Author: NJ Assembly Republicans

Ciattarelli bill backs Bergen officials’ concerns for train derailment

PolitickerNJ -

Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli (R-16) has joined Bergen County first responders and county fire officials in voicing concerns that they do not have enough manpower or equipment to deal with an oil tanker derailment.

Earlier this month, Ciattarelli introduced legislation (AR-171) urging the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) to enact its proposed regulations on the safe transport of crude oil by rail. Ciattarelli said the amount of oil shipped through New Jersey communities warrants modernization of current regulations specific to oil rail car thickness and braking systems.

Jack Ciattarelli

“Many municipalities rely on volunteer firefighters and they do an excellent job,” explained Ciattarelli, R-Somerset, Hunterdon, Mercer and Middlesex. “However, like in Bergen County, many towns lack the manpower, expertise and equipment for handling an oil tanker derailment. Coordinated efforts by each county, in partnership with rail freight line companies, including shared knowledge, resources and preparedness plans, would be extremely beneficial.”

On Monday, at a meeting of about 75 first responders in Hackensack, Bergen County officials called for a countywide strategy for dealing with a potential derailment of trains traveling through the county and other parts of the state carrying Bakken crude oil, a highly flammable fuel that has been involved in several trains crashes throughout North America in the past year. New Jersey rail lines have seen an uptick in trains hauling the cargo over the past several years, and more than 60,000 tank cars, each containing as much as 3 million gallons of oil, are expected to be hauled on the CSX River Line through 11 Bergen County towns this year.

“The good news is rail freight lines do have their own derailment response brigades,” Ciattarelli added. “It would be even better news if the U.S. Department of Transportation were to enact its proposed regulations upgrading safety standards for shipments of crude oil by rail.”

Ciattarelli’s resolution urges Congress to support the new regulations proposed by the USDOT in July which require tankers transporting the oil to meet thickness standards and enhance a train’s braking system within two years or risk being phased out.

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Young Drivers Will Practice More Under Rumana-Russo GDL Bill

Press Release – TRENTON, N.J. – Looking to make New Jersey’s roads safer, Assembly Republican Whip Scott T. Rumana and Assemblyman David Russo sponsor legislation that requires special lerner’s permit holders under the age of 21 to complete at least 50 hours of practice driving. Rumana, the ranking Republican member of the Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee, and Russo introduced the bill Thursday to coincide with “Teen Driving Safety Week” (October 19-25).

Scott Rumana

“Making our roads as safe as possible for all drivers should always be a priority,” said Rumana, R-Passaic, Bergen, Essex and Morris.“ A good place to start is with young drivers since inexperience, distraction and speeding are the leading causes of teen crashes. Practice doesn’t always make ‘perfect,’ but these additional training hours will better prepare our young citizens for when they get their licenses. Practicing driving after dark should prove especially beneficial since this age group is involved in more accidents late in the day and at night.”

The bill, A-3876, changes the state’s graduated drivers licensing (GDL) law by requiring special lerner’s permit holders under 21 to complete at least 50 hours of practice driving, including 10 hours after dark, in addition to the required six-hour behind-the-wheel driver’s education. Examination permit holders between the ages of 17 and 20 will have the following options:

• Complete an approved six-hour behind-the-wheel course and 50 hours of certified practice driving, including 10 hours after dark or,

• Complete 100 hours of certified practice driving, including 20 hours after dark.

Dave Russo

“The better prepared a young driver is when he or she gets behind the wheel, the safer it makes our roads for everyone,” said Russo, R-Passaic, Bergen, Essex and Morris. “We know that cell phones, alcohol and speeding all are major causes of teen crashes and deaths. These required extra hours of practice should help save lives.”

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for young people between the ages of 16 and 20 in New Jersey and across the nation.

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Simon Leads Roundtable Discussion on Autism and Advocates for Her Bill to Require Health Insurance Coverage

Source: Assembly Republican Press Release -

Assembly Republican Donna Simon, a strong advocate for autism and the sponsor of legislation to require health insurance coverage for diagnosing and treating autism, will host a roundtable discussion on the myriad of challenges faced by the autism community. The roundtable is scheduled for 7 to 9 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 30, at the Hunterdon County Freeholders’ Meeting Room, on the 2nd floor at 71 Main Street in Flemington.

Donna Simon

“Autism statistics are stunning. One in 68 children in the United States and one in 45 in New Jersey are being diagnosed on the autism spectrum. Our State has the highest rate in the nation. These numbers should not only increase the dialogue on this issue, but it should mobilize everyone to find ways to reduce this accelerating statistic. This roundtable will be an opportunity for experts, educators and parents to discuss some of the most pressing issues facing New Jersey’s Autism community,” said Simon.

Simon’s bill, A-272, will also be discussed. Her legislation would clarify the intent of New Jersey’s 2009 law guaranteeing insurance coverage for autism treatment, and defines “autism” to include all diagnoses of the autism spectrum, including Pervasive Developmental Disorder and Asperger Syndrome. It will also ensure coverage for speech, behavioral, occupational and physical therapies for a wider range of autism-related disorders including central auditory processing disorder, Rhetts Syndrome, apraxia, sensory integration disorder and social communication disorder.

The roundtable discussion topics will include insurance, housing, education and employment issues. “I look forward to collaborating with the autism community to provide the support and guidance that children and their parents need to be successful. I am confident this will be the first of many productive discussions about autism,” Simon concluded.

The roundtable will include Anthony Ferrera, a member of the Board of Directors of the Organization for Autism Research; Dr. Audrey Mars of the Hunterdon Healthcare Child Development Center; Michael Skoczek, President & CEO of Spring Run School in Flemington; Alice Hunnicutt, Director of the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services at NJ Department of Labor; Dr. Kevin Brothers, Somerset Hills Learning Institute; Belqui Ortiz Millili, Bella Vida Coaching Services; Ward Sanders, NJ Association of Health Plans; Robert Stack, President & CEO of Community Options; Assemblyman Craig Coughlin, Chair of the Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee; and Senator Christopher “Kip” Bateman.

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Fiocchi says RGGI ‘cap and tax’ scheme will cost N.J. workers’ jobs

Source: Cape May County Herald -

Assembly Republican Sam Fiocchi voiced his strong objections today when legislation (ACR-189) aimed at having New Jersey rejoin the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) was released by the Assembly Regulatory Oversight Committee. RGGI is a compact of nine states with the goal of capping carbon dioxide emissions. New Jersey withdrew from RGGI in 2011.

Sam Fiocchi

Sam Fiocchi

“New Jersey has already met RGGI’s 2020 goal to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions,” said Fiocchi, R-Cumberland, Cape May and Atlantic, who is a committee member. “This ‘cap and trade’ program is nothing more than a ‘cap and tax’ scheme that hurts New Jersey consumers and businesses. Where is the environmental benefit, especially when emissions continue to waft in from the west? This legislation will increase costs to ratepayers and drive jobs out of New Jersey without any benefit.”

The South Jersey Republican urged his legislative colleagues to continue the state’s commitment to pursuing clean energy sources, including wind, solar, natural gas and nuclear generation.

“RGGI’s cap and trade system is another anti-consumer tax packaged as a ‘climate control action plan,’” continued Fiocchi. “RGGI is an ineffective and costly boondoggle that hurt our economy while doing nothing for the environment. Its most notable accomplishment is artificially inflating the costs of electricity on every home and business in the state.”

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Bramnick’s Cyber Summit: 5 Things About Cyber-Security for Consumers and Policymakers [video]

Source: Assembly Republican Video -

Jon Bramnick

Computer viruses, network outages, data compromised by hackers, and other technology-related incidents affect our lives in ways that range from inconvenient to life-threatening. As the number of mobile users, digital applications and data networks increase, so do the opportunities for exploitation. On Monday, October 20, Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick hosted a Cyber Security Summit at Kean University to discuss these topics and what steps can be taken to protect citizens, businesses and government alike.

The Summit featured a panel discussion with experts from various industries. The panel currently included: Chris Rodriguez, Director of the New Jersey Department of Homeland Security and Preparedness; David Weinstein, cyber analyst with the NJ Department of Homeland Security and Preparedness; James Mottola, head of the Secret Service Office in New Jersey; Timothy P. Ryan, managing director of Kroll Cyber Investigations; Jacob Shapiro, Sales Director, Cloud Solutions at VASCO Data Security; and, Joseph Imperato, Board Member, Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey.

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Fiocchi Opposes Reentry into Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

Source: NJ Spotlight - The Legislature yesterday moved on two fronts to prevent the state Department of Environmental Protection from repealing rules that let New Jersey formally opt out of a regional program designed to curb greenhouse-gas emissions…

The resolutions approved yesterday will not get New Jersey back into RGGI, but seeks to prevent DEP from repealing rules that would prevent future administrations from rejoining the program. Clean-energy advocates hope a new administration may opt to join RGGI, a program that not only reduces greenhouse gas emissions, but also provides millions of dollars to states to fund energy-efficiency and renewable energy projects…

Sam Fiocchi

Sam Fiocchi

Others disagreed Assemblyman Sam Fiocchi (R-Cumberland), who voted against the resolution, argued that New Jersey already has met its goals to reduce carbon dioxide emissions (one of the biggest sources of greenhouse-gas pollution).

“This ‘cap and trade’ program is nothing more than a ‘cap and tax’ scheme that hurts New Jersey consumers and businesses. This legislation will increase costs to ratepayers and drive jobs out of New Jersey without any benefit,’’ he said.

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Munoz on allowing more health workers to administer overdose antidote

Source: Bergen Record -

Lawmakers listened to hours of expert testimony Thursday in Trenton on how the growing number of residents fighting addictions to heroin and opioid prescription painkillers is impacting the state.

Nancy Munoz

“Every second counts when reacting to an overdose situation,” said Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz, R-Union.

“Allowing more first responders and other professionals to administer this critical first aid without fear of legal repercussions will help prevent more unnecessary tragedies,” said Munoz, who is a registered nurse.

The Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee also voted to approve two bills related to the addiction issue during a morning meeting that stretched well into the afternoon.

Doctors, treatment specialists and other experts told the committee members several stories about resources that are being stretched thin by a growing demand for services.

After hearing that testimony, the committee voted 9-0 with one abstention in favor of a bill that would require better reporting and analysis of data on drug overdoses in New Jersey.

The panel also voted 10-0 to approve a measure that would extend the immunity offered to those reporting overdoses to law enforcement to professionals that dispense opioid antidotes.

“Every second counts when reacting to an overdose situation,” said Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz, R-Union.

“Allowing more first responders and other professionals to administer this critical first aid without fear of legal repercussions will help prevent more unnecessary tragedies,” said Munoz, who is a registered nurse.

Nationally, the rates of heroin addiction and overdose deaths are on the rise in recent years, a surge experts believe is tied to the broad availability of prescription painkillers.

And in New Jersey, an estimated 800 people died from prescription painkiller or heroin overdoses in 2012, according to the State Medical Examiner’s Office, marking a steady and dramatic increase over several years.

This year, the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office has reported 24 fatal heroin overdoses through the first seven months of the year.

Governor Christie has also been emphasizing addiction services in recent weeks, including expanding a prescription drug monitoring program earlier this month and last week announcing increased funding for a program that helps keep mothers with their children while receiving treatment for addiction.

 

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Fiocchi: NJ has met goals to reduce carbon emissions

Source: NJ Spotlight -

The Legislature yesterday moved on two fronts to prevent the state Department of Environmental Protection from repealing rules that let New Jersey formally opt out of a regional program designed to curb greenhouse-gas emissions.

Sam Fiocchi

Sam Fiocchi

Assemblyman Sam Fiocchi (R-Cumberland), who voted against the resolution, argued that New Jersey already has met its goals to reduce carbon dioxide emissions (one of the biggest sources of greenhouse-gas pollution).

“This ‘cap and trade’ program is nothing more than a ‘cap and tax’ scheme that hurts New Jersey consumers and businesses. This legislation will increase costs to ratepayers and drive jobs out of New Jersey without any benefit,’’ he said.

The actions by the state Senate and Assembly Regulatory Oversight Committee in largely partisan votes reflect a lengthy dispute between lawmakers and the Christie administration over the latter’s decision to pull New Jersey out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a program endorsed by the Legislature in a law it enacted.

The backstory: Environmental groups sued the state arguing that it sought to get out of the RGGI program without holding public hearings, and a state appeals court agreed. In response, the DEP looked to repeal the rules directing it to enter the probate through a public hearing. The Legislature is contending the repeal is inconsistent with legislative intent.

The identical resolutions adopted by the Senate — in a 23-14 vote with only Sen. Christopher (Kip) Bateman siding with Democrats — and in a 3-2 vote along partisan lines in the Assembly Regulatory Oversight Committee aim to prevent the DEP from adopting rules allowing the state to exit the RGGI program.

The resolutions approved yesterday will not get New Jersey back into RGGI, but seeks to prevent DEP from repealing rules that would prevent future administrations from rejoining the program. Clean-energy advocates hope a new administration may opt to join RGGI, a program that not only reduces greenhouse gas emissions, but also provides millions of dollars to states to fund energy-efficiency and renewable energy projects.

The initiative, once envisioned as a prototype for an organization that would extend beyond the nine states in the regional program, is aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions from power plants by imposing a charge on the global-warming pollution they produce.

But Gov. Chris Christie pulled out of RGGI in 2011, arguing that the program was ineffective and merely amounted to a new tax on ratepayers, who absorbed the costs incurred by the power plants. He has twice vetoed legislative efforts to have the state rejoin the program.

In this case, the governor will not get much say, because he cannot veto the resolution (ACR-189). If it wins final legislative approval, the DEP has 30 days to either withdraw the rules or amend its regulations. If nothing happens, the Legislature can move to again to repeal the proposed rules.

Assemblyman Sam Fiocchi (R-Cumberland), who voted against the resolution, argued that New Jersey already has met its goals to reduce carbon dioxide emissions (one of the biggest sources of greenhouse-gas pollution).

“This ‘cap and trade’ program is nothing more than a ‘cap and tax’ scheme that hurts New Jersey consumers and businesses. This legislation will increase costs to ratepayers and drive jobs out of New Jersey without any benefit,’’ he said.

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Handlin and Rumana respond to proposed Port Authority reforms

Star Ledger -

After resisting incremental reform bills, the lawmaker leading the legislative probe into last year’s George Washington Bridge lane closures has unveiled what he says is  comprehensive legislation to reverse years of dysfunction and abuse at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

The most significant measure in Assemblyman John Wisniewski’s reforms is a proposed reduction in the number of commissioners appointed by the governor of each state from six to three. The remaining six seats on the 12-member Port Authority board would be filled by the legislatures of the two states, with two appointments each, and a special citizens advisory panel, which would appoint two commissioners, one from New York and one from New Jersey.

Amy Handlin

Assemblywoman Amy Handlin (R-Monmouth), a member of the joint investigative panel, said she welcomed the legislation, and had asked Wisniewski to make her a prime co-sponsor.

“It’s time for us to move on this,” said Handlin. “I for one look forward to working with him to build bipartisan support for this.”

Scott Rumana

Assemblyman Scott Rumana (R-Passaic), the ranking Republican on the transportation committee, said he supported comprehensive Port Authority reform.

But Rumana said that giving appointment powers to legislators and a citizens’ panel might further politicize the agency.

“It could create problems of its own,” Rumana said.

Other measures would mandate that all Port Authority meetings be open to the public, with detailed agendas, well in advance; subject the agency to the open public records laws of both states; bar the Port Authority from running airports outside the port district, meaning Stewart Airport in upstate New York and Atlantic City International; and protect whistle blowers.

The open records provision mirrors a bill that has already been passed by both houses of the New York State legislature and the New Jersey State Senate. However, the bill has been blocked by Wisniewski, who chairs the Assembly Transportation, Public Works and Independent Authorities Committee.

Bills governing the Port Authority must be enacted by both states, and Wisniewski’s legislation would dilute the appointment powers of both governors who would have to sign it.

 

 

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Ciattarelli Agrees with First Responders: Coordinated Response Plan Needed for Possible Oil Tanker Derailments

Assembly Republican Press Release -

Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli said Bergen County first responders and county fire officials are not alone in their concern that they do not have enough manpower or equipment to deal with an oil tanker derailment. On Monday, officials there called for a countywide strategy for dealing with such an occurrence.
Earlier this month, Ciattarelli introduced legislation (AR-171) urging the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) to enact its proposed regulations on the safe transport of crude oil by rail. Ciattarelli said the amount of oil shipped through New Jersey communities warrants modernization of current regulations specific to oil rail car thickness and braking systems.

Jack Ciattarelli

“Many municipalities rely on volunteer firefighters and they do an excellent job,” explained Ciattarelli, R-Somerset, Hunterdon, Mercer and Middlesex. “However, like in Bergen County, many towns lack the manpower, expertise and equipment for handling an oil tanker derailment. Coordinated efforts by each county, in partnership with rail freight line companies, including shared knowledge, resources and preparedness plans, would be extremely beneficial.

“The good news is rail freight lines do have their own derailment response brigades,” continued Ciattarelli. “It would be even better news if the U.S. Department of Transportation were to enact its proposed regulations upgrading safety standards for shipments of crude oil by rail.”

Ciattarelli’s resolution urges Congress to support the new regulations proposed by the USDOT in July which require tankers transporting the oil to meet thickness standards and enhance a train’s braking system within two years or risk being phased out.

read more

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