Democrat,

I want to start this week by highlighting that the application for federal student loan debt relief is open now until December 31, 2023. Filling it out takes less than 5 minutes and eligible applicants could receive up to $20,000 in loan forgiveness if they were Pell Grant recipients and up to $10,000 for non-Pell Grant recipients. 

Click here to apply!

On Monday, because of President Biden’s administration, retailers began selling hearing aids over the counter at much lower costs for consumers. The FDA estimates that the rule could lower average costs by as much as $3,000 per pair of hearing aids, which could impact nearly 30 million Americans with hearing loss.

You can read more about this historic move towards more affordable healthcare here.

GOVERNOR MURPHY UPDATE

Governor Murphy was in Utah this week for the National Governors Association’s Youth Mental Health Convening. Gov. Murphy serves as Chair of the NGA alongside Governor of Utah, Spencer Cox, as Vice-Chair. 

The convening included panel and roundtable discussions with medical professionals, parents, and youth focusing on the current state of youth mental health, providing youth with the supports and tools needed to cope with stressors and challenges, building resiliency, and addressing workforce shortages so we can provide our children and families with health care services when they need it.

Governor Murphy’s 2022-2023 Chair’s Initiative focuses on four key pillars to addressing youth mental health:

  • Addressing Prevention And Resilience Building – providing youth with the supports and tools necessary to cope with stressors and challenges, helping them to thrive and reduce likelihood of engaging in unhealthy or damaging behaviors.
  • Increasing Awareness And Reducing Stigma – promoting awareness of mental health resources and foundational mental health knowledge by expanding easy access points to education, helplines and state services.
  • Insuring Access And Affordability Of Quality Treatment And Care – addressing the barriers that prevent youth from accessing care including ensuring high quality care is available in the places, spaces, and timeframes that youth want and need, and that costs and lack of insurance coverage do not prevent access.
  • Training And Supporting Caregivers And Teachers – expanding existing training and supports so that those caring for and interacting with youth daily have the tools and understanding to identify mental health needs and how to facilitate access to supports for youth

Governors Murphy and Cox also have a new joint piece in The Hill entitled “A wake-up call for youth mental health,” which you can read here.

ELECTION UPDATE

You can use the Voter Resources page on our website to check voter registration status, apply to vote by mail, and track your ballot.

It is critical that Democrats show up in large numbers for this midterm election so mobilizing voters from around our state is urgent and we need your help. We have several opportunities coming up to get involved and phone or text bank right from the comfort of your own home: 

Our Choose Choice Phone Bank and Texting happens every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. We contact women in our most vulnerable congressional districts and make it clear where women in New Jersey stand on the right to our own bodies. Former Texas State Senator Wendy Davis will be our special guest on Tuesday, October 25th!

The LGBTQ+ Caucus will be hosting phone banking sessions on Thursdays to support LGBTQ+ candidates running for office. You can sign up here to join.

The Black and Progressive Caucuses will also be calling voters in Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman’s district on Thursday, October 27th. Sign up here!

The Veterans Caucus will be getting out the vote for veterans in New Jersey on Sunday, October 30th. Sign up here to join!

PRESIDENT BIDEN UPDATE

I didn’t want to pass over the monumental news of President Biden deciding to pardon federal marijuana possession charges – massively changing and improving the lives of thousands of Americans who had previously been convicted of simple possession and could be denied employment, housing, or educational opportunities as a result. He also requested that the Attorney General and Secretary of Health & Human Services look at how marijuana is classified. Currently, marijuana is classified the same as heroin – and more dangerous than fentanyl, which we know not to be the case. 

While Governor Murphy and our Democratic legislative leaders led the fight to legalize marijuana here in New Jersey, these moves at the federal level are important milestones in rectifying the lives that have been upended because of the bad policies that resulted in a massive, unfair, and racially charged boom in our jails and prisons. 

— Chairman LeRoy J. Jones, Jr.

P.S. I was pleased to attend two incredible community events in Newark this last week – the Breast Cancer Walk on Sunday and the Dedication of the Senator Ronald L Rice Sports Complex at Vailsburg Park, commemorating the years of dedicated service Senator Rice gave to Newark, and New Jersey.