Author: NJ Assembly Republicans

Schepisi talks with Mercedes about staying in NJ

Holly Schepisi

Bergen Record -

Responding to reports that the Montvale-based U.S. division of Mercedes-Benz is considering a move out New Jersey, a state assemblywoman told company representatives Friday that state officials are ready to work with the German carmaker to keep it in New Jersey.

And a billboard company put up signs on routes 80 and 17, asking Mercedes-Benz to stay.

Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi, R-River Vale, declined to give details on her 40-minute call with Mercedes-Benz officials, saying she had promised to keep the conversation confidential. But she said that Mercedes-Benz executives are “amenable to continuing to engage in discussions.”

“There are a lot of factors that are weighing in any sort of decision as to their future,” Schepisi said. “New Jersey remains committed to working with them, and they are aware of that. The state has some very attractive [incentive] packages that they are able to offer.” A company spokesman declined to comment on the call Friday, and has not commented on any reports that it may move.

Billboard messages saying “Bergen County (heart) Mercedes-Benz” went up Friday afternoon on routes 17 and 80 in Rochelle Park. The sign space was donated by Marty Judge, co-owner of Judge Outdoors in New York and Waldwick. He said he planned to keep the billboards into the new year.

Reports surfaced earlier this week that Mercedes-Benz, which employs 1,000 people in Montvale, is considering a move South, possibly to Atlanta. The company has been on a 37-acre campus in Montvale since 1972.

Schepisi and her fellow legislators in the 39th District, Sen. Gerald Cardinale, R-Demarest, and Assemblyman Robert Auth, R-Old Tappan, wrote to Mercedes-Benz Dec. 8, asking to meet with company officials to discuss “options and incentives to encourage Mercedes-Benz to continue to make New Jersey its home.”

A departure by Mercedes-Benz would be the latest in a series of corporate relocations from Bergen County to the South. Earlier this year, the car-rental company Hertz moved from Park Ridge to south Florida, and BubbleWrap maker Sealed Air is moving its headquarters from Elmwood Park to Charlotte, N.C.. Both companies received tax incentives from those states.

Mercedes-Benz is Montvale’s second-largest private employer, after the accounting giant KPMG, according to the Bergen County Economic Development Corp. Mercedes-Benz is among the top 10 corporate employers in the county and paid $916,700 in property taxes this year.

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Brown on Taj drama that spilled into the Statehouse

Source: Inquirer -

The roller-coaster ride that was Carl Icahn on Thursday extended to the halls of the Statehouse.

It was a long afternoon in which the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City and the package of bills to help save it and the resort city were on many minds.

But by 1 p.m., word filtered down that votes on the bills were being delayed.

The reason: A deal between Icahn and Unite Here Local 54, the casino workers’ union, had broken down at the last minute.

Chris A. Brown

Assemblyman Chris A. Brown was particularly critical of the PILOT program. His plan would freeze the city’s property taxes for five years at 2014 levels, including those of the casinos.

“Whenever you are allowing one group of businesses to pay less than their fair share, and then pushing their portion of the bill onto all of the middle class, hardworking families, that is unfair,” he said. “That is a form of corporate welfare.”

The situation with the Taj, which employs about 3,000, and the closures of four other Atlantic City casinos have created tension between the parties, and the city’s future will likely be a factor in next year’s legislative races.

On Thursday, Brown spoke out against the Democrats’ package and encouraged his GOP cohorts to vote down the bills.

“This is a move in the right direction,” Brown said when he learned the Democrats’ bills were stalled. “We’re in the middle of a summit where all the stakeholders are coming together to find the best approach to stabilize Atlantic City.”

Gov. Christie will hold the third day of a summit in Atlantic City next month.

The PILOT program is at the heart of Atlantic City’s recovery plan. The formula for calculating the payments for each casino is based on their annual gambling revenue, how much property they own, and how many hotel rooms they operate.

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Fiocchi Bill to improve living conditions in boarding homes awaits Christie’s signature

Source: Shore News Today -

Sam Fiocchi

Sam Fiocchi

Legislation sponsored by District 1 Assemblyman Sam Fiocchi to improve living conditions at residential health care centers, boarding homes and homeless shelters earned approval recently from the state Assembly.

The bill, passed unanimously by the Senate in June, now awaits Gov. Chris Christie’s review.

Fiocchi’s legislation would require inspection reports from residential facilities to be published for public review on the Department of Community Affairs website.

“There are residential facilities that chronically fall below acceptable standards. We are pulling back the curtain to expose these conditions,” said Fiocchi, a Republican representing Cape May, Atlantic and Cumberland counties.

“The increased accountability from posting inspection details on the Internet will improve living conditions and safety in substandard homes.”

DCA officials provide inspections of residential health care facilities, while local officials are responsible for emergency shelters for the homeless and rooming and boarding houses. According to a statement from Fiocchi, under the bill, the commissioner of DCA will establish standard inspection practices.

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Brown welcomes delay of vote on ‘corporate welfare’ for Atlantic City casinos

Source: Press of Atlantic City -

An economic recovery plan that would give Atlantic City’s casinos millions of dollars in tax relief was ensnared in a dispute Thursday between billionaire investor Carl Icahn and the union representing workers at the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort.

A final vote on the five-bill legislative package, which would help stabilize Atlantic City’s shaky finances, was postponed in the Senate and Assembly after Icahn could not reach a deal with Local 54 of UNITE-HERE.

Chris A. Brown

Assemblyman Chris Brown, a critic of the legislation and what he has called its “corporate welfare” for the casinos, said the delay will give more time to discuss the plan.

“As we saw today, rushing bills through that are not well thought out is unproductive. I believe we owe it to our middle-class families to work together in a bipartisan fashion and thoroughly vet each proposal through the summit process in order to make sure we get it right,” said Brown, R-Atlantic.

Under the plan, Atlantic City’s casino industry would make payments in lieu of property taxes amounting to $150 million annually for the first two years and $120 million annually for the next 13 years. Supporters say the so-called PILOT program would create stable and predictable payments in place of the Atlantic City’s volatile property tax structure.

The legislation includes substantial tax breaks for the casino industry. Icahn has been pressing for tax breaks or other economic aid from the state or city as part of his plans to take ownership of the Taj Mahal.

The Taj Mahal was supposed to shut down on Saturday, but it now appears it will stay open indefinitely while Icahn tries to work out a “global settlement” with the state, the city and the union. Icahn pledged in a letter Thursday to the Taj Mahal’s parent company to invest an additional $20 million in financing to keep the casino open throughout the bankruptcy proceedings.


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Bucco Takes on Misleading “Buy American” Bill

Source: The Save Jersey Blog -

Anthony M. Bucco

“At the end of the day, I came to one conclusion: this is a bad bill with a good name. Let’s face it: if this bill was named ‘your cost of living will be going up by 20% bill,’ it would have never seen the light of day. But, in fact, that’s the testimony that we heard.”

That’s Anthony Bucco from the Assembly floor on Thursday, Save Jerseyans, delivering a particularly powerful argument against the “Buy American” bill (in actuality a series of 5 separate measures) which passed with 43 votes; if signed into law, all awarded N.J. public contracts, including any awarded by agencies like the port authorities, would require the recipient to utilize only goods “made in America.”

The inevitable result? Less foreign investment for New Jersey (not to mention that fact that ‘made in America’ doesn’t exactly mean what it did before globalization).

Listen below and please share! The substance of Bucco’s articulate opposition was not dissimilar from his colleague Michael Patrick Carroll’s Monday address offered in opposition to a resolution urging Congress to act against so-called “corporate inversions” at the federal level: the road to hell is paved with good intentions…

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Bramnick speaks on ‘buy American’ bills

Philadelphia Inquirer -

Bills requiring New Jersey public contracts at the state and local levels to use U.S.-made goods passed the state Legislature on Thursday over the objections of business groups, which argued that the measures would make the state less competitive.

The five bills – one related to state and local entities, including state colleges, and the others to bistate transportation agencies, including the Delaware River Port Authority – passed largely along party lines in the Democratic-controlled Assembly. In the Senate, which had previously passed some of the bills, the remaining bill Thursday garnered Democratic and some Republican support.

The package expands requirements for U.S.-made goods in certain public contracts.

Opponents, including other Republican lawmakers and business groups in and outside New Jersey, said the requirements would be too onerous. The bill applying to contracts with state and local entities wouldn’t just require that a product be made in the United States but that the majority of its components are made here.

Jon Bramnick

Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R., Union), joined by other Republicans from the Assembly, criticized the legislation at a news conference Thursday, saying it “sends a very bad message to businesses.”

Assembly Republicans said the bills would result in increased costs to taxpayers. In the bill pertaining to contracts for state and local entities, waivers could be granted if the cost of a U.S.-made product was more than 20 percent above a foreign-made alternative.

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Angelini Bill Improving Mental Health & Drug Treatment in Prisons Earns Approval of the General Assembly

Source: Assembly Republican Press Release -

Mary Pat Angelini

Assembly Republican Mary Pat Angelini sponsors legislation, approved today by the General Assembly, to improve the quality of mental health and substance abuse treatment for inmates. The bill (A-3722) requires the Department of Corrections (DOC) and the Department of Human Services (DHS) to share the authority over prison-based treatment centers.

“Inmates suffering from addiction or mental health issues will eventually serve their time and return to society,” said Angelini, the Assembly Republican Deputy Conference Leader. “Mental health issues and drugs are huge contributors to violence and crime in our neighborhoods. Better treatment can help prepare inmates for a crime-free life and make our streets safer.”

The measure, by establishing interagency oversight in the prisons, ensures that treatment standards and protocols are consistent so when prisoners get out, their treatment can continue on the same path, noted Angelini, R – Monmouth.

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Rible Permit Extension Bill Wins Assembly Approval

Assembly Republican Press Release -

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Republican Conference Leader Dave Rible that helps create jobs and continue to support economic development was approved by the General Assembly today. The measure, A-3815, extends the “Permit Extension Act” for one year (Dec. 31, 2015). Under current law, the extension granted in 2012 expires at the end of 2014.

Dave Rible

“Extending permits for another year helps our economy by creating jobs,” said Rible, R-Monmouth and Ocean. “The process of obtaining permits is time-consuming and costly which deters economic growth. Job creation did not expand as much as we hoped over the last year, though the 16 percent increase in small business loans during this time indicates optimism by New Jersey companies.

“The bipartisan measure helps businesses by enabling new or delayed development projects to move forward and create good-paying jobs,” continued Rible. “Combined with the pro-business Economic Opportunity Act of 2013, New Jersey is positioned to affirm the confidence expressed by businesses that our state will experience a construction boom over the next several years.”

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General Assembly Approves Muñoz & O’Scanlon Bill Expanding Use of Life-Saving Overdose Antidote

Source: Assembly Republican Press Release -

Assembly Republicans Nancy F. Muñoz and Declan O’Scanlon sponsor legislation, approved today by the General Assembly, to allow more first responders and other healthcare professionals to administer drug overdose antidotes and protects them from liability.

Nancy Munoz

“Every second counts when reacting to an overdose situation,” said Muñoz, a registered nurse and the Deputy Republican Leader in the Assembly. “Allowing more first responders and other professionals to administer this critical first aid will help prevent more unnecessary heroin-related tragedies,” continued Muñoz, R-Union, Morris and Somerset.

Currently, under the “Overdose Prevention Act,” healthcare practitioners and pharmacists are protected from liability when prescribing, dispensing, or administering an opioid overdose antidote. This bill, A-3720, expands the list of people authorized to administer a potentially life-saving antidote and provides them immunity from liability.

Under Muñoz and O’Scanlon’s bill, opioid antidotes may be administered by sterile syringe access program employees, law enforcement officials, emergency medical technicians, and other emergency responders. In addition to heroin, opioids include drugs such as hydrocodone, oxycodone and codeine.

Declan O'Scanlon

“We need to provide our first responders with all the necessary tools to save lives when time is of the essence,” said O’Scanlon, R-Monmouth. “When someone’s life is in the balance, emergency workers need to be able to react appropriately, without the fear of liability. This bill permits them to provide life-sustaining treatment without second guessing themselves.”

A recent national trend of rising heroin overdose deaths across demographic groups has been reflected in New Jersey. Last year, more than 500 residents died from heroin overdoses – nearly double the number reported in 2010.

Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have implemented laws making it easier for responders to give life saving antidotes to reverse overdoses.

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NJ Republicans sparring again

NJ 101.5 -

Democrats and Republicans are closing out 2014 by arguing over which party was more ineffective this year.

During a press conference on Thursday in Trenton, Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield) said top Democrats wasted 2014 trying to link Gov. Chris Christie to a scandal while ignoring the economy and the business community. But Assembly Democratic Leader Lou Greenwald (D-Voorhees) said Bramnick is wrong, and added that no one cares what Republicans in New Jersey have to say anyway.

Jon Bramnick

“For the past year, the Democrats in my judgment have concentrated on the negative – Bridgegate. A year of Bridgegate hearings did anything but instill confidence in businesses in this state,” Bramnick said.

For four days in September of 2013, access lanes in Fort Lee leading to the George Washington Bridge were closed without warning causing massive traffic jams. Many Democrats believe the lanes were shutdown as political retribution because Fort lee’s Democratic mayor refused to endorse Christie’s re-election campaign. Christie has denied any involvement and an internal probe cleared him, but the scandal is still dogging the governor as he mulls a run for president in 2016.

“Post January, all the Democrats were lining up either to run for governor or the alternative – find something bad about Chris Christie. Let us concentrate on making lives better in New Jersey, not on who was responsible for moving cones around on the bridge,” Bramnick said.

The Select Committee on Investigation has been probing the Bridgegate scandal for months. Greenwald is a member of that panel and he has consistently said that there is no evidence to link Christie to Bridgegate.

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