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Legislation Co-Sponsored By Assemblyman Danielsen Signed Into Law

State Assemblyman Joe Danielsen.

Two pieces of legislation co-sponsored by state Assemblyman Joe Danielsen (D-17) have become law, and a third awaits Gov. Chris Christie’s approval.

The first is part of a legislative package sponsored by Danielsen and Assembly Democrats Lou Greenwald, Gordon Johnson, Bruce R. Land, Bob Andrzejczak, Vince Mazzeo, Eric Houghtaling, Dan Benson, Patricia Jones, and Raj Mukherji to provide mental health services and other resources to Gold Star families has been signed into law.

The term “Gold Star” describes a family member who has lost a loved one in military service. A Gold Star Family member is defined to mean a spouse, domestic partner, partner in a civil union, parent, brother, sister, child, legal guardian, or other legal custodian.

The bill Danielsen co-sponsored authorizes the Chief Administrator of the Motor Vehicle Commission to approve and issue a driver’s license and an identification card with a Gold Star Family designation for certain family members of servicemen and servicewomen who lost their lives while on active duty.

“A sudden death can take a toll on families not just emotionally, but financially,” Danielsen said of the bill. “This can help ease some of that burden for Gold Star families.”

The second bill establishes a deadline for the issuance of determination notices to applicants for unemployment benefits.

The new law (formerly bill A-3438) requires the Division of Unemployment and Temporary Disability Insurance in the Department of Labor and Workforce Development to make the initial determination of a claim for unemployment benefits and notify the claimant no later than three weeks from the date when the claim is received. Under previous law, such a determination must be made “promptly” but no time period is specified.

“Everyday expenses don’t go away when you become unemployed,” Danielsen said of the bill. “Unemployment benefits are there for a reason. People who have lost their jobs and still have to make ends meet should not have to wait indefinitely to receive their benefits.”

The bill sitting on the Governor’s desk, co-sponsored by Danielsen, would expand eligibility for medical parole for inmates who are physically incapacitated and do not pose a public safety threat.

Under current law, an inmate may be released on medical parole if he or she is suffering from a terminal condition, disease or syndrome, which is defined as a prognosis that the inmate has six months or less to live. In addition, the inmate must be found to be so debilitated or incapacitated by the terminal condition, disease or syndrome that he or she is permanently physically incapable of committing a crime if released on parole.

According to the Office of Legislative Services, there have been from zero to two medical paroles granted annually since 2010. However, the changes authorized in the bill may result in increased eligibility for medical parole, thus reducing expenditures by the State Department of Corrections and county jails, which no longer will have to incarcerate or provide medical care to certain individuals.

The bill (A-1661) would expand the eligibility of inmates for medical parole and require inmates to enroll in Medicaid under certain circumstances.

“New Jersey can save millions of dollars in taxpayer money by using parole as an alternative to prison for individuals who will not present a danger to those around them,” Danielsen said of the bill. “This bill represents a forward-thinking, fiscally responsible vision of criminal justice.”

 

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