From Chairman LeRoy J. Jones, Jr. <[email protected]>
Subject Chairman’s Update: Black History Month, Safeguarding Repro Rights, and More!
Date February 2, 2024 11:34 PM
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February is a month rich in historical and cultural significance, notably marked by the celebration of Black History Month. This dedicated time honors the enduring contributions, resilience, and heritage of Black Americans, serving as a poignant reminder of their vital role in shaping our nation's history with determination, brilliance, and courage.

Celebrating Black history is not merely an act of recognition; it is a commitment to understanding the profound impact that Black individuals and communities have had on our society. It is an acknowledgment of the triumphs achieved against insurmountable odds, the cultural richness that has permeated every facet of American life, and the lasting legacy that continues to influence and inspire future generations. From the struggles for civil rights to the contributions in arts, sciences, politics, and every field imaginable, Black Americans have left an enduring mark, enhancing the tapestry of our diverse nation.

As we reflect upon the progress made in the fight for true equity, it is impossible to ignore the significant strides that have been achieved. From the Civil Rights Movement to the election of the first Black President, we have witnessed historic moments that have reshaped the narrative of equality and justice in America. However, it is equally imperative to recognize that our work is far from complete. The fight for true equity persists, manifesting itself in systemic challenges, disparities, and ongoing struggles against racial injustice. In acknowledging the progress made, we must also confront the reality that there is much ground to cover before we achieve the vision of an equitable society for all.

This Black History Month, let us not only celebrate the achievements but also engage in the meaningful conversations that propel us forward. We must amplify the voices that have been historically marginalized and continue to champion policies that dismantle systemic barriers. As Democrats, we remain steadfast in our commitment to building a more just, inclusive, and equitable society—one where every individual, regardless of their background, can thrive and contribute to the collective progress of our nation.

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Governor Murphy and Attorney General Platkin announced this week that New Jersey joined the amicus brief [[link removed]] , led by the State of New York, in support of the U.S. Supreme Court case of Food and Drug Administration, et al., v. Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, which threatens to restrict or eliminate access to reproductive medications, like mifepristone, that have been the standard of care for most abortions and miscarriage management.

“I want to thank Attorney General Matt Platkin and his office for leading the charge with our New York neighbors against the activists who want to control what should be a deeply personal, individual decision,” said Governor Murphy. “My administration has worked tirelessly to ensure that New Jersey remains a bastion for the fundamental right to make one’s own reproductive choices. This includes protecting access to medications, like mifepristone, which have proven to be a safe and effective, medically-tested reproductive option for years.”

I applaud Governor Murphy's unwavering commitment to safeguarding women's autonomy and their right to make their own personal healthcare decisions. In the face of potential restrictions that could impede women's reproductive choices, Governor Murphy's administration has tirelessly championed the cause of ensuring that New Jersey remains a haven for the fundamental right to make individual decisions about one’s reproductive health. His proactive efforts in defending access to medically-tested options like mifepristone highlight a commitment to the well-being and autonomy of women across the state. Governor Murphy's leadership is a beacon of progress in the ongoing battle for reproductive rights and healthcare justice.

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February is Black History Month, and we are proud to dedicate this month to recognizing the outstanding contributions of Black Caucus members and leaders in our state. Throughout February, we will shine a spotlight on individuals who continue to make history, serving as exemplary community leaders and advocates for the rights and well-being of the Black community in New Jersey.

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First up, we are proud to shine a spotlight on Althea D. Ford, a proud native of New Jersey and resident of Edison, who stands as a remarkable leader in our state. Currently serving as the Vice President of Government Affairs for the New Jersey Business & Industry Association, Ford has a rich history of dedication to public service. Her previous roles include serving as the director of government relations for the New Jersey State Funeral Directors Association (NJSFDA) and contributing to higher education administration at Columbia University’s Teachers College in New York City. A distinguished alumna of Vanderbilt University, Ford furthered her education by earning a master’s degree in politics and education from Columbia University's Teachers College in 2010. In 2012, she successfully completed the New Leaders Council–New Jersey (NLC-NJ) Fellowship Program, showcasing her commitment to leadership development. Ford's impactful journey extends to her service on the executive board of NLC-NJ, highlighting her continuous dedication to shaping a better future for our community.

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We are also proud to highlight the work of Senator Britnee N. Timberlake, a seasoned leader committed to driving positive change and fostering a brighter future for all. Armed with a bachelor's degree in political science and a minor in religious studies, as well as an M.P.A. specializing in nonprofit management from Seton Hall University, Senator Timberlake has honed her expertise in navigating complex systems. Her impressive journey includes founding and leading the Essex Community Land Trust, showcasing her commitment to community-driven solutions. Serving as the housing chair for the Montclair NAACP, Timberlake actively addresses societal issues. As a purpose-driven and impact-focused individual, she sits at the table to ensure the success of NJ families, eliminate systemic barriers, and craft pragmatic legislative solutions to tackle long standing societal challenges. With a legislative record that prioritizes principles over politics, Senator Timberlake is a compassionate humanitarian and equity builder, striving to make a meaningful impact on the lives of individuals and families alike.

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After decades of opposition, President Biden enacted a law that finally takes on Big Pharma and gives Medicare the power to negotiate drug prices. President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act will save millions of seniors money on some of the costliest prescription drugs on the market — and now, Medicare will send initial offers to manufacturers of the first ten drugs selected for drug price negotiation to help bring down the price of these prescription drugs. This is the first time ever that Medicare is not accepting the drug prices the pharmaceutical companies set.

Until the Inflation Reduction Act, Medicare was prohibited from directly negotiating prescription drug prices to get the best deal for seniors, even as other government agencies that provide health services actively negotiate lower drug prices. The Veterans Health Administration, Department of Defense, and Medicaid all have the power to negotiate drug prices, and they pay less than Medicare, on average, for top-selling brand-name drugs.

Later this year, new, negotiated prices for the first ten prescription drugs selected for the negotiation program are scheduled to be announced. Over the next four years, Medicare will select up to 60 drugs for negotiation — and up to 20 additional drugs per year after that. Beyond that, millions of seniors with diabetes are already benefiting from the $35 cap for a month’s supply of insulin under the President’s IRA. Fifteen million Americans are saving $800 per year on health insurance premiums. And seniors that took the 47 drugs covered by Medicare Part B that hiked prices faster than inflation in 2023 had lower coinsurance [[link removed]] , with some enrollees saving as much as $618 per dose.

No matter how many times House Republicans try to repeal the Inflation Reduction Act, President Biden knows how it is delivering for American families, and his Administration will continue the fight to lower health care costs for more Americans.

— Chairman LeRoy J. Jones, Jr.

P.S. The delegate application for the 2024 Democratic National Convention is now open through March 6th! New Jersey has 146 delegates and 20 districts under the DSP, and we’re committed to our goals of having a diverse and equitable delegation. Interested in being a pledged delegate? Apply now at []

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