Category: Clips

Bramnick and Rumana disucss Christie governing from out of state

Scott Rumana

Jon Bramnick

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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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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Brown fighting to keep North Jersey casino referendum all the ballot in November

Chris A. Brown

Source: Atlantic City Press -

Assemblyman Ralph Caputo, chair of the Assembly Tourism, Gaming and the Arts Committee, said Friday it’s unlikely the Legislature will approve a November referendum authorizing gambling outside Atlantic City.

The Assembly and state Senate must vote to authorize the referendum by Aug. 3.

New Jersey’s constitution has limited gambling to Atlantic City since 1976.

Opponents say the expansion would destroy what’s left of Atlantic City’s casino market, costing thousands of jobs.

A June poll by Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind found 56 percent of New Jersey residents in opposition to a gambling expansion, while 37 percent supported it.

“I will continue to fight North Jersey casinos on behalf of our middle-class families this year, next year, and every year until Atlantic City has fully transitioned into a destination resort,” said Assemblyman Chris Brown, R-Atlantic, a staunch opponent of a casino expansion.

“By fiercely standing up to those who planned to put North Jersey casinos on the ballot this year, we have proven (they) are not inevitable and efforts to stop them are having an effect,” Brown said.

In one of the most detailed proposals to date, Hard Rock International has proposed building a billion-dollar Meadowlands property across the Hudson River from New York City.

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Bramnick on requirement that has kiddie pool owners in deep water

Source: NJ 101.5 -

Anyone in New Jersey who is planning to buy an easily constructed or inflatable pool for their Fourth of July barbecue should know it is more than likely that at least one permit is required.

There are also security regulations that could apply. One state lawmaker is now urging box stores that sell these types of pools to inform customers about the permit requirements.

Jon Bramnick

Assembly GOP Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield) said he did not want to see people get fined or have their pool taken down simply because they did not know about the regulations.

“I’m only asking stores to tell customers about the permits because we have enough laws in this state and I don’t want to impose further burdens on retailers, but I do want to get the message out,” Bramnick said.

The code applies to any structure that is intended for swimming or recreational bathing that contains water over 2 feet, including in-ground, above-ground swimming pools, hot tubs and spas. A separate permit is needed if there is an electrical component involved such as a filter and security around the pool is also required. That could include a non-climbable barrier surrounding the entire property or the pool itself. A self-closing and self-latching gate that opens away from the water is needed. There are also gate and latch height requirements.

“If a kiddie pool needs a permit that would be like giving a violation to a lemonade stand. If that occurs I will actually physically sit in a kiddie pool and they’re going to have to take me away as well.”

The situation came to Bramnick’s attention through calls from constituents who also told him about the possibility of fines.

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Mũnoz joins Lance in fight against breast cancer

Source: TapInto New Providence -

Congressman Leonard Lance (NJ07) held a round table session last week at the Susan G. Komen North Jersey’s headquarters in Summit to discuss the state of the fight against breast cancer and his work in Washington to combat the disease.

“I am very thankful to Komen for hosting the forum,” said Lance. “We want to make sure that all women in the United States who undergo the challenge of breast cancer are fully aware of their options regarding reconstructive surgery.”

Lance continued to tell TAP into, “Tremendous progress has been made in fighting breast cancer in the last generation. Susan G. Komen is at the forefront of all of that, but more progress has to be made.”

“All of us are working out of love for mothers, daughters, sisters and wives,” Lance told attendees at the roundtable discussion and talked further to TAP into of his late mother who died of breast cancer 50 years ago. “It is a completely different world regarding a breast cancer diagnosis than the world 50 years ago.”

Lance recently introduced two important measures that address urgent concerns of the breast cancer support community: H.R. 2540, the Breast Cancer Patient Education Act and H.R. 2739, the Cancer Drug Coverage Parity Act, which has already been passed in New Jersey with the help of Assembly Woman Nancy Mũnoz.

Nancy Munoz

Mũnoz (LD-21) spoke on her resolution in the State Assembly urging support for H.R. 2540, and similar legislation on the state level that mandated the goals of H.R. 2739. “Too many women suffering from breast cancer, particularly in minority communities, are inadequately advised of reconstructive options. I cannot understate the importance of the Breast Cancer Patient Education Act to women across New Jersey and the United States, and applaud Congressman Lance in his leadership on this issue.”

H.R. 2540, the Breast Cancer Patient Education Act will require that patients be informed of the availability and coverage of breast reconstruction and prostheses. Since 1998, Federal law requires that insurance companies cover reconstructive surgery and prostheses, whether it is at the time of surgery, or long afterwards. But studies have shown that many women are unaware of their options. Says Lance, “This bill intends to put into place an education campaign to ensure that women coping with breast cancer, especially those of ethnic and minority status, are made more fully aware of their options, and as a result, gain more control over their health care decisions.”

Cancer is complicated and is still so devastating, said Kimberly Beers, Director of Public Policy for Susan G. Komen National. The bill will impact everyone across the country. “This is a problem nationally. — It is an opportunity to close a gap. We talk about disparities all of the time. Woman should have this information.”

Giving the patient information in their native language is really important, said Veronica Vasquez, Oncology Patient Navigator for Trinitas Comprehensive Cancer Center in Elizabeth, whose work is currently funded by Komen. “Susan G. Komen’s effort towards information is commendable,” said Vasquez.

A letter sent to Congressman Lance from Dr. Judith Salerno, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Susan G. Komen just prior to the roundtable event, pledged the organization’s support of the bill and applauded Lance for his leadership. “While the decision to undergo breast reconstruction or use prostheses is a personal decision, all women should be made aware of their options and coverage,” said Salerno. “Unfortunately, studies have found that too few women are fully informed of their options—especially racial and ethnic minority groups. This legislation complements the work currently being done in communities across the country by Komen Affiliates ensuring that all women have access to high quality, affordable care.”

Breast cancer patients, regardless of their race or ethnicity, yearn to regain a ‘normal’ life after treatment. …. Losing a breast and wanting reconstruction is not about vanity, it is a way for breast cancer patients to rebuild their lives on a physical, emotional and psychological level, said Dora Arias, Founder and Executive Director of Curemonas, an organization that helps patients who are medically underserved Latinas.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons, an organization deeply committed to educating women about the availability of procedures that can support their breast cancer recovery, was represented by Dr. Gregory Greco, who noted that the wounds of breast cancer are not just physical; they are emotional, psychological and spiritual. “More and more, healthcare providers and patient champions understand that repairing cancer’s non-physical damage is part of our job as members of the cancer team,” says Greco. “For many women, that sort of healing, the kind that comes when someone feels whole again, can only be fully recognized through the reconstructive process. The Breast Cancer Patient Education Act Coalition works to improve patient outcomes and quality of life.”

This month, Lance also introduced H.R. 2739, the Cancer Drug Coverage Parity Act, which would require health insurance plans that cover traditional chemotherapy to provide equally favorable coverage for orally-administered anti-cancer medications. This bill is a critical step towards improving access to anti-cancer drugs by requiring companies to cover patient-administered and physician-administered anti-cancer drugs at the same cost. Correcting this disparity in coverage will enable cancer patients to make healthcare decisions based on the best information and the best course of care available to them, rather than on cost and/or accessibility to treatment.

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Rodriguez-Gregg juvenile justice bill moves to Governor’s desk

Source: Excerpted from the Burlington County Times -

Legislation [proposing changes to the juvenile justice system sponsored by Assemblywoman Maria Rodriguez-Gregg] was sent to Gov. Chris Christie’s desk Monday, along with over a dozen other bills that received final legislative approval.

Maria Rodriguez-Gregg

Maria Rodriguez-Gregg

“These are sensible reforms that will shape the system so that it treats juveniles in a manner that is more fair and just, without compromising public interest and safety,” said Assemblywoman Maria Rodriguez-Gregg, R-8th of Evesham. “Similar measures that were enacted in other states were met with quantifiable success, with corrections departments experiencing increases in efficiency and cost savings.”

“It is a fallacy to consider this a primarily left-leaning issue that deals exclusively with social justice,” Rodriguez-Gregg said. “An overburdened corrections system means overburdened taxpayers, and it is that relief that makes this legislation a win-win package of reforms.”

Among the changes proposed in the juvenile justice reform bill is an increase in the minimum age to waive a juvenile into adult court from 14 to 15. It also would raise the minimum age for transferring a juvenile from a juvenile detention facility to an adult prison from 16 to 18, and would make other changes to allow certain youths to serve their entire sentence in a juvenile facility until they turn 21.

Also, the bill would require the Juvenile Justice Commission to collect, record and analyze data on all New Jersey waiver cases and report the findings.

Sponsors of the bill said the changes are intended to improve the rehabilitation of juvenile offenders and provide relief to the state’s overburdened prisons and corrections facilities.



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Handlin speaks about OPRA law for Port Authority

Amy Handlin

Star Ledger -

Bi-state legislation subjecting the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to the public records laws of both states has been signed by Gov. Chris Christie, making it the first Port Authority reform legislation to take effect following the George Washington Bridge Lane closure scandal.

“Hopefully, it’s the first in a line of many,” said Assemblywoman Amy Handlin (R-Monmouth), a co-sponsor of the records legislation, and of a pending bill calling for changes to the Port Authority leadership structure, financial reporting requirements, whistle blower protections and other reforms.

An identical version of the records bill had already been signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York, so Monday’s signing by Christie made it law in both states, a requirement for Port Authority legislation to take effect.

Christie signed the records legislation one day before he formally announced his candidacy for president, after the September 2013 lane closures that prompted the measure had threatened to thwart his White House bid.

The records bill as originally approved by lawmakers would have subjected the agency to the most liberal, or open, clause of either state’s records laws, regardless of where a suit had been filed.

However, Chrisitie issued a conditional veto of the bill in December seeking instead to give plaintiffs the choice of suing either in New York or New Jersey, a change he said would avoid forcing a judge in one state to interpret the law of the other. Lawmakers approved those changes last week before sending the bill back to Christie’s desk.

The new law was welcomed by Edward Barocas, legal director of the New Jersey chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, as, “a positive step toward addressing significant and long-standing concerns about the lack of transparency and accountability at the Port Authority.”

But, Barocas, added, “New Jersey and New York must enact a law that subjects the Port Authority to the same open meetings requirements that all state and local government bodies must follow.”

Following the lane closure scandal, which led to the ouster of the agency’s chairman and deputy executive director, the Port Authority Board of Commissioners has adopted new, more transparent public meetings and records policies. But lawmakers and others say legislation will prevent future boards or governors from reversing those reforms.

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Bramnick talks about Chris Christie

Jon Bramnick

NJ Spotlight -

If Gov. Chris Christie is going to win the Republican nomination for president, he’s going to have to do it the hard way. Unpopular at home as the state economy has sputtered, Christie also faces fund-raising challenges and a leery national GOP.

Yet Christie, a second-term Republican, made the case in a long-anticipated 2016 presidential announcement yesterday that the last 5½ years he’s spent in the State House have prepared him well, and that he’s now ready to serve as the nation’s next leader.

Most of all, he said, he’s learned that leadership means telling people the truth and not just what they want to hear.

“In the end everybody, leadership matters,” Christie said to applause. “I mean what I say and I say what I mean, and that’s what America needs right now.”

“We are going to tell it like it is today so that we can create a greater opportunity for everyone tomorrow,” Christie said moments later. “The truth will set us free, everybody.”

To his supporters, the presidential campaign announcement represented the reemergence of one of the most skilled politicians the state has seen in recent generations — and a demonstration of how Christie might still pull it off.

“I think that what is important is that people around the country see what we’ve seen for the last six years,” said state Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Union). “People want authenticity.”

There are economic issues, including a 6.5 percent unemployment rate that’s higher than the national average and higher than the jobless ratesin most other states, and revenue collections that still lag behind the pre-recession peak despite business-tax cuts and other pro-growth initiatives enacted since Christie took office in early 2010 that were supposed to grow the economy.

Christie’s approval rating in New Jersey was at just 30 percent in a recent Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll.

Yet for Christie, the biggest obstacles between him and the Republican nomination right now may not be his standing in New Jersey, but with the national GOP. Once a top-tier candidate coming off an impressive 2013 re-election win, Christie was hobbled by the ensuing George Washington Bridge lane-closure scandal, with three key officials in his administration facing federal criminal charges.

The latest survey of national GOP voters conducted by the Monmouth University Poll had Christie tied for eighth among potential Republican candidates, trailing former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, among others. His favorability rating was also widely upside down at 26 percent favorable and 43 percent unfavorable.

Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth Poll, said Christie was wise to soften his delivery during yesterday’s announcement speech, focusing on imagery of his childhood in Livingston and his goal of restoring the country for the next generation of children, including his own, who joined him on the stage along with his wife, Mary Pat.

Matthew Hale, a political science professor at Seton Hall University, said the “hometown message” Christie emphasized should serve him well going forward.

“He made a really nice connection,” Hale said.

Right after the announcement, Christie headed to New Hampshire, where he will be holding a series of events for the next several days through the July 4th holiday weekend. He’s already focused a lot of attention and resources on the early primary state in recent weeks, and he will likely need to win or at least score very well there to become a successful candidate.

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