Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle has made a commitment to the vulnerable citizens of New Jersey, particularly those with developmental disabilities in residential facilities, including group homes, nursing homes, psychiatric hospitals and other in-patient settings. In addition, she is also in a strategic position to serve such New Jerseyans with special needs. Currently, Huttle serves as the chair of the Human Services Committee, as the Co-Chair of the Legislative Panel on State Psychiatric Hospitals and Developmental Centers, and as Vice-Chair of the Committee on Consumer Affairs.
The Assemblywoman has asserted her concern for those with disabling conditions by introducing key legislative initiatives. For example, she has introduced a bill that would require the State Division of Developmental Disabilities to notify the families of developmentally disabled people about the programs and services available to them. In addition, Huttle has introduced the Assembly version of “Tara’s Law”, a bill designed to protect those with developmental disabilities from abuse and neglect in residential facilities.
Assembly bill 2966, introduced by Huttle, is designed to ensure the protection of individuals with developmental disabilities in community care residences and to provide oversight regarding the medical care and training of such individuals. Furthermore, the bill would require an examining physician to report an injury or evidence of abuse of a resident to the Department of Human Services.
People with significant disabilities have been among the “voiceless” victims who have been unable to report episodes of abuse and Valerie Huttle has indicated that they should not be abandoned.
Assemblywoman Huttle has served in the State Legislature since January 2006. Prior to her tenure in the Assembly, she served on the Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders, where her colleagues elected her as the Chairperson for two terms. Furthermore, Huttle served as a member of the Community Oversight Board at Bergen Regional Medical Center, as well as a member of the county Board of Social Services. In addition, the Assemblywoman served on the Board of School Estimate at the Bergen County Technical Schools and the Board of School Estimate at Bergen Community College.
As a pro-active champion of civil and human rights, Huttle has been one of a small core group of legislators who have worked tirelessly to recognize the value of all New Jerseyans. She has fought for those who are often forgotten by society, and has been willing to confront those who she believes are creating barriers for the downtrodden citizens who are struggling for a reasonable quality of life. In essence, Huttle has provided a voice for the “voiceless” and hope for those in “hopeless” situations.
Dr. Salvatore Pizzuro, a Disability Policy Specialist, holds a doctorate in Developmental Disabilities from Columbia University and an advanced degree in Disability Law from New York Law School.