Author: NJ Assembly Republicans

Simon & Ciattarelli to be Commended Taxpayer Advocacy Group’s Luncheon

Source: Assembly Republican Press Release -

Assembly Republicans Donna Simon and Jack Ciattarelli will be recognized for their tireless efforts to reduce the cost of government and save taxpayers’ money at the Americans for Prosperity New Jersey’s Liberty Luncheon, Wednesday, Oct. 22. The lunch begins at Noon at The Flemington Woman’s Club at 43 Park Avenue, Flemington.

Simon and Ciattarelli, R – Hunterdon, Somerset, Mercer and Middlesex, will discuss issues and legislation they are fighting for in Trenton, including Simon’s plan to encourage and expedite cost-saving school consolidations and Ciattarelli’s plan to repeal estate and transfer inheritance taxes. The legislators will also be presented with awards for earning some of the highest performance grades in the state on the AFP’s Taxpayer Scorecard.

Donna Simon

“We can provide better services and make New Jersey affordable again for people who want to raise their families here and retire here,” said Simon. “Since coming to the Assembly two years ago, I have been fighting for a more efficient government that allows taxpayers to hold on to more of their hard-earned money. We need to continue to find opportunities to conserve taxpayer money.”

Jack Ciattarelli

“We need to focus keenly on making New Jersey a place where people can afford to live, work and retire,” Ciattarelli said. “With that in mind, it is an honor to be recognized for working hard to provide residents the tax relief they deserve.”

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Rible: Cyber Attack Attempts Illustrate Need to Protect Student Data

Assembly Republican Press Release -

State Attorney General Says 1 Million Attempts per Month Made to Hack State Info

Assemblyman Dave Rible said a recent report by the state attorney general that New Jersey faces more than a million hacking attempts per month underscores the need to enact legislation he sponsors (A-2724) that safeguards information collected on New Jersey students.

Dave Rible

“As we have seen with celebrity hacking scandals and massive corporate data breaches, no information is totally safe,” said Rible, R-Monmouth and Ocean. “This is another reminder that criminals are constantly trying to access our personal data and we need to be extremely careful with all of our sensitive information. This report further illustrates the dangers of collecting sensitive information, especially information on our children, which, in the wrong hands, could cause irreparable damage.”

At a recent conference, the state’s Acting Attorney General John Hoffman noted New Jersey has thwarted millions of attempts to access information and these attempts are on the rise. Rible has advocated for legislation to protect student information and give parents more rights to prevent the release of information about their children.

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Bramnick’s Cyber Summit: How Can Data Breaches Be Stopped?

Source: NJ 101.5 -

It seems like every week we’re hearing about some new data breach involving a major business or corporation. Many New Jerseyans are wondering if this problem will continue to get worse, or if something can be done about it.

“Cyber-security continues to be a huge challenge and part of the problem is the threat landscape continually changes, every time a new piece of software is introduced or other technology is introduced it creates certain vulnerabilities,” said James Mottola, special agent in charge of the Secret Service Newark Field Office, during a cyber-security symposium in Union.

Mottola said “those vulnerabilities are often exploited by folks that are looking to monetize, in one way shape or form, the exfiltration or the sale of data, and in particular financial data.”

Jon Bramnick

Assemblyman Jon Bramnick, (R-Westfield) who organized the symposium, said part of the current problem is that businesses are afraid to discuss cyber theft, because they’re nervous it will hurt their sales.

“If you mention that a business is under attack it may affect consumer confidence in that business; they may not shop there,” he said.

Bramnick said he understands there are some things we shouldn’t talk about in a public forum, but to not have any discussion about the topic because we’re afraid “is a big mistake.”

He added if companies won’t voluntarily share this information with the state office of Homeland Security, “then we may have to require disclosure when a business is attacked in New Jersey, we may have to legislate it.”

In addition to stealing from big corporations, Mottola says cyber crooks are also stealing information from individuals, by tricking them into “opening up an email, clicking on a link that can be malicious and loading certain malware onto computer systems – so it’s critically important to continue to educate people in the public sector about all of the schemes that are out there.”

He said while it may be impossible to stop all breaches from taking place, the situation can be improved.

“For small businesses in particular, they need to look at some of these IT professionals for services that can help them protect their data, because it’s not their core business,” Mottola said.

He said officials are trying to encourage companies to “partition” information online, and then quickly respond if, and when, a breach takes place.

“Businesses have gotten much better at detecting when their systems have been infiltrated and responding to that and I think that’s an evolution, I think we’ll continue to see that. There are best practices that companies can follow to reduce the risk,” he said.

New Jersey Homeland Security Director Chris Rodriguez said cyber-security is something we all need to play a part in.

“We have adversaries out there who are interested in gathering data and information from our networks for nefarious purposes,” Rodriguez said.

He said said his Office is working to branch the technical, analytical and communication gaps between local and federal authorities, facilitate information-sharing with the private sector and engage citizens “to practice better cyber-hygiene.”

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Rumana, Russo bill seeks to shift power over reservoir project to local councils

Source: Bergen Record -

State legislators on both sides of the political aisle have joined the fight over a plan to drain Garret Mountain’s open-air reservoirs, introducing a bipartisan bill that takes the power away from the Passaic Valley Water Commission and gives it to elected officials in the cities and towns that buy the water.

Scott Rumana

 

“It’s a huge project with monumental costs to ratepayers,” Rumana said. “There has to be more participation and more say put into the hands of the people who will be paying for it. With a project of this magnitude, and one that is creating this much concern, this bill makes a lot more sense.”

 

Democrats and Republicans in Trenton last week introduced a bill that would prohibit the water commission from entering into any contract “to cap, otherwise enclose, or drain an open-air reservoir” unless the governing bodies of the three member cities, Paterson, Passaic and Clifton, and “each of the municipalities serviced by the commission” first approve the contract. The long list of municipalities that buy water from the commission includes Garfield, Lodi, Woodland Park, Totowa, Little Falls and Bloomingdale.

The Assembly bill A3853, is sponsored by Scott Rumana, R-Wayne, and David Russo, R-Ridgewood. An identical bill in the Senate, S2526, is sponsored by Sen. Nellie Pou, D-North Haledon. In a separate measure, Republicans introduced a resolution to delay the project until after 2016, when the federal government completes its review of a federal rule that requires drinking water stored in open-air reservoirs to either be covered or re-treated.

Pou said she introduced the bill because there has been a lack of transparency by the water commission as it has planned the project. “In light of the fact that seven years have gone by, but there has been little information made available to the public,” she said.

If adopted, the legislation could fundamentally change the way decisions are made concerning the controversial project, in which the water commission plans to drain the Stanley M. Levine, New Street and Great Notch reservoirs and replace them with concrete tanks, estimated to cost $135 million. Until now, all decisions on the reservoir project have been left up to the seven members of the commission, all of whom are appointed by the mayors of member cities Paterson, Passaic and Clifton.

But if the legislation is adopted, final decisions over the Garret Mountain project could shift quite dramatically to elected officials in any of the approximately two-dozen municipalities that buy water from the water commission. Instead of the seven appointed commissioners calling the shots, all contracts affecting the reservoir project would be subject to a vote by local elected officials.

Rumana said the project could have a “devastating impact” on the aesthetics of Garret Mountain and the on the property values of homeowners who live near the reservoirs. He said with so much at stake, the decision-making power should be shared among the municipalities, and not left up to the water commission.

“It’s a huge project with monumental costs to ratepayers,” Rumana said. “There has to be more participation and more say put into the hands of the people who will be paying for it. With a project of this magnitude, and one that is creating this much concern, this bill makes a lot more sense.”

Some critics contend that the water commission has been operating without any oversight for too long — at least since 1995, when the state Legislature adopted a statute that said all its contracts were subject to the approval of the governing bodies of its three member cities, Paterson, Passaic and Clifton.

That statute, 40:62-113.1 reads, in part: “. . . the Passaic Valley Water Commission shall not enter into a contract with a private firm for the provision of water supply services…unless the governing bodies of each of the member municipalities comprising the Passaic Valley Water Commission shall have first approved the contract.”

The statute was discovered by David Soo, the former chairman of the Paterson Board of Adjustment who opposes of the reservoir plan, because it would drain Paterson’s historic Levine reservoir during Phase I. Soo brought the statute to the attention of the Paterson city council last month. The council turned it over to the city’s Law department.

“Who oversees the water commission?” Soo asked. “No governmental agency oversees their actions. Nobody oversees their budget or their expenditures, except for the seven members of commission. But who oversees the members of the commission?”

George Hanley, the attorney for the water commission, said the 1995 statute wasn’t intended to give governing bodies authority over every action taken by the water commission. He said the statute is part of a larger law that pertains only if the commission is being sold to a private company.

“If the governing bodies of the member cities had to vote on every contract we let out, then we would never get anything done,” Hanley said.

Gloria KolodziejCQ said she served on the Clifton City Council for 28 years, and there was never an instance where the governing body voted on a water commission action. She said there’s no need for council oversight because the appointed commissioners act to protect the public interest.

“We, as the commission, are the ones who set policy,” Kolodziej said. “And I can assure you, we hold management’s feet to the fire.”

But among the critics of the reservoir project there’s a sense of distrust, as opponents demand that the water commission go back to the drawing board and find alternatives to building concrete tanks.

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State Experts Talk Cyber Security at Bramnick’s Summit at Kean University

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: WBGO News -

Major security breaches at Target, Home Depot and JP Morgan are a sign that cyber attacks are a growing threat. New Jersey security experts convened for a panel at Kean University today on Monday to talk about the risk to consumers and businesses.

Jon Bramnick

Assemblyman Jon Bramnick, who led the panel, says it’s key that businesses turn over information on cyber attacks as soon as they happen to help prevent more and more from happening.

“You want to let Homeland Security know that so that they can develop a defense to those attacks. But if you keep it secret because you’re afraid it hurts your business, that’s a problem for all of us.”

He says if businesses don’t volunteer the information he’ll look into legislation mandating it.

Special Agent Jim Mottola is head of the Newark office of the Secret Service. He says on the consumer side, people need to be more aware of fraudulent credit card activity.

“As you’re sitting there doing your bills Sunday morning, these are things you need to check, you need to make part of your ritual. The consumer needs to get more involved.”

Mottola says one of the simplest ways to prevent fraudulent charges is to use credit instead of debit and to always check credit reports and statements.

 

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Fiocchi Brings Law Enforcement, Local Leaders Together for Roundtable Meeting

Source: NBC 40 -

Sam Fiocchi

Sam Fiocchi

Law enforcement officials from across South Jersey sat down with and local leaders in Cape May County on Monday.

It was the second law enforcement roundtable meeting, hosted by Assemblyman Sam Fiocchi in Cape May Court House.

Officials from Cape May and Cumberland Counties discussed issues facing police officers, including security in schools, drug epidemics and gang problems.

Officials say both roundtable meetings have been a success this year.

“We’ve gotten five bills in the legislature that we’re looking to move through committees. So they came from the ideas that we got in our first roundtable. So we’ve got some new ideas today for some new bills that we can move forward. Anything that we can do to help our men and women of law enforcement,” says Fiocchi.

Another roundtable is expected in the next three or four months.

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DeCroce, Webber on Responsible Solutions to Transportation Funding Crisis

Source: NJ Spotlight -

To new Transportation Commissioner Jamie Fox, the challenge is clear, and so is the solution: After years of “taking a Band-Aid approach to everything,” New Jersey’s transportation system is in crisis. The only way out is to raise taxes to replenish the soon-to-be-empty Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) and build a new rail tunnel under the Hudson.

BettyLou DeCroce

“If we did a 30 cents a gallon gas tax, they (the public) would tar and feather us, and throw us out of New Jersey,” Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce warned, even though that tax hike would still leave New Jersey’s gas tax — currently the second-lowest in the nation at 14.5 cents per gallon — below New York’s 50.6-cent-per-gallon tax. DeCroce said the state should consider a mixture of solutions, such as extending the state sales tax to gasoline, which would generate the equivalent of 24.5 cents per gallon based on an average price of $3.50 a gallon. She also suggested increasing the petroleum products gross-receipts tax, which is levied at the refinery or distributor level; imposing a tax on airport car rentals, as most other states do; and adding a tax on containers that come into Port Newark and Port Elizabeth.

“Crisis is opportunity. We are broke. We can let our infrastructure fall apart and become worse. Or we can put the ‘D’ and ‘R’ aside and pass a revenue enhancer, whatever that is,” Fox said in an impassioned plea to business and labor leaders to fight for a stable, long-term source of funding for highway, bridge and mass transit projects.

“This is not an easy vote to pass,” Fox warned the New Jersey SEED (Society for Environmental, Economic Development) business-labor coalition in Atlantic City Friday, referring to polls showing that most New Jerseyans oppose an increase in the gas tax. “There has to be a revenue enhancer. If it’s a gimmick, we’ve failed. We have to tell legislators we will be there with them. Anyone who thinks we’re going to get this done without a tax is just mouthing words.”

Fox said in an interview following the NJ SEED speech that ideally he would like to increase annual state transportation capital funding from the current $1.6 billion a year to $2 billion. That hike has been recommended by Forward New Jersey, a broad-based pro-transportation coalition headed by State Chamber of Commerce President Tom Bracken, but one that would presumably require a larger “revenue enhancer” at a time when Christie may be about to launch a bid for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination.

Christie, who had previously ruled out a gas tax increase, said when he announced Fox’s nomination that “everything’s on the table.” When asked if that included a gas tax, he responded testily, “What part of ‘everything’s on the table’ don’t you understand?”

Assemblywoman Betty Lou DeCroce (R-Morris), who also serves on the Assembly Transportation Committee, said there is a growing recognition among Republicans that a revenue increase will be needed to pay for transportation capital projects.

“If we did a 30 cents a gallon gas tax, they (the public) would tar and feather us, and throw us out of New Jersey,” DeCroce warned, even though that tax hike would still leave New Jersey’s gas tax — currently the second-lowest in the nation at 14.5 cents per gallon — below New York’s 50.6-cent-per-gallon tax.

DeCroce said the state should consider a mixture of solutions, such as extending the state sales tax to gasoline, which would generate the equivalent of 24.5 cents per gallon based on an average price of $3.50 a gallon. She also suggested increasing the petroleum products gross-receipts tax, which is levied at the refinery or distributor level; imposing a tax on airport car rentals, as most other states do; and adding a tax on containers that come into Port Newark and Port Elizabeth.

Even Assemblyman Jay Weber (R-Morris), a former state GOP chairman and leading conservative, acknowledged that an increase in New Jersey’s relatively low gas-tax increase was a possibility, although he suggested it should be accompanied by a corresponding cut in the state’s high estate and inheritance taxes.

Political fear of raising the gas taxes is not confined to Trenton.

U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), who serves on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, noted that “just as New Jersey hasn’t raised its gas tax, the federal government hasn’t raised its gas tax either.” And just as New Jersey’s Transportation Trust Fund is scheduled to run out of money for new projects early in the next budget year, Congress was forced to do a short-term extension when its Highway Trust Fund started running out of money in July.

Finding a funding solution that guarantees the continued flow of federal transportation aid to the states is critical for New Jersey, whose $1.6 billion state Transportation Trust Fund is matched on a dollar-for dollar basis with federal aid, LoBiondo and Fox both noted.

“Am I worried?” Fox said, when asked about the fiscal problems that would be created if Congress was unable to agree on a sufficiently robust federal transportation funding formula. “Of course, I’m worried.”

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Bramnick Hosts Summit on Cyber Security

Source: CBS 880 AM -

A New Jersey lawmaker is hosting a summit Monday to figure out how to improve cybersecurity in the state.

Jon Bramnick

Assembly Republican leader Jon Bramnick invited state Homeland Security officials and business leaders to the meeting, WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reported.

With hackers gaining access to databases almost every day and computer viruses becoming a constant concern, the goal of the summit is to answer some key questions, Bramnick said.

“How dangerous is it now? Is it getting worse? And how vulnerable is the average person?” Bramnick, R-Westfield, told Haskell.

Bramnick said it doesn’t appear that corporate America is sharing information about cyberattacks with the government. He hopes the two sides can develop some trust.

“If government is not receiving information about the newest attack, then government and business become more vulnerable,” Bramnick said.

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Casagrande to Host Blood Drive in Conjunction with Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Source: Assembly Republican Press Release -

Caroline Casagrande

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and one way to help those battling this disease is by donating blood. Monmouth County Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande will be hosting the district’s 6th Annual Blood Drive on Wednesday, October 22. The Central Jersey Blood Center will park their blood donation bus outside the District office at 35 West Main Street in Freehold Borough to make it convenient.

“The Central Jersey Blood Center serves area hospitals as they treat premature babies, trauma victims and cancer patients” says Casagrande. “All the blood donated, stays local and helps a neighbor in need.”

More than a million new people are diagnosed with cancer each year. Many of them will need blood, sometimes daily, during their chemotherapy treatment. “Cancer patients are the primary recipients of blood transfusions” says Casagrande. “In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, consider a donation in the name of a loved one fighting that disease.”

“When my husband had a near fatal car accident in February of 2008, he needed over 20 pints of blood to save his life,” says the Assemblywoman. “Since then I have always tried to make sure we do our part to replenish the blood supply.”

The blood drive will run from 2 to 6 p.m.

“We thank our friends at Wegman’s and Delicious Orchards for providing us with sandwiches and doughnuts to share with those donating” says Assemblywoman Casagrande.

“We would love to see as many people as possible come out to give this gift of life” adds Casagrande. Walk-ins are welcome, but registration is encouraged by calling Casagrande’s legislative office at (732) 866-1695.

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O’Scanlon: More evidence red light cameras should be banned

Source: Asbury Park Press -

They tell us not to worry about those hanging bandits called red light cameras because alleged violations are reviewed before tickets are sent out. Tell it to Rob Gawley.

Declan O'Scanlon

“There’s no question that there is a huge gap in the evidence against this guy. In fact, there is no evidence against this guy because that part of the video is completely missing,” Declan O’Scanlon said. “This is the tip of the iceberg. This is one person who called you. There are thousands of people this has happened to.”

He was making a right turn near Newark airport when his alleged violation occurred. He told Karin Price Mueller of NJ Advance Media that he is a careful driver and didn’t believed he ran through a red signal. He looked at the camera’s video tape.

The video skipped, there was missing footage. He went to Redflerx Traffic Systems of Phoenix, Arizona, which runs this camera. The woman he talked to denied seeing a skip then admitted she did but said it had nothing to do with his alleged violation.

Reporter Mueller looked at it and saw what motorist Gawley saw. Then it was sent to Newark police who said they stood by the ticket. Next Asssemblyman Declan O’Scanlon of Monmouth County viewed it. He said:

“There’s no question that there is a huge gap in the evidence against this guy. In fact, there is no evidence against this guy because that part of the video is completely missing,” O’Scanlon said. “This is the tip of the iceberg. This is one person who called you. There are thousands of people this has happened to.”

Next Mueller reached out to Assemblyman John Wisniewski who loves the gadgets and wrote the bill for the “experiment” to put them in New Jersey. He didn’t see it but his chief of staff blathered on about talking to the department that issued it and how you could go to court etc blah blah blah ….

Reporter Mueller noted “according to a report in The Star-Ledger that cited New Jersey Election Law Enforcement records, (Wisniewski) received $2,500 in campaign contributions from 2007 to 2010 from Redflex Traffic Systems, the camera operator.”

Wisniewski is interested in higher office, like governor. Does he really think voters will look kindly on this when it comes to light in any campaign?

This “experiment” Wisniewski helped set up is set to end in December unless the Legislature extends it. It should kill it dead in its tracks.

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