FILE - NJ Ron Dancer

New Jersey Assemblyman Ron Dancer

Department of Labor doubling staff to handle calls

The Department of Labor is doubling its staff to handle calls at unemployment centers across the state. Republicans said they have requested the Department of Labor address staffing shortages for months, but their requests were denied.

“The understaffing of call centers has been an absolute nightmare for out-of-work New Jerseyans who have been forced to spend hours daily for weeks and months trying to get through to an agent to collect their unemployment,” state Sen. Jim Holzapfel, R-Ocean, said in a statement. While the “action is better late than never, why did it take so long for Governor [Phil] Murphy to do the right thing?”

Bill would guarantee residents time to speak at public meetings

Residents would be granted at least three minutes to speak during meetings involving public bodies under a proposed bill. A-5287 expands New Jersey’s Open Public Meetings Act by requiring all public entities to give a public comment period on meeting agendas.

“Our residents should never feel shut out or that their voices aren’t being heard,” state Assemblyman Ron Dancer, R-Ocean, said in a news release. “Having a public comment period makes government better and should be required of all agencies that serve the public or their interests. It allows people to raise issues of concern, be involved in finding solutions, and have a direct line to decision makers.”

Bill would ban pharmacies from selling tobacco products

The Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee approved S-1144 banning New Jersey pharmacies from selling tobacco products and electronic smoking devices.

“Pharmacies have the important responsibility of making and dispensing medicine to patients in the community and providing them with health advice to help them get well,” state Sen. Joe Vitale, D-Middlesex, said in a news release. “With tobacco as the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the nation, it’s antithetical that pharmacies sell tobacco products and smoking devices.”

Businesses would face a civil penalty of at least $250 for a first violation, $500 for a second violation and $1,000 for subsequent offenses.

Bill aims to reduce telemarketing harassment

The Senate Commerce Committee has advanced S-2946 to establish a task force to evaluate appropriate technology and make recommendations to reduce telemarketing harassment and intimidation.

“In order to reduce the harassment and intimidation carried out by some telemarketers, we need to modernize consumer protections to keep up with advancing technology,” state Sen. Anthony Bucco, R-Boonton, said in a news release. “My legislation will establish a task force, consisting of experts and individuals who have experienced telemarketing harassment, to develop strategies to combat this awful behavior.”

The task force would include 11 members, including the state’s attorney general.

– The Center Square