POLITICS & GOVERNMENT

Assembly Approves Opioid Antidote Bill, One Requiring Tax Returns from Presidential Candidates

By Brenda Flanagan
Correspondent

When someone ODs on opioids, cops often need to administer multiple doses of the antidote to stabilize victims. But state directives say EMS and firefighters must call supervisors for permission to give more than one dose.

Firefighter John Armato recalls one case: “The family was there literally screaming for us to help him. Extremely frustrating. The people who were trained had to stop what they are doing and make a phone call.”

“It’s a benign drug. We’re not going to hurt anybody by giving them the extra dose. But we can save lives,” said Ed Donnelly, president of the New Jersey State Firefighters Mutual Benevolent Association.

Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo sponsored a bill giving EMS and firefighters leeway to use opioid antidotes as often as necessary, especially since heroin’s often cut with more powerful fentanyl.

“The idea is let them do their job where they can administer it two or three times. Save lives because the statistics are out there,” Mazzeo said.

Almost no dissent from the Assembly on that. But lawmakers did clash over Democrats’ plans to sue Gov. Chris Christie for defying the Legislature and loosening rules on permits to carry handguns. Christie’s change requires only a serious threat as a threshold, instead of the more stringent “urgent necessity.”

“It’s unfortunate that we have to take this route but again the governor just can’t do what he pleases. I know it’s an argument over who’s going to be carrying these guns but at the end of the day when somebody’s carrying a gun something bad could happen,” said Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto.

“This does not open up the doors to guns throughout the state. It is a minor adjustment that is fair, reasonable and that this Legislature should support,” said Assemblyman Jon Bramnick.

The measure passed 46 to 29.

A bill requiring presidential candidates make their tax returns public in order to get on New Jersey’s presidential ballot prompted partisan debate — that it stems from Donald Trump’s refusal to release his tax documents.

“He or any other future candidate will have to release five years of their tax returns. It just makes sense. Voters are to be informed about information contained in those tax returns,” said Assemblyman John McKeon.

“This one is both transparently political and blatantly constitutional. I’m really appalled that it would come before our House today in this fashion. We all know that the majority party wants to redo on 2016. It’s not going to happen,” said Assemblyman Jay Webber.

“Why just presidential candidates? Why not gubernatorial candidates? Why not legislative candidates? You want to do everyone? OK,” said Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon.

The vote: 48 to 26 in favor.

Lawmakers also approved a bill to make pet shops post USDA inspection records for all animals sold as consumer protection.

“This is protecting good business and making sure that as pets come into your home, they’re part of your family, you know where they are coming from,” said Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle.

Pet shops call the measure onerous but since the USDA removed inspection report data from its website, animal advocates say this is the only way consumers can get crucial information before buying a pet.