Legislative Updates

Mark Your Calendars! NJ Legislature Schedules Departmental FY 25 Budget Hearings!

The NJ Legislature scheduled Senate and Assembly Budget committee departmental hearings on the Governor’s FY 25 Budget proposal. These hearings are open to the public to attend or stream, however, the public is not permitted to provide testimony. Testimony is given the commissioners of each state department and their higher level staff.

It is an opportunity to hear from the departments about what is contained in the Governor’s budget proposal and legislators on the budget committees have the opportunity to ask the commissioner and their staff about what is and what is not in the budget.

Each budget committee schedule below also contains the hearings on the status of revenue and spending in the state, including spring tax collections, which will, in part, determine the revenue available or projected for the current and next fiscal years.

The public budget hearings for the public to testify are also listed and they are labeled as “public hearing.”

NJACP CEO, Valerie Sellers, already provided testimony to the Assembly Budget commitee on March 11 and will address the Senate Budget committee on March 26.

The following hearings are in the schedules contained in the links below but they are highlighted as members may find them of interest.

Senate Hearings

• Department of Human Services departmental budget hearings Senate May 7 10:30am

• Department of Labor and Workforce Development April 18 10:30am

• Department of Community Affairs April 18 1pm

• Department of Children and Families May 7 1:30pm

Assembly Hearings

• Department of Human Services May 1 10:00am

• Department of Labor and Workforce Development April 22 1pm

• Department of Community Affairs May 8 10:00am

• Department of Children and Families April 22 10:00am

Click on the links below to view all the dates of all the budget hearings.

Senate hearings

Assembly hearings

SOC Legislation Advances Out of Committee

In a significant step forward, S.1332, the Recognizing the Role of Direct Support Professionals Act, has been placed on the Senate legislative calendar, making it eligible for a full Senate floor vote. This follows the unanimous passage of the bill out of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) during the summer.

The Recognizing the Role of Direct Support Professionals Act, as approved by HSGAC, aims to address a crucial aspect of caregiving services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). The legislation focuses on the creation of a Standard Occupational Classification for direct support professionals (DSPs), who play a vital role in providing essential services for people with I/DD.

DSPs contribute significantly to the well-being of individuals with I/DD, fostering independence and community inclusion through various services. These services encompass a broad spectrum, including coaching, career development, assistance in pursuing personal goals and aiding activities of daily living such as meal preparation, medication management, and communication support.

The key provision of the legislation involves directing the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to consider establishing a Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) for DSPs. This step is seen as essential in addressing a longstanding workforce crisis that jeopardizes individuals with disabilities’ access to critical supports and services provided through the Medicaid Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) program.

The HCBS program is instrumental in enabling individuals with disabilities to lead full and independent lives within their communities. The creation of a SOC for DSPs is recognized as a necessary initial measure to tackle the workforce challenges and ensure the continued availability of essential supports and services for people with I/DD.

Make sure to write to your representative and Senators on the crucial needs for the Recognizing the Role of Direct Support Professionals Act with our Action Center! (ANCOR)

What’s Ahead for Congress in the Holiday Season and Beyond?

Note: The HHS funding bill is slated for the February 2 ladder resolution.

With Congress returning from the Thanksgiving recess and staring down the holiday season, it’ll enter the first year-end period in almost a decade without an immediate need for a government funding solution, but that’s not necessarily a good thing.

House Speaker Mike Johnson insists he won’t bring another “clean” funding stopgap to the floor, which our Jordain Carney, Burgess Everett and Sarah Ferris note could increase the likelihood of a government shutdown after the next deadlines on Jan. 19 and Feb. 2. It’s far from the only major priority on Congress’ plate, they explain, as Johnson and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will need to hash out more than a half-dozen other issues, including Israel and Ukraine aid, foreign surveillance powers reauthorization, border security and delayed military promotions.

The implication of Johnson’s refusal to consider an additional “clean” continuing resolution is that it imposes a deadline upon the chambers to pass full-fledged spending bills for the new fiscal year, which technically began on Oct. 1. Although there are roughly six weeks between now and the first of the two “laddered” shutdown deadlines, Congress plans to take the last two weeks of December off, meaning its days to resolve any differences between the House and Senate appropriations bills and pass a compromise are far more numbered than it might seem at first glance.

Senate appropriators will have a tough time figuring out how to reconcile their spending priorities with the House GOP’s proposed cuts across the federal government. But, that doesn’t even begin to resolve the persistent difficulty House Republicans have had at bringing legislation of almost any kind to the floor, which has been stonewalled by party infighting that has been a key player in the ongoing funding stalemate. Whether those tensions can be eased before Feb. 2 — which, our team reports, some GOP lawmakers are already pointing out is Groundhog Day — will be a story to watch in the waning weeks of 2023 and the countdown to a potential shutdown, once the calendar flips to 2024. (Politico)

OPRA Concerns Regarding Diminishing the Law

Note: While civic groups are leading this effort, NJACP is monitoring it as the current law has been used to identify and receive government information from various administrations that otherwise was unavailable.

Advocates from the New Jersey Working Families Party, League of Women Voters of New Jersey and the American Civil Liberties Union are sounding the alarm on a series of bills that will dramatically restrict Open Public Records (OPRA) requests in the state. Advocates say it will restrict the accessibility of government documents and transparency for countless New Jerseyans.

Antoinette Miles, interim state director of NJ Working Families Party, discussed the groups’ worries with NJ Spotlight News anchor Briana Vannozzi.

“We are really concerned that reforms put to OPRA would really diminish the power of OPRA and the access to the public records that the public has a right to access,” she said.

The advocates in a letter urged legislators not to act hastily during the lame-duck session. They said the reforms would gut the essential fee-shifting provisions OPRA provides, eliminate instances of OPRA appeals, and increase OPRA exemptions, among other changes. Click here to view article and video.

NJACP Members Testifying/Submitting Testimony to DHS Budget Listening Session

THANK YOU!

The Department of Human Services held its Fiscal Year 25 Budget Listening session on November 29. NJACP deeply appreciates members who testified at the virtual hearing that day or submitted written testimony. DHS needed to heard your voice to know how critical it is IDD services and supports are adequatly funded through the budget process.

Maureen Shea, Director of Government Affairs, testified on behalf of NJACP and its CEO, Valerie Sellers. To view the testimony, please click on the below.

• Click here for NJACP’s Testimony

Below is a list of NJACP members testifying or submitting testimony. For those members sending written testimony to NJACP, it is attached.

• Your testimony is greatly appreciated and any members who submitted or testified, please feel free to forward your testimony to mshea@njacp.org so that we may acknowledge your tremendous effort!

Allies, Inc. Jessica Fiore

Delta Community Supports, Inc. Terrell Myers

Easter Seals, Matt Binder

Everas, Jennifer Rector

Bill Update

• A-2583/S-1237

Governor Murphy signed A-2583/S-1237 that requires information on seizure first-aid to be disseminated to employers. The bill is sponsored by Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald (D-6) and Assemblyman Herb Conaway (D-7) and Senators James Beach (D-6) and Andrew Zwicker (D-16) and is effectively immediatly.

“Seizure first aid” means non-medical procedures to respond, attend, and provide comfort and safety to a person suffering from a primary generalized tonic-clonic seizure or complex partial seizure.

The bill requires the Department of Health create an informational pamphlet poster for employers on rendering seizure first aid to an individual who has suffered a seizure in the workplace. The informational pamphlet or poster may incorporate any available federal guidance, or guidance from non-profit organizations that support the welfare of individuals with epilepsy and seizure disorders, concerning seizure first aid. The information will be posted on the DOH website and disseminated in some way through the DOH. Employers may provide the information and post it when available.

• A-5225/S-3729

Also, on November 27, Governor Murphy conditionally veteod A-5225/S-3729 that provides for coverage of community-based palliative care benefits under Medicaid. The bill sponsored by Assemblywoman Angela McKnight (D-31) and Senator Dick Codey (D-27). The conditional veto supports the bill but opposes that the bill is effective immediately and states that waiver programs take substantial planning and the need for approvals and this should be reflected in the bill as well as ensuring care is equitable across communities. Click here to view conditional veto.