NJ Legislature Launches Historic Bipartisan Disability Caucus

December 16, 2020

On December 1st, the New Jersey Legislative Disability Caucus announced its launch in a virtual meeting, making New Jersey the 8th state in the country to have such a caucus. The Caucus’s founding members are a bipartisan group of nearly 30 legislators chaired by Senate President Steve Sweeney. The New Jersey Council on Developmental Disabilities (NJCDD) spearheaded the advocacy for the creation of this caucus, and more than a dozen disability agencies have signed on as supporting agencies. Autism New Jersey is among the supporting agencies and proud to be a part of this important initiative.

The purpose of the Caucus is to ensure that the needs and contributions of individuals with disabilities and their families are considered at every stage of the legislative process. The founding members and supporting agencies will work together to increase awareness of issues that impact the disability community and ensure that legislators consider the impact of their legislation on individuals with disabilities.

The successful launch event included remarks from many of the founding members, including Senators Sweeney, Kean, Gopal, and Bucco and Assemblymembers Greenwald, Downey, Murphy, Benson, Lampitt and Vainieri Huttle. Supporting agencies, self-advocates, and parents also participated, sharing personal stories and speaking to the importance of disability-focused policy and the impact it has had on their lives.

“Autism New Jersey looks forward to working closely with the Caucus and the supporting agencies to elevate the discourse and advance policy that positively impacts the disability community throughout New Jersey,” said Executive Director Dr. Suzanne Buchanan.

The founding Legislative Disability Caucus members are:

  • Senator Stephen M. Sweeney – chair
  • Senator Anthony M. Bucco
  • Senator Kristin M. Corrado
  • Senator Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr.
  • Senator Vin Gopal
  • Senator Thomas H. Kean, Jr.
  • Senator Fred H. Madden, Jr.
  • Senator Declan J. O’Scanlon, Jr.
  • Senator M. Teresa Ruiz
  • Senator Troy Singleton
  • Senator Joseph F. Vitale
  • Assemblyman Daniel R. Benson
  • Assemblywoman Annette Chaparro
  • Assemblyman Nicholas Chiaravalloti
  • Assemblyman Ronald S. Dancer
  • Assemblywoman Joann Downey
  • Assemblywoman Aura K. Dunn
  • Assemblyman Louis D. Greenwald
  • Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling
  • Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle
  • Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt
  • Assemblywoman Yvonne Lopez
  • Assemblywoman Nancy F. Munoz
  • Assemblywoman Carol A. Murphy
  • Assemblywoman Holly T. Schepisi
  • Assemblyman Adam J. Taliaferro
  • Assemblywoman Britnee N. Timberlake
  • Assemblyman Anthony S. Verrelli
  • Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker

The supporting agencies are:

  • New Jersey Council on Developmental Disabilities
  • Alliance for the Betterment of Citizens with Disabilities
  • Arc of New Jersey
  • Autism New Jersey
  • The Boggs Center on Developmental Disabilities, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
  • Brain Injury Alliance of New Jersey
  • Disability Rights New Jersey
  • New Jersey Association of Community Providers
  • New Jersey Association of Mental Health & Addiction Agencies
  • New Jersey State Independent Living Council
  • Ombudsman for Individuals with Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities and Their Families
  • SPAN Parent Advocacy Network
  • Supportive Housing Association of New Jersey

Recordings of the meeting webinars can be found on the NJCDD’s You Tube Channel.

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