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Quijano, Holley and Lopez Bill Extending Employment Training Program for SNAP Recipients Signed into Law

(TRENTON) – A demonstrative project to professionally assist Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients will be extended beyond its initial approval period with legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Annette Quijano, Jamel Holley and Yvonne Lopez. The bill was signed into law Friday by Governor Murphy.

SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, helps certain qualifying low-income individuals and families purchase food they would otherwise have difficulty obtaining. The goal of the associated Employment and Training (E&T) program is to help improve the economic self-sufficiency of SNAP recipients by providing them with the skills, training and experience needed to get a job.

The federal government provides funding to states that choose to operate this program, so New Jersey initiated its own four-year trial program in 2014 called the SNAP Employment and Training Provider Demonstration Project, by partnering with two organizations to work toward those goals.

With the program coming to an end, the bill (A-3647) was introduced to extend the program beyond the original timeframe, rename the program to indicate that it’s no longer a demonstration project, and expand it by having the Department of Labor and Workforce Development consider the inclusion of additional participants each year.

“This initial program helped many New Jersey residents gain useful skills essential to obtaining employment,” said Quijano (D-Union). “We have a program that works, which is why it’s so important to involve more partners and continue carrying out its goals.”

“We owe it to our residents to give them every opportunity to succeed,” said Lopez (D-Middlesex). “The participants in this program benefit from the training provided, as it helps them find and maintain steady employment.”

“SNAP recipients want to work and be financially independent, which is why we must provide them with the tools they need to do just that,” said Holley (D-Union). “This program offers invaluable lessons that are relevant to the professional world and will ultimately last participants a lifetime.”

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State Assemblyman Holley Calls on Gov. Murphy to Declare State of Emergency Over Newark Lead Water Crisis

NEWARK, NJ - A state Assemblyman from a legislative district neighboring Newark called on Gov. Phil Murphy to declare a state of emergency in the face of the city's deepening lead water crisis.

"I am pleading and suggesting to you as the Governor of this great State that a State of Emergency be called. This request comes on the backs of each human being in New Jersey that fears government has not appeared to show protection to them, nor has been transparent in this process that we together now face," Assemblyman Jamel Holley (D - Roselle) wrote in a letterpdf that he sent on Tuesday to Murphy and Newark Mayor Ras Baraka. 

"When it comes to complex environmental issues such as lead and contamination, we know the effects it can have on human health and the sense of safety and well-being perceived by the community," Holley said in the letter first provided to TapInto Newark. "Government is there to ensure security, not display doubt. This matter has doubt. The public's faith in its government is at stake here."

Holley, whose district includes the Union County municipalities of Elizabeth, Hillside, Roselle and Union, has already been publicly outspoken regarding the ongoing lead water crisis in Newark.

"I am not going to divulge how disappointed I am with the leadership within this State on the handling of the water crisis our Newark community is facing," Holley said in an August 12 Facebook post. "However, as a State elected leader in Union County and former Mayor of the Borough of Roselle, I cannot idly stand by and watch our most vulnerable human beings particularly our children, seniors, and families suffer from poisonous lead levels."

 

In the same post, Holley announced the beginning of a bottled water collection drive or behalf of Newark residents. A series of subsequent posts on Facebook indicate that the scope of the drive has spread, with donations coming from as near as Westfield and as far Brooklyn.

Holley also indicated in a NJTV interview broadcast on August 13 that he would ask Murphy to call a state of emergency if the situation did not improve.

Holley's call to Gov. Murphy to declare a state of emergency comes after a series of dramatic events related to the ongoing crisis of lead contamination in Newark's water.

On August 9, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revealed testing results showing that out of three filters provided to Newark residents by the city to reduce lead in the water to safe levels, two had failed to work.

At the same time, the EPA urged Newark residents to use bottled water for drinking and cooking until the results of the filter testing are fully understood and additional sampling is performed. 

Meanwhile, bottled water distribution began last week at several locations throughout the city, but only for Newark residents of the western half of the city who are serviced by the Pequannock water treatment plant with lead service lines who have received filters. 

Holley's letter was also sent to Belleville Mayor Michael Melham and Bloomfield Mayor Michael Venezia. Both municipalities are serviced by the Pequannock water treatment plant. He also sent the letter to Hillside Mayor Dahlia Vertreese. About 50 houses in Hillside are impacted by the water problem.

Gov. Murphy has weighed in on the lead water crisis in Newark, visiting the city last week where he offered help distributing bottled water to city residents and pointed to the federal government's responsibility to improve water infrastructure. A federal district court judge is now deciding whether the city of Newark will be compelled to expand its emergency bottled water distribution to include residents of the eastern half of Newark, who are serviced by the Wanaque water treatment plan.

In his letter to Murphy, Baraka, and other officials, Holley refers to the infamous lead water contamination crisis that began in Flint, Michigan five years ago. State and federal authorities ultimately declared a state of emergency in Flint in January 2016. Flint city officials recently announced they hope to complete lead service line replacement by the end of this year.

Holley lists a series of steps that should be part of the enactment of the state of emergency, including an immediate take over by the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of the management of Newark's water system, dispatching the New Jersey National Guard to help distribute unexpired, bottled water to all municipalities affected, weekly test results of the Pequannock and Wanaque water systems, as well as the Cedar Grove filtration system, and additional lead testing locations for families and children. 

Holley also suggested the governor petition the U.S. Attorney's Office to appoint a social prosecutor to review, investigate and make public all water, sewer, and repair contracts related with the Pequannock and Wanaque water systems,  as well as the Cedar Grove filtration system. 

Alexandra Altman, a spokeswoman for Murphy, said, "The Governor is reviewing Assemblyman Holley's request and is considering all options."

Holley acknowledged that he is a representative from a neighboring county, and is getting involved as he has in the past with humanitarian efforts around the state and country. "I am not going to sit idly by and not pitch in to help those who are vulnerable here," he said.

"Humanitarian efforts are about people, not politics," he said. "Those who want to get involved in political pushback are not humanitarians."

When asked if by calling for a state of emergency he was creating a panic, he pointed out that it was the opposite. The state of emergency "puts all hand on deck" and commits city, county, state and federal resources to provide comfort to citizens as solutions are found. 

Mayor Baraka could not immediately be reached for comment. 

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Help Newark Families

I am not going to divulge how disappointed I am with the leadership within this State on the handling of the water crisis our Newark community is facing.

However, as a State elected leader in Union County and former Mayor of the Borough of Roselle, I cannot idly stand by and watch our most vulnerable human beings: particularly our children, seniors, and families suffer from poisonous lead levels.

Now is not the time to point fingers.

I would like to focus solely on the immediate!

While I do not represent the City of Newark, nor do I reside in Essex County, my heart has propelled me to help.

I need your assistance! I am asking for all my Union County residents, #teamholley supporters, and those of you reading this post to please assist me in collecting cases of bottled water for our pre-schoolers, children, seniors, and families.

My relief team has two available drop off locations. At your convenience, can you please drop off cases of water to send to our brothers and sisters in need:

Elizabethport Presbyterian Center
184 First Street
Elizabeth, NJ
9a - 7p
Monday - Saturday
James Carey 908-576-5089

Heard AME CHURCH
310 E 8th Ave
Roselle, NJ
10a - 2p
Tuesday - Friday
Ricky or Aeisha at 908-368-1331

I humbly thank you in advance from the bottom of my heart. I am hoping that you can help us at any level possible.

We welcome anyone that can help.

 

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Now Law: Murphy, Holley, Benson and Moriarty Measure to Criminalize Animal Fighting Paraphernalia

To close a loophole in New Jersey law regarding animal fighting, legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Carol Murphy, Jamel Holley, Daniel Benson and Paul Moriarty to criminalize the possession of animal fighting paraphernalia was signed into law Friday by Governor Phil Murphy.

The new law (A-4698) makes it illegal to possess animal fighting paraphernalia for the purpose of promoting, facilitating or participating in animal fighting or baiting. Owning, possessing, selling, transferring or manufacturing such materials will be a crime of the third degree under State animal cruelty statutes, punishable by three to five years in prison or a fine of up to $15,000, or both.

Animal fighting is a felony in New Jersey, but it previously was not illegal to possess paraphernalia used in animal fighting activities.

“Dog fighting, cock fighting and animal combat of any kind is downright cruel,” said Murphy (D-Burlington). “We do not condone or tolerate this behavior in New Jersey. However, it can be difficult for law enforcement to charge suspects without actually having seen them facilitate animal fighting. By criminalizing paraphernalia, we will make it easier for officers to gather evidence and hold violators accountable.”

“Animal fighting is among the most callous and inhumane forms of animal cruelty,” said Holley (D-Union). “We must to do all we can end this practice in our state, starting with ensuring law enforcement are able to charge suspects accordingly when they see signs of trouble.”

“This law takes a comprehensive approach to combatting animal fighting in our State,” said Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex). “If officers find clear evidence of fighting activity, they should be able to charge a suspect regardless of whether they’ve seen the act take place. When more abusers are brought to justice, the lives of more animals will be saved.”

“No domesticated animal is born knowing how to viciously fight another animal; they are trained to do so by people who want nothing more than to profit off of their suffering,” said Moriarty (D-Camden, Gloucester). “Strengthening our animal cruelty laws will undoubtedly help us reduce incidents in New Jersey and rescue animals from abusive situations.”

Additionally, the law establishes a civil penalty of between $3,000 and $5,000 for owning, possessing, buying, selling, transferring or manufacturing animal fighting paraphernalia.

The measure passed the Assembly in June, 76-0, and the Senate in May, 38-0.

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Benson, DeAngelo & Holley Statement on New Law Clarifying Eligibility of Part-Time Students for NJ STARS & NJ STARS II

Assembly Democrats Dan Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex), Wayne DeAngelo (D-Mercer, Middlesex), and Jamel Holley (D-Union) issued the following joint statement on the bill they sponsored (A-4115) being signed into law Friday. The new law will clarify who is eligible for New Jersey’s collegiate scholarship programs in order for the programs to be utilized as originally intended.

“NJ STARS and NJ STARS II are incredibly important programs designed to assist all New Jersey residents to pursue their academic dreams. Education is the most crucial step in attaining professional and socioeconomic advancement, and we must make higher education as accessible as possible for all of our residents. This law will allow NJ STARS and NJ STARS II to be utilized to their fullest extents, the way in which they were intended to be utilized.”

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Holley on Toms River School Board Member’s Facebook Posts: “This is a Clear Example of the Game ’Follow the Leader’.”

Assemblyman Jamel Holley (D-Union) comments on the recent news regarding Toms River School Board member Dan Leonard’s social media posts:

“As with the President’s comments regarding Congresswomen Omar, Tlaib, Ocasio-Cortez and Pressley, Toms River school board member Dan Leonard’s recent social media posts are just as foul and unbecoming of an elected official. It’s unfathomable that in 2019 and in one of the most diverse states and nations in the world, we must continue to deal with unrelenting hatred surfacing in our communities.

“This is a clear example of the game ’follow the leader.’ The racist and personally degrading remarks we’ve heard out of the White House over the last week have given a false perception to many that it is acceptable to insult and threaten others even from an elected office.

“This is not the America we’ve fought to become. These views cannot and should not be tolerated anywhere, including in Toms River. The children of the school district and the care of their overall well-being should be a priority here. No elected official should be serving if their views and priorities are harmful to our democracy and those who work hard to righteously uphold its principles. Leonard should resign from his post immediately.”

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Houghtaling, Downey, Mukherji & Holley Bill to Raise Awareness for Property Tax Relief Programs Passes Senate

“It’s no secret that New Jersey has one of the highest property tax rates in the country,” said Houghtaling (D-Monmouth).  “But what may be a secret to many is that there are a number of tax relief programs that they might be eligible for. This bill will ensure that taxpayers are aware of the relief that is available.”

The bill (A-1048) would require each tax bill to include information about the Division of Taxation’s website outlining various state property tax relief programs and eligibility requirements.

“Through no further cost to the state or local governments, this simple change can help ensure that residents, particularly seniors, are well-informed of the tax relief programs that might go a long way towards offsetting the property tax burden,” said Downey (D-Monmouth).

Current state statute already requires that certain information be included with tax bills, such as a brief tabulation showing the distribution of the amount raised by taxation, along with links to information on the website of the Department of Community Affairs.

“These tax relief programs were designed to help put more money in the pockets of the average resident,” said Mukherji (D-Hudson).  “Seniors, especially, might not be aware that they even exist so we want to ensure that they’re taking advantage of every program available to them to offset the cost of living.”

“This bill is informative and beneficial to New Jersey residents,” said Holley (D-Union). “This legislation will help people understand what tax relief programs are available by making the information more accessible by simply including it on existing forms, which will be of no additional cost to municipalities and will ultimately save time, stress, and money for our residents.”

The measure was approved by the full Assembly in June by a vote of 73-2-2.

 

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Pinkin, Conaway, Giblin, Holley, Danielsen, Mukherji & Wimberly Bill to Help Promote Compassionate Palliative Treatment Options Approved by Assembly

Legislation Would Establish Statewide Palliative & Hospice Care Information & Education Program

In an effort to ensure that the public, health care providers, and health care facilities receive comprehensive and accurate information and education about palliative care and terminal illness, a bill sponsored by Assembly Democrats Nancy Pinkin, Herb Conaway, Jr., MD, Thomas Giblin, Jamel Holley, Joseph Danielsen, Raj Mukherji and Benjie Wimberly was approved 75-0-1 Thursday by the full Assembly.
The bill (A-312) would establish the “Palliative Care and Hospice Care Consumer and Professional Information and Education Program” in the Department of Health (DOH). It will require all facilities identified by the Commissioner of Health to provide information about appropriate palliative care and hospice care services to patients and residents with a serious illness.
“Given that the state’s population is aging, with greater incidence of cancer and a higher prevalence of chronic conditions, the demand for high quality hospice and palliative care services will undoubtedly increase,” said Pinkin (D-Middlesex).
“Palliative care optimizes a patient’s quality of life by anticipating, preventing, and treating suffering caused by serious illness,” said Conaway (D-Burlington).  “It’s a compassionate approach to treatment that we should be promoting for the benefit of New Jersey families.”
“With palliative care, a patient often receives comprehensive pain and symptom management, as well as discussions on treatment options that are appropriate to the individual, such as hospice care,” said Giblin (D-Essex, Passaic).  “It’s important that we promote these benefits.”
“Palliative care has become an increasingly important part of treatment because it often involves addressing physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs,” said Holley (D-Union).  “Equally important, it also helps ensure a patient’s autonomy and their access to information and choice.”
“Hospice care is comprehensive in nature because it coordinates care between a home setting, as well as with outpatient and inpatient services,” said Danielsen (D-Middlesex, Somerset).  “Given the delicate nature of this end-of-life situation, it’s important that we provide patients and families with the resources necessary to cope.”
“Hospice care is critical in meeting the physical, psychological, social, spiritual, and other special needs that are experienced during the final stages of illness, dying, and bereavement,” said Mukherji (D-Hudson).  “We need to ensure that more families are aware of this important option.”
“Through a medically directed interdisciplinary team, hospice care provides services to patients and their families,” said Wimberly (D-Bergen, Passaic).  “This targeted type of care is critical to a patient’s overall well-being when dealing with life-threatening illnesses.”
Under the bill, the Commissioner of Health may require a facility that fails to comply with these requirements to provide a plan of action to bring the facility into compliance.  In implementing these requirements, DOH would be required to take into account the size of the facility; access and proximity to palliative care and hospice care services, including the availability of hospice and palliative care board-certified practitioners and related workforce staff; geographic factors; and any other factors that may impact the ability of a hospital, nursing home, or facility to comply.
Additionally, the bill establishes the Palliative Care and Hospice Care Advisory Council within DOH.  In collaboration with the Cancer Institute of New Jersey, the council would be charged with implementing the provisions of the bill, developing the information to be provided to patients and residents by hospitals, nursing homes, and other facilities and facilitating the provision of this information, and developing resources and programs to facilitate access to palliative care and hospice care services for patients and residents.
The council shall be comprised of 11 members, to be appointed as follows: one member of the Senate appointed by the Senate President; one member of the General Assembly appointed by the Speaker of the General Assembly; three public members appointed by the Senate President; three public members appointed by the Speaker of the General Assembly; and three public members appointed by the Governor. The public members should be individuals who have experience, training, or academic background in issues related to the provision of palliative care or hospice care.
The bill will now head to the Senate for further consideration.

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Holley, McKnight & Wimberly Bill Revising State Expungement Procedures Approved by Assembly Panel

On legislation (A-4498) that would revise procedures for expunging records of conviction, approved by Assembly Appropriations Monday, sponsors Assembly Democrats Jamel Holley, Angela McKnight and Benjie Wimberly issued the following statements Monday:

 

Holley (D-Union): “Revising state expungement law forges a path to real social justice for our citizens. Over 200,000 individuals will be eligible in New Jersey under expungements. Broader regulation will give residents the opportunity to right the wrongs of the past and clean the slate, enabling them to gain employment and seize the opportunities life presents them. I’m proud of what we have accomplished here.”

      

            McKnight (D-Hudson): “This was a heavy-lift with many moving parts but it had to be done in New Jersey. Making it possible for residents to clear their records, clean the slate will open the doors for employment opportunities, advancement and economic growth for those affected. Creating an avenue for residents to clear their name and their record moves New Jersey closer to equity and justice in the expungement process.”

 

          Wimberly (D-Bergen, Passaic): “Reevaluating the process of expungement ensures fairness in implementation for all residents of all socio-economic backgrounds. Minor convictions that could have well been removed from a person’s record with an easier process in place could change the lives and the direction of many youth in our communities. An opportunity to expunge a criminal record could mean the difference between working and not working.”

 

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Vainieri Huttle, Holley, Mukherji Bill to Help Protect State Government from Ransomware Cyber Attacks Clears Assembly Panel

Legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) and Assemblymen Jamel Holley (D-Union) and Raj Mukherji (D-Hudson) to help protect state government computer systems against ransomware cyber-attacks was approved Thursday by the Assembly Homeland Security and State Preparedness Committee.

Cybersecurity is a growing concern for state government and the private sector. Ransomware is a type of malware that gets into people’s computers, often because they click on a link or open an attachment in an email, which causes the encryption of files or otherwise locks users out until they pay for the key.

In 2016, the town of Plainfield, NJ had its computer system taken hostage. The hijacker demanded a ransom after an employee clicked an infected link. City officials scrambled to pull the computer servers offline, but three were compromised, leaving emails and other city files inaccessible. The hijacker demanded roughly 650 euro to be paid through bitcoin.

“These attacks have enormous implications for government security, economic prosperity, and public safety,” said Vainieri Huttle, who chairs the committee. “A simple click on the wrong link can jeopardize the state’s computer networks and put sensitive information at risk.”

The bill (A-3922) would require state employees to receive training regarding using best safety practices while utilizing state computers.

“Ransomware attacks are a serious problem that must be addressed,” said Holley. “In 2015, the FBI received over 2,400 complaints and victims lost over $24 million. We need to train our State employees in best practices when using State computers if we’re going to stem the tide of this menace.”

The bill would require the New Jersey Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Cell (NJCCIC) in the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, to establish the cybersecurity training program for all state employees in the executive and legislative branch of government who have access to a state computer. The bill would require the Director of the Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness to adopt guidelines to implement the program.

The training should include a review of best practices for using state computers including updating passwords; detecting phishing scams; preventing ransomware, spyware infections, and identity theft; and preventing and responding to data breaches.

The NJCCIC provides cybersecurity information sharing, threat analysis, and incident reporting. Located at the Regional Operations Intelligence Center (ROIC), the NJCCIC promotes statewide awareness of local cyber threats and widespread adoption of best practices.

“Many businesses and local governments targeted by hackers have had no option but to pay the ransom demands. We don’t ever want to find ourselves in that position,” said Mukherji. “This training will provide state employees with best practices so they don’t inadvertently leave our computers systems vulnerable to these types of attacks.”

The bill now goes to the Assembly Speaker for further consideration.

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