05-21-18: NJAA Charitable Fund Donates to Red Cross Hurricane Maria Relief

posted May 23, 2018, 2:43 PM by Nellie Pou   [ updated May 23, 2018, 2:45 PM ]

PATERSON, NJ, May 21, 2018 — Stephen Waters, senior vice president, Morgan Properties and President of the New Jersey Apartment Association (NJAA) (second from right), along with David H. Brogan, executive director, NJAA, present a $10,000 donation for American Red Cross Hurricane Maria Relief to Ana Montero (center), chief executive officer, American Red Cross New Jersey Region, joined by Assemblywoman Annette Chaparro (D-33rd District) and Senator Nellie Pou (D-35th District).on May 17, 2018 at Senator Pou’s office in Paterson, New Jersey.


“The Red Cross continues recovery efforts to help people impacted by the devastation left in the wake of Hurricane Maria,” said Ana Montero, CEO, American Red Cross New Jersey Region. “The New Jersey Apartment Association Charitable Fund’s generosity enables the Red Cross to help hurricane survivors as they face many challenges in the months to come.”


More than seven months after Hurricane Maria devastated parts of the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, the Red Cross and its partners are providing ongoing relief and recovery assistance to affected residents.


“The work of the American Red Cross is instrumental to communities following major disasters such as hurricanes and floods,” said Stephen Waters, senior vice president, Morgan Properties and President of the NJAA. “The New Jersey Apartment Association is dedicated to assisting where we can, and we are pleased that the NJAA Charitable Fund can contribute to the ongoing efforts of the Red Cross, helping those devastated by Hurricane Maria.”


During a February visit to Puerto Rico, both Senator Pou and Assemblywoman Chaparro volunteered to help the Red Cross deliver relief items to heavily-damaged neighborhoods in remote areas of the island.


“This generous donation from the NJAA Charitable Fund to the American Red Cross will help our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico recover from Maria. The new Hurricane Season will start soon and we don’t know what it may bring to the island, but what we do know is the dire need that currently exists, and that we must continue to provide as many resources as we can to help as many families as possible,” said Senator Nellie Pou (D-35th District).


As they toured parts of the island earlier this year, Senator Pou, Assemblywoman Chaparro and Ana Montero had the opportunity to personally speak to families with no power, no running water and no means of communication.


“Providing any type of immediate relief to those affected by Hurricane Maria made a world of difference to the families we visited in Puerto Rico,” said Assemblywoman Annette Chaparro (D-33rd District).


About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

About the American Red Cross in New Jersey
The American Red Cross provides programs and services to a population of 8.8 million in New Jersey. The Red Cross trains and mobilizes more than 5,000 volunteers who support the delivery of services throughout the state. In New Jersey last year, the Red Cross responded to more than 820 local disasters, mostly home fires, helping nearly 1,900 displaced families; collected more than 90,500 units of blood through blood drives and Red Cross Blood Donation Centers; provided more than 4,180 military family case services with emergency messages, helping families find assistance and/or get counseling and referrals; and trained more than 113,200 individuals with life-saving skills in preparedness, CPR, AED use, first aid and aquatics. For more information, please visit and follow us on Twitter

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05-15-18: Pou Joint Resolution to Establish Commission to Review Life Without Parole Sentences for Juvenile Offenders Advances

posted May 16, 2018, 4:47 PM by Nellie Pou

TRENTON - A joint resolution sponsored by Senate Commerce Committee Chairwoman Nellie Pou that establishes a commission to review life without parole sentences for juvenile offenders advanced from the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee yesterday.
"We need to be careful that we do not completely write off young people who have committed serious crimes as incapable of ever being rehabilitated," said Senator Pou (D-Passaic/Bergen). "We have to be sure that constructive life sentences for juvenile offenders are truly appropriate when handed down by the courts. This resolution would establish a commission to study later review of juvenile sentences with lengthy periods of parole ineligibility, and to consider whether defendants should be entitled to appointed counsel at that hearing."
The joint resolution, SJR-18, would establish the "Commission to Review Constructive Sentences of Life Imprisonment on Juvenile Offenders." The commission would examine issues concerning sentencing and parole of juvenile offenders who are tried as adults for serious, violent crime which may result in a constructive life term of imprisonment without a reasonable opportunity for parole.
The Commission would be required to:
  • evaluate the impact of recent United States and New Jersey Supreme Court rulings on juvenile offenders who are sentenced to constructive life terms of imprisonment without a reasonable opportunity for parole and should consider whether State criminal sentencing laws should be revised to take into account certain sentencing factors set forth in these cases;
  • assess whether the age of majority in New Jersey is the appropriate age threshold under which the court would determine if the "mitigating qualities of youth" and these sentencing factors should be considered at sentencing or whether another approach is more appropriate;
  • identify and evaluate possible methods for providing persons currently serving constructive terms of imprisonment for crimes committed as a juvenile a reasonable opportunity for release when appropriate, such as resentencing by the court or establishing statutory limits on parole ineligibility with retroactive applicability;
  • determine whether these juvenile defendants should have the right to legal counsel at court or parole hearings;
  • consider the impact that juvenile resentencing or parole alternatives may have on the victims to ensure that any recommended reform satisfies the constitutional mandate to treat crime victims with fairness, compassion and respect.
The commission would consist of 15 members: two from the Senate, two from the Assembly, six ex-officio members (including  the Administrative Director of the Courts, the Attorney General, the Commissioner of Corrections, the Executive Director of the Juvenile Justice Commission, the Public Defender and the Chairman of the State Parole Board),  and five public members appointed by the Governor (including a retired Superior Court judge, a county prosecutor, a victims' rights advocate, a representative of a civil rights or social justice organization, and a State law school faculty member with expertise in juvenile justice issues). Members of the commission would serve without compensation.
The commission would report within six months of its organizational meeting and expire upon submission of that report.
In the 2016-2017 session, the Attorney General's Office and the Administrative Office of the Courts supported the joint resolution.
The joint resolution passed out of committee by a vote of 4-0 and moves to the full Senate for consideration.

05-03-18: Pou Praises State Board of Education's Vote to Return Local Control of Paterson Public Schools

posted May 4, 2018, 7:05 AM by Nellie Pou   [ updated May 4, 2018, 7:05 AM ]

TRENTON – State Senator Nellie Pou praised the State Board of Education’s unanimous votes Wednesday to begin the transition from state control to local control of the Paterson School District.


“It has taken nearly 27 years for this moment, but the day is here when the hard work of the people of Paterson to improve their public school system has been validated and recognized by the State Board of Education,” said Senator Pou (D-Passaic/Bergen). “The reasons for the initial state takeover were complex, but the process to return local control became too muddled over the decades. Generations of students have gone through their entire educational process in a district controlled by outside forces.


“But Patersonians, educators and school administrators were never deterred. Little by little, progress was made on all fronts. Paterson schools are getting better each year, each day and with each student. This is a victory for everyone, whether they are parents, educators, students or residents of Paterson.


“A good public education is a guaranteed constitutional right in New Jersey. Stakeholders in the system need to be the ones making the decisions about public education in their community. I applaud the State Board of Education for its unanimous votes Wednesday – votes that brings us closer to complete local control. And applaud all the people of Paterson who have worked so hard for this moment.”


The state took control of the Paterson School District in 1991, returning limited amounts of control over the past decade. It voted Wednesday to return the final areas of control of the district to local officials and to authorize the Commissioner of Education to develop the final transition process for full local control. The process is expected to take a year. 

05-02-18: Pou Names to Executive Committee of National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators

posted May 4, 2018, 7:03 AM by Nellie Pou   [ updated May 4, 2018, 7:03 AM ]

TRENTON – State Senate Commerce Committee Chairwoman Nellie Pou announced today that she has been appointed to serve as the East Region Chairwoman and as a member of the Executive Committee Leadership of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL) for 2017-2019.


“I am truly honored by this appointment,” said Senator Pou (D-Passaic/Bergen). “As an Hispanic legislator representing a district rich in diversity, this is indeed an honor and also an opportunity to bring my experiences in North Jersey to a larger forum. Particularly in today’s climate of xenophobia and nationalism, it is important for all Hispanic state legislators to work together to protect the rights of so many individuals – citizens, documented immigrants and undocumented ones – living in our communities.”


The NHCSL was founded in 1989 as a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501(c)3. Its mission is to be the foremost organization serving and representing the interests of Hispanic state legislators from all states, commonwealths and territories of the United States and the Western Hemisphere.  The NHCSL meets its mission by serving as a catalyst for joint action on issues of common concern, such as housing, immigration, education and healthcare to all segments of the Hispanic community.


Additionally, the NHCSL provides a forum for information exchange and member networking, supports leadership training, acts as a liaison with sister U.S. Hispanic organizations, promotes public and private partnerships with business and labor, and partners with Hispanic state or provincial legislators and their associations represented throughout the world.

02-12-18: Pou Statement on Governor Murphy’s Efforts to Help Puerto Rico

posted Feb 13, 2018, 7:29 PM by Nellie Pou   [ updated Feb 13, 2018, 7:30 PM ]

TRENTON – Senator Nellie Pou issued the following statement on actions taken today by Governor Phil Murphy to aid the devastated island of Puerto Rico. Governor Murphy today signed an Executive Order to create the Commission on Puerto Rico Relief to continue support efforts he pledged to provide to Puerto Rico:


Hurricane Maria devastated the Island of Puerto Rico in September of 2017 leaving millions of American Citizens homeless, without electricity, drinking water and food. 


“I applaud Governor Murphy for taking action to provide the help that is desperately needed to aid the population of the affected regions in Puerto Rico and the thousands of Puerto Ricans who have left to seek refuge in the Garden State. Prioritizing this issue is the right thing to do to help in the recovery process and to alleviate the needs of Puerto Ricans who have relocated to the Garden State since Hurricane Maria hit the island. 


“We must make sure that our fellow American citizens of Puerto Rico are not abandoned during this extraordinary time as they continue fighting to recover from the devastation created by Hurricane Maria. 


“So far we have seen an outpouring of support from New Jerseyans, Governor Murphy, and our first responders across the State. I know we will continue to see our residents stepping up to help our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico and the tens of thousands Puerto Ricans who have relocated to the Garden State for weeks, months and years to come.


“Together, we will work to help our fellow citizens get through this difficult time and help them rise again.”

02-08-18: Ruiz, Cunningham & Pou Bill Providing ‘DREAMers’ College Financial Aid Eligibility Advances

posted Feb 8, 2018, 2:04 PM by Nellie Pou   [ updated Feb 8, 2018, 2:08 PM ]

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senate Education Committee Chair M. Teresa Ruiz, Senate Higher Education Committee Chair Sandra Bolden Cunningham and Senator Nellie Pou to allow DREAMers to qualify for state financial aid programs to help cover the cost of attending an eligible higher education institution was approved today by the Senate Higher Education Committee.


“We make significant investments in our DREAMers K-12 education, but our state’s financial aid policies unfairly treat them like they don’t exist once they graduate,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “We started with the first step of providing in-state tuition rates to DREAMers, and now we are fulfilling the promise to provide financial assistance eligibility. These students are New Jerseyans and they are part of what makes our state great and our economy strong. Improving access to higher education with access to financial aid will create a stronger economy, a more educate workforce and a brighter future for all of us.”


“DREAMers are an integral part of our state, and for many of these young people it is the only home they’ve known. Improving access to college by allowing eligibility for financial aid programs, in addition to in-state tuition rates, is about doing the right thing for students who have worked hard to be successful and want nothing more than to attend college, get a job and continue contributing to our state," said Senator Cunningham (D-Hudson). “I am proud to sponsor this legislation and to be part of the effort to provide resources that are very necessary for our New Jersey student population, but will also benefit the entire state.”


“This will provide DREAMers with additional means to achieve their dreams of going to college, getting a degree and creating a better life for themselves and their families,” said Senator Pou (D-Passaic and Bergen). “These kids know no other home than America. We must protect them. This is a major step forward for our state and I am thrilled that we are advancing this legislation and that New Jersey is taking such aggressive measures to make the lives of DREAMers better. By making their lives better, it makes all of us better.  I look forward to seeing this bill become law.”


The bill, S-699, would direct the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority and the Secretary of Higher Education to establish procedures and forms that enable eligible students to apply for, and participate in, the financial assistance programs allowing students including those without lawful immigration status to apply in any student financial aid programs administered by HESAA. Under the bill the student would be required have attended high school in this State for three or more years; have graduated from a high school in this State or received the equivalent of a high school diploma in this State; register as an entering student or be currently enrolled in a public institution of higher education not earlier than the fall semester of the 2018-2019 academic year; and in the case of a person without lawful immigration status, file an affidavit with the institution of higher education stating that the student has filed an application to legalize their immigration status or would be filing an application as soon as they are eligible to do so.


According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, New Jersey has the ninth-highest number of DREAMers in the country with 22,024 recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program through March 31, 2017. Out of the 77,000 undocumented immigrants in New Jersey, 51,000 are eligible for DACA. Eligibility depends on their age and/or date of arrival in the U.S. Anyone who had come to the U.S before the age of 16 or was under the age of 31 in June 2012, had some level of education and no criminal records were eligible to apply for DACA.


According to New Jersey Policy Perspective, DACA recipients contribute to the Garden State approximately $1.6 billion every year in its Gross Domestic Product and contribute $66 million in state and local taxes each year.


In December 2013, the Legislature passed and the governor signed legislation allowing undocumented students to pay in-state tuition at the State’s public institutions of higher education. With this legislation, New Jersey would join other states, which include California, New Mexico, Minnesota, Texas and Washington, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, that have gone further to provide undocumented students access to financial aid.


The bill was approved by a vote of 3-2. It now heads to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for a vote. 

01-26-18: Pou-Chaparro to Join American Red Cross-New Jersey In Puerto Rico to Survey Damage from Hurricane Maria

posted Jan 26, 2018, 6:07 AM by Nellie Pou   [ updated Jan 26, 2018, 6:07 AM ]

TRENTON – Senator Nellie Pou and Assemblywoman Annette Chaparro will travel to Puerto Rico today to tour and survey impacted areas of Humacao and Utuado, along with members of the American Red Cross New Jersey Region.

“The people of Puerto Rico are still dealing with the massive devastation that Hurricane Maria left behind,” said Senator Pou (D- Bergen/Passaic). “New Jersey is deeply connected to Puerto Rico and I believe it is critical that we provide support to our fellow citizens as they work to recover from this natural disaster. The need is great and we must continue to make sure we help in the recovery. The people of Puerto Rico are not only our fellow citizens, but to many of us, they are family.”   

The legislators, with members of American Red Cross New Jersey Region, will leave for Puerto Rico Friday, January 26, to survey the devastation left by Maria just over five months ago. The Red Cross is also delivering solar panels and generators in the area of Humacao. They will be returning on Sunday, January 28.

The New York Times and several news organizations conducted independent analyses and found that the number of deaths traceable to the storm was probably far higher than the official count of 64. On December 18, 2017, the New York Times analysis of Puerto Rico’s vital statistics bureau report found that 1,052 more people had died across the island in the 42 days after Maria struck compared to the same time period in 2015 and 2016.

In December, Senator Pou and Assemblywomen Chaparro travelled to the island, along with Senator M. Teresa Ruiz, and Nilsa Cruz-Perez, and Governor-elect Phil Murphy, First Lady Tammy Murphy, community leaders and other elected officials from New Jersey to survey the devastation and recovery efforts on the island in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

“We have not forgotten our family and friends in Puerto Rico,” said Assemblywoman Chaparro (D-Hudson). “I say they are family and friends, not because I have family and friends in Puerto Rico, but because so many of us here in New Jersey can say the same. Our commitment is firm and resolute. Puerto Rico will rebuild and we will do whatever we can to assist.”

01-24-18: Pou Statement on State’s Plan to Join Federal Lawsuit Challenging Trump's DACA Policies

posted Jan 26, 2018, 6:03 AM by Nellie Pou   [ updated Jan 26, 2018, 6:04 AM ]

TRENTON –Senator Nellie Pou (D-Passaic-Bergen) today issued the following statement on the state’s plan to join 15 states and the District of Columbia to challenge the Trump Administration over ending the protections of recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program:

“We are proud to join the other states that are standing up to Trump’s misguided and misplaced actions, with not just rhetoric but with action. We must protect the best interest of our state and communities. Dreamers represent what is best about our country. There are nearly 800,000 DACA recipients nationwide with Jersey being a proud home to 22,000. The DACA program has been an unbelievable success with more than 90 percent in school or in the workforce nationwide. I want to thank Governor Phil Murphy for taking action in protecting the thousands of Dreamers who live, work and study in our state.

 “These Dreamers all grew up in our great country, registered with our government, and all submitted to extensive background checks. The future of America is bright because of them. They love the United States of America and they are proud to be part of it.”

12/14/17: Pou, Ruiz & Cruz-Perez to Join Governor-elect Murphy and NJ Delegation to Survey Hurricane Maria Recovery Efforts in Puerto Rico

posted Dec 19, 2017, 3:42 PM by Nellie Pou   [ updated Dec 19, 2017, 3:42 PM ]

TRENTON – Senators Nellie Pou, M. Teresa Ruiz and Nilsa Cruz-Perez issued the following statements on plans to travel to Puerto Rico tomorrow with Governor-elect Phil Murphy, future First Lady Tammy Murphy, community leaders and other elected officials from New Jersey to survey the devastation and recovery efforts on the island in the wake of Hurricane Maria.


“New Jersey is deeply connected to Puerto Rico and it is critical that we provide support to our fellow citizens as they work to recover from this natural disaster,” said Senator Pou (D-Bergen and Passaic). “I am grateful the Governor-elect is focusing on the needs of our neighbors in Puerto Rico and look forward to discussing how New Jersey can continue to provide aid and resources to the island in the weeks and months ahead.”


“The residents of Puerto Rico have experienced unprecedented devastation and are continuing to suffer from the effects of Hurricane Maria. It is imperative that New Jersey helps to provide assistance that will be necessary for recovery,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “I am proud to join Governor-elect Murphy and the New Jersey delegation to get a firsthand look at the needs of the island and to continue our work to provide relief to the victims of the recent disasters.”


“There continues to be extraordinary need on the island for basic necessities, and nearly three months after the storm some areas are still without power,” said Senator Cruz Perez (D-Camden and Gloucester). “I look forward to meeting with officials on the ground and to discussing how we can support the recovery effort on the island and help to make sure the people of Puerto Rico get the vital assistance they need.”

12/14/17: Pou/Beach Bill Extending Health Benefits Coverage of Newborns Clears Committee

posted Dec 19, 2017, 3:37 PM by Nellie Pou   [ updated Dec 19, 2017, 3:40 PM ]

TRENTON – Legislation, sponsored by Senator Nellie Pou and Senator James Beach, extending the time period in which newborns are covered under their parents’ health benefits coverage to 60 days after birth was approved by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.


“After childbirth the parents of a newborn are consumed with the many responsibilities of keeping their newborn healthy and safe and the short timeframe for enrolling their child in health insurance can be problematic,” said Senator Pou (D-Bergen/Passaic), chair of the Senate Commerce Committee. “This bill would provide a longer period of time for children to be covered under their parents’ health care benefits and ensure that children are not left without insurance during the first few months of life.”


Current law limits the coverage of newly born children to 30 days from their birth. At the conclusion of 30 days, the child would be without coverage, unless the parents enroll the child in a private health benefits coverage policy or in a State or federal program, such as FamilyCare. The bill, S-837, would apply only to private health insurance policies.


“Having health insurance is critically important for a newborn and going through the process of securing coverage requires time," said Senator Beach (D-Camden/Burlington). “This legislation will ensure that the parents of a newborn have ample time to get their child enrolled and covered. This will both benefit the newborn child and prevent parents from being stuck with costly medical costs from their baby going uninsured.”


The bill would take effect immediately.


According to a report by the New Jersey Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS), approximately 65 percent of women who had a live birth from 2002 to 2005 were covered by private insurance; 32 percent were covered by NJ FamilyCare (Medicaid); and three percent were uninsured at the time of birth.


The bill was approved by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee with a vote of 12-0. It now heads to the full Senate for further consideration.

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