Comptroller, which is responsible for auditing government finances and examining the efficiency of government programs, to report the findings of audit compliance reviews to the governor and the legislature.

State law requires the Office of the State Comptroller to conduct random audits of the executive branch, including all entities exercising executive branch authority, public institutions of higher education, independent state authorities, units of local government and boards of education. The comptroller reports the findings of the audits and reviews to the governor, the Senate president and the Assembly speaker as well as the entity itself, and issues recommendations for corrective or remedial action. The comptroller also monitors the implementation of those recommendations and conducts a subsequent review to determine whether there has been full implementation and continued compliance with those recommendations, but is not required to report the subsequent review findings to the governor and the legislature.

This bill would require the comptroller to report the review findings to the governor, the Senate president and the Assembly speaker within three years of the initial audit.

“New Jersey can maximize the efficiency of state agencies only if the individuals in a position to shape policies governing those agencies have the information they need to make good decisions,” said Holley (D-Union). “In the same way that legislative leaders receive reports on initial audits, they also should receive reports on subsequent reviews.”

“The state needs the executive and legislative branches to work together in order for government to run smoothly,” said Moriarty (D-Camden/Gloucester). “If both the governor and the legislature receive regular updates on the financial behaviors of state entities, they will be better able to take action on behalf of the taxpayers when necessary.”

“The legislature and the governor have the power to make and enforce the laws that set standards for state agencies,” said Quijano (D-Union). “In order to foster an environment in which taxpayer dollars are used most efficiently, both branches must have up-to-date information regarding the performance of these agencies.”

The measure, which gained unanimous Assembly approval on Thursday, now awaits Senate consideration.

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DeAngelo, Eustace, Mukherji & Holley Bill to Create Registry of Organizations Providing Services to Veterans Advances

(TRENTON) – Legislation Assemblymen Wayne DeAngelo, Tim Eustace, Raj Mukherji and Jamel Holley sponsored to create a “one-stop shop” for military veterans seeking assistance in New Jersey heads to the Governor’s desk after recent approval by the full Senate, 38-0.

The bill (A-3748) would require the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans’ Affairs to create a comprehensive online registry of organizations providing services to veterans. Inclusion on the webpage would not constitute an endorsement of an organization by the department or state.

“Men and women in uniform make sacrifices to help people here at home and all around the world, but when they need a little help themselves, they sometimes find the system difficult to navigate,” said DeAngelo (D-Mercer/Middlesex), vice-chair of the Assembly Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “Creating a registry is a simple task that can go a long way toward making life easier for some of our nation’s finest citizens.”

“New Jersey must embrace its obligation to honor veterans and do everything possible to serve them, just as they’ve served this nation,” said Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic). “By providing these upstanding men and women with a directory where they easily can connect to organizations that are familiar with the needs of veterans, the state can eliminate confusion and significantly reduce the amount of time veterans have to spend researching what’s available to them.”

“A single website listing resources for veterans is a common-sense solution that will help those who served navigate the maze of organizations providing services,” said Mukherji (D-Hudson), a former sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps. “We owe it to our vets to help them avoid unnecessary frustration and simplify their access to organizations that understand their needs.”

“Veterans should never have to go searching from place to place to find answers,” said Holley (D-Union). “Putting all the organizations that can help them under one roof is a smart, easy way to support those who answered their nation’s call to serve.”

The measure received unanimous Assembly approval, 73-0, on Sept. 29.

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Houghtaling, Downey, Holley & Muoio Bill to Require Annual Report on Unspent Funds in State Accounts Clears Assembly

Legislation Assembly Democrats Eric Houghtaling, Joann Downey, Jamel Holley and Elizabeth Muoio sponsored to help ensure that taxpayer dollars are allocated and spent efficiently gained Assembly approval on Thursday.

The bill (A-4164) would require the State Auditor to report annually on unspent state account balances.

“When a unit of government says it needs a certain amount of money but then doesn’t use it, it raises concerns about whether projects and programs are being adequately funded,” said Houghtaling (D-Monmouth). “If there are funds idling in a government account, the state ought to examine why that is and perhaps seek more efficient ways to use them in the future.”

Under the bill, the auditor would be required to report to the legislature by Dec. 31 on the ending fund balances of all state agencies for the prior fiscal year. In addition to the amount of unspent funds, the report would include recommendations for addressing the accumulation of funds to avoid waste or fraud and any other information the auditor deems advisable.

“Taxpayers rightfully expect that their money will fund things like education and infrastructure, not just accumulate in a government account,” said Downey (D-Monmouth). “An annual report on unspent account balances will foster transparency and help New Jersey use funds more efficiently.”

“Government has a responsibility to manage taxpayer dollars in a way that best promotes the good of the people of New Jersey,” said Holley (D-Union). “With comprehensive data on where funds aren’t being used, the state would be better equipped to achieve that goal.”

“If agencies are leaving money on the table, it could be an indication that programs and services intended to benefit New Jersey residents haven’t been implemented,” said Muoio (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). “Examining money that is not being spent is just as important as scrutinizing the money that is.”

The measure, which the Assembly passed unanimously, now awaits further Senate consideration.

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Holley, Jasey, McKnight and Quijano Legislation to Enhance Security & Safety Measures in NJ’s Schools Goes to Governor

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Jamel Holley, Mila Jasey, Angela McKnight and Annette Quijano to enhance security in New Jersey’s schools and better protect students and teachers from a wide range of potential threats was approved Thursday by the Senate, giving it final legislative approval.
Both bills were approved by the Assembly in April.
“We’ve learned some hard lessons over the years about the dangers facing our schools and our students,” said Holley (D-Union). “It is critical that we educate school staff about the best safety practices, and keep security and safety measures at the forefront when building new schools and renovating existing ones. Investing in the safety of our students and school staff is a must.”
“The prevalence of school shootings in this country has made it abundantly clear that schools need to be prepared to respond to safety threats that were unimaginable in the past,” said Jasey (D-Essex/Morris). “We owe it to students and the staff charged with their safety to give them the resources needed to protect themselves if they are ever faced with a life-threatening emergency.”
“When a school is attacked, people will often ask how the perpetrator was able to get in. This is a valid question and one of many that should be considered when building new schools or renovating existing ones,” said McKnight (D-Hudson). “Making safety an integral part of a construction or renovation project can help better protect schools from indiscriminate attacks.”
“This bill is important because it stresses the importance of preparedness and training for instances when the difference of acting immediately can save lives,” said Quijano (D-Union). “Requiring law enforcement, emergency responders, and all school employees to train together annually ensures that wherever and whenever an emergency situation occurs, we have provided everybody there with the tools and training they need to protect our children. This is common-sense legislation that I’m proud to support.”
The first bill (A-3348) would implement safety and security recommendations from the 2015 New Jersey School Security Task Force report for new school construction projects and existing buildings. The task force determined that “school renovations and new construction must strike a balance between providing a welcoming educational environment and a safe environment in which students can learn and teachers can teach. Well-reasoned school design will encourage proper security measures to be employed by school districts and save the cost of retrofitting buildings.”
By enacting these task force recommendations, the bill seeks to strike that balance.
The bill is also sponsored by Holley, Jasey and McKnight,
Under the bill, the following items, among others, should be considered in the architectural design for the construction of new school buildings: marked school entrances with a uniform numbering system, keyless locking mechanisms, access control systems which allow for remote locking and unlocking, sufficient space for evacuation in the event of an emergency, and areas in the school building intended for public use separated and secure from all other areas.
When it comes to new construction projects and existing school buildings, in addition to employing Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design principles, the bill would require that design plans include items such as a requirement that school security personnel be in uniform, limiting the number of doors for school staff access, having exterior doors remain locked, creating secure vestibules at the school’s main entrance, and using surveillance cameras as a target-hardening tool.
The other bill (A-3349) would revise current law on school security drills. Under the bill, all employees in school districts and nonpublic schools would be provided with annual training on school safety and security. Under current law such training is only provided once to certificated staff members. The bill would also provide that the training be conducted collaboratively by the district or nonpublic school and emergency responders in order to identify weaknesses in school safety and security procedures and to increase the effectiveness of emergency responders. It would also require that a law enforcement officer be present for at least one school security drill in each school year to make recommendations on any improvements or changes to drill procedures deemed necessary.
The bill is sponsored by Holley, Jasey, McKnight and Quijano.
Both bills now go to the governor.

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DeAngelo, Holley, Mazzeo & Downey Bill to Establish Plan to Publish Missing Persons Alerts Goes to Governor

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Wayne DeAngelo, Jamel Holley, Vincent Mazzeo and Joann Downey to expand the reach of missing persons notices via social media was approved 38-0 Thursday by the Senate, giving it final legislative approval.
The bill (A-2519) would require the attorney general, in consultation with the New Jersey State Police (NJSP), to develop a plan to disseminate Amber and Silver Alert information via NJSP social media accounts.
Any other appropriate state, county or municipal entity may also choose to broadcast the information using its social media accounts.
“Just as people use outlets like Facebook and Twitter to connect with friends and family, law enforcement officials can also use social media to reach the public when someone is missing,” said DeAngelo (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “By employing networks we already have in place to further publicize Amber and Silver Alerts, we can reach a far larger audience at no additional cost and help reunite families as soon as possible.”
“Most people connect and receive their news through social media,” said Holley (D-Union). “Using social media to broadcast information about people who have gone missing is so simple, yet so smart. Anyone with a Facebook or Twitter account knows the power of sharing a post or retweeting. In missing persons cases, the more people we can reach can make a difference in the outcome.”
“Being able to get information out to as many people as possible about a missing person is crucial in these cases,” said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). “Most people are plugged into social media and use it consistently. There is no reason why law enforcement should not be able to use it to spread the word about Amber and Silver Alerts, and help bring people who are in danger safely back home.”

“Law enforcement should be able to use any effective means of communication to help locate people who have gone missing,” said Downey (D-Monmouth). “The fact that these cases involve children and people who are debilitated makes the situation more urgent. This is an effective way to get the word out to the public and increase the chances of finding people who have gone missing.”
Under the bill, information posted on social media may include, but not be limited to, a description and recognizable photograph of the missing person and any known details of the abduction or disappearance.
Under New Jersey law, broadcast media may use Amber Alerts to transmit an emergency alert to inform the public of child abduction. Similarly, Silver Alerts provide for the rapid dissemination of information about a missing person who is believed to be suffering from dementia or other cognitive impairment.
The measure now goes to the governor.

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Mosquera & Holley Bill to Promote Communication Between Comptroller, Governor & Legislature Regarding Audits Advances

Legislation Assembly Democrats Gabriela Mosquera and Jamel Holley sponsored to ensure that both the executive and legislature branches are familiar with the steps government entities are taking to increase efficiency recently was advanced by an Assembly committee.

“The governor and the legislature determine how much of the taxpayers’ money goes toward certain government agencies,” said Mosquera (D-Camden/Mosquera). “The people of New Jersey deserve to know that these agencies are making the best use of their hard-earned money. It’s important that the executive and legislature branches are apprised of all the comptroller’s reviews and thus able to keep state entities accountable.”

The bill (A-1185) would require the Office of the State Comptroller, which is responsible for auditing government finances and examining the efficiency of government programs, to report the findings of audit compliance reviews to the governor and the legislature.

State law requires the Office of the State Comptroller to conduct random audits of the executive branch, including all entities exercising executive branch authority, public institutions of higher education, independent state authorities, units of local government and boards of education. The comptroller reports the findings of the audits and reviews to the governor, the Senate president and the Assembly speaker as well as the entity, and issues recommendations for corrective or remedial action. The comptroller also monitors the implementation of those recommendations and conducts a subsequent review to determine whether there has been full implementation and continued compliance with those recommendations, but is not required to report the subsequent review findings to the governor and the legislature.

This bill would require the comptroller to report the review findings to the governor, the Senate president and the Assembly speaker within three years of the initial audit.

“New Jersey can maximize the efficiency of state agencies only if the individuals in a position to shape policies governing those agencies have the information they need to make good decisions,” said Holley (D-Union). “In the same way that legislative leaders receive reports on initial audits, they also should receive reports on subsequent reviews.”

The measure was advanced Thursday by the Assembly Budget Committee.

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Singleton, Holley & Downey Bill to Help Homeless & Disabled Veterans Procure Affordable Housing Continues Advancing

(TRENTON) – Assembly approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Troy Singleton, Jamel Holley and Joann Downey to establish an affordable housing occupancy preference for homeless and disabled veterans in New Jersey was advanced Thursday by the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee.
“We have a responsibility to take care of those veterans who face challenges after their military service,” said Singleton (D-Burlington). “Transitioning to civilian life can be difficult for many veterans. Ensuring that homeless veterans, veterans who are disabled, and the relatives who care for them, have affordable places to live can help these veterans and their families return to normalcy.”
The bill (A-2199) would establish a veterans’ preference for affordable housing in housing projects that are either operated by a housing authority, financed by a county improvement authority, or are part of a redevelopment project. The bill would task the Commissioner of Community Affairs with adopting rules and regulations to establish the standards for the veteran’s preference.
“Veterans put their lives on the line to serve this country. Many return from service with physical and emotional wounds that make their return to civilian life very difficult,” said Holley (D-Union). “This bill would help ensure that homeless or disabled veterans who have fallen on hard times can have the peace of mind that comes with having a stable and affordable place to live.”
“We have a more obligation take care of those who stepped forward to take care of us,” said Downey (D-Monmouth). “Veterans deserve better than a life on the streets. Setting up an affordable housing preference for veterans who are homeless or disabled would help ensure that former service men and women who are struggling financially are able to secure a cost-effective place to live.”

Under the provisions of the bill, preference for these affordable housing units would be given to homeless veterans, disabled veterans, and family members who live with disabled veterans and are their primary caregivers.
Priority would be first given to homeless veterans, then to disabled veterans, and then to family members who are the primary residential caregivers to disabled veterans residing with them.
All applicants for the housing preference would be required to meet the income requirements for admission to the housing project, regardless of the priority status granted under the bill.
The bill was approved by the Assembly in March.

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Holley Bill to Make NJ More Friendly to Global Trade Gains Assembly Panel Approval

Legislation would Establish International Mediation/Arbitration Centers in New Jersey

An Assembly panel on Thursday approved bipartisan legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Jamel Holley to help attract and retain businesses in New Jersey by simplifying the international mediation and arbitration process for those that choose to set up shop in state.

“When we talk about the need to grow our economy and create good, high-paying jobs, one of the surest ways to do that is to create a climate that is friendly to companies doing international business. Globalization has made this a must,” said Holley (D-Union). “Given New Jersey’s unique position in the region, we should be capitalizing on the opportunity to attract international business, trade, and commerce.”

Holley noted that inevitably, from time to time, disagreements and disputes will arise stemming from international commercial transactions that can be resolved through alternative methods rather than the more costly and time-consuming route of litigation.

His legislation (A-1138), the “New Jersey International Arbitration, Mediation, and Conciliation Act,” would create international arbitration/mediation centers or hubs in New Jersey to facilitate the resolution of international business, trade, commercial, and other disputes by means of arbitration, conciliation, mediation, and other means as an alternative to resorting to litigation.

Presently, only nine other states have passed similar legislation.

“Mediation has become a preferred method for resolving international disputes because it’s faster, more flexible, less costly and minimizes hostility. Any company concerned about the bottom line is going to keep these factors in mind when looking for somewhere to locate.

“By encouraging the development of New Jersey as a center for the resolution of international business disputes, we can position ourselves as a beacon for global trade. This translates into new employment opportunities, increased revenue, tax stabilization and all the ancillary benefits that accompany a major corporation setting up shop in a community,” added Holley.

The bill would allow certain types of non-profit entities in the state to organize arbitration/mediation centers or hubs, whose principal purpose would be to facilitate the resolution of international business, trade, commercial, and other disputes between persons by means of arbitration, mediation, conciliation, and other means as an alternative to traditional litigation.

Arbitral or other awards or settlements issued pursuant to the bill by a center are to be enforced by the courts of this state as permitted by law and consistent with the Federal Arbitration Act and the enforcement provisions of the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, as implemented by the Federal Arbitration Act.

The legislation was approved by the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

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Coughlin, Holley, Andrzejczak, Mazzeo & Lampitt Measure to Allow Sale of Alcoholic Beverages at Farm Markets & Promote N.J.’s Breweries Clears Assembly Panel

(TRENTON) – An Assembly panel on Thursday approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Craig Coughlin, Jamel Holley, Bob Andrzejczak, Vince Mazzeo and Pamela Lampitt to allow the sale of beer and alcoholic beverages at farm markets.
The bill (A-1949/A-4118) would allow the Director of the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control to issue a permit to sell beer at a seasonal farm market.
“There are some great breweries in the state that would benefit from the exposure that being able to sell their products at farm markets would provide,” said Coughlin (D-Middlesex). “This helps promote local businesses and brands, which is good for our state.”
“Many local vendors rely on farmers markets to introduce their products to the public,” said Holley (D-Union). “This would help support local breweries who would have another place to sell their products, and create another, albeit modest, revenue source for the state.”
“This gives our breweries another avenue to sell and promote their brews,” said Andrzejczak (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland). “Any opportunity to support our regional businesses and promote Jersey made products, while supporting the local and state economy, is a good thing.”
“Given the current permit structure, selling these products at a farm market is cost prohibitive,” said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). “This seasonal permit would allow interested vendors to participate and sell their products at our local farmer’s markets without breaking the bank.”
“Creating a seasonal permit not only helps the vendors, but the market which can benefit from having a committed vendor through the season,” said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington)
The bill was approved by the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.

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Conaway, Wimberly & Holley Bill to Create Sickle Cell Trait Registry Clears Assembly Panel

Legislation Also Would Promote Genetic Counseling, Educational Services

Legislation Assembly Democrats Herb Conaway, M.D., Benjie Wimberly and Jamel Holley sponsored to establish a confidential central registry of newborns diagnosed with sickle cell trait was approved by an Assembly panel on Thursday.

The bill (A-2995) would require the Department of Health to create the registry, which would serve to make individuals aware of their sickle cell trait status. The legislation would also promote counseling, intervention and educational services for patients and their parents.

“Individuals with sickle cell trait can make the best choices about their health only if they know that they have the trait,” said Conaway (D-Burlington). “This bill will help empower those who carry sickle cell trait to make informed decisions.”

As is the case for several conditions, all New Jersey newborns are screened for sickle cell anemia, and the Department of Health requires that their parents be informed of the results. The bill would require screening laboratories to also notify a newborn’s physician and document the diagnosis in the central registry if, upon screening, a patient tests positive for sickle cell trait. The Department of Health would coordinate notification of the patient.

“A simple blood test is all it takes for an individual to know whether he or she carries the sickle cell trait, but the majority of Americans are unaware of their status,” said Wimberly (D-Bergen/Passaic). “By increasing the number of people who know whether they are carriers of this trait, we can potentially decrease the prevalence of sickle cell disease, an illness that can lead to very serious chronic health complications.”

The bill would also require physicians to provide the patient’s parents with information on the benefits of consultation with a licensed genetic counselor. Such counseling would include, at minimum, notifying the parents that at least one of them carries sickle cell trait and that any other child born to them may also carry sickle cell trait or be born with sickle cell anemia.

“As we say so often, knowledge is power. In this case, knowledge can also be life-saving,” said Holley (D-Union). “Thanks to so many advances in medicine it’s now possible to prevent sickle cell disease if both parents are aware that they are carriers. This can help eliminate a lifetime of pain and health issues.”

An individual carrying one sickle cell gene may potentially pass the gene on to his or her children. A person born with two of the genes will have sickle cell disease, a congenital single-gene blood disorder most commonly characterized by chronic anemia and periodic episodes of pain.

An estimated three million people in the United States carry sickle cell trait, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Newborn screening programs in all 50 states require the identification of individuals with sickle cell trait or sickle cell disease shortly after birth, but many with sickle cell trait live unaware of their status.

The bill was released by the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee chaired by Conaway.

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