Author: NJ Assembly Republicans

Bramnick on bill to get Gov. to step down: “Obvious partisan attack”

Source: Excerpted from the Bergen Record -

Two of Governor Christie’s most vocal critics in the Legislature say they will attempt to get him out of Trenton as he pursues a campaign for the White House. But the measure is as good as dead before even being introduced unless Christie, a Republican, flip-flops on his insistence that he won’t resign.

The Senate Majority Leader, Teaneck Democrat Loretta Weinberg, and Sen. Ray Lesniak, D-Union, say they are drafting the details of a bill that would require New Jersey’s governor to resign once he or she declared a campaign for the presidency.

Jon Bramnick

Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick, who is also from Union County, dismissed the pending legislation as political theater.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that Sen. Lesniak and Sen. Weinberg do not like Chris Christie,” Bramnick said. “It’s obviously a partisan attack on Governor Christie.”

Instead of “wasting the public’s time” on a dead-end proposal, Bramnick said, Democratic lawmakers should focus on lowering the cost of living in New Jersey.

Both Lesniak and Bramnick are considered as possible candidates.

If the legislation, which Lesniak said will be introduced on July 20, were to make it to his desk, Christie, who announced his bid for the White House last week, would then have to sign it. Christie has said repeatedly and emphatically that he will not resign.

Since Christie announced his campaign last Tuesday, he has had a fleeting presence in New Jersey. He traveled to New Hampshire following his announcement and stayed there until Saturday. He was in New Jersey on Monday, when he signed a handful of bills, and part of the day Tuesday. He is scheduled to spend the rest of the week in Idaho, at the Allen & Co. Sun Valley Conference, an annual retreat hosted by the investment firm that draws a host of marquee celebrities, including, this year, media mogul Rupert Murdoch, Apple CEO Tim Cook and Tesla founder Elon Musk, according to Variety magazine.

Christie has spent about 65 days out of New Jersey this year, after spending about 130 away in 2014. But Christie insists he is regularly plugged into his duties as governor, and said Friday, as he has before, that he “can walk and chew gum at the same time.”

Sen. Tom Kean Jr., the Republican leader who is also from Union County, said he “can’t believe that the Senate President would allow a bill of this nature to advance in the Legislature.”

“I think the majority party has finally jumped the shark,” Kean said.

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Asbury Park Press Editorial: Dancer’s pipeline bills should be passed

Source: Asbury Park Press Editorial -

The series on the Pinelands by Staff Writer Todd Bates last week, “Is this the beginning of the end for the Pinelands?” drew sorely needed attention to the wonder and vital importance of the 1.1-million-acre national reserve — a designation that helped turn the corner on a Pinelands past more given to economic exploitation than stewardship.

Ron Dancer

Assemblyman Ronald Dancer has put together a package of bills to slow or halt the pipeline mania.

These bills should be passed, even if they likely will not become law as long as Chris Christie is governor. Lawmakers and citizens need to make a stand. The fight against the pipeline must continue.

The Pinelands Reserve spans portions of seven counties and all or part of 56 municipalities. It occupies 22 percent of New Jersey’s land area and is the largest body of open space on the Mid-Atlantic seaboard between Richmond and Boston. The reserve is home to dozens of rare plant and animal species and the Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer system, which contains an estimated 17 trillion gallons of water.

The Pinelands must never be taken for granted, especially now that two recent appointees to the Pinelands Commission have shifted the balance of power to a likely 9-6 majority that favors additional pipelines and future development.

The area remains under pressure from many sources. We have listed four of them and what might be done to allieviate those pressures.

1. Overpumping of groundwater — One might think the aforementioned Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer is limitless, with its trillions of gallons of water. It is not. And Pinelands water resources are stressed by those who tap them for agriculture, irrigation and drinking water.

Household water is used once in homes and then flushed down the toilet or goes down sink drains. From there, it typically goes to a wastewater treatment plant and is dumped directly or indirectly into the ocean or the Delaware River. Millions of gallons of water per day leave the Pinelands that way. As a result, this water is no longer available to the aquifer.

Pinelands watersheds and wetlands are already showing signs of stress due to water withdrawals, according to a 2014 study by Rutgers University experts for New Jersey Future, a nonprofit that advocates for smart growth. In addition, water quality is also suffering in some places.

The report makes several recommendations that should be heeded by policymakers. One is that all requests for more water should require proof that current water uses are efficient. It also suggests considering recycling water back into the Pinelands, instead of discharging water outside the region or into the ocean. Citizens should be demanding that these two recommendations be implemented.

2. Overdevelopment — The state Department of Environmental Protection wants to allow sewer service in 13,003 acres in the Pinelands including more than 5,500 acres in Ocean County. The agency proposes removing 1,070 acres from sewer service areas for a net increase of 11,933 acres.

The DEP and the Pinelands Commission talk a good game when it comes to development. They claim, for example, their realignment of sewer-service plans will produce little additional growth because many of the acres being added include wetlands and preserved areas. We remain skeptical, particularly with a commission whose members seem less dedicated to protection of the environment than economic growth. Any new development chips away at the unity of the Pinelands, making islands of what were once connected swaths of lands.

3. Pinelands pipelines — Additional pipelines running through the Pinelands are a bad idea, particularly South Jersey Gas Co.’s proposed 22-mile, 24-inch natural gas pipeline through a forest zone of the Pinelands to the BL England power generating station in Cape May County. There are both environmental and public safety reasons to oppose this pipeline. Assemblyman Ronald Dancer has put together a package of bills to slow or halt the pipeline mania.

These bills should be passed, even if they likely will not become law as long as Chris Christie is governor. Lawmakers and citizens need to make a stand. The fight against the pipeline must continue.

4. Trespassers, lawbreakers — Throughout the Pinelands, signs are posted that prohibit certain activities: “No motorized vehicles. No littering or dumping. No alcoholic beverages.” And near those signs there is often evidence that visitors simply ignore them. Large ruts from off-road vehicles. Sites littered with discarded beer bottles, plastic food containers and motor oil cans. Evidence of campfires in areas where they are prohibited. The technology exists for the state to do a better job of monitoring the illegal activities that are taking place and of putting a stop to them.

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Brown expresses concerns as A.C. PILOT plan awaits Governor’s action

Source: Press of Atlantic City -

Gov. Chris Christie’s office declined to provide an update Monday on the future of the casino payment-in-lieu of-taxes, or PILOT, bills recently passed by the Legislature.

But amid the silence from the governor’s office, lawmakers continued to disagree over the bills.

Chris A. Brown

“We are stabilizing the tax rate for the casinos at the expense of our working families,” Assemblyman Chris Brown, R-Atlantic said Monday.

Brown was a vocal opponent of the legislation, but he backed it after helping negotiate a PILOT funding arrangement between Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian and Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson. Even so, he has continued to express objections to its structure.

The five-part package sets collective casino payments at $120 million for 12 years, so long as gross gaming revenue stays close to current levels, directs a significant portion of the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority’s budget to municipal debt service, and repurposes the Atlantic City Alliance’s budget for city coffers.

“I still have grave concerns regarding the substance of the legislation, and I’m hopeful the governor and his legal council will thoroughly vet the package of bills before signing them into law,” Brown said.

[The PILOT plan] also requires casinos to provide “suitable” healthcare and retirement benefits for union employees, and allows the state’s education commissioner to direct extra funding to Atlantic City’s school district.

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Rumana & Chris A. Brown speak about casino expansion

NJ 101.5 -

The deadline is in early August for the New Jersey legislature to approve a resolution asking voters, this November, if they want to amend the constitution to allow casinos outside of Atlantic City. If that doesn’t happen, the question could not go on the ballot until 2016.

Passage would require 48 votes in the Assembly and 24 votes in the state Senate. One staunch advocate of the casino expansion plan said he does not want the state to wait another year.

Scott Rumana

“The window of opportunity for getting it on the ballot in 2015 is closing rapidly,” said Assemblyman Scott Rumana (R-Wayne). “I guess there are a few more days in here. I’m assuming that we could theoretically have this happen.”

Under the proposed amendment, the state’s share of revenues from the new casinos would be used for programs that help senior citizens and those with disabilities. A portion of additional revenues from North Jersey gaming would also be dedicated to subsidies for non-gaming development in Atlantic City.

“This would give us revenue creation that then would allow us to do other things like take care of Atlantic City, in terms of its transition,” Rumana said, “or take care of the horse racing industry through economic growth where you’re not taxing anybody anymore. You’re not increasing their fees. It would just happen naturally.”

The idea of casino expansion has opponents, too.

Chris A. Brown

“Casino gaming in North Jersey would not only be a blow to middle class families in Atlantic County, but it would be a blow to middle-class families throughout the state,” said Assemblyman Chris A. Brown (R-Linwood) when the resolution was introduced. “All of the studies indicate the only thing that gaming in North Jersey will do is cannibalize the market in Atlantic City, thus producing less money, less revenue for our seniors and disabled.”

State Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) has indicated that the issue will not be on the 2015 ballot.

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Bramnick and Rumana disucss Christie governing from out of state

Scott Rumana

Jon Bramnick

Source: Bergen Record -

New Jersey got a preview last year of what happens when its leader is out of town on an extended leave as Governor Christie spent a third of the year outside the state rallying for candidates and raising record sums for the Republican Governors Association.

Now Christie is campaigning for himself. And cutting a path to the White House is a much more taxing endeavor than being a campaign cheerleader – taxing not only on the governor’s travel schedule, but also, most likely, on his mind as he focuses heavily on domestic and international policy and, presumably, prepares for debates.

The increased travel – and the attention Christie pays to his campaign – has raised the question of how Christie can work two full-time jobs at once.

The answer is rather simple to Christie. “As I’ve said many, many times before,” Christie told reporters in New Hampshire on Friday, “I can walk and chew gum at the same time.”

Christie has laid out an ambitious agenda for the next two years at home, seeking to stabilize Atlantic City and persuade public employee unions and the Legislature to agree to further health and pension reforms.

Christie is a hands-on manager. While he’s on his monthly radio call-in show, for example, he often sends text messages back and forth with department heads, sometimes getting a reply from them on issues before a caller hangs up. His cellphone is usually in his front pocket during his town-hall-style meetings. And it was revealed during the investigation into the George Washington Bridge lane closures that Christie and the director of the state’s independent authorities unit, Regina Egea – now his chief of staff – texted each other during testimony by Port Authority officials to a legislative panel.

“Anyone who thinks that he can’t address an issue in New Jersey if he’s not physically here on soil in New Jersey is crazy,” said Michele Siekerka, president of the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, who is in regular contact with Christie’s staff and Guadagno. “Between the lieutenant governor and his chief of staff, Regina Egea, we’re in very good hands.”

But Christie is also the face of New Jersey and its ultimate political leader.

Even though Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno has had a largely behind-the-scenes role as an adjutant to Christie, she has been able to instill confidence in her leadership in the Legislature and in the business community. She is also considered a contender to run for governor in 2017, and Christie’s absence could provide Guadagno the opportunity to pad her credentials should she try to succeed him.

Guadagno has the authority, in his absence, to sign executive orders and bills into law. Last year, for example, she signed a law that made CPR training mandatory in public high schools. Her public schedule is frequently filled with road trips to welcome new businesses or speak to civic groups, to fulfill a mandate by Christie to help develop and grow New Jersey’s economy.

“The luxury of doing the more ribbon-cutting-type things, the administrative things, they may drop off her schedule. The economic development things would probably stay on the top of her list,” said Assemblyman Scott Rumana, R-Wayne, who works closely with Guadagno on the state’s Red Tape Review Commission. “It certainly increases her responsibilities when he’s out of state, but you’ve got somebody who’s incredibly capable.”

Rumana added that he doesn’t foresee “any alteration at all” in how the state is managed while Christie campaigns. “It will be what it was like last year with [his] RGA responsibilities,” he said.

One of Christie’s most ardent supporters in the Legislature, Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick, who is also considered a possible gubernatorial candidate in 2017, equated Christie’s role as governor to that of a chief executive of a major business. As long as the lines of communication are open and lawmakers are working with Christie, New Jersey will be just fine while Christie campaigns.

“We can accomplish anything in New Jersey whether Chris Christie is at home or running for president, as long as everyone else is working together,” said Bramnick, R-Union. “Cooperation is first. When you have that, you can be calling in from China.”

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Rible Bill Offers Support for NJ Troopers Who Responded to Summer Jam Melee

Assembly Republican Press Release -

June incident at Met Life Stadium resulted in 61 arrests and multiple trooper injuries

Dave Rible

Assemblyman Dave Rible, R-Monmouth and Ocean, recently introduced legislation that offers support for the State Police who responded to a June incident at Met Life Stadium which resulted in multiple arrests and injuries to several troopers.

Rible had recently blasted calls for an investigation into the incident, noting that the police helped quell an already volatile situation in which concert-goers tipped over barricades and threw bottles at police.

“The State Police were called to a dangerous incident and helped prevent the situation from getting out of hand,” said Rible. “Instead of investigating the police response, we should be commending these officers for their actions to restore order and avert what could have turned into a full-scale riot.”

According to reports, the situation devolved into mayhem when officials closed the gates and crowds of people tried to force their way into the concert. More than 60 people were arrested and 10 troopers were injured as police had to employ armored vehicles and tear gas to disperse the crowd.

“This incident is a perfect illustration of the difficult and often dangerous situations that members of law enforcement face on a regular basis,” stated Rible. “That fact that there wasn’t more damage or more serious injuries is a testament to the professionalism of the State Police and all New Jersey law enforcement.

“While some have tried to use this incident to criticize police officers, I want the Legislature to offer our support for the State Police who responded bravely and professionally to a potentially explosive situation.”

Rible sponsors the resolution, AJR-124, with Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick and Assemblyman Sean Kean. Senator Robert W. Singer

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Auth: Don’t hit taxpayers with mall project

Source: Bergen Records [Letter to the Editor by Robert Auth] -

Robert Auth

Robert Auth

Before we even consider building a casino in the Meadowlands with taxpayer money, the American Dream mall should be completed with private investment dollars. Taxpayers are already over-burdened. In today’s economy, it is a reckless betrayal of the public trust to commit, once again, to a project in the Meadowlands while we currently have both an arena and a proposed shopping mall of grandiose proportion sitting idle.

The Meadowlands has a dismal history of troubled projects, and I am concerned about investing more taxpayer money until work concludes on current projects. While not opposed to casinos in North Jersey, after the frustration and failures of a lost decade of Xanadu/ American Dream, our priority must be fulfilling the development without spending additional taxpayer money. Only then can I comfortably support a Meadowlands gaming hall proposal.

Moreover, I believe any EDA tax break should be restrained until American Dream is open for business. According to a recent article in The Record (“Cost of American Dream rises; opening pushed back,” Page L-3, June 11) the developer, Triple Five, is still looking for $1.5 billion in private money. I have little confidence the project will be ready to open by 2017, as recently promised.

If a casino is to be erected in North Jersey, this kind of fiscal irresponsibility must be avoided. I would want see the builder come forward with not only the funding for the casino property, but with a commitment and the funding for the additional infrastructure which could conceivably run into many millions of dollars.

We owe it to the taxpayers whose hard-earned money is being spent on elaborate and costly construction to assure that the projects are completed and meet expectations.

We owe it to the taxpayers whose hard-earned money is being spent on elaborate and costly construction to assure that the projects are completed and meet expectations.

Robert Auth
Assemblyman, Legislative District #39

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Brown vows to continue fight to stop spread of casinos beyond Atlantic City

Source: Casino News Daily -

According to the latest information, a question about the recently announced proposal for the construction of casinos outside Atlantic City is not likely to be included in this November’s ballot.

The bill calls for the establishment of up to three new casinos in Hudson, Essex, and Bergen Counties in North Jersey. If approved, it would end Atlantic City’s four-decade monopoly on the state’s gambling industry.

Chris A. Brown

Opponents of the bill fear that new casinos in North Jersey would have a devastating effect on Atlantic City. Assemblyman Chris Brown, who represents the gambling hub and the surrounding area, commented that he would continue fighting the launch of gambling venues in the northern part of the state, as they “are not inevitable.”

Once officially introduced, a public hearing on the bill could not be organized for the next 20 days. Furthermore, it would need to be voted in favor of by 60% of the New Jersey Senate and Assembly representatives. And this needs to happen before August 3. However, the state Legislature has already concluded its work for the summer. In other words, a November referendum on the proposal is not likely to take place.

Supporters of the potential expansion of the state gambling industry said they were disappointed with this turn of the events, as new casinos would contribute millions of dollars to the state and would create thousands of jobs.

Although it seems that the chances for a question on the bill to be included in the November ballot are quite scant, top legislators have not confirmed this yet.

Last month, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said that he favors the gambling expansion and a statewide referendum on the matter, but only if a share of the new venues’ tax proceeds goes to Atlantic City to help its struggling economy.

The seaside casino resort has been losing visitors to gambling venues in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and New York and has seen four of its properties closed down in 2014.

Last month, New York businessman Jeff Gural and casino operator Hard Rock International announced plans for the addition of a $1-billion casino to the existing Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford. Furthermore, former Reebok CEO proposed the construction of a $4-billion integrated resort in Jersey City.

The city of Newark is currently seeking an operator for its potential gambling venue. Ocean County has also expressed interest in hosting a casino.

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Fiocchi visits farm markets to support Jersey Fresh

Source: Shore News Today -

State Assemblyman Sam Fiocchi and employees of Clinton Conover Farms in Cape May Court House.

State Assemblyman Sam Fiocchi visited four farm markets Tuesday, June 23, including Clinton Conover, Lillian’s Market in Port Elizabeth, Boulevard Produce Market in Ocean View and Avalon Produce Market in Avalon to promote the Jersey Fresh program.

Recently, Fiocchi sponsored a bill that would allow the Secretary of Agriculture to notify individuals and business of the opportunity to contribute funds to advertise and promote the sale of New Jersey farm products, as well as the Jersey Fresh program.

Jersey Fresh is an advertising, promotional, and quality grading program launched by the state Department of Agriculture in 1984.  Over the years, consumer awareness of Jersey products has increased, and the program has become a benchmark for other states to use to build their own state-grown agricultural marketing programs.

According to Fiocchi, the Department of Agriculture continues to support “Jersey Fresh” by working with restaurants, schools, colleges, non-profits, retail businesses, hotels, hospitals, and local communities.

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Bramnick on ABC’s ‘Up Close’ [video]

Jon Bramnick

Source: WABC- Ch. 7 [video] -

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is off and running in his bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, after announcing his candidacy last week at his old high school in Livingston.

He is hoping despite his anemic poll numbers to ride his blunt-talking style from Trenton to the White House.

Joining us this week is Republican Assembly Minority leader Jon Bramnick.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is off and running in his bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, after announcing his candidacy last week at his old high school in Livingston.

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