GENERAL ASSEMBLY APPROVES MUÑOZ & O’SCANLON BILL EXPANDING USE OF LIFE-SAVING OVERDOSE ANTIDOTE

Assembly Republicans Nancy F. Muñoz and Declan O’Scanlon sponsor legislation, approved today by the General Assembly, to allow more first responders and other healthcare professionals to administer drug overdose antidotes and protects them from liability.

“Every second counts when reacting to an overdose situation,” said Muñoz, a registered nurse and the Deputy Republican Leader in the Assembly. “Allowing more first responders and other professionals to administer this critical first aid will help prevent more unnecessary heroin-related tragedies,” continued Muñoz, R-Union, Morris and Somerset.

Currently, under the “Overdose Prevention Act,” healthcare practitioners and pharmacists are protected from liability when prescribing, dispensing, or administering an opioid overdose antidote. This bill, A-3720, expands the list of people authorized to administer a potentially life-saving antidote and provides them immunity from liability.

Under Muñoz and O’Scanlon’s bill, opioid antidotes may be administered by 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.

“We need to provide our first responders with all the necessary tools to save lives when time is of the essence,” said O’Scanlon, R-Monmouth. “When someone’s life is in the balance, emergency workers need to be able to react appropriately, without the fear of liability. This bill permits them to provide life-sustaining treatment without second guessing themselves.”

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 TO ALLEVIATE CHRONIC FLOODING WINS ASSEMBLY APPROVAL

Legislation Assembly Deputy Republican Leader Nancy F. Muñoz sponsors that will help reduce flooding in many of the state’s flood-prone areas by making it easier for local officials to clean streams won unanimous approval today from the General Assembly.

“Residents in numerous towns in Union, Morris and Somerset counties and throughout the state live under the constant threat of flooding every time we have a major storm,” said Muñoz, R-Union, Morris and Somerset. “Removing accumulated sediments, debris, garbage and vegetation from streams helps reduce flooding risks in our communities which can be devastating and costly. Restrictions on sediment removal in current law make stream cleaning difficult for local officials yet it is vital to keeping our waterways flowing which helps prevent flooding.”

The bill, A-3507, allows municipalities and counties to de-snag more streams by increasing the number of streams eligible for cleaning without obtaining a Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) permit. Under current law, only stream beds 15 feet or less in width may be cleaned without DEP approval. Muñoz’s bill increases the width to 30 feet.

MUÑOZ BILL TO PROTECT STALKING VICTIMS ADVANCES

To protect victims of stalking from repeat offenders, Assembly Deputy Republican Leader Nancy F. Muñoz sponsors legislation authorizing the courts to order electronic monitoring of such offenders. The bill, A-3841, won approval today from the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

“Stalkers can have a range of motivations, but their goal is the same – to instill constant fear in their victims,” said Muñoz, R-Union, Morris and Somerset. “Stalking puts victims at an increased risk of being attacked or killed. Regardless of physical harm, the psychological trauma they inflict on their victims is devastating. Restraining orders often aren’t enough of a deterrent. Repeat offenders continue to harass their victim with terrifying consequences. Monitoring stalkers can help give victims better protection.”

The measure allows the courts to order the electronic monitoring of an individual who has been convicted of a second offense of stalking against the same victim. It also requires the Administrative Office of the Courts, state Attorney General, State Police and county and municipal law enforcement agencies to share criminal incident information with each other and the monitoring equipment program contractor.

MUÑOZ, MCHOSE MEMORIALIZE U.S. CADET NURSE CORPS WITH RESOLUTION APPROVED BY ASSEMBLY PANEL

A resolution by Assembly Republicans Nancy F. Muñoz and Alison Littell McHose commemorating the life-saving contributions of women in the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps earned unanimous approval of the Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee today. The resolution (AR-129) designates July 1, 2015 as U.S. Cadet Nurses Day.

“The Cadet Nurses Corps changed the face of nursing in this country,” said Muñoz, whose mother was a member of one of the final Corps classes. “World War II was still going on, and she became a nurse through the program.”“Cadet Nurses were World War II heroes on the home front,” said Munoz, R-Union, Morris and Somerset. “During the war, with so many nurses committed to military service, there was a critical shortage of skilled nurses for the nation’s hospitals. Within two years of the formation of the corps, Cadet Nurses accounted for 80 percent of American nursing care. We should celebrate their efforts and preserve their memory.”

American nursing schools, which previously only accepted white students, were integrated by the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps, which recruited thousands of African-American women nurses.

The Corps developed more than 124,000 desperately needed nurses, and was responsible for increasing the educational standards of many of the country’s nursing schools. While war waged overseas, the U.S. Cadet Nurses battled polio and tuberculosis epidemics, and after the war, many continued to work in the nursing field.“The Corps provided opportunity, scholarships and stipends for many young women who could not have otherwise afforded the education,” said McHose, R – Sussex, Warren and Morris. “And without the addition of these young caregivers, the nation’s hospitals would never have been able to meet the patient demands. They were tireless young women who responded to the challenge and exceeded expectations.”

MUÑOZ BILL TO REDUCE HOSPITAL RE-ADMISSIONS SIGNED BY GOV.

Bipartisan legislation sponsored by Assembly Deputy Republican Leader Nancy F. Muñoz that is designed to help reduce costly hospital re-admissions by having patients designate a caregiver for post hospital care was signed into law today by Gov. Christie.

The bill, A-2955, requires hospitals to provide patients and their legal guardians with an opportunity to designate a caregiver following the patient’s entry into the hospital and prior to discharge or transfer to the patient’s residence. A named caregiver is not obligated to perform any after-care assistance for the patient.“Nationwide, we spend $17 billion in Medicare funds annually on unnecessary hospital re-admissions. In New Jersey, we have a surging population of older adults and others who require long-term assistance and services,” said Muñoz, R-Union, Morris and Somerset. “This measure will enhance patient care by enabling caregivers to provide better support to their loved ones at home and avoid costly hospital readmissions.”

According to the AARP:

• 69 percent of care recipients did not have a home visit by a health care professional after discharge from the hospital;

• 46 percent of family caregivers perform medical/nursing tasks for loved ones with multiple chronic physical and cognitive conditions; and

• Most family caregivers report that they receive little or no training to perform their tasks.

Under the bill, hospitals will be required to provide caregivers with instructions in all after-care assistance tasks as per the discharge plan, including a live or recorded demonstration of the tasks performed by an individual designated by the hospital and opportunity for the caregiver to ask questions about the tasks.

ASSEMBLY APPROVES MUÑOZ BILL ADDRESSING HEROIN EPIDEMIC

Legislation Deputy Republican Leader Nancy Muñoz sponsors to combat New Jersey’s heroin crisis won approval Thursday from the General Assembly. The bill, A-783/A-2831, cleared the Assembly Appropriations Committee last month and the Assembly Judiciary Committee in June.

The measure implements a recommendation from the July 2013 report from the State Commission on Investigation titled “Scenes from an Epidemic: A Report on the SCI’s Investigation of Prescription Pill and Heroin Abuse.” It increases the penalties for manufacturing, distributing, and dispensing heroin by reducing the amount of heroin necessary to be charged for first, second and third-degree offenses.“We need to give law enforcement officials the tools they need to prosecute criminals who are spreading heroin in our local communities,” said Muñoz, R-Union, Morris and Somerset. “This is a frightening epidemic that crosses racial, geographic and socioeconomic lines. Current law allows individuals arrested for heroin offenses to avoid the most serious drug charges. That, along with convenience and low cost, is feeding this crisis. We need to update our statutes to reflect reality. It’s time to make the punishment fit the crime.”

Since the seriousness of drug crimes is currently measured by the amount or weight of the controlled dangerous substance, the distribution of heroin and cocaine carry the same penalty. Heroin, however, provides more pharmacological effect from a given weight than does cocaine. As a result, the amounts of heroin consumed by an average user and carried by an average dealer are far lower than those involving cocaine, therefore, those who manufacture or distribute heroin are treated more leniently than those who distribute cocaine.

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

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 today won Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee approval.

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, 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.“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.”

“Our first responders need the necessary tools to save lives when time is of the essence,” explained O’Scanlon, R-Monmouth. “We don’t want them worried about liability when someone’s life is on the line. This bill will afford them the ability to treat those in need without second guessing themselves and risking catastrophe.”

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.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.

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

ASSEMBLY PANEL ADVANCES MUÑOZ BILL TO PROTECT ADOPTIVE PARENTS AND CHILDREN

Legislation Assembly Deputy Republican Leader Nancy F. Muñoz sponsors that gives adoptive parents stalking and restraining order protections from the individual(s) who gave up their parental rights to the adopted child today won approval from the Assembly Human Services Committee.

The bill, A-882, amends the state’s current stalking law making it applicable to adoptive children and their former parent(s). It permits an adoptive parent to obtain a temporary restraining order against the person whose parental rights to the child have been terminated if the former parent/guardian has contacted or attempts to contact the child against the adoptive parent’s directions. The order can be made permanent if the person is convicted of stalking.“When a biological parent attempts to contact a child they gave up for adoption, it can undermine the relationship between the child and his or her adoptive parents,” said Muñoz, R-Union, Morris and Somerset. “These children have already been through very difficult times. Initiating unwanted contact often causes more stress for the children as well as their adoptive parents who risk being targets of harassment and stalking. Surprisingly, the law offers them little protection. Adoptive families need to have the same level of protection that’s available in domestic violence cases.”

Under the measure, unwarranted contact would be a third or fourth degree crime, depending on the circumstances associated with stalking. A third degree crime calls for a three to five year prison term, a fine of up to $15,000 or both; a fourth degree crime carries an 18-month prison term, a fine of up to $10,000 or both.

MUÑOZ BILL THAT ADDRESSES HEROIN EPIDEMIC CONTINUES TO ADVANCE

Legislation Deputy Republican Leader Nancy Muñoz sponsors to combat New Jersey’s heroin crisis continues to advance. The measure won approval today from the Assembly Appropriations Committee. It cleared the Assembly Judiciary Committee in June.

The bill, A-783/A-2831, implements a recommendation from the July 2013 report from the State Commission on Investigation titled “Scenes from an Epidemic: A Report on the SCI’s Investigation of Prescription Pill and Heroin Abuse.” It increases the penalties for manufacturing, distributing, and dispensing heroin by reducing the amount of heroin necessary to be charged for first, second and third-degree offenses.“It’s a frightening epidemic that crosses racial, geographic and socioeconomic lines,” said Muñoz, R-Union, Morris and Somerset. “We need to update our statutes to reflect reality. Current law allows individuals arrested for heroin offenses to avoid the most serious drug charges. That, along with convenience and low cost, is feeding this crisis. It’s time to make the punishment fit the crime.”

Since the seriousness of drug crimes is currently measured by the amount or weight of the controlled dangerous substance, the distribution of heroin and cocaine carry the same penalty. Heroin, however, provides more pharmacological effect from a given weight than does cocaine. As a result, the amounts of heroin consumed by an average user and carried by an average dealer are far lower than those involving cocaine, therefore, those who manufacture or distribute heroin are treated more leniently than those who distribute cocaine.

Under Muñoz’ bill, the threshold for a first-degree offense would be lowered from five ounces to 2.5 ounces or more of heroin. It carries a prison term of 10 to 20 years, up to a $500,000 fine, or both. In addition, a mandatory minimum term may be imposed, fixed at, or between, one-third and one-half of the sentence imposed with no eligibility for parole.

For a second-degree offense the threshold quantity would be reduced to 0.17 ounces or more, but less than 2.5 ounces of heroin. It is punishable by imprisonment for five to 10 years, up to a $150,000 fine, or both.

A third-degree offense would require a threshold quantity of less than 0.17 ounces and is punishable by three to five years in prison, up to a $75,000 fine, or both.

ASSEMBLY APPROVES MUÑOZ BILL TO REDUCE HOSPITAL RE-ADMISSIONS

To reduce costly hospital re-admissions, Assembly Deputy Republican Leader Nancy F. Muñoz sponsors legislation that encourages patients to designate a caregiver for their post hospital care. The measure won approval Monday from the General Assembly.

The bill, A-2955, requires hospitals to provide patients and their legal guardians with an opportunity to designate a caregiver following the patient’s entry into the hospital and prior to discharge or transfer to the patient’s residence. A named caregiver is not obligated to perform any after-care assistance for the patient.“Nationwide, we spend $17 billion in Medicare funds annually on unnecessary hospital re-admissions. In New Jersey, we have a surging population of older adults and others who require long-term assistance and services,” said Muñoz, R-Union, Morris and Somerset. “This measure will enhance patient care by enabling caregivers to provide better support to their loved ones at home and avoid costly hospital readmissions.”

According to the AARP:

• 69 percent of care recipients did not have a home visit by a health care professional after discharge from the hospital;

• 46 percent of family caregivers perform medical/nursing tasks for loved ones with multiple chronic physical and cognitive conditions; and

• most family caregivers report that they receive little or no training to perform their tasks.

Under the bill, hospitals will be required to provide caregivers with instructions in all after-care assistance tasks as per the discharge plan, including a live or recorded demonstration of the tasks performed by an individual designated by the hospital and opportunity for the caregiver to ask questions about the tasks.