Category: Clips

Ciattarelli bill backs Bergen officials’ concerns for train derailment

PolitickerNJ -

Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli (R-16) has joined Bergen County first responders and county fire officials in voicing concerns that they do not have enough manpower or equipment to deal with an oil tanker derailment.

Earlier this month, Ciattarelli introduced legislation (AR-171) urging the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) to enact its proposed regulations on the safe transport of crude oil by rail. Ciattarelli said the amount of oil shipped through New Jersey communities warrants modernization of current regulations specific to oil rail car thickness and braking systems.

Jack Ciattarelli

“Many municipalities rely on volunteer firefighters and they do an excellent job,” explained Ciattarelli, R-Somerset, Hunterdon, Mercer and Middlesex. “However, like in Bergen County, many towns lack the manpower, expertise and equipment for handling an oil tanker derailment. Coordinated efforts by each county, in partnership with rail freight line companies, including shared knowledge, resources and preparedness plans, would be extremely beneficial.”

On Monday, at a meeting of about 75 first responders in Hackensack, Bergen County officials called for a countywide strategy for dealing with a potential derailment of trains traveling through the county and other parts of the state carrying Bakken crude oil, a highly flammable fuel that has been involved in several trains crashes throughout North America in the past year. New Jersey rail lines have seen an uptick in trains hauling the cargo over the past several years, and more than 60,000 tank cars, each containing as much as 3 million gallons of oil, are expected to be hauled on the CSX River Line through 11 Bergen County towns this year.

“The good news is rail freight lines do have their own derailment response brigades,” Ciattarelli added. “It would be even better news if the U.S. Department of Transportation were to enact its proposed regulations upgrading safety standards for shipments of crude oil by rail.”

Ciattarelli’s resolution urges Congress to support the new regulations proposed by the USDOT in July which require tankers transporting the oil to meet thickness standards and enhance a train’s braking system within two years or risk being phased out.

read more

Fiocchi says RGGI ‘cap and tax’ scheme will cost N.J. workers’ jobs

Source: Cape May County Herald -

Assembly Republican Sam Fiocchi voiced his strong objections today when legislation (ACR-189) aimed at having New Jersey rejoin the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) was released by the Assembly Regulatory Oversight Committee. RGGI is a compact of nine states with the goal of capping carbon dioxide emissions. New Jersey withdrew from RGGI in 2011.

Sam Fiocchi

Sam Fiocchi

“New Jersey has already met RGGI’s 2020 goal to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions,” said Fiocchi, R-Cumberland, Cape May and Atlantic, who is a committee member. “This ‘cap and trade’ program is nothing more than a ‘cap and tax’ scheme that hurts New Jersey consumers and businesses. Where is the environmental benefit, especially when emissions continue to waft in from the west? This legislation will increase costs to ratepayers and drive jobs out of New Jersey without any benefit.”

The South Jersey Republican urged his legislative colleagues to continue the state’s commitment to pursuing clean energy sources, including wind, solar, natural gas and nuclear generation.

“RGGI’s cap and trade system is another anti-consumer tax packaged as a ‘climate control action plan,’” continued Fiocchi. “RGGI is an ineffective and costly boondoggle that hurt our economy while doing nothing for the environment. Its most notable accomplishment is artificially inflating the costs of electricity on every home and business in the state.”

read more

Fiocchi Opposes Reentry into Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

Source: NJ Spotlight - The Legislature yesterday moved on two fronts to prevent the state Department of Environmental Protection from repealing rules that let New Jersey formally opt out of a regional program designed to curb greenhouse-gas emissions…

The resolutions approved yesterday will not get New Jersey back into RGGI, but seeks to prevent DEP from repealing rules that would prevent future administrations from rejoining the program. Clean-energy advocates hope a new administration may opt to join RGGI, a program that not only reduces greenhouse gas emissions, but also provides millions of dollars to states to fund energy-efficiency and renewable energy projects…

Sam Fiocchi

Sam Fiocchi

Others disagreed Assemblyman Sam Fiocchi (R-Cumberland), who voted against the resolution, argued that New Jersey already has met its goals to reduce carbon dioxide emissions (one of the biggest sources of greenhouse-gas pollution).

“This ‘cap and trade’ program is nothing more than a ‘cap and tax’ scheme that hurts New Jersey consumers and businesses. This legislation will increase costs to ratepayers and drive jobs out of New Jersey without any benefit,’’ he said.

read more

Munoz on allowing more health workers to administer overdose antidote

Source: Bergen Record -

Lawmakers listened to hours of expert testimony Thursday in Trenton on how the growing number of residents fighting addictions to heroin and opioid prescription painkillers is impacting the state.

Nancy Munoz

“Every second counts when reacting to an overdose situation,” said Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz, R-Union.

“Allowing more first responders and other professionals to administer this critical first aid without fear of legal repercussions will help prevent more unnecessary tragedies,” said Munoz, who is a registered nurse.

The Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee also voted to approve two bills related to the addiction issue during a morning meeting that stretched well into the afternoon.

Doctors, treatment specialists and other experts told the committee members several stories about resources that are being stretched thin by a growing demand for services.

After hearing that testimony, the committee voted 9-0 with one abstention in favor of a bill that would require better reporting and analysis of data on drug overdoses in New Jersey.

The panel also voted 10-0 to approve a measure that would extend the immunity offered to those reporting overdoses to law enforcement to professionals that dispense opioid antidotes.

“Every second counts when reacting to an overdose situation,” said Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz, R-Union.

“Allowing more first responders and other professionals to administer this critical first aid without fear of legal repercussions will help prevent more unnecessary tragedies,” said Munoz, who is a registered nurse.

Nationally, the rates of heroin addiction and overdose deaths are on the rise in recent years, a surge experts believe is tied to the broad availability of prescription painkillers.

And in New Jersey, an estimated 800 people died from prescription painkiller or heroin overdoses in 2012, according to the State Medical Examiner’s Office, marking a steady and dramatic increase over several years.

This year, the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office has reported 24 fatal heroin overdoses through the first seven months of the year.

Governor Christie has also been emphasizing addiction services in recent weeks, including expanding a prescription drug monitoring program earlier this month and last week announcing increased funding for a program that helps keep mothers with their children while receiving treatment for addiction.

 

read more

Fiocchi: NJ has met goals to reduce carbon emissions

Source: NJ Spotlight -

The Legislature yesterday moved on two fronts to prevent the state Department of Environmental Protection from repealing rules that let New Jersey formally opt out of a regional program designed to curb greenhouse-gas emissions.

Sam Fiocchi

Sam Fiocchi

Assemblyman Sam Fiocchi (R-Cumberland), who voted against the resolution, argued that New Jersey already has met its goals to reduce carbon dioxide emissions (one of the biggest sources of greenhouse-gas pollution).

“This ‘cap and trade’ program is nothing more than a ‘cap and tax’ scheme that hurts New Jersey consumers and businesses. This legislation will increase costs to ratepayers and drive jobs out of New Jersey without any benefit,’’ he said.

The actions by the state Senate and Assembly Regulatory Oversight Committee in largely partisan votes reflect a lengthy dispute between lawmakers and the Christie administration over the latter’s decision to pull New Jersey out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a program endorsed by the Legislature in a law it enacted.

The backstory: Environmental groups sued the state arguing that it sought to get out of the RGGI program without holding public hearings, and a state appeals court agreed. In response, the DEP looked to repeal the rules directing it to enter the probate through a public hearing. The Legislature is contending the repeal is inconsistent with legislative intent.

The identical resolutions adopted by the Senate — in a 23-14 vote with only Sen. Christopher (Kip) Bateman siding with Democrats — and in a 3-2 vote along partisan lines in the Assembly Regulatory Oversight Committee aim to prevent the DEP from adopting rules allowing the state to exit the RGGI program.

The resolutions approved yesterday will not get New Jersey back into RGGI, but seeks to prevent DEP from repealing rules that would prevent future administrations from rejoining the program. Clean-energy advocates hope a new administration may opt to join RGGI, a program that not only reduces greenhouse gas emissions, but also provides millions of dollars to states to fund energy-efficiency and renewable energy projects.

The initiative, once envisioned as a prototype for an organization that would extend beyond the nine states in the regional program, is aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions from power plants by imposing a charge on the global-warming pollution they produce.

But Gov. Chris Christie pulled out of RGGI in 2011, arguing that the program was ineffective and merely amounted to a new tax on ratepayers, who absorbed the costs incurred by the power plants. He has twice vetoed legislative efforts to have the state rejoin the program.

In this case, the governor will not get much say, because he cannot veto the resolution (ACR-189). If it wins final legislative approval, the DEP has 30 days to either withdraw the rules or amend its regulations. If nothing happens, the Legislature can move to again to repeal the proposed rules.

Assemblyman Sam Fiocchi (R-Cumberland), who voted against the resolution, argued that New Jersey already has met its goals to reduce carbon dioxide emissions (one of the biggest sources of greenhouse-gas pollution).

“This ‘cap and trade’ program is nothing more than a ‘cap and tax’ scheme that hurts New Jersey consumers and businesses. This legislation will increase costs to ratepayers and drive jobs out of New Jersey without any benefit,’’ he said.

read more

Handlin and Rumana respond to proposed Port Authority reforms

Star Ledger -

After resisting incremental reform bills, the lawmaker leading the legislative probe into last year’s George Washington Bridge lane closures has unveiled what he says is  comprehensive legislation to reverse years of dysfunction and abuse at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

The most significant measure in Assemblyman John Wisniewski’s reforms is a proposed reduction in the number of commissioners appointed by the governor of each state from six to three. The remaining six seats on the 12-member Port Authority board would be filled by the legislatures of the two states, with two appointments each, and a special citizens advisory panel, which would appoint two commissioners, one from New York and one from New Jersey.

Amy Handlin

Assemblywoman Amy Handlin (R-Monmouth), a member of the joint investigative panel, said she welcomed the legislation, and had asked Wisniewski to make her a prime co-sponsor.

“It’s time for us to move on this,” said Handlin. “I for one look forward to working with him to build bipartisan support for this.”

Scott Rumana

Assemblyman Scott Rumana (R-Passaic), the ranking Republican on the transportation committee, said he supported comprehensive Port Authority reform.

But Rumana said that giving appointment powers to legislators and a citizens’ panel might further politicize the agency.

“It could create problems of its own,” Rumana said.

Other measures would mandate that all Port Authority meetings be open to the public, with detailed agendas, well in advance; subject the agency to the open public records laws of both states; bar the Port Authority from running airports outside the port district, meaning Stewart Airport in upstate New York and Atlantic City International; and protect whistle blowers.

The open records provision mirrors a bill that has already been passed by both houses of the New York State legislature and the New Jersey State Senate. However, the bill has been blocked by Wisniewski, who chairs the Assembly Transportation, Public Works and Independent Authorities Committee.

Bills governing the Port Authority must be enacted by both states, and Wisniewski’s legislation would dilute the appointment powers of both governors who would have to sign it.

 

 

read more

Editorial: Support for Casagrande’s Bill Creating Domestic Violence Courts

Source: Star-Ledger -

In the wake of Ray Rice’s brutal punch to his fiancée, a number of New Jersey lawmakers have come forward with ideas to help victims of domestic violence.

Caroline Casagrande

The latest is to create new courts devoted exclusively to these cases. State Assemblywomen Carolina Casagrande (R-Monmouth) and Pamela Lampitt (D-Camden) recently introduced a bill that would establish a three-year pilot program in their two counties.

Much like the proposal to track the worst abusers with GPS devises, this idea looks promising. Casagrande, who has served as a municipal attorney, says that of the majority of domestic violence cases — around 40,000 a year in New Jersey — currently go through our municipal courts.

Imagine a terrified victim, forced to sit nearby her angry abuser, with minimal or no security. Their case may have no public defender, maybe just a prosecutor, and will be handled by a judge who gets only 90 minutes of training in handling domestic violence.

These appearances are often for a charge of simple assault. But by the time that first police call happens, there’s often been a pattern of abuse. We’re missing the opportunity to pull these women out the second we learn of their situation, before it escalates to aggravated assault, serious bodily injuries, or even murder.

Washington D.C. became one of the first places in the country to have specialized domestic violence courts back in 1996. Experts say it substantially increased criminal prosecutions, by making it easier for victims to navigate the system. They could go to one place to get a restraining order — a civil matter — and pursue a criminal prosecution.

That integrated system also prevented judges from issuing overlapping orders, such as a restraining order in civil court, and child visitation rights in criminal court that require an abuser to see the victim.

That complexity makes domestic violence cases different. This is why one stop shopping for victims may be the right answer to help close dangerous loopholes in New Jersey’s system, too.

These proposals are good first steps, but let’s not squander this Ray Rice moment. The Legislature should take the long view on this and hold hearings on a more comprehensive approach to fighting domestic violence, one that sorts out the best way to use precious resources.

More services are needed. Victims need counseling, and legal representation. The state needs more supervised visitation centers where victims can feel safe when abusers are allowed to see their children. And so on.

Still, this bill deserves support. Our hope is that it’s the beginning of a larger conversation.

read more

Gove joins Alzheimer’s study commission

Source: The Galloway Current -

DiAnne Gove

Ninth District Assemblywoman DiAnne C. Gove of Long Beach Township has been named to the state’s Alzheimer’s Disease Study Commission. The Commission, which was proposed by the Alzheimer’s Association Greater Chapter of New Jersey, was established through legislation authored by Gove and her district colleagues Assemblyman Brian E. Rumpf and Sen. Christopher J. Connors. Connors also serves on the commission.

The law authored by Connors, Rumpf and Gove requires the commission to study the current impact and incidence of Alzheimer’s disease among New Jersey residents and make projections of the impact and incidence. The Commission will study the state’s role in long-term care, family caregiver support and assistance to persons with early stage and early onset of Alzheimer’s disease. The needs of persons with Alzheimer’s disease, their family members and caregivers will also be a primary focus of the commission as it assesses the availability and affordability of existing services, programs, facilities and agencies to meet those needs.

“Alzheimer’s disease is becoming more prevalent in our society as greater medical advances allow for more accurate and earlier diagnosis,” Gove said. “Studies show that women are disproportionately impacted by the disease. In light of our state’s large senior population, New Jersey is experiencing a rapid increase in the number of individuals that have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.”

She said she welcomed the opportunity to serve as a commission member.

“From personal experience, I understand the exhausting physical and emotional challenges faced by family members serving as personal care providers,” Gove said. “More than anything, I know how important it is for these individuals to have a support structure in place to maintain the quality of life for everyone involved.”

read more

Casagrande’s Plan for Domestic Violence Courts [video]

Source: NJTV Online [video] -

Caroline Casagrande

“What I’m proposing … is a new court that really deals with domestic violence, comprehensively, that allows for a courtroom that will have the resources and the support network we need for these victims, and the perpetrators, as well as judges and prosecutors and defenders who are specially trained in this.” – Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande


Casagrande’s interview appears on the video at the 1:10 mark.

read more

As red-light camera pilot nearing end in N.J., no decision on extension

Source: NewsWorks -

As the controversial pilot program allowing 24 New Jersey towns to use red-light cameras nears expiration in December, there is a large difference of opinion on whether it should continue.

Declan O'Scanlon

But Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon, an outspoken critic of the program, said the red-light camera setups are just a way for towns get more money.

“Balance your budget with legitimate revenues not with ill-gotten gains that you’re stealing from motorists who are behaving reasonably,” said O’Scanlon, R-Monmouth.

The state League of Municipalities is urging the governor and the Legislature to renew it.

Bill Dressel, executive director of the league, asked lawmakers to heed evidence that the red-light cameras enhance public safety as “a supplemental policing tool for municipalities.”

“I think it’s an effective deterrent in reducing crashes and an effective safety program that changes driver behavior,” he said Tuesday.

But Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon, an outspoken critic of the program, said the red-light camera setups are just a way for towns get more money.

“Balance your budget with legitimate revenues not with ill-gotten gains that you’re stealing from motorists who are behaving reasonably,” said O’Scanlon, R-Monmouth.

No lawmaker has introduced legislation to extend the program, and that’s heartened O’Scanlon.

“Even though the camera companies are spending massive amounts of money lobbying, people are seeing through it. Nobody is buying it, and I think the little guy might win this one and the program will end Dec. 16,” he said. “Merry Christmas to all.”

Gov. Chris Christie has said he’s not inclined to continue the program.

read more

Page 1 of 24612345102030...Last »
top