Category: Clips

Holly Schepisi on ‘Meet the Leaders’ [video]

Source: Meet the Leaders [video] -

Holly Schepisi

39th District Republican Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi joins Meet the Leaders host Jeff Henig for a discussion of Governor Chris Christie’s fiscal 2016 budget address. Schepisi reacts to the Governor’s pension reform roadmap and she expresses her concerns over the lack of a plan to fix the Transportation Trust Fund. She also talks about the need to keep companies from leaving New Jersey and how the Legislature can go about achieving this goal.

 

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Rumana on proposed snow removal funding cuts: roads will be plowed

Source: NJ.com - While the snow continues to pile up this winter, and memories of last year’s heavy accumulations still haven’t melted away, the Fiscal 2016 budget unveiled by Gov. Chris Christie last week cuts snow removal funding for the coming winter in half.

Scott Rumana

Highlights of the governors’ $33.8 billion proposed spending plan for Fiscal 2016 include a $44 million reduction in “winter operations/snow removal,” a 49.3 percent reduction from the current fiscal year…

Assemblyman Scott Rumana (R-Passaic), the ranking Republican on the transportation committee, acknowledged that the proposed cut was conspicuous in light of the cold, snowy winters the state has been digging out from.

“Yea, we’ve had two challenging years, no question about it,” he said. But Rumana said residents should not worry that the roads would go unplowed next year. The DOT could come up with efficiencies in spending to offset the cuts, he said. And, he added, departments can always shift funds from one area to another to make up for emergencies of specific shortfalls.

He noted that lawmakers could also restore some or all of the snow removal or broader transportation funding cuts during the budget negotiation process before the start of the fiscal year on July 1.

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Fiocchi bill would protect antique gun collectors

Source: The Daily Journal -

Legislation introduced in the state assembly Monday saw another local politician seeking to protect antique gun collectors from prosecution under New Jersey gun laws, adding momentum to a growing movement against state gun statutes.

Sam Fiocchi

Sam Fiocchi

A bill introduced Monday by Assemblyman Sam Fiocchi would exempt antique firearms from the state’s gun laws, which have come under criticism in recent weeks following the arrest of a 72-year-old Port Elizabeth man for having an unloaded flintlock pistol in his car.

“Many people from a variety of backgrounds collect vintage guns for many reasons,” Fiocchi said in a news release. “Some enjoy trading and selling while others are history buffs who attend national gun shows looking for another ‘treasure.’ Regardless, collectors should not face criminal prosecution or prison for possessing or transporting such a firearm that poses no danger to public safety.”

The Fiocchi bill seeks to revise the definition of “antique firearm” in the state’s gun law, and would exempt the possession of such unloaded antique handguns from prosecution under the charge of unlawful possession of a firearm, according to a news release issued by Fiocchi.

Under current law, an “antique firearm” is defined to include only rifles and shotguns, Fiocchi said. There is a separate definition for “antique handguns,” and the new measure would amend the law so there is one definition of “antique firearm,” including handguns.

Fiocchi is not the first lawmaker to respond following the November arrest of Gordon Van Gilder by the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department for having an unloaded 300-year-old flintlock pistol in the glove compartment of his car.

Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande has stated that she plans to introduce a bill that would align state law with a federal statute exempting firearms manufactured before 1898.

The Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office announced Wednesday that they dismissed charges against Van Gilder, who had by that point hired a lawyer and gained local and national attention for his case.

Though Fiocchi did not specifically address the Van Gilder incident in his news release, other lawmakers have been more direct in calling for change following Van Gilder’s arrest.

 

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Simon Wants More Information on Proposed Liquor License Bill

Source: NJ.com - The deputy speaker of the state Assembly, who toured Flemington last summer, has crafted a proposal that would make it easier for restaurants to serve alcohol. Mayor Phil Greiner and Phil Velella, chairman of the Flemington Business Improvement District, like the idea, while Hunterdon Assemblywoman Donna Simon wants to know more about it.

Donna Simon

Assembly Bill 4267, introduced recently by Assemblyman John Burzichelli, a Democrat from Gloucester County, would allow municipalities to grant liquor licenses to restaurants whose square footages are 1,500 to 6,000, allowing them to serve alcoholic beverages with food…

Current holders of liquor licenses would be reimbursed for the lost value of their licenses by state tax credits equal to the current market value of their licenses.

In Flemington one such license is held by Union Hotel owners Liam Burns and Matt McPherson. They acquired the license by buying Gallo Rosso restaurant in 2011. But they had been hoping that pending state legislation would qualify historic hotels like theirs for a special liquor license. Gallo Rosso closed recently, but Burns and McPherson still hold the license.

That legislation was sponsored by Assemblywoman Simon. It was approved by the Assembly’s Law and Public Safety Committee in 2013, but it never came to a vote on the floor. It was reintroduced in January of 2014 and has been in the Assembly’s Regulatory Oversight Committee ever since.

Simon says she had spoken to Burzichelli about her bill, and had even taken him on a tour of downtown Flemington last summer, but she said he was holding out for a larger revision of the system.

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Munoz, domestic violence committee discuss goals

Source: NJ101.5 – In February, State Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner formed a committee to examine issues related to domestic violence cases in the New Jersey court system. Members of the panel gathered Monday for a meet-and-greet and to talk about what they hoped to accomplish.

Nancy Munoz

“The intent of the committee is to look at the current structure of the courts and law enforcement in terms of domestic violence and then to look at areas where we can make improvement, where there might be some really great programs and that we have consistency across the state,” said Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz (R-Summit), one of the four legislators appointed to the committee…

“We’ll look at what is being done well and what can be done better,” Munoz said.

As a nurse, Munoz thinks members of her profession would add a helpful perspective to the discussion. She also planned a separate roundtable on domestic violence that would include nurses.

“Nurses are at the front lines of domestic violence because they see patients when they enter the emergency room. They see people who come to them with children who may be victims,” Munoz said.

According to the state statistics, in 2011 there were 70,311 reported incidents of domestic violence in New Jersey. Forty resulted in the murder of the victim. Women accounted for 76 percent of the victims of domestic violence incidents.

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Rodriguez-Gregg supports ‘Dress Our Vets’ campaign

Source: Burlington County Times -

Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno is teaming with more than two dozen women legislators to help veterans transition to civilian jobs.

Maria Rodriguez-Gregg

Maria Rodriguez-Gregg

 

“This grass-roots effort helps veterans make the critical adjustment from military uniforms to business attire and eases the transition from the war room to the board room.” – Assemblywoman Maria Rodriguez-Gregg

 

During March, lawmakers will collect men’s suits and women’s business attire to donate to Suiting Warriors Foundation, a Delaware nonprofit that outfits veterans with business clothes at no cost.

Guadagno announced the “Dress Our Vets” campaign with several participating lawmakers Monday morning during a Statehouse news conference, saying the group hoped to help all veterans but especially was focused on assisting and highlighting issues facing women veterans in honor of Women’s History Month.

“We thought a perfect opportunity to raise the profile of women veterans in New Jersey would be to partner with (Suiting Warriors),” Guadagno said from the Statehouse Rotunda.

There are an estimated 33,000 women veterans in New Jersey, including about 8,500 under age 40.

Guadagno said those women often feel left out from services provided to former military members because they have unique issues.

The group collects new or lightly used suits and business clothes to help outfit veterans at job fairs and before business interviews, said Star Lotta, Suiting Warriors’ founder and CEO.

Although most of the veterans the group assists are men, she said it does collect business attire for women and is looking to reach more female vets.

Sen. Dawn Marie Addiego, R-8th of Evesham, and Assemblywoman Maria Rodriguez-Gregg, R-8th of Evesham, are participating in the collection drive. Donated suits and business attire can be dropped off at their 8th District office at 176 Route 70, Suite 13, in Medford.

“We are proud to be working with the Suiting Warriors Foundation to help our returning veterans dress for civilian success. In honor of Women’s History Month, our office will be accepting donations through March.” Addiego said in a statement.

“This grass-roots effort helps veterans make the critical adjustment from military uniforms to business attire and eases the transition from the war room to the board room,” Rodriguez-Gregg said.

 

 

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Casagrande antique gun bill endorsed by South Jersey Times

South Jersey Times Editorial -

Mention guns and you’ll trigger passionate discussions.

The recent case of a Cumberland County gun collector who found himself charged after cops discovered him with an antique weapon has focused the spotlight on the need for revisions in our own state laws governing firearms.

The story all unfolded on Nov. 19. Gordan Van Gilder, 72, of Port Elizabeth, was returning home after picking up his nearly 300-year-old flintlock pistol from a Vineland pawn shop.

The vehicle he was a passenger in was stopped by Millville police and the gun was found. There is much more to the saga of the stop including questions about why Van Gilder and his driver were in part of the city that is a known drug area, but our focus is on the antiquated state laws governing weapon possession.

During the motor vehicle stop, Van Gilder was up-front with police, according to authorities, and told them about the antique weapon in the glove compartment. The weapon was inside an envelope and was not loaded, reports said.

Despite the age of the gun and the circumstances that apparently showed there was no ill intent on Van Gilder’s part, Van Gilder was charged with unlawful possession of a weapon.

Cumberland County Prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae used her “prosecutorial discretion” and wisely dismissed the gun charges against Van Gilder.

Webb-McRae also rightfully noted any type of gun in a vehicle can cause trouble “… the public should be forewarned about the prescriptions against possessing a firearm (even an antique) in a vehicle.”

Some are describing the incident with the antique firearm as an example of overreaction by police, but the point must be made here — and made in the strongest terms — the officers involved were following the law.

It appears the officers had good reason to stop the vehicle Van Gilder was a passenger in and they had no choice but to charge him.

There’s plenty that has been debated and will be debated about this case. That’s guaranteed.

One important result of this incident is how it has highlighted another New Jersey state law in need of change. That’s a good thing.

Caroline Casagrande

Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande (R-Monmouth) plans to introduce a bill that would align the state’s law with a federal statute that exempts firearms manufactured before 1898 from weapons laws. That would put New Jersey law in line with current federal statutes.

It’s a move that makes sense.

In the wrong hands, weapons are deadly. But our Constitution guarantees us the right to bear arms and that’s something that can’t change.

What must change are our antiquated gun laws in New Jersey so they make sense.

Note: A-4250 was introduced on Feb. 24 and is also sponsored by Assemblymen Dancer and Fiocchi.

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Bucco says governor’s budget speech was ‘on point’ [video]

Source: NJTV [vide] -

“I’m pleased to announce today that the commission has — with my support — reached an unprecedented accord with the NJEA,” said Gov. Chris Christie at the beginning of a budget address that even some Republicans here were fearing could mean curtains for Christie’s political fortunes. Instead, it turned out to be another case of the governor successfully changing the subject to the great consternation of his critics and maybe to the benefit of his still nascent presidential campaign.

Anthony M. Bucco

“The governor’s good for that,” observed Republican Assemblyman Anthony Bucco. “He does a great job. He’s a great communicator.”

The report by the governor’s pension reform commission says major changes are needed to change the system from the transformational — “The road map calls for the existing pension plan to be frozen and to be replaced by a new plan. Both the existing plan and the new plan would be transferred from state ownership to a trust overseen by the NJEA” — to the constitutional — “To make sure that the state meets its obligations and the payment is enforced, a constitutional amendment would be voted on this November.”

But these are not new ideas. Some have been rattling around the State House since 2011 and ignore the major point made by a judge on Monday.

“I thought the speech was on point,” added Bucco. “I thought that the fact that the governor took a lot of time to address the pension issue was good. It’s an important issue. It’s certainly a huge issue in terms of a financial issue for New Jersey.”

For all the hand-wringing and political punditry of the last 24 hours, the fact remains that the budget process has just begun. Any number of things can, and probably will, happen between now and the end of June.

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Bramnick discusses pension proposal

Bergen Record -

A day after Governor Christie announced what he is calling a “road map for reform” on public employee pensions and health care, legislators and union leaders aren’t sure what exactly the next step is, but they say any progress is most likely to hinge on negotiating changes to employee health benefits.

And if Christie can get the teachers union — the state’s largest and most politically powerful — to agree to health care concessions, that could help him pressure other unions representing state workers to follow suit when their contracts are up in June.

Jon Bramnick

“The key to this legislation is an understanding that there’s a change in the health care plan. Without that, I don’t think there’s going to be an agreement,” said Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick, R-Union. “If you can’t get past Square One, you’re done.”

Union and legislative leaders on Wednesday were still reading through and processing the dense, 50-page pension commission report, plus the governor’s 2016 budget. They were largely unable to reach a consensus on how, or if, the administration’s recommendations will proceed.

And looming over the governor’s proposal is a Superior Court judge’s order from Monday that Christie must work with the Legislature to find nearly $1.6 billion to restore the pension contribution the governor cut from the 2015 budget. Although the administration has said it will appeal the decision by Judge Mary C. Jacobson, many state and union leaders believe the focus should be on fulfilling the state’s prior pension commitment, which Christie has touted across the country as a fix to New Jersey’s long-neglected retirements benefit system.

Although the NJEA signed a memo endorsing the so-called road map, it has made clear that it is not fully onboard with the plan and that many details must be worked out.

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Angelini fighting to keep legal pot out of New Jersey

Source: The Star-Ledger -

A New Jersey Assemblywoman said that in light of the formation of a group that launched last week to fight for the legalization of recreational marijuana use in New Jersey, she is planning a group that will actively advocate against it.

Mary Pat Angelini

Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini (R-Monmouth) has been a vocal opponent of the movement to legalize and tax the drug in the state of New Jersey. In response to the official launch of “New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform” in Newark last week, Angelini said she is working with other anti-marijuana activists to form a group of their own.

“The folks that want to legalize appear to be gaining traction,” Angelini said in a phone interview. “It’s a good time to let our voice be heard.”

Angelini said she and some others passionately opposing the legalization of recreational marijuana use in the state plan to hold a conference call this week to “lay out our strategy.”

Angelini said the launch of NJUMR was “not necessarily a bad thing. It starts a dialogue and we need to do a better job educating people (about our position).”

The pro-marijuana coalition, which includes members like the ACLU-NJ and New Jersey’s NAACP chapter, launched with a press conference last week that outlined its position. The group argued that legalizing and taxing marijuana would create revenue for the state, and free up law enforcement officers to focus on other crimes.

Angelini said that some of her group’s arguments will include health and incarceration statistics about marijuana users, and questions about additional costs that might be incurred as a result of legalization. She cited the state’s alcohol tax as an example that brings in revenue. But, she said, the revenue is outweighed by law enforcement and healthcare costs the state must take on to deal with residents who abuse alcohol.

“Look at the tax (dollars) this would garner…the health and society issues we would encounter (as a result of legalization) would far outnumber that,” she said.

Experts last week said they felt the conversation on marijuana in New Jersey will likely be a long-term one that is ultimately decided by the state’s legislators and governor.

Gov. Chris Christie has publicly said that he will not support a legalization bill. NJUMR members said last week that they are not directly targeting Christie, but hoping to spread their message to the public.

Angelini said she felt the pro-marijuana movement was “futile” under Christie’s administration.

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