By Vin Gopal, Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey
The Legislature has been busy in Trenton and we’re pleased to report that the Assembly and Senate have just passed several of our bills to assist Monmouth County residents and businesses.
Both houses have passed our bill prohibiting insurance companies from charging a deductible on the cost of purchasing insulin and limiting copayments and coinsurance for this life-sustaining medicine. The price of insulin has risen dramatically, in part because major pharmaceutical companies have successfully blocked generic drug makers from the market. For diabetes sufferers the rising cost of insulin has created an affordability crisis that threatens their health as well as their financial well-being.
Diabetes puts people at higher risk of severe illness from the COVID-19 virus as well as stroke, heart attack, blindness, and kidney failure. There is no cure. Having diabetes means constantly pricking your finger to monitor your blood sugar levels and daily insulin injections or the use of an insulin pump to manage it. Our bill ensures they won’t have to live with financial anxiety as well.
Both houses also passed our bill temporarily extending seasonal retail consumption liquor licenses to the full year.
The coronavirus has hit restaurants especially hard and the spike in cases likely will place them under even greater restrictions in the weeks ahead. Restaurants have been creative in finding ways to stay open by serving outdoors. However, renting tents and buying outdoor heaters is expensive and has placed additional drain on their income and savings as they struggle to stay in business. Making these summer licenses temporarily year-round until January 14, 2022 will help them to recoup some of the losses they incurred from mandatory closures and restricted capacity.
Another of our bills to help businesses will allow farmers and stable operators to house equine-related farm employees in facilities where horses are boarded as “Right to Farm” activities. Farming remains an important sector of our state’s economy and culture as well as a source of natural resource and open space preservation. But it’s a tough business, with long days of hard work to produce small profit margins. In addition to providing better care of horses, our bill will create economic efficiencies for people who stable horses.
The Legislature also agreed with our proposal to recognize veterans who served during time of military operations to combat terrorism. Our veterans and their families have sacrificed and suffered to protect our freedom and they have earned this special recognition for their contributions to the war on terrorism.
The bill creates a “New Jersey Global War on Terrorism Medal” and calls for the governor to award the medal to veterans who served for 30 consecutive days or 60 non-consecutive days in one of the military campaigns to combat terrorism. The medal will also be available for a person killed or missing in action.
One final note: We are pleased that our lobbying efforts to include transportation and infrastructure grants for Legislative District 11 towns in the FY2021 state budget have been successful. We secured at least $4.7 million in funding for the towns in our district.
As we continue to look ahead for ways to assist residents and businesses and improve the quality of life in Monmouth County, we welcome your comments and suggestions. If we can assist you in any way, please go to tinyurl.com/LD11Help and send us your question.