Author: NJ Assembly Republicans

Governor signs Bucco-Rible-Schepisi school security bill

Anthony M. Bucco

Press Release – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Republicans Anthony M. Bucco, Dave Rible and Holly Schepisi that will allow public and non-public schools and county colleges to hire retired law enforcement officers on a part-time basis to provide security on school grounds was signed into law today by the governor.

“This is a common sense measure that benefits students and taxpayers,” said Bucco (R-Morris). “School officials will have a larger pool of experienced retired police officers to hire to protect students on school property. At the same time, it will save taxpayers a lot of money by allowing school districts and municipalities to hire these officers at a much lower rate and without the need for pension and health benefit contributions. This is government at its best.”

Boards of Education are currently authorized to hire law enforcement officers and public school resource officers. This measure implicitly allows the hiring of retired law enforcement officers.

Dave Rible

“Our schools have implemented enhanced security measures due to the mass shootings that have occurred in recent years, but now school officials will be able to hire trained, experienced retired officers to provide another avenue of protection,” said Rible (R-Monmouth). “Students and their parents shouldn’t have to worry about their safety or their children’s safety while sitting in a classroom. School officials agree. They want a police presence in their schools. This new law will greatly assist them in their efforts to provide a safe, secure learning environment.”

“Today’s reality is that students are vulnerable to attack just sitting in a classroom,” said Schepisi (R-Bergen). “Giving schools the option to hire retired police officers to protect students, teachers and staff is not only logical, it’s cost effective as well. These officers are already well trained and cost to taxpayers will be minimal. It’s a perfect fit.”

The bill (S-86/A-3629) establishes an additional category of special law enforcement officers, specifically, retired officers who are less than 65 years old. They will be authorized to provide security while on school or college premises during hours when the school or college is normally in session or when occupied by students or their teachers or professors. These Officers will not replace regular law enforcement officers or school resource officers currently employed in schools.

Holly Schepisi

Holly Schepisi

They will have the same authority and duties as regular, full-time police officers while providing school security and will be under the authority of the local chief of police.

There are currently two categories of law enforcement officers. “Class One” special officers are permitted to perform routine traffic detail, spectator control, and similar duties, but are not authorized to carry a firearm while on duty. “Class Two” officers are permanent, regularly appointed full-time police officers. They are authorized to carry a firearm.

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Scammer goes after Asw. Handlin; she fights back

Source: Asbury Park Press -

Amy Handlin

Assemblywoman Amy Handlin, R-Monmouth, has seen many scam letters in her day, but this one got her attention.

It was from a scammer pretending to be someone by the name of “Bridget Anne Kelly,” presumably the former Christie administration official found guilty in the recent “Bridgegate” case. It didn’t mention anything about traffic problems or Fort Lee, but it did say “sup Assemblywoman” and contained a link to what Google has identified as a website that was probably hacked.

Handlin, who was a member of the joint legislative committee that investigated Bridgegate, didn’t click on the nasty link, but if she had, malware in the form of a rogue toolbar probably would have been installed on her computer. “This one got my attention because it was as though a thief was leaving bread crumbs back to the scene of the crime,” Handlin told Press on Your Side this week. “It was so brazen and so unmistakenly a scam that even I was shocked.”

Handlin has become an expert on scammers. For nearly a year, she’s been collecting examples of scams and posting them on her Facebook page on Fridays with the hashtag #FraudWatchFriday. She has worked with AARP New Jersey to combat senior fraud and the con artists who scam vulnerable residents. Con artists use the mail, email and phone calls to rip people off. “They utilize both old fashioned and new fashioned means of contact in the hopes of overwhelming older people and confusing them,” Handlin said.

“People have to recognize that scammers are very good at what they do. This is their full time job,” Handlin said. “They are going to be a step ahead of what they do unless we force them out of hiding.”

For instance, on Black Friday, Handlin sent out a warning on credit-card scams and financial cons, asking people to contact the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs if they need help. “Law enforcement can only take effective steps when patterns are established,” she said.

Another post alerted readers to a scam in which someone posing as a trooper with the State Police in Woodbine called and claimed they had to collect bail money for the homeowner’s relative who was arrested. (State police or law enforcement won’t ever call and ask for bail money for anyone.)

Handlin has received other email scams, including one that offered an “investment proposal” and another that was “regarding a Payment Reduction on your Student Loans.”

“I post examples and I tell people what they can do and what authorities they can contact and try to help raise awareness,” Handlin said.

That brings us back to that Bridget Kelly email. It’s obviously not from the real Bridget Kelly, who was convicted of conspiracy, wire fraud and civil rights violations in the Bridgegate case. According to the documents, she had a different email address. The scammer just used her name as part of the email address sent to Handlin.

Handlin surmised that maybe a scammer stole someone’s contact list and randomly selected names in the news that might get someone’s attention. Or maybe the fraudster tried to identify public officials and match it with names in the news, she said. “Obviously whatever the thinking process was, the goal was to get my attention and tempt me enough to click on that link.”

No deal, scammers. Handlin, and hopefully readers too, know not to click on links in emails.

“Our best defense is a good offense,” she said. “People need to be on the alert. They need to educate themselves.”

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Brown: Video lottery terminals another effort to expand gambling to North Jersey

Source: Press of Atlantic City -The resort’s seven remaining casinos may have dodged a bullet when voters rejected a plan to allow North Jersey casinos, but the fight to expand gambling in the state is set to continue.

Some state lawmakers are developing a plan that would allow video lottery terminals at the Monmouth Park and Meadowlands racetracks without a public vote as a way of increasing revenue to help the struggling horse-racing industry…

Chris A. Brown

Video lottery terminals, or VLTs, are machines that allow gamblers to bet on the outcome of a video game. The terminals are similar to slot machines in that each is a stand-alone device containing a random-number generator.

During the November election, voters overwhelming rejected a plan that would have cleared the way for two casinos to be built at least 72 miles from Atlantic City and in different counties.

Assemblyman Chris Brown, R-Atlantic, called the VLT idea a backdoor method to try to expand gambling.

“While I’m thrilled that by putting middle-class families first and standing up to political bosses and special interests we were able to defeat North Jersey casinos, it is frustrating these political bosses and special interests are ignoring the will of the people and now saying ‘voters be damned’ in trying to force North Jersey casinos on our families,” Brown said.

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Webber bill promotes equitable treatment for home-schooled students [video]

Source: NJTV News [video] -

Adam Cunard, age 14, has been playing football in a local youth league for a decade. Now that he’s a ninth grader, the league stops and he’d like to play for Seneca High School’s freshman team.

But Adam and his younger brother are home-schooled, and the Lenape Regional High School District won’t allow home-schoolers to participate in extracurricular activities.

Adam’s mother Marni says that’s not fair.

“It’s not just about football, and it’s not just about my sons. It’s about opening up all the opportunities that available in the local public school districts to all home-schoolers,” she said.

Twenty-four states have laws that allow home-schoolers to participate in outside activities like football. New Jersey is one of six states whose laws leave that up to the local district.

Adam addressed the Lenape school board last month and pleaded with board members to relax their policy and let him play.

The board declined.

Adam told the school board that night in October he felt like he was being ex-communicated from football. “I was good enough to play for our community team for ten years,” he said. “Why am I not good enough now?”

Jay Webber

Republican Assemblyman Jay Webber is aware of Adam’s story and has had a bill in for four years that would address it.

“I think this is an issue that calls for uniformity. You’ve got some schools playing with home-schoolers or independent school students and some schools who bar home-schoolers, and it doesn’t seem fair to the players on either side that some kids would be left out. Both out of fairness to the families who choose different routes to educate their kids and a sense of fairness to everybody a uniform policy seems to make sense,” said Webber.

The Lenape Regional School District is strict about its policy.

It says it’s “not authorized to review and approve the curriculum or program of students educated anywhere but at its schools” and that even enrolled students are not guaranteed a place on a team.

The federal Department of Education says 3.4 percent of American students are home-schooled.

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O’Scanlon: Courts should not be revenue generators

Source: – The chairman of the Assembly’s Judiciary Committee said Monday he wants state lawmakers to study municipal court reform after an Asbury Park Press investigation called the fairness of the system into question and showed how municipalities increasingly rely on court fines for revenue…

Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon, R-Little Silver, said the Press report raised issues that should be a concern of every elected official.

Declan O'Scanlon

“We have to stop looking at motorists as ATM machines,” he said. “You want to remove any profit motivation from police enforcement of any kind. When tickets are written that don’t improve safety, it doesn’t help anybody. It’s not a reasonable way to raise revenue.”

The Press investigation found that municipalities often turn to the law for new revenue, especially in small Shore towns where municipal court revenues have nearly doubled in the last five years. Towns have the power to pass new ordinances or increase fines in old ones, enforce the fines through its police force and then send defendants to local courts headed by judges appointed by the town leaders.

Against this backdrop, municipal courts in Monmouth and Ocean counties raked in more than $26.2 million in 2015 — up $3.2 million, or 14 percent, from 2010. Municipal court revenue in 37 Monmouth and Ocean county towns increased from 2010 through 2015. The average increase was 39 percent.

“Our courts and police should not be seen as revenue generators,” said O’Scanlon, who added that his staff has been discussing the municipal money grab for a while and exploring legal remedies. “That’s not what they’re there for.”

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Bramnick extends best wishes for a happy Thanksgiving

Assembly Republican Press Release – Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Union) issued the following statement as our nation prepares to celebrate Thanksgiving:

Jon Bramnick

“We are blessed to live in a free nation and grateful to the men and women in uniform who protect our freedom at home and abroad. Happy Thanksgiving to all. I wish everyone a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving Day with family and friends.”

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O’Scanlon’s Prescription Cost Savings Bill Becomes Law

Source: More Monmouth Musings -

Declan O'Scanlon

A bill sponsored by Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon that will save an estimated $200 million per year on government employees’ prescription drugs was passed by the State Assembly and signed into law by Governor Chris Christie today.

S2749/A4328 expedites the process in which the state selects contracts and controls costs for state worker prescription drugs.

“Gov. Christie has called on the legislature and unions to work together to save $250 million from the state budget, and this is a solid step in that direction,” said O’Scanlon (R—Monmouth), the Assembly Republican budget officer. “Increasing efficiencies and eliminating costly duplication will produce significant taxpayer savings without any effect on the care or benefits of workers and their families, a true win/win.”

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Bramnick on special prosecutor: Even Trump not pursuing Clinton investigation

Assembly Republican Press Release -

Jon Bramnick

Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick responded to news that Sen. Ray Lesniak has sponsored legislation requiring the attorney general to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the governor’s involvement in Bridgegate.

“After three years of investigations by the United States attorney, appointed by President Barack Obama, and multiple legislative investigations, any further investigations are political in nature,” said Bramnick (R-Union). “The Democrats in the legislature should focus on the reform agenda to lower taxes and attract jobs to New Jersey. Even Donald Trump has indicated that he will not pursue further criminal investigations against Hillary Clinton. Let’s get back to the people’s business in Trenton.”

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Schepisi: Quarterly pension payment bill protects taxpayers

Source: NJSpotlight - After failing to find any common ground for the past several years over the best way to address New Jersey’s grossly underfunded public-employee pension system, state lawmakers reached a rare, bipartisan agreement yesterday, voting in favor of legislation requiring quarterly instead of yearly state pension contributions.

The measure — which legislative leaders say they are confident Gov. Chris Christie will eventually sign — would help the $73 billion pension system by breaking up the annual state pension contribution into smaller installments that the sponsors hope will be easier for the state to afford than the lump sum that administrations typically try to make at the end of each fiscal year.

Holly Schepisi

Holly Schepisi

Depositing the payments on a quarterly basis would also protect more of the pension contribution from end-of-the-year budget cuts and allow the pension system, which is professionally managed, to generate bigger investment returns by getting more money into the system earlier in the fiscal year.

But even as legislative leaders praised their bipartisan agreement on pension funding — no lawmaker in either the Assembly or Senate voted against the measure yesterday — they also conceded that the change to the payment schedule will not have the constitutional protections long favored by public-employee unions. Instead, the quarterly payments will be required as a matter of law, just as a major public-employee benefit reform law that was enacted in 2011 called for the state to follow a strict schedule of annual pension contributions that Christie ultimately didn’t honor, citing his constitutional requirement to maintain a balanced budget…

Republicans, meanwhile, said they were willing to embrace the quarterly payment schedule as a matter of law and not as a constitutional amendment, to maintain the flexibility the state currently has to hold back spending authorized by law if it would plunge the budget into deficit. If the quarterly payments were given constitutional protections, Republicans feared the pension contributions would take precedence over other spending priorities, such as education.

“Although I was adamantly against a constitutional amendment that removed the financial flexibility lawmakers must have to manage the state’s finances, I have always supported a flexible solution that protects taxpayers,” said Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi (R-Bergen).

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Rible, Webber support quarterly pension payment legislation


Dave Rible

Source: NJTV – The vote today in the Senate was 35 to zero. Over in the Assembly, it was 72 to zero.

Instead of making one payment into the public worker pension funds at the end of the fiscal year, June 30, the bill would have the state make four payments, one each at the end of September, December, March and June…

The bill was to be a part of a constitutional amendment guaranteeing a full pension payment every year.

Sen. Sweeney halted that effort amid stalled talks over the funding of transportation…

The Democratic Legislature passed a similar bill in 2014 and 2015, only to see the governor veto it.

This time around Gov. Chris Christie is expected to sign it, and the bill has garnered a lot of Republican support.

“It’s a bill I sponsored in the past. I think it gives us an opportunity to try and catch up on our pension deficit and also gives us an ability if we don’t have the money to pay we do have escape laws where we come back to the Legislature to not make the payment,” said Assemblyman David Rible…

Jay Webber

“It’s good in concept because we have to make those pension payments. It does put a crimp in the budget so I think a lot of thoughtful legislators are wrestling with it this afternoon,” said Assemblyman Jay Webber…

New Jersey’s pension system recently ranked 50th out of 50 and last week the state’s credit rating was downgraded for a 10th time, largely because of pension liability. Today’s vote expresses the Legislature’s desire — both parties — to at least try to do something.

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