APRIL 15TH A REMINDER THAT NOW IS THE TIME FOR CHANGE IN TRENTON

“We’re Number One!”  This is usually a joyous cheer, reflecting accomplishments in our towns and schools, at the academic, athletic and social levels.  However, this time of year, we somberly reflect on being number one- in taking money out of your wallet. This past October, Business Insider rated New Jersey as having one of the most unfriendly tax codes in the country, with property, sales and income taxes  all near the top of their respective lists of the most onerous burdens in the nation.  The Tax Foundation notes “New York and New Jersey are in a virtual tie for last place” in State Business Tax Climate, which is clearly not a statement we would like to hear as residents of the Garden State.

The high property, sales and income taxes are just the beginning.  Perhaps the Beatles had New Jersey in mind when they wrote “Taxman”:  “If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street/If you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat.”  Realty transfer taxes, inheritance and estate taxes, a “millionaire’s tax” on those who don’t even earn half a million dollars per year, a “jock tax” on athletes who play for out-of-state professional teams and all team employees, and a “telecommuting tax” on out-of-state companies employing New Jersey residents who work from home.  You name it, the Democrats in Trenton are either taxing it, or they are proposing a tax on it, as a remedy to the fiscal crisis that we face after more than a decade of their control of the Legislature.  The citizens of New Jersey are suffering under the weight of this tax burden, as exemplified by the number of people relocating and retiring out of state, including nearly one quarter of those receiving a public pension who leave the state because their taxes are too high.

Despite all of this gloomy news about our taxes, there is hope in the work being done by Republicans in the Legislature and Governor Christie.  The two-percent cap on property tax levies has greatly stemmed the rate of increase, which was greater than seven percent under our previous governor.  Attempts by the Democratic legislature last spring to undo much of the interest arbitration legislation by nullifying the two-percent cap on interest arbitration awards for police and fire departments were rebuked by Governor Christie and Assembly and Senate Republicans, and later replaced by an agreement to renew the cap.  Republicans have introduced multiple versions of bills to eliminate the aforementioned “Taxman” taxes.  On the estate tax issue, I sponsor four different bills seeking to eliminate, phase out and/or increase the filing threshold.  We must continue to advocate for this legislation, as Democratic leadership seems uninterested in advancing these bills.

April 15th is not a date any taxpayer in New Jersey can look forward to, but November 3rd certainly is.  We have the opportunity to have our voices heard concerning how much of our hard-earned income is sent to Trenton and not back to us.  When you enter the voting booth in November, remember the feeling of frustration and your lighter wallet, and consider which candidates are working to fix these issues, and who is satisfied with the status quo.  It is time for new leadership in the Assembly to work on these tax issues.

 

MUÑOZ SELECTED TO RECEIVE MILLICENT FENWICK AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN PUBLIC SERVICE

The Somerset County Federation of Republican Women (SCFRW) has selected Assembly Deputy Republican Leader Nancy F. Muñoz as the recipient of its 23nd Annual Millicent Fenwick Award for Outstanding Public Service.

The prestigious award is presented each year to an individual who, like Fenwick, epitomizes distinguished public service, and serves as a role model for women.

“Millicent’s life-long dedication to public service is inspirational. She never compromised her principles and always did what was in the best interests of her constituents. That’s what made her such an effective leader in both the New Jersey Legislature and Congress,” said Muñoz, R-Union, Morris and Somerset. “I’m grateful to (Assembly Republican) Leader (Jon) Bramnick for nominating me and the Somerset County Federation of Republican Women for this recognition. The Federation has an outstanding record of supporting Republican women in our state and helping them make a difference in the communities they serve.

“It’s my honor to serve the people of New Jersey and, in particular, those in the 21st Legislative District,” continued Muñoz. “Improving the quality of life for our residents, by making our state safe and more affordable, is my top priority.”

Muñoz will receive the award at a dinner reception on May 20 at the Raritan Valley Country Club in Bridgewater for her staunch advocacy on issues affecting women, children and healthcare. She was the prime sponsor of the “Jessica Lunsford Act,” which increased criminal penalties on those who commit sex crimes against minors. The bill was signed into law by Gov. Christie last year. She also sponsors bills to battle the state’s heroin epidemic, assist victims of domestic violence, repeal the estate tax and eliminate costly unused sick leave payouts to public employees. Chief Justice Stewart Rabner recently named her to a study commission on domestic violence.

Fenwick was a former member of the Bernardsville Board of Education and the Bernardsville Borough Council. She served as a New Jersey assemblywoman and as director of Consumer Affairs. At age 64 in 1975, she was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives where she was one of only 16 Congresswomen out of 432 members, and she served four terms. President Reagan appointed her as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome.

MUÑOZ BILL CLARIFYING IMMUNIZATION EXEMPTIONS WINS COMMITTEE APPROVAL

Legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Nancy F. Muñoz which limits the exceptions from state-mandated immunizations was released by the Assembly Heath and Senior Services Committee today.

“Vaccinations are effective and have a proven history of preventing serious childhood diseases,” said Muñoz, R-Union, Morris and Somerset. “Too many children aren’t being vaccinated, causing the return of some diseases such as the recent measles outbreak. Some parents may have a valid medical or religious reason for not vaccinating their child. This measure respects that decision while protecting the public.”

The bill, A-1931/S-1147, permits an exemption from immunizations in either of the following:

• a written statement to the school by a licensed physician with the reason why the vaccine is medically unnecessary; or
• a statement by the student or parent explaining that a vaccine conflicts with their religious practices.

PANEL ADVANCES MUÑOZ BILL TO HELP PEOPLE WITH ADDICTIONS

An Assembly panel today advanced legislation Assembly Deputy Republican Leader Nancy F. Muñoz sponsors to assist people with drug and alcohol addictions who are seeking help at residential treatment centers.

The bill, A-3955, requires the Department of Human Services (DHS) to maintain a database that can be accessed by the public on the availability of open beds in residential treatment facilities that receive state or county funding. The Assembly Appropriations Committee today approved the measure.

“Even when someone with an alcohol or drug problem wants help, it can be tough to find,” said Muñoz, R-Union, Morris and Somerset. “Thousands of adults and adolescents are being turned away from treatment facilities due to a lack of available space. The process can be complicated, because of a lack of a centralized information source. A database will help streamline the process, saving people time and unnecessary frustration.”

According to a November 2013 media report, at least 30,000 adults and 15,000 adolescents were turned away from treatment in 2009.

Under the bill, treatment facilities will be required to submit at least once a day, information on the number of open beds that are available for treatment. The database will include, by county, the address and telephone number of the facility; the type of services provided; the licensed bed capacity, and the number of open beds that are available.

MUÑOZ-BUCCO TOURISM BILL PROMOTING NJ’S WAR CONTRIBUTIONS ONLINE ADVANCES

In an effort to promote New Jersey’s tourism industry, Assembly Republicans Nancy F. Muñoz and Anthony M. Bucco sponsor legislation that allows people to view online the state’s war efforts from the American Revolution to the Vietnam War. The bill today won Assembly Tourism, Gaming and the Arts Committee approval.

“Many people who plan a vacation start the process with a Google search. New Jersey, and all it has to offer vacationers, needs to be in that queue,” said Muñoz, R-Union, Morris and Somerset. “As one of the original 13 colonies, our state played a significant role in the American Revolution. Several important battles were fought here including the Battle of Trenton, the Battle of Millstone, and the Battles of Monmouth and Princeton. We were also instrumental in supporting many of our nation’s other war efforts. Allowing people to view online these historical events will hopefully entice them to visit our state and these sites in person.”

“New Jersey is famous for its war efforts from the American Revolution to the Civil War and World Wars I and II,” said Bucco, R-Morris. “General Washington set up two winter camps in Morristown where the Ford family also ran a powder mill that supplied needed powder for the early war effort. During World War I, our state was a center of shipbuilding and manufacturing. That continued in World War II as many of our nation’s battleships, aircraft carriers, heavy cruisers and destroyers were built in our shipyards. Promoting tourism by highlighting these places and events via the internet is an opportunity we should take advantage of.”

The bill, A-4278, requires the Division of Travel and Tourism in the Department of State, in consultation with the New Jersey Historical Commission, to develop a list and an online historic tour of war battles fought and places of historic significance to the military and war efforts in New Jersey.

MUÑOZ BILL ALLOWING APNS TO DETERMINE CAUSE OF DEATH ADVANCES

Legislation Assembly Deputy Republican Leader Nancy F. Muñoz sponsors that will allow an attending advanced nurse practitioner (APN) to determine their patients’ cause of death today won General Assembly approval.

“As the patient’s primary treating health professional, the APN is often with the patient at time of death which is a very emotional time for family members,” said Muñoz, R-Union, Morris and Somerset. “APNs are trained professionals who are licensed to treat, order tests, make referrals to surgeons, diagnose and manage long-term illnesses. It’s not only appropriate, it’s common sense to allow the attending APN to make such a call. Doing so in a timely manner will help the family move forward.”

The bill, A-1319/S-1152, allows an APN to determine the cause of death and execute the death certification of a patient when the nurse is the patient’s primary caregiver and the collaborating physician is not available. The measure cleared the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee last month. It now heads to the Senate for consideration.

ANGELINI-MUÑOZ BILL PREVENTING TEEN COUGH MEDICINE ABUSE ADVANCES

Continuing their efforts to combat drug abuse by adolescents, Assembly Republicans Mary Pat Angelini and Nancy F. Muñoz sponsor legislation prohibiting the sale of over-the-counter medications containing dextromethorphan to persons under the age of 18. The bill, A-622/1469, today won General Assembly approval.

Dextromethorphan, commonly known as DXM, is an over-the-counter ingredient found in more than 120 cough and combination cold medicines, including Nyquil, Robitussin, Coricidin, Delsym, Zicam, Theraflu, and Vick’s Formula 44. It can cause hallucinations, seizures and death when taken in large quantities.

“DXM is affordable, easy to get and legal. Unfortunately, that’s a combination which makes it appealing to teenagers who are taking increased doses to get high,” said Angelini, R-Monmouth. “Using products with DXM to get high is more popular among this age group than cocaine, ecstasy, LDS and meth. Like alcohol, tobacco and pseudoephedrine, we need to make DXM more difficult for youngsters to obtain. That’s the goal of this bill, but parents also need to be aware of this very serious health issue.”

“Since DXM is legal, many teens believe it’s less dangerous than illegal drugs. It’s not,” said Muñoz, R-Union, Morris and Somerset. “Taken in large doses, it can cause hallucinations and loss of motor control. It’s often combined with other ingredients like antihistamines and decongestants. High doses of these combined meds can cause fatal liver injury and cardiovascular problems.

“If they aren’t already doing so, parents should pay attention to what’s in their medicine cabinets and who is using what drugs,” she continued.

The bill also requires the Department of Health to post a link on its website containing a list of products in which dextromethorphan is an active ingredient.

ASSEMBLY ADVANCES MUÑOZ BILL TO PROTECT SEXUAL ASSAULT VICTIMS

Legislation Assembly Deputy Republican Leader Nancy F. Muñoz sponsors that provides sexual assault victims with protection against their offenders today won General Assembly approval.

The “Sexual Assault Survivor Protection Act of 2015” (A-4078), allows victims to obtain protection without filing criminal charges.

“Sexual assault is physically and psychologically devastating; and victims too often are embarrassed or feel they are in some way to blame for the attack,” said Muñoz, R-Union, Morris and Somerset. “As a result, only a very small percentage of victims file criminal charges. Unless they report the crime, they cannot obtain a restraining order. This leaves their attacker free to harass or assault them again.”

The bill allows the court to issue a temporary protective order regardless of whether the alleged victim has filed criminal charges. It prohibits the alleged offender from having any contact or communication, including personal, written, telephone or via electronic device, with victims and their family members, employers, and employees.

Under current law, restraining orders are predominately used for victims of domestic violence.

In addition, the measure prohibits stalking, following or harassing, including cyber-harassing, the alleged victim.

GOVERNOR SIGNS MUÑOZ-O’SCANLON BILL ALLOWING MORE RESPONDERS, HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONALS TO GIVE OVERDOSE ANTIDOTES

To save lives in cases of a heroin overdose, Assembly Deputy Republican Leader Nancy F. Muñoz and Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon sponsor legislation that allows more first responders and other healthcare professionals to administer drug overdose antidotes and protects them from liability. The bill was signed into law today by Gov. Christie.

“Heroin overdoses can take anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes to turn deadly. Every second counts when reacting to an overdose situation,” said Muñoz, R-Union, Morris and Somerset, who is a registered nurse. “Allowing more first responders and other professionals to administer this critical first aid without fear of legal repercussions will help prevent more unnecessary tragedies.”

Under the current “Overdose Prevention Act,” healthcare practitioners and pharmacists are protected from liability when prescribing, dispensing, or administering an opioid overdose antidote. This bill, S-2378/A-3720, expands the list of people authorized to administer an opioid antidote and provides them immunity from liability, including sterile syringe access program employees, law enforcement officials, emergency medical technicians, and other emergency responders. In addition to heroin, opioids include drugs such as hydrocodone, oxycodone and codeine.

“Our first responders will now have the necessary tools to save lives when time is of the essence,” said O’Scanlon, R-Monmouth. “They no longer will need to worry about liability when someone’s life is on the line. This law allows them to treat those in need without second guessing themselves and risking catastrophe.”

The measure also authorizes needle exchange programs to obtain a standing order permitting their employees to carry/dispense opioid antidotes, and provide overdose prevention information to clients.

A recent national trend of rising heroin overdose deaths across demographic groups has been reflected in New Jersey. Last year, more than 500 residents died from heroin overdoses – nearly double the number reported in 2010.

Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have implemented laws making it easier for responders to give life saving antidotes to reverse overdoses.

MUÑOZ BILL ALLOWING APNS TO DETERMINE CAUSE OF DEATH CLEARS COMMITTEE

As Assembly panel today advanced legislation Assembly Deputy Republican Leader Nancy F. Muñoz sponsors that will allow an attending advanced nurse practitioner (APN) to determine their patients’ cause of death.

“An APN is licensed to treat, order tests, make referrals to surgeons, diagnose and manage long-term illnesses. As the patient’s primary treating health professional, they are often with the patient at time of death,” said Muñoz, R-Union, Morris and Somerset. “End of life is a very emotional time for family members. It’s not only appropriate, it’s common sense to allow the attending APN to make such a call. Doing so in a timely manner will help the grief-stricken family.”

The Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee cleared the bill, A-1319/S-1152, which allows an APN to determine the cause of death and execute the death certification of a patient when the nurse is the patient’s primary caregiver and the collaborating physician is not available.