Assembly Passes Muñoz Bill to Ensure Delivery of Oxygen to Patient Homes During Public Emergencies

 

TRENTON, N.J. – Legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Nancy F. Muñoz requiring licensed oxygen providers and pharmacies to have an emergency plan to delivery oxygen to patients’ homes during a public health emergency today received approval from the General Assembly.

“Patients who have emphysema and other chronic pulmonary diseases may experience medical complications as well as anxiety when they do not have access to their supplemental oxygen,” said Muñoz (R-Union). “People who require oxygen at home don’t need the added burden of worrying whether they will have access to it during a public emergency such as Superstorm Sandy when most of the state was virtually shut down. This measure ensures that providers have a plan to deliver life-sustaining oxygen when such a situation occurs.”

The bill (A-680) requires licensed oxygen providers and pharmacies to adopt an emergency action plan to deliver oxygen to a patient’s residence during a public health emergency.

 

Package of Muñoz Domestic Violence Bills Advance

TRENTON, N.J. – An Assembly panel today unanimously advanced a package of bills sponsored by Assemblywoman Nancy F. Muñoz advocating for more stringent protections for domestic violence victims. The vote was 6 to 0.

“These victims have suffered in silence for too long. We have viewed domestic violence as isolated incidents, not the epidemic it is,” said Muñoz (R-Union). “Domestic violence can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or education level. It has permeated our families and our communities. While we have come a long way in providing protections for victims, our work isn’t done.”

The legislation cleared in committee today includes (A-4045) establishing a statewide therapeutic treatment program for children and families of victims, which is currently available in only 11 counties. Other measures include (A-4046) establishing standards for intervention programs; (AR-162) urging the state Supreme Court to create a technology task force within the court’s State Domestic Violence Working Group; and (AR-163) urging the state Supreme Court and attorney general to add members to their jointly-created County Domestic Violence Working Groups.

“These measures will help victims and provide law enforcement with the tools they need to stem this crisis. Children are especially affected by the violence they see at home,” continued Muñoz. “Studies show they are often depressed, aggressive, have little self-esteem and do poorly in school. Expanding therapy will greatly assist the healing process for these vulnerable, innocent children.”

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in three women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime, while one in four men have been physically abused by a partner. Domestic violence accounts for 15 percent of all violent crime. Likewise, the coalition reports that one in 15 children have witnessed violence toward a parent or loved one in the home.

Muñoz sponsors several other domestic violence bills, including S-2483/A-412 that was signed last week by the governor. It prevents a person convicted of a domestic violence crime or who is under a domestic violence restraining order from possessing or purchasing firearms and requires the immediate surrender of any firearms along with purchaser identification cards and handgun permits.

 

Governor Signs Muñoz Bill to Further Protect Domestic Violence Victims

TRENTON, N.J. – Domestic violence victims will be afforded another layer of protection under legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Nancy F. Muñoz and signed today by the governor.

 

The bill (S-2483/A-4126) prevents a person convicted of a domestic violence crime or who is under a domestic violence restraining order from possessing or purchasing firearms and requires the immediate surrender of any firearms along with purchaser identification cards and handgun permits.

 

“For far too long innocent domestic violence victims lived in fear of their abusers who often made threats and ignored court orders, but it’s a new day in New Jersey,” said Muñoz (R-Union). “Such offenders will now face severe consequences for their actions. Disarming them will give their victims additional protections and peace of mind.”

 

The measure also requires stringent mandatory minimum prison terms, including parole ineligibility based on the crime’s severity for offenders who commit physically violent acts.

 

 

Assembly Advances Muñoz Bill Keeping Sexual Assault & Stalking Victims’ Home Addresses Private

Legislation Assembly Deputy Republican Leader Nancy F. Muñoz sponsors that keeps the home addresses of sexual assault and stalking victims shielded from their assailants was advanced today by the General Assembly.

“Individuals who have been traumatized by sexual assault or stalking live in constant fear of their assailants,” said Muñoz, R-Union, Morris and Somerset. “No one should ever have to fear for their lives or their children’s well-being while living in their own home. This measure will help protect their identity and keep their actual address private.”

The bill (A-3809) expands the state’s Address Confidentiality Program. It was enacted in 1998 to keep the actual address of domestic violence victims confidential on public documents and prevent their assailants from finding them. The program forwards the participant’s mail to their actual address, which remains available only to employees of the program and to law enforcement. It is run through the Division on Women in the Department of Children and Families.

Of the 35 states that have similar programs, 30 protect victims of domestic violence and sexual assault and 28 states also protect stalking victims.

“Expanding this program can offer many more victims some peace of mind so that their home is a safer place,” said Muñoz.

Muñoz is also the sponsor of the “Sexual Assault Survivor Protection Act of 2015,” which allows victims to obtain protection without filing criminal charges. That legislation was signed into law by Gov. Christie in November.

 

 

 

 

 

Angelini-Muñoz Bill Preventing Teen Cough Medicine Abuse Signed into Law

Efforts to combat drug abuse by adolescents received important support today as Gov. Christie signed legislation sponsored by Assembly Republicans Mary Pat Angelini and Nancy F. Muñoz prohibiting the sale of over-the-counter medications containing dextromethorphan to persons under the age of 18.

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 accessible 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 law, 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, A-622,1469/S-2436,  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.

Christie Signs Muñoz ALS Awareness Bill into Law

A resolution sponsored by Deputy Republican Leader Nancy F. Muñoz to increase public awareness about amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” was signed into today by Gov. Christie. ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that attacks nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.

“ALS takes a physical and emotional toll on those who suffer from the disease and their families,” said Muñoz, R-Union, Morris and Somerset. “While there still is no cure, people who are diagnosed today need to know that recent advancements in research and improved medical care allows many patients to live longer, more productive lives.

“Many may recall the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge which helped bring an enormous amount of attention to this debilitating disease,” she continued. “However, the novelty of the campaign has faded. That’s why we need to make sure we continue our efforts to educate the public about ALS.”

Muñoz’s resolution, AJR-67, designates the third Wednesday in May as ALS Awareness Day, and the month of May as ALS Awareness Month in New Jersey. The annual Walk to Defeat ALS, the ALS Association’s national signature event, will be held at various locations in the state during the month of May.

Muñoz Bill Makiing Animal Fighting a Crime Now Law

TRENTON, N.J.  – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Deputy Republican Leader Nancy F. Muñoz that revises and expands the state’s animal cruelty laws to criminalize animal fighting was signed in law on Monday. The bill increases the level of crime for certain offenses, establishes new criminal and civil offenses and increases criminal and civil penalties.

“Training, promoting and selling animals for the purpose of fighting for amusement or financial gain is despicable and extremely inhumane,” said Muñoz, R-Union, Morris and Somerset. “The injuries inflicted on these poor animals, especially dogs, are very severe, if not fatal. Those that lose the fight but survive are either tortured to death by their owners or left with debilitating injuries.

Specifically, the measure, A-3037/2547/3596/2422/S-736, criminalizes animal fighting and leading an animal fighting network. The latter will be considered “racketeering activity” under the state’s anti-racketeering law.

“Animal fighting, in particular, dog fighting is a secret, underground activity, but it happens everywhere in towns all over New Jersey,” she continued. “It’s a highly profitable, sadistic blood sport and anyone who operates, promotes or in any way participates in this activity should be justly punished.”

Under the bill, assets or property used in animal fighting activities will be seized or forfeited.

 

 

 

 

 

KEEPING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ISSUES AT THE FOREFRONT

It was a little less than a year ago when disturbing images of NFL player Ray Rice’s domestic abuse thrust violence towards women into our national conscience.  While the news headlines and nightly cable news discussions on the topic have subsided to a degree, combating the problems of domestic assault and sexual assault remain in the forefront of my agenda.

The Legislature recently passed A-4078, of which I was a prime sponsor, known as the “Sexual Assault Survivor Protection Act of 2015”.  Experts in the field of sexual violence state that one of the biggest hurdles to combating sexual assault is the lack of reporting by the victims.  The complex emotions that assault victims may experience, including guilt, shame, embarrassment, and fear, all contribute to the failure to press charges against their attacker.  RAINN, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, estimates that 68 percent of sexual assaults in the United States are not reported to authorities, with a resultant 98 percent of assailants never spending a day in jail and free to assault again.  Prior to the passage of A-4078, sexual assault victims were unable to get protection if they had not pressed charges; with passage of the Sexual Assault Survivor Protection Act of 2015, the courts may issue a temporary protective order regardless of whether the victim has filed criminal charges.  The bill 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.   A-4078 was passed by the Assembly in February 2015, and passed by the Senate last month.  I anticipate that the bill will be signed into law soon.

I recently had the honor of accepting an appointment by State Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner to the Ad Hoc Committee on Domestic Violence.  The committee includes representatives from the three branches of government, with one member of each party from both houses of the Legislature.  The twenty-seven person committee represents a wide range of backgrounds and experience with domestic violence, including judges, lawyers, law enforcement, and New Jersey Coalition for Battered Women.  We have met and are continuing to meet to critically analyze the State’s efforts and policies on combating violence and aiding victims, looking at what we do well in the State and what could be improved.  The committee is working to draft policies and legislation, and make recommendations to the court system to provide excellent and consistent services across the State.

As part of my commitment to addressing the issue of domestic violence, I hosted a roundtable discussion at Kean University on May 27th with stakeholders from the profession of nursing, including chief nursing officers and hospital executives, school nurses, advanced practice psychiatric nurses, nursing educators, nurse attorneys, and the NJ Coalition for Battered Women.  As nurses are largest number of healthcare providers in the US, they are often the first professional interface with a victim of sexual or domestic violence—whether as a patient in the emergency room, or through contact during care for themselves or family members.   It is imperative that all nurses are properly educated and able to handle this delicate situation.  The topics discussed include current hospital policies, course requirements at our schools of nursing, and issues concerning protection of our young victims in the school system.  The goal of our members is to create an atmosphere where victims of domestic violence know they can openly discuss this issue with any nurse, and to create a consistent education model for nurses at all levels.  We are also looking at hospital policies that work well for the victims, and can be extended across the State.  The group will continue to work to reform policies, expand education and training for nursing students and active nurses, and make recommendations to the Board of Nursing.

I am extremely proud of the work we are doing in the State on the issue of domestic and sexual violence.  As a member of the Assembly Women and Children Committee and the Health Committee, I will continue to work on policies to protect women, men and children who are victims. The ad-hoc Committee on Domestic Violence and the members of the Nursing Roundtable will continue to work on recommendations to protect all victims.  We still have work to do, and I remain determined to make sure New Jersey does all it can to protect and support victims.

AMTRAK FAILING TO KEEP UP THEIR PART OF THE BARGAIN WITH COMMUTERS AND NEW JERSEY TRANSIT

 

NJ Transit pays millions of dollars to federally controlled Amtrak, Yet Amtrak Has Failed to Provide the Services We Expect

 

TRENTON, N.J. – After four consecutive days of major delays for New Jersey commuters, Sen. Tom Kean, Assemblyman Jon Bramnick, and Assemblywoman Nancy Muñoz are demanding answers. The legislators are insisting on a meeting with officials from Amtrak.

“After the series of delays this week, commuters deserve a detailed explanation as to what’s going on as well as what is going to be done to prevent these issues from reoccurring,” said Kean. “Delays of this nature wreak havoc on commuters’ schedules and their work obligations. It is simply unacceptable.”

“People need to get to work, but every day this week there has been trouble. It is aggravating and unacceptable,” said Bramnick. “It costs money and productivity when hard-working New Jersey residents can’t get to their jobs. Commuters want to know what’s happening and why it is happening. We’re not getting what we’ve paid for, and we’re looking for answers.”

“We want to get answers for the commuters who are paying the price for shoddy maintenance and poor customer service,” said Muñoz. “The frustration of these long delays makes it almost impossible to have any confidence in Amtrak’s reliability.”

SENATE OK’S MUÑOZ RESOLUTION ESTABLISHING ALS AWARENESS DAY

A resolution sponsored by Deputy Republican Leader Nancy F. Muñoz to increase public awareness about amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), is headed for the Governor’s desk after clearing the Senate today. ALS, also known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that attacks nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.

“ALS takes a physical and emotional toll on those who suffer from the disease,” said Muñoz, R-Union, Morris and Somerset. “While there still is no cure for ALS, we want people who are diagnosed today and their families to know research and improved medical care allows many patients to live longer, more productive lives.”

Muñoz’s resolution, AJR-67/SJR-51, designates the third Wednesday in May as ALS Awareness Day, and the month of May as ALS Awareness Month in New Jersey. The annual Walk to Defeat ALS, the ALS Association’s national signature event, will be held at various locations in the state during the month of May.