Lawmakers To Consider Bills To Help Adults With Autism, Encourage Local Governments To Share Services

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TRENTON – Today, Assembly committees will consider legislation to help adults with autism, combat recidivism and revise a state commission to encourage more local governments to share services and consolidate.

The Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee will meet to consider legislation sponsored by Assembly Speaker Joseph J. Roberts Jr. (D-Camden) to help adults with autism.

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One bill (A-4225) would permit adults with autism to voluntarily place their names on a new state registry that will help New Jersey improve its planning and services for those with autism. The other (A-4226) would revise the state’s Law Against Discrimination to specifically prohibit discriminatory acts  against people with autism.

“We’ve taken several strong steps to improve the lives of those with autism and developmental disabilities, but our fight is constantly evolving and our work against these lifelong disabilities is never done,” Roberts said.

The health panel will also consider legislation sponsored by Assemblywomen Connie Wagner and Joan Voss (both D-Bergen) to prohibit the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors (A-4227) and  include e-cigarettes in the New Jersey Smoke Free Air Act, which prohibits smoking in indoor public places and workplaces.

“These are dangerous devices and I want to make sure our children are protected,” Wagner said. “I’m very concerned that young people who use these things will get hooked on the nicotine and eventually move onto the real thing, opening the door to a lifetime of expensive and debilitating health problems.”

The Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee will meet to consider an anti-recidivism bill package sponsored by Assembly Majority Leader Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Mercer) and Assembly members Albert Coutinho (D-Essex), Elease Evans (D-Passaic), Mila M. Jasey (D-Essex), L. Grace Spencer (D-Essex) and Cleopatra Tucker (D-Essex).

“The pervasive cycle of arrest, release and re-arrest is failed system that wastes lives and costs taxpayers dearly,” Watson Coleman said. “Quite simply, it’s a disgraceful and destructive cycle that must come to an end for the good of all New Jersey taxpayers and those directly affected by our failed system.”

The Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee will meet to consider legislation (A-3119) sponsored by Roberts to enhance the ability of a state-level commission to recommend and effectuate municipal mergers
The housing panel will also consider the New Jersey Foreclosure Fairness Act (A-4063) sponsored by Watson Coleman. The bill, among other things, would help protect tenants who live in buildings that have been foreclosed.

The Assembly Appropriations Committee will meet to consider legislation  (A-2046) Assembly members John Wisniewski (D-Middlesex), Thomas Giblin and Albert Coutinho (both D-Essex) and Linda Stender (D-Union) sponsored to increase funding for senior transportation programs.

The measure would increase the annual appropriation for “The Senior Citizen and Disabled Resident Transportation Program” from 7.5 percent to 8.5 percent of the revenue deposited in the Casino Revenue Fund.

“The state has thousands of senior citizens on fixed incomes and limited mobility who absolutely  rely on state-funded transportation programs to survive,” Wisniewski said.

The panel will also consider legislation (A-3349) sponsored by Assemblywomen Linda Greenstein (D-Middlesex/Mercer) and Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) and Assemblyman Ruben J. Ramos Jr. (D-Hudson) to require victims of the criminally insane to be notified upon release or escape of the offender.

It will also weigh legislation (A-3842) sponsored by Assemblymen John F. McKeon (D-Essex) and Joseph Cryan (D-Union) to establish a New Jersey Lung Cancer Research  Fund through voluntary income tax return contributions.

The Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee will meet to consider legislation (A-801) to create a do-not-solicit credit card list to protect the elderly and mentally ill from predatory credit card solicitations. It’s sponsored by Assembly members Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer), Greenstein and Nelson Albano (D-Atlantic/Cape May/Cumberland).

“Some credit card companies have found it easy to prey upon the elderly or mentally compromised who just can’t say ‘no,’ and end up leaving their families to settle their debts,” Gusciora said.

The committee will also consider legislation sponsored by Watson Coleman to allow identity theft victims to petition for judicial determination of factual innocence.


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