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Mukherji, Holley & Gusciora Bill to Exempt Homeless from Fee for a Non-Driver Identification Card Now Law

Legislation Assembly Democrats Raj Mukherji, Jamel Holley and Reed Gusciora sponsored that would allow homeless people to obtain, duplicate or renew a non-driver identification card without paying fees to the Motor Vehicle Commission was signed into law on Monday.

“The administration fee is the only thing preventing many homeless people from acquiring identification, when shelters and social services organizations are willing to help these citizens,” said Mukherji (D-Hudson). “Identification will be useful in many ways by allowing them access to services that will help them in the long run. It is a simple, common-sense change in the law that can make a huge impact in the lives of our homeless citizens.”

“As we continue looking to combat the scourges of poverty in New Jersey, this is a simple step that can go a long way toward giving homeless people a step up,” said Holley (D-Union). “As we all know, it’s difficult to get a job and services without identification. We should make it as easy as possible for our most vulnerable residents to acquire it so they can more easily rebuild their lives.”

“We should remove any obstacles that prevent those living in poverty from improving their lives,” said Gusciora (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). “Waiving this fee will make it easier for a homeless person to get the identification they need to get a new start. It’s a simple but effective idea.”

Under the new law (A-2107), the MVC chief administrator may waive the fees for a homeless person who submits proof of temporary residence through either a social worker or the coordinator of an emergency shelter for the homeless where the person is temporarily residing.

Currently, residents who are 14 years of age and older may apply to the MVC for a non-driver identification card, for a fee of $24. The card is issued solely for the purpose of providing identification and is not a license to drive.

The new law will take effect in August.

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Vainieri Huttle, Holley & Downey Bill to Strengthen Protections for Victims of Sexual Assault Becomes Law

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Jamel Holley and Joann Downey to strengthen protections for survivors of sexual assault was signed into law on Monday.

The new law (formerly bill A-4207) modifies the scope of the “Sexual Assault Survivor Protection Act of 2015,” as well as the enforcement of protective orders under the provisions of that act that help protect victims from offenders who committed actual or attempted nonconsensual sexual contact, sexual penetration, or lewdness.

Vainieri Huttle was the lead sponsor of the original law, which expanded the availability of restraining orders to a greater number of sexual assault survivors. Prior to that law, in order to pursue a protective order, a victim must have had a previous or existing domestic relationship with the offender, such as a spousal or dating relationship, or had to file a criminal complaint against the offender.

“This new law will augment the landmark Sexual Assault Survivors Act to make it work even better for victims, bringing them greater protection and peace of mind,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “These changes will help tighten the law and eliminate any vagueness that might stand in the way of helping a victim secure protection.”

Specifically, the new law will:

  • Require the Division of Child Protection and Permanency in the Department of Children and Families to investigate and possibly pursue legal action when allegations of misconduct against an unemancipated minor by a parent, guardian, or other person having care, custody and control of that minor child, are reported by another parent or guardian. The division could also petition the Superior Court for a protective order and other relief on behalf of the reporting parent or guardian and the unemancipated minor;
  • Recognize and provide for the enforcement of protective orders entered under the provisions of a substantially similar sexual assault protection statute under federal law or the laws of another state; and
  • Distinguish between indictable and non-indictable violations of protective orders and any such violation, whether representing an indictable or non-indictable offense, would be adjudicated in Superior Court.

“When it comes to sexual assault and its aftermath, we need to throw the full weight of the law and our legal protections behind victims,” Holley (D-Union). “No one should have to feel alone in this battle.”

“The trauma of sexual assault can have lasting emotional repercussions so we need to help assure victims that they will at least be safe from physical repercussions,” said Downey (D-Monmouth). “This new law will do just that.”

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Assembly Democratic Legislation to Document Alzheimer’s Disease-Related Deaths Heads to Gov’s Desk

Garcia, Lagana, Taliaferro, Vainieri Huttle, Danielsen, Holley, Benson & Jimenez Bill Would Permit Illness to Be Cited as Secondary Cause of Death on Official Records

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Carmelo G. Garcia, Joseph Lagana, Adam Taliaferro, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Joe Danielsen, Jamel Holley, Daniel Benson and Angelica Jimenez to ensure that fatalities linked to Alzheimer’s disease are properly recorded in official records now heads to the governor’s desk.

The bill (A-4188) stipulates that Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders may be listed as a secondary cause of death on a certification of death. Often, the primary cause of death on a death certificate is identified as an acute condition, such as pneumonia or heart failure. Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders, however, cause a decline in brain function that may lead to problems with feeding and swallowing and can put an individual at risk for poor nutrition, dehydration and infection. This may significantly increase the risk of developing, and exacerbate the effects of, the acute condition that ultimately is listed as the primary cause of death on the person’s death certificate.

“Although recent research suggests that Alzheimer’s disease may be among the top three causes of death in the U.S., it’s difficult to substantiate that without citing Alzheimer’s on death certificates,” said Garcia (D-Hudson). “Having Alzheimer’s listed in addition to the immediate cause of death will help improve the accuracy of records and, hopefully, draw greater attention to an illness that impacts millions of Americans.”

Detaching Alzheimer’s disease from the immediate cause of death in official records undermines the reality that it is a grave illness that requires urgent action, Garcia noted. As such, under the bill, Alzheimer’s disease may be listed as a secondary cause of death, provided that: (1) the deceased person has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or a related disorder, and (2) it is determined, in accordance with accepted medical standards and with a reasonable degree of medical certainty, that Alzheimer’s disease or a related disorder was a significant contributing cause of the person’s death.

“Although data indicates that nearly 84,000 people died from Alzheimer’s and related disorders in 2010, studies suggest that the true number of deaths attributable to these conditions may be greater than 500,000,” said Lagana (D-Bergen/Passaic). “This discrepancy is due in part to the way deaths are recorded on death certificates. This bill aims to create a more accurate picture to aid medical professionals.”

“It’s important that we gain a more accurate picture of the number of deaths caused by Alzheimer’s and related disorders, because it can have a significant impact on the way these illnesses are treated, how research is directed, and how funding for all of these things is allocated,” said Taliaferro (D-Cumberland/Gloucester/Salem).

“Having more accurate data available on the number of fatalities related to Alzheimer’s will lead to more awareness, more research and ultimately, a better overall understanding of this disease,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “Something as simple as putting ‘Alzheimer’s’ on death certificates has the potential to transform the way we see this illness.”

“Deaths related to Alzheimer’s disease often are underreported because another complication is listed as the sole cause of death,” said Danielsen (D-Middlesex/Somerset). “Particularly among older populations, there may be more than one illness that leads to death, and it’s important for official records to reflect that.”

“Properly recording how many individuals die due to Alzheimer’s disease is the first step toward having more funding allocated for research,” said Holley (D-Union). “Once we have data available that accurately lays out the impact of this illness, we will be better equipped to move toward a cure.”

“When studies suggest that the actual Alzheimer’s death toll is six times what’s been reported, it’s a signal that we have to change our approach to recordkeeping and data collection surrounding this illness,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “Citing Alzheimer’s disease as a secondary cause of death is a means of more accurately recording its prevalence and acknowledging its seriousness.”

“There is huge discrepancy between the number of deaths actually recorded from Alzheimer’s and related disorders and the real number believed to be attributable to these illnesses,” said Jimenez (D-Bergen/Hudson). “Given that it’s the only major cause of death that can’t be cured or prevented, we need to improve data in order to boost research.”

Nothing in the bill would require Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders to be listed as a secondary cause of death on a death certificate, and the bill provides that no person shall be subject to criminal or civil liability or professional disciplinary action for listing or failing to list Alzheimer’s disease or a related disorder as a secondary cause of death on a certification of death.

The bill received unanimous approval from both the Assembly and the Senate.

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Stender, Lampitt, Holley & Moriarty Bill to Help Inform Parents of Crib Safety Information Heads to Gov’s Desk

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Linda Stender, Pamela Lampitt, Jamel Holley and Paul Moriarty to provide parents with information about crib safety recently gained final legislative approval from the Assembly. The bill now heads to the governor’s desk.

“Many new parents may have the idea that a crib is a crib and that any crib will do,” said Stender (D-Middlesex/Somerset/Union). “This is just not the case. Our legislation allows us to take advantage of an opportunity to educate new parents on crib safety. Providing this information underscores the importance of purchasing the right crib for your baby.”

The bill (A-1355) would require the Department of Health to prepare and make available on its website information on crib safety, including, but not limited to, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission ban on traditional drop-side cribs and the dangers of using traditional drop-side cribs that may still be in existence.

As of June 28, 2011, all cribs manufactured and sold must comply with new federal safety standards. In light of several highly publicized incidents involving drop-side cribs, the CPSC published new rules that: prohibit the sale of drop-side cribs; require that a crib’s slats, mattress supports and hardware be more durable in their construction; and require manufacturers to submit cribs to more rigorous testing to show compliance with the new safety standards.

“The numerous crib recalls, re-sales and incidents which have occurred in recent years warrant legislative action,” said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). “We must do more to educate new parents on safety. It will save our most precious of lives – newborn babies.”

“Parents unknowingly put their children at risk of being injured or dying if they don’t know how to use a crib properly,” said Holley (D-Union). “This bill will help ensure that mothers and fathers are aware of the latest in crib safety when they take their babies home.”

“New parents have so much on their minds that they may not be able to keep up with the millions of cribs that have been recalled. Unbeknownst to them, the place where their newborn baby spends most of his or her time may be one of the most dangerous places in the home,” said Moriarty (D-Camden/Gloucester). “Providing parents with information on cribs can help prevent tragedies in New Jersey.”

Unsafe sleep environments can result in deaths due to entrapment, suffocation, and strangulation, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). For more information on crib safety, visit the AAP website .

The measure received unanimous approval from both houses of the legislature.

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***MULTIMEDIA PACKAGE*** Vainieri Huttle, Singleton, Holley, Mosquera, Tucker & Benson Bill to Help Guard Child Protection Caseworkers Headed to Gov’s Desk

In Wake of Attacks that Left Several Seriously Injured, Bill Would Require Human Services Police Officers to Accompany Workers into the Field When Needed

(TRENTON) — By a vote of 52-17-9 on Thursday, the full Assembly approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Troy Singleton, Jamel Holley, Gabriela Mosquera, Cleopatra Tucker and Daniel Benson to help safeguard child protection workers from the kind of attacks that left one seriously injured last November and sent two others to the hospital in July.

“It’s clear that we need to be doing a better job to protect these caseworkers. They are going out into the field unprotected to handle emotional and often tenuous situations,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen), Chair of the Human Services Committee. “The possibility for confrontation always looms, which makes it all the more confusing as to why the administration diverted Human Services police officers in the first place.”

“This is an issue of critical concern because it affects both the caseworkers and the children they’re sent to protect. When we neglect their security, we’re paying the price twofold,” said Singleton (D-Burlington). “Despite my questioning earlier this year, I still don’t understand the decision that led to the security lapse or why we chose to privatize our security needs, instead of utilizing the human services police we have who are trained to handle these types of situations.”

The bill (A-4638), known as “Leah’s Law,” is named in honor of the Division of Child Protection and Permanency caseworker who was nearly stabbed to death while performing her duties for the division in Camden last November.

Following passage by the Assembly, Vainieri Huttle issued a multimedia package on the legislation, which includes testimony given by Leah Coleman before the Assembly Appropriations Committee earlier this month.

The video can be accessed directly via our website — — or by clicking here.

The audio file is available upon request.

A transcript of comments from Ms. Coleman and Assemblywoman Vainieri Huttle is appended at the end of the release.

The bill would require the Division of Child Protection and Permanency to implement policies and procedures to ensure the safety of every caseworker employed by the division and require Human Services police officers to accompany them into the field when needed.

The policies and procedures would address issues of safety when a caseworker receives a threat of violence from a client, or is presented with a potentially dangerous situation while working in a local office, investigating a report of child abuse or neglect in the field, or making an emergency removal of a child pursuant to current law.

“These employees will continue to be at risk if we allow these types of security lapses to remain in place,” said Holley (D-Union). “We need to recruit and retain qualified, committed caseworkers. How can we do that if they don’t feel safe? This bill will help remedy that.”

“The severity of the attacks we’ve witnessed over the last year warrant an overhaul of our policies and tactical procedures,” said Mosquera (D-Camden/Gloucester). “This legislation will help ensure the safety of these workers while they’re out there trying to protect the welfare of some of our most vulnerable children.”

“We need to do more to protect the safety of these employees who are risking their lives to help remove children from grave situations,” said Tucker (D-Essex). This bill will help close the gaps that exist today and better position child protection workers to do the important job they are tasked with.”

“The situations these caseworkers must insert themselves into are often tenuous at best and at times completely volatile,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “We’ve seen how that’s manifested itself in the past year and the consequences have been tragic. These changes will do a far better job to help ensure their safety and security.”

Under the provisions of the bill, in order to ensure the safety of a caseworker in a local office, the division shall require that:

  • A Human Services police officer be assigned to every building where a local office is located to provide security and assistance to the caseworkers assigned to the office;
  • Each local office be equipped with a metal detector or metal detector wands operated by law enforcement officers;
  • A panic button be installed in every meeting room in which a caseworker meets with a client; and
  • At least one meeting or conference room in each local office be equipped with a two-way mirror to allow for the observation of the room by the Human Services police officer.

In order to ensure the safety of a caseworker when investigating a report of child abuse or neglect in the field or when making an emergency removal of a child, the division would require:

  • A caseworker assigned to a home visit to be accompanied by another caseworker if certain conditions delineated in the bill are met;
  • At the request of a caseworker or the caseworker’s supervisor, the Human Services police officer assigned to the caseworker’s local office would accompany and assist the caseworker when making an emergency removal; and
  • The Human Services police officer assigned to a local office would be available to a caseworker within 30 minutes of a request to accompany and assist the caseworker, except that in an emergency situation, the officer would be immediately available.

The provisions of the bill stipulate that when a caseworker, investigating a report of child abuse or neglect in the field or making an emergency removal of a child, is assigned to a home visit and is accompanied by another caseworker, nothing would prohibit the division, at the request of the caseworker or the caseworker’s supervisor, from requiring that a Human Services police officer assigned to the caseworker’s local office accompany or assist the caseworker while on the home visit, if appropriate.

The bill also requires the Division of Child Protection and Permanency to implement a caseworker safety intervention plan. The plan shall, at a minimum:

  • Establish specific procedures to follow when a caseworker is facing or responding to a situation that poses a threat to the safety and well-being of the caseworker, whether in the local office, in the field, or when making an emergency removal of a child;
  • Specify when to request the assistance of the Human Services police officer assigned to the caseworker’s local office and how to initiate such requests; and
  • Be posted in a conspicuous place in the local office and a copy of the plan shall be provided to every staff member assigned to that office.

The full Senate also approved the bill today, which now makes its way to the governor’s desk for consideration.


Leah Coleman, Child Protective Services Caseworker and Stabbing Victim Survivor:
“Last year — November 17th — I was stabbed 23 times by a client, um, in my workplace. Getting on the elevator, it was a hello, no argument and she proceeded to stab me.

“And it’s a disservice to not only the workers, but to also the families we serve, because what I don’t hear a lot of people talking about in the narrative about what happened to me are the children who witnessed what happened to me. They were there visiting with their parents and they were children who had already been traumatized by being separated from their families and now they’re re-traumatized in a place where they’re supposed to be safe. So, where are you safe? And how do you make somebody else feel safe when you’re not sure that you’re safe yourself?”

Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen), Assembly Human Services Committee Chair:
“When we look at the attacks that have taken place over the last year, this is more critical than ever to ensure safety for our caseworkers who protect our most vulnerable children in the State of New Jersey.

“Leah’s Law ensures safety and protects child protective services caseworkers.

“This bill provides safety measure, such as including in the offices of child protection: metal detectors; panic buttons; two-way mirrors in conference rooms. And when a caseworker does go out into the field, into a very tenuous situation, they would be assisted at the very least by a buddy and at the very most, a human services police officer.

“This is a critical issue because it not only ensures the caseworker but our most vulnerable children in the State of New Jersey. If the caseworkers don’t feel safe, how could they possibly protect our children?”

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Assembly Panel Approves Spencer, Sumter & Holley to Provide Alternative Education Programs for High Schoolers Battling Addiction

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats L. Grace Spencer, Shavonda Sumter and Jamel Holley to create alternative education programs for high schools students who are recovering from substance abuse was released Monday by an Assembly panel.

“A typical school setting may not be best option for students who are dealing with an addiction where they can easily fall back into old habits,” said Spencer (D-Essex). “Recovery high schools offer a safe and sober alternative where these students can focus on their studies and their recovery.”

“Breaking the chains of addiction can be very difficult,” said Sumter (D-Bergen/Passaic). “For many, recovery is a life-long journey. Putting these students in an environment that is free of temptation and that caters specifically to their dependency issues can help them stay on course.”

“Students battling addiction have a better chance of staying clean if they are in a setting that is conducive to that,” said Holley (D-Union). “If we want these students to be academically successful and have a chance at a good life, we must address their addiction struggles, as well as their education.”

The bill (A-4878) authorizes a school district to establish alternative education programs, including recovery high school alternative education programs, upon the approval of the board of education.

A recovery high school alternative education program is defined as an alternative education program that serves students diagnosed with substance use disorder or dependency as defined by the most recent Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and that provides a comprehensive four-year high school education in an alternative public school setting and a structured plan of recovery that is aligned with the national framework of evidence-based practices for recovery high schools.

Under the bill’s provisions, a sending district may enter into an agreement with a school district that has established a recovery high school alternative education program for the provision of services to a student who is currently enrolled in the sending district. If the student is admitted to the recovery high school alternative education program, the sending district will pay tuition to that district.

The bill was approved by the Assembly Education Committee.

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Holley Calls for Ban on Sale of Supplemental Baby Mattresses

Assemblyman: Mattresses Are Proven Fatal, Must Be Removed from Shelves

Assemblyman Jamel Holley has introduced legislation calling for a ban on the sale of supplemental baby mattresses in New Jersey, calling them an “undisputed health hazard” for infants, and pressed for their immediate removal from shelves.

“There is this perception that if a product is sold by a major retailer, it must unequivocally be safe,” said Holley (D-Union). “But we continually hear stories of babies being injured or killed when a supplemental mattress is used in a soft-sided play yard. Manufacturers of this product are quick to deny the obvious harm, while retailers are focused on selling product. As a state lawmaker, my focus is protecting the public.”

Holley noted he crafted legislation (A-4909) consistent with a petition now before the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) that calls for a ban on the sale of supplemental baby mattresses nationally. The CPSC is expected to rule on the petition in late 2016, after receiving public comment this fall that overwhelmingly supported the ban.

“But we can’t wait until the federal decision is made,” Holley said. “We know these products are dangerous. We know they are being sold by the likes of Amazon, Walmart and Target. And we know they need to be removed. So, I am doing what I can to stop this sale. I hope my fellow lawmakers and Gov. Chris Christie share my urgency.”

Holley’s legislation, introduced Thursday, has received the strong support of Keeping Babies Safe (KBS), a Warren-based non-profit organization that has been aggressively advocating for the removal of supplemental mattresses from stores. KBS has been instrumental in successfully encouraging Toys R Us, Kmart, Sears, buy buy Baby and Wayfair to stop selling the product.

“Assemblyman Holley joins a number of lawmakers and safety experts across the country who are joining this campaign to ban supplemental mattresses,” said Joyce Davis, founder of KBS, whose son suffocated when sleeping on a supplemental mattress. “The fight continues, as we are dealing with manufacturers who make their living by selling a product that can kill infants and don’t seem to care about the consequences of their actions. Only through legislative action – such as the efforts of lawmakers like Assemblyman Holley – we can finally protect families.”

Davis noted the use of supplemental mattresses is heightened during the holiday season, when families are travelling and using play yards and portable cribs. A supplemental mattress is often placed in a soft-sided play yard because it is perceived to be more comfortable; however, a baby can easily fall through the gap on the side of the crib that the supplemental mattress creates and suffocate.

“We are pleading with families to not use supplemental mattresses in soft-sided play yards,” Davis said. “Families should just use the pad that the manufacturer provides. It is the only way to ensure the baby sleeps safely.”

Learn more about the issue at

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Green & Holley Bill to Help Residents Participating in Homeowner Assistance and Recovery Programs Clears Assembly Panel

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Jerry Green and Jamel Holley to make it easier for not-for-profits to help families facing home foreclosure was recently approved by an Assembly Panel.

“The process can be streamlined for homeowners who have help from a church or another not-for-profit organization to save their homes from foreclosure,” said Green (D-Middlesex, Somerset, Union). “In these cases, the transfer of ownership is temporary. The home will return to the ownership of someone who lives in the home.”

The intention of the bill is to exempt certain sales of residential property to a purchaser operating as a housing assistance and recovery program (HARP) form the payment of realty transfer fees. Under a HARP, a not-for-profit entity, such as a church organization, partners with a back to rescue homeowners in danger of foreclosure eviction. The not-for-profit entity works with the mortgage holder to purchase the property and then leases the property back to the original homeowner at an affordable rent.

“Too many New Jersey residents are seeking help to save their homes from foreclosure and more time to climb out of financial difficulty,” said Holley (D-Union). “If not-for-profit organizations are able to help homeowners facing foreclosure then they should be allowed to help. The state can help by easing a bit of the red tape involved in the process.”

The bill states the goal of HARP is to help financially strengthen the homeowner within a seven-year period, and then resell the property back to that homeowner, or member of the family living with the homeowner. The purpose of the sale or transfer to the HARP is to stop foreclosure or eviction proceedings; therefore, it does not make sense to charge a realty transfer fee because the property will be returned to the seller.

To discourage fraud, if the property is sold to someone other than the original seller, or a person residing with the seller, then an amount equal to twice the realty transfer fee would be collected at the time of that subsequent sale.

The bill was released by the Assembly Housing Committee, of which Assemblyman Green is chair. Identical legislation was approved by the Senate in June.

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Holley Blasts Christie Comments Supporting Ineffective, Wasteful, Insulting Drug Testing Of Welfare Recipients


Assemblyman Jamel Holley (D-Roselle) strongly disagrees with a statement made recently by Governor Chris Christie that New Jersey should force recipients of welfare and other state assistance programs to submit to costly and demeaning drug testing in order to receive benefits.

 Holley was raised by a single grandparent along with two brothers and his family benefitted from several state assistance programs including Welfare, Food Stamps and educational scholarships. These programs enabled him to survive as a child and to thrive as an adult, with him eventually becoming the youngest mayor in the history of the Borough of Roselle before being appointed earlier this year as the first African-American to represent the 20th Legislative District.


"Governor Christie's comments are political pandering at its absolute worst and a slap in the face to the thousands of working families in New Jersey who are being crushed under the stagnant state economy that his agenda has produced," said Assemblyman Holley, who won a contested Primary Election in June and is now running for a full two-year term in the upcoming General Election. "People like my grandmother who needed public assistance are looking for a helping hand and a chance to build a better life for their families. What they don't need is the Governor of our state reinforcing damaging, negative stereotypes about poor people just to score points in his hopeless campaign for President."

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RSVP for Jamel Holley's First Annual Legislative Ball!

HolleyLegBallSM.JPGPlease join me in celebration of our collective success and continued progress in Elizabeth, Hillside, Roselle and Union. Event includes open bar, passed hors d'oeuvres, full dinner, music, dancing and the best views of New York City!

RSVP to the Legislative Ball, see more info and purchase tickets here.

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