Author: NJ Assembly Republicans

Assembly Approves Dancer Bipartisan Bill Promoting Native Plants in State Landscape Projects

Source: Assembly Republican Press Release -

Ron Dancer

Legislation requiring state entities to purchase native plants for land management and restoration projects, sponsored by Assembly Republican Ron Dancer, won approval of the General Assembly today. Dancer’s bill, A-1305, promotes the use of trees, shrubs and grasses that are indigenous to the state for all landscaping projects under the direction of state agencies, departments, authorities or colleges.

“Native plants have a better chance to survive and thrive,” said Dancer, R – Ocean, Burlington, Middlesex and Monmouth. “With the installation of plants that are perfectly suited to the environment and soils of New Jersey, we can reduce costs for maintenance and replacement of failed plantings. They complement the state’s natural wildlife and insects, providing shelter and food.”

Dancer’s bipartisan bill also helps New Jersey workers by directing state entities to give preference to Garden State-based nurseries, plant dealers, landscape architects and construction professionals.

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Rible Bill Protecting Access to Student Personal Info Passes Assembly

Assembly Republican Press Release -

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Republican Conference Leader Dave Rible that protects a student’s personal information from being distributed to the federal government was approved by the Assembly today.

Under the bill, A-2724, the Dept. of Education is required to annually notify parents and guardians they have the option to remove a student’s personal records from the data base sent to any agency of the federal government.

Dave Rible

“Data breaches into personal or proprietary information are not rare or isolated,” said Rible, R-Monmouth and Ocean. “A parent or guardian should decide if they will grant permission allowing a child’s personal data to be distributed. Hacking into a business, illegally accessing sensitive government plans and stealing someone’s private information are unlawful, but it happens all too frequently. Collecting sensitive information, especially about our children, could cause irreparable damage.”

Last fall, a report by the state attorney general showed that New Jersey faces more than a million hacking attempts per month which increases the need to safeguard information collected on New Jersey students.

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Assembly Advances Muñoz Bill to Protect Stalking Victims

Press Release – To protect stalking victims, repeat offenders face increased jail time under legislation Assembly Deputy Republican Leader Nancy F. Muñoz sponsors. The bill, A-3841, today received General Assembly approval.

Nancy Munoz

“Restraining orders often aren’t enough of a deterrent for stalkers. Regardless of their motivation, the goal is the same – to instill constant fear in their victims,” said Muñoz, R-Union, Morris and Somerset. “They are also at an increased risk of being attacked or killed. In addition to the threat of physical harm, the psychological trauma is devastating. Repeat offenders continue to harass their victim with terrifying consequences. These criminals will no longer receive a slap on the wrist. Instead they’re going to face several years in prison.”

The measure increases prison time and fines for persons convicted of subsequent stalking offenses. Under current law, repeat offenders face up to 18 months in prison and a $10,000 fine. Under Muñoz’ bill, such an offense is upgraded from a fourth degree crime to a third degree which carries a 3 to 5-year prison term and a fine up to $15,000.

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Gove Named VFW Legislator of the Year

Source: Assembly Republican Press Release -

DiAnne Gove

9th District Assemblywoman DiAnne C. Gove was honored by the Department of New Jersey Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) as Legislator of the Year during the Voice of Democracy/Legislative Dinner event held in Somerset, New Jersey on January 24 of this year.

Upon being elected to serve in the Assembly in 2010, Assemblywoman Gove has served on the Assembly Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee. The Assemblywoman also served on the New Jersey Veterans’ Hospital Task Force. Prior to serving in the State Legislature, Assemblywoman Gove taught American history and government at Southern Regional High School for 32 years.

Assemblywoman Gove issued the following statement upon receiving the VFW’s Legislator of the Year award:

“It is an absolutely tremendous honor to be named Legislator of the Year by such a distinguished and respected organization that has dedicated itself fully to improving the lives of our veterans as well as their families.

“Teaching American history and government to our youth for 32 years allowed me to have an even greater respect for veterans and a tremendous sense of pride in our Armed Forces. My respect for veterans began at an early age with my father, who was everything to me, who served in the Navy on a destroyer fighting in the Pacific Theater during World War II.

“Upon graduating high school, a number of my students joined the Armed Forces, some of whom served in Afghanistan and Iraq, and all went where they were needed most. My thoughts are often with these students, whom I remain very proud of for their service in these troubling times.”

“Against this personal background, veterans’ issues have played an extremely important role in my decision to serve in the Legislature. Serving on the Assembly Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee has allowed me the privilege of working with the VFW and other veterans’ organizations in advancing the shared goal of improving the quality of life for our veterans and their families.

“Increasing access to quality health care and expanding employment opportunities for our veterans remain issues that I, along with my 9th Legislative District colleagues, Senator Chris Connors and Assemblyman Brian Rumpf, will continue to forcefully advocate for in the Legislature. Elected officials have a sacred obligation to ensure that the veterans who safeguard us from harm and protect our very way of life are afforded every opportunity to live a fulfilled life and be given the respect they’ve earned through service, sacrifice and perseverance.”

In representing the 9th Legislative District, Assemblywoman Gove has remained at the forefront of developing veteran’s policies on a broad array of issues. Assemblywoman Gove authored the 2011 law known as the “Veteran-Owned Business Assistance Act,” that requires the state to develop strategies to expand the number of veteran-owned businesses interested in and eligible to secure State contracts.

Additionally, the Assemblywoman authored the state’s landmark 2013 law to protect servicemembers’ parental rights by prohibiting the courts from entering into an order changing the custody arrangement for active military duty personnel.

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Carroll voices privacy concerns over government tracking of vehicles on NJ Turnpike

Source: NJTV News [video] -

A report this week that the Justice Department has been building a national database to track hundreds of millions of vehicles across the country has raised concerns about privacy. The Wall Street Journal reports that the domestic intelligence-gathering program stores records about motorists’ movements. All of this pretty much in secret.

Michael Patrick Carroll

“Why is government doing it? Any time government wants to do something, one has to ask the question. Why? And when they’re collecting information about the people one has to be very careful about that,” said Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll.

The existence of the program came to light after Freedom of Information Act inquiries by the American Civil Liberties Union. Jeanne LoCicero is with the New Jersey chapter of the ACLU.

“What we’ve learned is that the Drug Enforcement Agency has a massive surveillance program involving automated license plate readers, and these license plate readers take pictures of license plates by the millions of them. The technology is really advanced on how many they can capture, so everyone driving on the New Jersey Turnpike past their license plate readers is being captured,” said LoCicero, ACLU-NJ deputy legal director.

The program started in 2008, the Justice Department says, as a way to track people trying getting into the country illegally but over the years expanded to include drug runners and others as a way to help the agency with asset forfeitures. Initially employed in border states only, the program expanded to other states, including New Jersey.

Whether this program is tracking bad guys running drugs or worse, it’s also tracking information about where you are, where you’ve been, where you’re going and even who you’re traveling with, whether you like it or not.

“There might well be legitimate purposes to use this information but part of the problem is that the public has been cut out of this conversation and so we really need transparency about why they’re using this program, how they’re using it, the scope of it. What are the reasons? We can’t do any good assessment of whether this is appropriate without having a public conversation about it,” said LoCicero.

Although New Jersey has reportedly been participating in the program for years, none of the state lawmakers we spoke to today knew anything about it. A state police spokesperson acknowledged today that the department has access to a database complied by several license plate readers around the state. But couldn’t confirm if any of those belong to the Drug Enforcement Agency.

“Government is not inherently beneficial. It’s not inherently nice. … Government is, at best, a necessary evil. And you can understand why they’d like to look at situations like this in a case of the Boston Marathon bombing. It’s kinda questionable why you’d want to be keeping track of everybody on the New Jersey Turnpike,” Michael Patrick Carroll said.

The ACLU says it’s studying the information they’ve gotten and will try to find out more about why and what our government needs to know where millions of us are going.

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Munoz bill will help alleviate flooding in Wayne

Source: NorthJersey.com - A bill that will help to alleviate chronic flooding by making it easier for local officials to clean streams recently won unanimous approval from the General Assembly.

Nancy Munoz

Assembly Deputy Republican Leader Nancy F. Munoz, bill sponsor, said that counties throughout the state live under the constant threat of flooding every time there is a major storm and that removing accumulated sediments, debris, garbage, and vegetation from waterways helps reduce flooding risks in communities which can be devastating and costly.

She added that restrictions on sediment removal as stated in current law make stream cleaning difficult for local officials and is vital to keeping waterways flowing to help prevent flooding.

The bill, A-3507, which amends the current law, will allow municipalities to clean and de-snag waterways without having to obtain a Department of Environmental Protection (EPA) permit. According to current law, only stream beds measuring 15 feet or less in width can be cleaned without EPA approval. However Munoz’s bill increases the width to 30 feet…

Scott Rumana

“Everything is a step by step process in dealing with the flooding problem. While this won’t solve the problem overall, it’s at least a step in the right direction in handling it,” said Assemblyman Scott Rumana, former mayor of Wayne Township.

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Fiocchi Tourism Plan is a ‘Natural’ for Job Creation, Economic Growth

Ecotourism and Agritourism Preserve Natural Resources and Provide Work Opportunities

Source: Assembly Republican Press Release -

CAPE MAY, N.J. – To stimulate job creation and economic growth in South Jersey, Assembly Republican Sam Fiocchi today hosted a summit to promote ecotourism and agritourism in the region. More than 60 stake-holders attended to event where they discussed the economic and job-creating potential of new tourism niche projects focused on ecology and agriculture.

Sam Fiocchi

Sam Fiocchi

“Tourism is critical to southern New Jersey, and we can build on the popularity and strength of the industry by expanding into unique new opportunities,” said Fiocchi, who recently introduced a comprehensive seven-bill package to encourage the development of eco- and agritourism destinations.

“The natural resources of South Jersey provide us with tremendous opportunity to simultaneously conserve our environmental assets and grow our economy,” continued Fiocchi. “We create good-paying jobs without paving over farmlands or wetlands. We can protect the land and protect New Jersey families at the same time.”

Agritourism is rural tourism that focuses on agriculture, including apple picking, hayrides and harvest festivals on a working farm, and opportunities to spend a vacation working side-by-side with farmhands. Ecotourism is responsible travel to natural areas while preserving the area and improving the well-being of local residents. Managed tours to the marshes, back bays, and coves of the coastline can help protect and strengthen these delicate environments. Both strategies create badly needed job and business opportunities for residents.

Fiocchi’s legislative package includes:

  • A-3991: Establishes the New jersey Eco-Ag Tourism Council to develop ways for farmers and others to utilize ecotourism and agritourism.
  • A-3992: Requires the Department of Transportation to provide directional signage to natural attractions and farms offering agritoursim.
  • A-3993: Makes it easier for local governments or tax-exempt organization to receive Green Acres Program funding for recreation and conservation.
  • A-3994: Establishes an annual photography competition to support and promote New Jersey’s ecological and agricultural sights.
  • A-3995: Requires the Division of Travel and Tourism to establish a web page on the division’s web site advertising ecological and agricultural tourist attractions in the state.
  • AR-199: Urges the federal government to renew the New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail Route.
  • AR-201: Urges the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to designate space in each of its airports for the promotion of local ecotourism destinations.

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Angelini bill would expand Safe Haven locations in NJ

NJ 101.5 -

A shocking tragedy that took place earlier this month in New Jersey has one lawmaker calling on her colleagues to approve a measure that would expand the state’s safe haven locations.

On Jan. 16, 22-year-old Hyphernkemberly Dorvilier allegedly set her baby on fire in the middle of a Pemberton Township road. When police arrived, they found a neighbor holding Dorvilier down on the ground and the baby wrapped in a smoldering towel and paper, according to court documents released by Burlington County prosecutors on Jan. 20. The baby was alive and breathing when she was flown to a hospital in Philadelphia, but died two hours later, according to authorities.

Dorvilier has been charged with murder.

Mary Pat Angelini

“The tragic situation in Burlington County really led to me thinking we need to expand the number of safe havens that we have in New Jersey,” said Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini (R-Monmouth). “Currently anybody can take an infant to hospitals and to police stations, but I felt very strongly that there needs to be an expansion of sites where distraught people can take an infant before another tragedy occurs.”

Under the current “New Jersey Safe Haven Infant Protection Act,” safe haven options are limited to emergency departments of general hospitals and state, county and municipal police stations where someone can leave a baby – no questions asked.

“I want to expand the law to include first aid squads, fire stations, any place that is manned 24 hours by emergency personnel,” Angelini explained.

The legislation was first introduced in 2006. It has been approved by committees in the past, but never passed by the full Legislature. Angelini has been a sponsor for the last two years and said she is very surprised that the latest version of the bill has not even been considered by a committee.

“So many times we are legislating through reaction to an occurrence, but this is something that I’ve been working on for the last couple of years,” Angelini said.

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Webber legislation protects unpaid interns in NJ

Source: NJ 101.5 -

Interns in New Jersey could soon have more rights under legislation being pushed by nearly a dozen state lawmakers.

Under current New Jersey law, unpaid interns are banned from suing a company for discrimination or sexual harassment because they are not technically employees. But a new bill would extend New Jersey worker protections to unpaid interns by amending three state statues: the Law Against Discrimination, the Worker Freedom From Employer Intimidation Act and the Conscientious Employee Protection Act.

Jay Webber

“Once interns are in the door it seems to me they deserve every bit as much the protections that employees receive,” said Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-Parsippany), one of the bill’s primary sponsors.

Oregon is the only state that already has such a law, and New York City has enacted similar legislation.

Members of the business community are against the measure though. During testimony before the Assembly Labor Committee on Jan. 15, business leaders said everyone deserves protections, but they are concerned the legislation is too broad and could lead to frivolous lawsuits and other unintended consequences.

Despite agreeing the legislation could be too broad, Webber is in favor of the bill and addressed the question of liability.

“If an intern doesn’t really know what they’re talking about and says, ‘Oh you’re doing something illegal,’ and blows the whistle and the internship is terminated, and they really didn’t know what they were talking about – the case is going nowhere,” Webber said.

The case that brought the issue to light was heard in October of 2013 when a federal district judge ruled that a Syracuse University student engaged in an internship with a New York company could not bring a sexual harassment lawsuit against her boss because she was unpaid and did not have the status of an employee.

The bill, referred to as the “New Jersey Intern Protection Act,” was approved on Jan. 15 by the Assembly Labor Committee and now awaits a vote in the full Assembly. The bill was approved by the full Senate in June 2014.

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Rible proposes bill to limit standardized tests in New Jersey schools

Source: NJ 101.5 -

A state lawmaker thinks New Jersey kids are being over-tested at public schools, and he wants to put an end to it.

Dave Rible

Assemblyman Dave Rible (R-Wall) is pushing a measure that would require school districts to get prior approval from the state’s education commissioner for any standardized tests that are not required by state or federal law.

His bill would not prohibit students from taking the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessments, which is required by law and will be given to all students in grades three through 11 in March and again in May.

“If we’re going to have our PARCC, that’s hopefully going to be eliminating all of the other standardized and benchmark testing throughout the year that bogs our children down. My bill is going to eliminate the standardized testing and just bring us to the one test a year which is the PARCC,” Rible said.

Students, parents and even teachers have been voicing their concerns for months that valuable classroom time is being diverted to prepare for the PARCC. In addition, many kids have complained that they are stressed out by having to take the test twice.

Under Rible’s legislation, a board of education would be able to apply to the commissioner of education to give additional assessments, but it must be demonstrated that the extra tests would provide information that cannot be obtained from the available assessments, and that they would help with student achievement.

“My bill hopefully gets them (students) more time in a classroom rather than teaching to a test. PARCC will be the ultimate benchmark of how the children did throughout the year, but at the end of the day my concern is that our children are getting overburdened by testing throughout the state,” Rible said.

On Jan. 26, 27 and 28, the Study Commission on the Use of Student Assessments in New Jersey will hold public hearings on the quality and effectiveness of K-12 student assessments administered in New Jersey. The panel is also tasked with making recommendations regarding PARCC and the Common Core State Standards.

The public hearings are scheduled for:

  • Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015 at 10 a.m. in Civic Hall 105, Connector Building, Camden County College, 200 College Dr., Blackwood, NJ 08012-0200.
  • Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015 at 4 p.m. in the Franklin Williams Middle School (MS #7) Auditorium, 222 Laidlaw Ave., Jersey City, NJ 07306.
  • Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015 at 6 p.m. in the Jackson Liberty High School Auditorium, 125 N. Hope Chapel Road, Jackson, NJ 08527.

Additional information about the study commission and the public testimony sessions can be found at www.state.nj.us/education/studycommission.

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