Allen to unveil bills aimed at building workforce

Sen. Diane Allen, R-Burlington, is going to Burlington County Institute of Technology Wednesday to unveil several new bills she hopes will strengthen New Jersey’s workforce and create opportunities for New Jersey families, entrepreneurs and employers.

Allen will meet with county vocational/technical school superintendents at the Westampton campus before touring the school.

The event is part of the Senate Republicans’ statewide rollout of a job creation and economic growth package, which they say is already attracting bipartisan sponsors and support.

End life legislation

Assemblyman John J. Burzichelli, D-Gloucester, issued a multimedia package Friday in which he discusses his legislation that would give terminally ill New Jerseyans the options to end their life with a physician’s help.

The bill would require patients suffering from a terminal disease to first verbally request a prescription from their attending physician, followed by a second verbal request at least 15 days later and one request in writing signed by two witnesses. In addition, the attending physician would have to offer the patient a chance to rescind their request. A consulting physician would then be called upon to certify the original diagnosis and reaffirm the patient is capable of making a decision.

A patient must have a prognosis of six months or less to live to request and be prescribed medication.

The Assembly passed the measure and it awaits action Monday in a Senate committee.

The package consists of Burzichelli talking about his legislation. The video can be accessed at

Juvenile offender representation

Legislation co-sponsored by Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt, D-Camden, to ensure a fair judicial process by defining when a juvenile offender has the right to legal counsel, passed the Law & Public Safety Committee Thursday.

Under current law, a juvenile has a right to an attorney at every critical stage of a court proceeding in a delinquency case.

The new bill clarifies that a juvenile has a right to an attorney during every court appearance, any interrogation, identification procedure, or other investigative activity.

Drug epidemic bills

Bipartisan legislation to help address the prescription drug and opioid abuse epidemic plaguing New Jersey advanced Thursday by the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee.

“This package includes evidence-based health care strategies aimed at both preventing addiction and targeting the myriad physical and emotional issues associated with recovery,” said committee chair Dr. Herb Conaway, D-Burlington.

“The drug abuse destroying our communities is a public health crisis that we must use every resource at our disposal to eliminate.”

One bill, co-sponsored by Paul Moriarty, D-Gloucester, prohibits the sale of dextromethorphan (the active ingredient in cough suppressants) to minors. A second bill requires pharmacies and prescribers to inform patients about how to ensure proper disposal of unused prescription drugs.

Conaway co-sponsored a measure that requires any drug treatment program operating within a state correctional facility or county jail to offer medication-assisted treatment of substance abuse disorders in order to qualify for licensing as a residential drug treatment program.

He also sponsored legislation that requires the development and maintenance of a database to advise the public about open bed availability in residential substance use disorder treatment facilities and another bill that establishes a joint legislative task force on addiction prevention and treatment.

Hidden fee protection

The Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee approved legislation sponsored by Troy Singleton, D-Burlington, to protect homeowners from the rise in exorbitant and often hidden fees being charged by mortgage servicing organizations.

Inspired, in part, by the rise in so-called “convenience fees” being charged by mortgage servicers for online payments, the bill would give the Department of Banking and Insurance the authority to regulate certain activities for mortgage loans on residential real property located in New Jersey.

Phone outage assistance

Sen. Dawn Marie Addiego, R-Burlington, co-sponsored legislation Wednesday that would protect schools and public safety agencies from preventable telephone outages and require all public utilities to maintain dedicated support staff to provide those organizations with priority service.

The legislation developed after a telephone service outage lasting more than a day that left the Southampton Township Board of Education and its schools with minimal capability to communicate with parents, law enforcement, and emergency responders if necessary.

“Given recent events at Newtown (Connecticut) and elsewhere, we can all understand the importance of school officials having access to working phones should they need to call for help,” Addiego said.

Atlantic City relief

To further address Atlantic City’s deteriorating fiscal crisis, Senate President Steve Sweeney, D-Gloucester, on Monday introduced legislation to bring financial stability to the city and to lay the foundation for future economic opportunities. The plan would bring economic stability to Atlantic City and its casinos and enable the city to take advantage of its potential for economic growth, including a financially-healthy gaming industry as well as other attractions.

“We need to take immediate action to stabilize the existing workforce, the casinos, property taxpayers and the entire community,” Sweeney said.

No other city in New Jersey has seen its total property value drop 55 percent in five years. The revenue loss at the casinos has led to crashing values of casino properties with massive impacts on the city’s property tax collection.

The recovery plan relies on revenue already generated within the city and uses it to be spent within the city.

Original article