Category: Clips

Rible wants more NJ drivers to ‘Move Over’

NJ 101.5 -

Assemblyman Dave Rible (R-Wall), who co-sponsored the 2009 Move Over legislation which requires motorists to change lanes for emergency vehicles on the side of the road, said recent accidents made it clear that not enough drivers are aware of the law.

Dave Rible

“The Move Over was great when it was written,” Rible said. “I thought it was very well done. I thought we had it right, but like any piece of legislation, you have to re-evaluate after a period of time. Maybe we didn’t get it right, so now we have to change the law to make it for all vehicles pulled over on the side of the road.”

Rible said he plans to introduce legislation to expand the law to require drivers to slow down and change lanes for any vehicle on the side of the road.

A Waldwick police officer was killed July 17 when his parked patrol car was rammed from behind by a tractor-trailer. The day after, two Pine Beach cops were hurt when their parked cruisers were hit while they were talking to a driver they had pulled over.

“I am sure you would agree that these incidents are a frightening reminder of the dangers faced by emergency workers on our state’s roadways. Therefore, I request that the New Jersey Department of Transportation help to protect our emergency responders by taking urgent action to increase awareness of the Move Over law,” Rible wrote in a letter to acting Department of Transportation commissioner Joseph Bertoni.

One way the DOT could raise awareness is by posting a reminder on the flashing, mobile signs that can be seen throughout the state, according to Rible. He also explained that legislators could get together and launch a concerted effort by sending their constituents letters reminding them of the law.

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KEAN: Bill crucial to reforming unfair alimony system

Asbury Park Press Op-ed by Sean Kean -

Sean Kean

Legislation that will make our alimony laws fairer by modernizing an outdated system has passed the state Assembly and the state Senate and is sitting on the governor’s desk, where it awaits his action.

Ultimately, this legislation, Assembly Bill 845, will provide relief for alimony payers who are unable to comply with unrealistic court mandates.

Since 2008, I have been at the forefront of the alimony reform initiative in New Jersey. I have introduced various bills in an attempt to make the alimony system more fair and reasonable for all individuals. After many years of advocating for reform, I am pleased that A-845 has moved through the legislative process.

I am not suggesting that individuals receiving alimony awards are in any way undeserving of these payments; however, if the paying party is incapable of meeting the alimony obligation, the system must recognize this fact.

I introduced A-845 during a previous legislative session after I met with a constituent who could not afford his alimony payment after he lost his job due to the economic downturn we witnessed in 2008.

Since then, I have been contacted by numerous individuals, both men and women, who cannot afford their alimony payments. Changed circumstances, such as job loss or underemployment, often times make it impossible for alimony payers to comply with their court-ordered alimony obligations. In some cases, individuals are sent to jail for failure to pay alimony.

A-845 would provide specific grounds for modification and termination when the alimony payer retires, loses a job or otherwise has a reduction in income, or when the alimony recipient cohabits with another person. Under current law, courts invariably will not give relief to alimony payers even after retirement. For example, upon retirement, police officers and teachers receive a reduced amount when they file to collect their pensions.

However, courts routinely do not recognize these changed circumstances when these individuals file challenges to their obligations. It is an unworkable system in which aggrieved payers must pay an attorney to come in to court to reopen their case, and more likely than not, the judge will not even entertain the motion.

A-845 also would establish guidelines for an alimony award based on the length of the marriage and create a rebuttable presumption that alimony payments terminate when the payer becomes eligible for Social Security. The bill provides that the total duration of alimony cannot exceed the length of the marriage when a marriage lasts less than 20 years. The legislation states that extenuating circumstances may warrant deviation from the durational limits.

This bill also would permit modification or suspension of alimony payments when the recipient is living with another person for over three months. The provisions of this bill are crucial to bringing equity to the alimony process because the state’s current convoluted and archaic alimony statutes are neither uniform nor flexible and can often impose a serious economic hardship on one individual.

I am hopeful that Gov. Christie will sign A-845. This bill would increase fairness for both alimony recipients and payers. It is imperative that current alimony laws be amended to create a reasonable and fair system that provides for both individuals without bankrupting one of the parties.

Assemblyman Sean Kean represents the 30th Legislative District, which includes portions of Monmouth and Ocean counties.

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Bateman-Simon-Ciattarelli to staff mobile office in Montgomery Twp.

Source: The Messenger-Gazette -

Donna Simon

Jack Ciattarelli

In an effort to better provide constituents with access to Legislative District 16 lawmakers and staff, Sen. Christopher “Kip” Bateman and Assembly Republican members Jack Ciattarelli and Donna Simon are informing residents of the availability of a mobile office which will be located in Montgomery Township.

The mobile office will be open Wednesday, July 30, from 10 a.m. to noon. It will be located in the gymnasium at the Otto Kaufman Community Center, 356 Skillman Road, Skillman.

This is an opportunity for constituents to meet with their legislators and their staff about issues of importance and to offer ideas and suggestions. The mobile office is designed to provide a more convenient location to the legislators’ constituents while protecting their privacy and provide the comfort associated with a legislative office.

All those attending are encouraged to bring a canned good as the legislators will be collecting donations for the Food Bank Network of Somerset County.

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Dancer wants return of death penalty, cites fatal shooting of Jersey City cop

Source: The Jersey Journal -

A New Jersey lawmaker is arguing that the fatal shooting of Jersey City Police Det. Melvin Santiago should lead to the state reinstating the death penalty.

Ron Dancer

Assemblyman Ronald Dancer, R-Jackson, said Santiago was “targeted for murder,” and that the public supports a return of the death penalty to bring “the full weight of justice in crimes such as this,” according to Chasing New Jersey.

“I believe that the time is now to reinstate the death penalty for these heinous, violent crimes when it comes to murdering law enforcement officers, when it comes to murdering a child or a terrorist,” he told the news show.

Santiago, 23, was killed last Sunday in what police have called an ambush at the Walgreens at Kennedy Boulevard and Communipaw Avenue. Officers on the scene returned fire, killing the assailant.

New Jersey repealed its death penalty in 2007 under former Gov. Jon Corzine, a Democrat.

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Dancer Pushes To Reinstate Death Penalty In NJ

Source: Chasing New Jersey on Mn9NJ.com [video] -

In the wake of the turmoil in Jersey City and the recent murder of Officer Melvin Santiago, New Jersey Assemblyman Ronald Dancer says that the state needs to reconsider reinstating the death penalty.

Dancer believes that the death penalty is the full force of justice.

“I believe that the time is now to reinstate the death penalty for these heinous, violent crimes when it comes to murdering law enforcement officers, when it comes to murdering a child or a terrorist,” he explained.

My9 New Jersey

Dancer believes that due to recent events New Jerseyan’s will see the need for this change.

“Officer Santiago was targeted for murder and I see right now that the public is going to once again, like they did in 2002, want to support the reinstatement of the death penalty as the full weight to justice, not vengeance, the full weight of justice in crimes such as this,” Dancer said.

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Auth: Democrats Take Wrong Approach on Taxes

Source: Bergen Record (letter from Asm. Robert J. Auth) -

Robert Auth

Robert Auth

Recently my Democratic colleagues in the General Assembly manifested a misunderstanding of the plight of the citizens and the business community of New Jersey. A bill (A-3485) attempted to raise the gross income tax rate on taxable income exceeding $1 million to 10.75 percent for a three-year-period.

For those who buy into this type of class warfare at first glance, let me suggest what the unintended consequences might be. Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has tried to stimulate New York’s economy in his Start Up New York program, a package of incentives boldly advertised nationally, and targeted in the northern New Jersey area specifically, in an effort to lure businesses across the border. Cuomo is implementing a sound marketing strategy. He has laid out the welcome mat and declared to job creators that “We want you.”

Rather than raising the gross income tax rate on tax filers earning more than $1 million, including businesses, as Majority Leader Louis Greenwald proposed, New York offers businesses the opportunity to operate 100 percent tax-free for 10 years — no income tax, business, corporate, state or local taxes, sales and property taxes, or franchise fees. New York provides incentives to help grow small business.

New Jersey needs to keep pace with New York in creating new businesses and loyally support existing businesses. Raising taxes does not achieve that goal. Rather, cutting taxes would help build the businesses that create jobs and prosperity for our state.

Robert Auth is a Republican Assemblyman representing the 39th Legislative District.

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Rible: Examining School Testing is a Very Good Start

Source: Times of Trenton (letter from Asm. Dave Rible) -

Dave Rible

There was a time when kids were allowed to be kids. Today, however, children are forced to grow up ahead of their time due to a host of societal and technological challenges. The internet and social media, cyber bullying, school shootings, drugs and alcohol, even playing school sports – with the constant pressure to win – are causing stress levels among youth to skyrocket.

Add to that list excessive academic testing, which today has taken on a life of its own.

Regular curriculum exams, such as math, history and science, and state-mandated standardized tests are no longer sufficient. Students are now bombarded with a plethora of other types of testing. There are benchmark tests, used to prepare students for the state-mandated NJASK (New Jersey Assessment of Skills and Knowledge) exam, and the non-mandated NJ STAR Math and Language Arts assessments that are administered every two or three months.

Students are now subject to the federal Common Core State Standards, while the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC) assessments begin next year. It’s time to stop this “testing” madness and the burden it’s placing on students and teachers.

Thankfully, Gov. Christie recently created a commission to review the effectiveness of all K-12 student assessments. This is a step in the right direction. We need to allow teachers to spend more time teaching and preparing students for future success instead of teaching them how to take tests.

The key is finding the right balance that will allow our schools to prepare our children for success but, at the same time, lets our kids be kids. This commission is a good start.

Dave Rible is a Republican Assemblyman representing the 30th Legislative District in the New Jersey General Assembly.

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Op-ed by Assemblyman Chris A. Brown / We must fight effort to expand gaming outside A.C.

Chris A. Brown

Atlantic City Press Op-ed by Chris A. Brown -

Sen. Jim Whelan and I don’t agree on every issue, but we have worked together in a bipartisan manner in support of Atlantic City and our region. I consider him a respected colleague and friend. However, I strongly disagree with his recent column in The Press, where Whelan, D-Atlantic, seemed resigned to accepting Senate President Stephen Sweeney’s decision to begin walking away from the state’s commitment to the five-year time frame for Atlantic City to transform itself.

Sweeney signaling his willingness to now consider a ballot question that would bring casino gambling to North Jersey is, with all due respect, a blatant reversal from his earlier public comments. He had earlier stated: “I reaffirm my commitment to give Atlantic City five years from … February of 2011 before even considering expansion,” and, “Talking about expansion before the five years is up only hurts investment in Atlantic City.”

Whelan admits Sweeney’s announcement will make it much harder to find buyers for Revel Casino-Hotel or Showboat Casino Hotel. We are not talking about numbers on a spreadsheet here, but rather our family, friends and neighbors – hardworking middle-class families and small-business owners – who would be decimated by the expansion of gaming to North Jersey.

Sweeney’s plan to abandon the state’s five-year commitment and cut a deal would be a terrible mistake. It would negatively impact our regional economy, depress property values, place more than 27,000 local jobs at risk and make it even harder for local families to afford their already-high property taxes.

An analysis done by Dr. Israel Posner, executive director of the Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming Hospitality and Tourism at Richard Stockton College, reveals that North Jersey’s population accounts for 41.8 percent of the total gaming customers from New Jersey who gamble in Atlantic City. Thus, a casino in the Meadowlands would put at least 41.8 percent of our in-state gaming customers at risk. Posner believes this would place serious hurdles in the way of our ability to continue to transition to a true diverse destination resort.

Moreover, a separate study by the Casino Association of New Jersey concludes that simply adding slot gaming in the Meadowlands will cannibalize the market and siphon off 45 percent of gaming revenue from Atlantic City, costing us 3,800 jobs and $190 million in payroll – and diverting $45 million from programs that help New Jersey’s seniors and disabled.

An honest consideration of the facts makes it clear that expanding gaming to North Jersey is bad for Atlantic City any way you slice it. No deal can alter that fact.

At a minimum, there should be no discussion about expanding gaming until 2016, following a thoughtful study on whether our nongaming revenue is sufficient to sustain Atlantic City against casinos in North Jersey. Now is not the time to panic and cut a hasty deal.

All that said, I appreciate the political difficulties facing Whelan on this issue in the wake of Sweeney’s announcement, but I also know Whelan’s long-standing commitment to this region.

That is why this week I sent him and Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo, D-Atlantic, a letter urging them to jointly sponsor a package of bills with me that will:

1. Encourage companies that wish to leave the Atlantic City market to accept any bona fide offer from a buyer who wishes to continue operating the property as a casino hotel. Failure to do so will require the operator to repay the state any economic incentives it previously received.

2. Prohibit anti-competitive deed restrictions.

3. Limit any one entity to a maximum of two casino licenses.

Additionally, I asked them to support a resolution that will call on the state to honor the five-year agreement giving Atlantic City time to transition into a destination resort before conducting a thorough analysis of expanding gaming elsewhere in New Jersey or placing such a question on the ballot.

I simultaneously sent a sample resolution to every governing body in Atlantic County urging them to support the legislative package and informed them of my outreach to Whelan and Mazzeo seeking bipartisan support.

It is imperative that we put party affiliation aside and do what is right for our region, and that means opposing any deal that will undercut Atlantic City or compromise the five-year commitment made by the state to give the city time to transition into a destination resort.

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Bramnick proposals on redistricting, long-term planning proposals have merit – Editorial

Jon Bramnick

Asbury Park Press Editorial  -

Just because a politician such as Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick, R-Union, makes suggestions that are political in nature and, quite possibly, self-serving doesn’t mean the suggestions are wholly without merit. He made two of them last week, and both need to be taken seriously.

First, he proposed an amendment to the state constitution that would require electoral competitiveness to be a major factor in deciding how legislative districts are drawn every 10 years.

Bramnick also proposed creating four joint legislative committees to, in his words, “restore fiscal sanity” to the state by conducting what he called “long-term strategic planning” to address the state’s most vexing problems. These committees could help lower the temperature of heated disagreements between the two parties, and perhaps give shape to possible compromise solutions.

The idea of making the state’s elections more competitive is a sound one, and legislators should have the courage to support it. While the idea has merit, it could change the electoral map to enable the GOP to pick up seats in the Assembly and Senate, and it is hard to imagine the entrenched incumbents would put it on a ballot for the voters to decide.

But they should. And Bramnick, albeit a potential gubernatorial candidate in 2017 looking to grab all the positive press he can get, would be doing a service by keeping this critical issue front and center. Gerrymandered districts keep qualified candidates from even attempting to run for office.

The lack of competitiveness is so rampant that even with Gov. Chris Christie’s landslide victory last year, the GOP failed to make any gains in the Legislature. The Democrats maintained a 24-to-16 advantage in the Senate and a 48-32 edge in the Assembly.

As with most elections in New Jersey at the federal, state and even county level, the outcomes are usually determined well in advance, thanks to factors that tilt heavily in favor of incumbents and one political party or the other.

In the gerrymandered state legislative districts, no incumbent state senators or Assembly representatives have been defeated in at least the last two election cycles, other than one victim of redistricting in 2011. Victory margins of less than 10 percent are rare.

In Ocean County, a Democrat hasn’t won a seat on the freeholder board in more than 20 years; in Monmouth County, Republicans have controlled the board for 24 of the last 25 years.

While Bramnick’s idea is welcome, it is quixotic and ultimately hobbled by a Democratic-controlled Legislature whose members are by and large satisfied with the status quo. To get the question on the ballot for voters to decide, Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, D-Hudson, would have to agree to put it up for a vote in their respective chambers, and it would have to pass both houses with a supermajority before the voters could weigh in.

That is highly unlikely, given that such a vote could conceivably jeopardize the Democratic majorities.

Bramnick’s other worthy proposal would create four joint legislative committees. They would examine the possibility of phasing out public workers’ pensions in favor of 401(k) accounts; repealing or reducing income and inheritance taxes; evaluating the school funding formula; and promoting the state’s generous corporate incentive programs.

Such bipartisan committees are an absolute necessity given the fiscal mess in this state. The pension system is sorely underfunded, New Jersey residents are overtaxed and the school funding formula remains unfair. Whether the state’s tax breaks for corporations are far too generous is at least a matter for debate.

These issues have dogged the state, led to too many stalemates in Trenton, and continue to cost the taxpayers hard-earned money.

The committees Bramnick proposes would of necessity include members of both parties, who would be charged with working together to come up with recommendations that might have a shot at getting a fair hearing. These four issues are not going to be solved by passing a single piece of legislation for each of the issues.

Bramnick pointed out that Democrats worked with Christie early in his administration to curb property tax growth and trim public workers’ benefits.

Until the George Washington Bridge scandal emerged, lawmakers demonstrated they could work well with those across the aisle. Since then, the bipartisanship has soured.

Bramnick said the committees would encourage lawmakers “to be problem solvers instead of partisans.”

The lack of competitiveness in the state’s elections makes a mockery of what democracy is supposed to be. The state’s long-term financial woes, bad and getting worse, cost New Jerseyans far too much.

Bramnick has suggested a possible solution to the problem of increased electoral competitiveness and at least a possible way forward for the Legislature to address a number of the state’s grave fiscal issues.

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O’Scanlon seeing red: New Jerseyans shouldn’t have to pay camera fines in other states

Star Ledger Editorial -

Declan O'Scanlon

Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon, New Jersey’s red-light knight, has taken on all the money-grubbing cameras in our state. Now he’s after the ones in every other state, too.

Last week, he introduced a bill that would block New Jersey’s Motor Vehicle Commission from sharing car owners’ license-plate information with any state or private company for the purpose of fining New Jersey residents.

It’s a shield against electronic enforcement outside our borders, and also applies to speed cameras — the next iteration of the Orwellian approach to cash-strapped local budgets.

New Jersey isn’t photographing speeders yet, but neighbors such as New York and Maryland do. One day, you’re cruising along with the natural flow of traffic on a family vacation; the next month, you’ve got bad news in the mail.

O’Scanlon (R-Monmouth) is looking to ward off that unlucky juju by following in the footsteps of South Dakota, which passed a similar law in March after its residents complained that nearby Iowa was sending them $168 tickets like unfriendly postcards.

If police call about lawbreakers, New Jersey will still cooperate, O’Scanlon says. But why should we allow any motor vehicle bureaucrat or for-profit company in another state to go swimming in our pockets?

Yes, these cameras are supposed to keep us safe. But what if the only way to pay for a hidden speed camera is to fine hundreds, if not thousands of unwitting people for going a reasonable rate of speed, barely over the legal limit? Is that really the best way to improve safety? And how far do we want to invite Big Brother in?

As much as New Jersey’s cameras are rigged against motorists, other states have it worse. Their speed cameras can have high error rates: In Baltimore, it was as much as 10 percent, meaning 70,000 people were wrongly charged $2.8 million. Red light cameras have accuracy issues, too: New York’s have essentially no guidelines for the length of yellow lights.

New Jersey still needs to re-evaluate its own red light cameras. We are told they make us safer. A state Department of Transportation report said crashes at intersections that have had the cameras for at least two years dropped: right-angle accidents by 60 percent, rear-end crashes by 7 percent.

Problem is, safety improved even more at the intersections that didn’t have cameras. So how do you explain that?

We need a much better study, and there’s a deadline: New Jersey’s red light camera program is set to expire Dec. 16. By then, it will be five years old. If the state can’t show the program improved accident rates in all that time, call it a failure and take down the cameras. Or, as O’Scanlon put it, “Merry Christmas.”

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