Category: Press Release

Bramnick: Best way to observe April 15 is to lower taxes

Source: Assembly Republican Press Release -

Today is the final day for filing federal and state income taxes. Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick said the deadline is a reminder that reducing the tax burden should be the highest priority for legislators.

Jon Bramnick

“It is no secret that New Jersey’s income tax structure is among the highest in the country,” said Bramnick, R-Union, Morris and Somerset. “The Legislature must act quickly to reduce this burden. New Jersey workers already pay more than their fair share. The best way to create jobs and keep people in New Jersey is to lower taxes and let taxpayers keep more of their own hard-earned money.”

Bills sponsored by Assembly Republicans that would reduce the tax burden shouldered by New Jerseyans include the following:

• New Jersey Direct Property Tax Relief Plan (A-157 – Fiocchi/Handlin/CJ Brown/Rumana)

• Phase out New Jersey’s Estate Tax over a five year period (A-329 – Bramnick/McHose/Schepisi)

• Decrease the sales and use tax rate from 7% to 6% (A-137 – McHose/Space)

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Fiocchi Says Vineland Shootings Reinforce need to Combine Efforts to Fight Violent Crime

Source: Assembly Republican Press Release -

Four people were injured, one fatally, after multiple shootings in Vineland, Cumberland County, between Sunday and Monday that authorities say are connected.

Just before 1:00 a.m. Monday, as Vineland police investigated a home invasion, they were called to another section of the town where officers found two shooting victims. A man in his 20s was pronounced dead at the scene. A second victim was treated at Inspira Hospital and released. Later, at 2:25 a.m., Vineland police responded to a second shooting on East Park Ave. Officers found two male victims inside a home with gunshot wounds.

Sam Fiocchi

Sam Fiocchi

“These horrible incidents show that the roundtable discussion we held with law enforcement about violence in February was not just talk or a one-time discussion,” said Fiocchi, R-Cumberland, Cape May and Atlantic. “The police say these shootings and fatality are not a coincidence. Violent crime is a problem in cities, suburbs and rural areas.

“It is up to lawmakers, law enforcement officials and the community to work together and help each other,” commented Fiocchi. “Whether that involves providing information or reporting suspicious activity, people’s welfare and lives are at stake. The worst mistake is for people to think it can’t happen in their neighborhood. We must continue the dialogue with law enforcement officials on how to address this problem and I urge anyone with information to contact their local police department.”

Fiocchi co-sponsors ACR-22, which would permit voters to decide if New Jersey judges should be allowed to deny bail for dangerous defendants. The legislation, which mirrors current federal law, is sponsored by Assembly Republicans Donna Simon, Dave Rible, BettyLou DeCroce and Anthony M. Bucco.

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Casagrande ‘Sleeps Out’ in Trenton to Raise Awareness, Funds for Covenant House

Press Release – Monmouth County Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande will participate in a legislative ”sleep out” tonight on the grounds outside the State House in Trenton to raise awareness and funds in support of New Jersey’s homeless runaway and trafficked youth who are served by Covenant House.

Caroline Casagrande

“Covenant House is always there, when no one else is, to help homeless, at risk adolescents,” says Casagrande. “I was moved to get involved by the stories of those whose lives have been changed by this remarkable organization. It is my hope that my participation in this ‘Legislative Sleep Out’ will bring attention to the work of Covenant House and encourage others to get involved.”

Joining Casagrande will be fellow 11th District lawmaker Sen. Jennifer Beck, Assembly members Donna Simon and Jay Webber and Sen. Joseph Vitale.

“These government leaders will unite to sleep out in solidarity with homeless kids,” said Kevin Ryan, President of Covenant House International. “Together they will become a unified voice for hundreds of homeless and trafficked kids with no voice of their own; kids who are neglected, forgotten and cast aside.”

Covenant House New Jersey is the state’s largest provider of services to homeless and at risk adolescents under 22. In addition to food, shelter, clothing and crisis care, Covenant House provides healthcare, educational and vocational services, counseling, drug abuse treatment and prevention programs and transitional living programs.

If you would like to support the event, please call Casagrande’s office at 732 866-1695 or visit www.legislativesleepout.org for more information.

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Ciattarelli Requests OLS Study Estate Tax, Transfer Inheritance Tax and Pension Exclusion Laws

Source: Assembly Republican Press Release -

As the discussion continues on how to make New Jersey a more affordable place to live, work and retire, Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli said he is requesting the Office of Legislative Services (OLS) to conduct a study that analyzes the State’s estate tax, transfer inheritance tax, and pension exclusion when filing an income tax return. Ciattarelli believes a comprehensive review of these tax laws will lead to reforms that will make New Jersey economically vibrant and more retirement friendly.

Jack Ciattarelli

“A cost-benefit study of the impact of our tax laws is a critical first step in making our state more competitive and a place where people want to live and retire,” said Ciattarelli, R-Somerset, Hunterdon, Mercer and Middlesex. “There is no question that some of our tax laws drive people out of our state. If we are serious about addressing this ‘tax migration,’ a coalition of scholars, economists, tax and estate planning professionals, legislators and residents is needed to analyze the issue in an informed, non-partisan and objective way.

Ciattarelli said the need to examine these taxes is urgently needed given the demographic reality that more baby boomers are reaching retirement age. When deciding where to live after retirement, taxes play a key role. If New Jersey does not address a retiree’s tax liability on his or her estate, transfer inheritance and pension, there is a better likelihood of their leaving the state for a more tax-friendly climate.

Ciattarelli noted that New Jersey is one of only 15 states that imposes an estate tax and, along with Maryland, is one of only two states that have both a transfer inheritance tax and an estate tax.

“For retirees, taxes play an important part in deciding where they choose to live,” explained Ciattarelli. “We cannot control the appeal of the weather some states enjoy. We can, however, stop incentivizing retirees to seek legal residency in another state. One way to do this is by repealing the estate tax, the transfer inheritance tax and increasing the state’s pension exclusion, for example, from $20,000 to $50,000.”

A person who declares residency in another state for six months plus one day (a majority of the year) falls under that state’s tax laws.

“If we don’t reform these areas of taxation, financial planners will continue to advise residents to live elsewhere for ‘six plus one,’” stated Ciattarelli. “What is the point of having retirement tax policies that everyone is legally avoiding? Making New Jersey more tax friendly will result in people staying in our state for a longer period which is good for our economy.

“Considering that New Jersey retirees continue to pay the most punitive tax of all – the property tax – we owe it to ourselves to have a public discussion on how to achieve fairness and make New Jersey more retirement friendly,” explained Ciattarelli. “I look forward to the OLS analysis and will follow up with three or four public forums, in connection with New Jersey universities, to discuss this important and very timely topic.”

Ciattarelli also announced that he intends to request similar comprehensive study packages from OLS on the State’s capital gains tax laws and public sector personnel policies that directly impact property taxes.

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Handlin Responds to Court Ruling on SCI Subpoenas

Source: Assembly Republican Press Release -

Amy Handlin

Assembly Republican Amy Handlin, R-Monmouth, who is a member of the Special Committee on Investigation, issued the following statement in response to a court ruling today regarding the subpoenas issued by the SCI:

“The Judge’s opinion sends a clear message that the committee has overstepped its bounds.

“The time has come for us to focus on reform.

“Federal and state prosecutors are fully capable of investigating and are clearly doing so.

“Our legislative responsibility is to find solutions to the many problems we have already uncovered.

“It would be a disservice to the people of New Jersey if the Legislature does not immediately move forward on the reform bills that have been introduced on a bipartisan basis.”

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Dancer Introduces Bill that Allows Drivers to Shine Light on Road Hazards and Speed Traps

Source: Assembly Republican Press Release -

If you have ever been rolling a little too fast on the interstate and an oncoming driver flashed the high-beams as a warning, you may be surprised to learn that driver was risking a costly traffic ticket of their own.

Ron Dancer

“In New Jersey, drivers who flashed their lights to warn others have been cited and fined for ‘improper use of multiple beam headlights.’ That is a troubling fact, because this is a form of communication that should be constitutionally protected,” said Assemblyman Ron Dancer, R-Ocean, Burlington, Middlesex and Monmouth.

Dancer is the sponsor of legislation, A-2922, that clarifies that it is permissible to utilize motor vehicle headlights to warn oncoming traffic of certain road conditions.

“If law enforcement is using radar to combat excessive speed, a motorist who flashes the lights is having a positive impact, helping to slow the flow of traffic and improve road safety. However, if tickets are being issued for blinking the lights, frankly, that is an overly aggressive tactic to preserve the flow of easy money from speed traps,” said Dancer. “The goal should be safe roads and highways, not a money-grab for municipal treasuries.”

Dancer said in addition to flashing their lights to expose radar, drivers may also toggle their high-beams to warn of accidents, stopped traffic, deer crossings, obstructions in the roadway, and ice or other hazardous road conditions.

“When headlights are flashing, it is a sign to slow down and be alert. It could save a person from a speeding fine, and it could prevent an accident or save a life. Drivers in New Jersey should be confident when they are looking out for each other that they will not be pulled over and presented with a summons to municipal court,” said Dancer.

The Assemblyman noted a recent ruling by a federal judge in a case of a Missouri man who had received a ticket, with a standard fine of $1,000, for using high-beams to tip-off drivers to a police radar deployment.

The judge in that case issued a temporary injunction ordering the Ellisville Police to halt their policy of stopping drivers who blink their lights.

“When you come down to it, this is a free speech issue. Common sense tells us a person should be able to look out for others and warn them of hidden dangers,” Dancer said.

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Bramnick-Burzichelli will Join Forces on Native Habitat Legislation

Source: Assembly Republican Press Release -

Bill establishes “Native Habitat Certification Program”

Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick will introduce legislation that encourages homeowners to expand and protect the native habitats of birds, plants and other wildlife. Bramnick is joined by Assembly Appropriations Chairman John Burzichelli, D-Gloucester, as a sponsor of the legislation.

Under Bramnick’s bill, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will adopt regulations that establish standards that must be met in order for a property to be certified as a Native Habitat. Once a property is certified, the owner is entitled to an affirmative defense against any liability for violating a municipal ordinance.

Jon Bramnick

“Homeowners should be encouraged to take an active role in protecting our environment,” said Bramnick, R-Union, Morris and Somerset. “A property that complies with the standards established by the DEP will help plants and wildlife return to their native habitat. This bill is good for New Jersey as we are all responsible for conserving and protecting our natural resources.”

The DEP would authorize non-profit conservation groups or other organizations that have the necessary qualifications and expertise to inspect a property and determine if the land meets the requirements for certification as a native habitat.

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Fiocchi Introduces Package of Bills to Revitalize Manufacturing Industry in South Jersey

Press Release – Assemblyman Sam Fiocchi has introduced a package of five bills in an effort to stimulate the manufacturing industry in South Jersey.

Sam Fiocchi

Sam Fiocchi

“New Jersey is strategically located in the center of the Eastern Seaboard, making our state one of the strongest hubs for the manufacturing industry in the U.S.,” said Fiocchi, R-Cumberland, Cape May and Atlantic. “Unfortunately, we experienced significant job losses in the industry during the last 30 years of the previous century. Manufacturing has rebounded somewhat since then in parts of the Garden State, but we need to do more to attract and retain manufacturers as part of our efforts to continue to create skilled, well-paying jobs particularly in South Jersey.”

Fiocchi noted that Millville, which is located in his home legislative district, was, at one time, a manufacturing hub in South Jersey as it was home to the Wheaton Glass Factory as well as other manufacturing companies. Through the years, however, he said, “These industries have all but disappeared and with them many quality jobs. These measures will provide needed incentives to help revitalize the industry in the southern part of the state.”

The package of bills Fiocchi has introduced include:

 A-3110: This measure addresses the changes that have taken place in the industry over time by reducing the number of manufacturing jobs required to qualify for state Economic Development Authority (EDA) financing and incentive programs. Many manufacturing operations require less manpower today due to advances in technology.

 A-3111: One of the primary reasons New Jersey suffered sizable job losses in manufacturing is the high cost of electricity. This bill would provide a partial sales tax exemption for energy and utility service to certain manufacturers.

 A-3112: This legislation is designed to tilt the manufacturing playing field back to the U.S. as Asian economies have become less competitive. It permits the EDA to provide financial assistance to businesses that relocate to New Jersey from sites in Asia.

 A-3113: Provides protection for manufacturing companies that set up shop in New Jersey by prohibiting the state and municipalities from applying new regulations for the first 10 years of operation.

 A-3114: Establishes a construction and workforce recruitment and training website in the state Department of Labor and Worker Development.

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Bateman-Ciattarelli-Simon to Introduce Law Returning Off-Track Wagering Approval to Towns

Source: Assembly Republican Press Release -

State legislators Sen. Kip Bateman, Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli and Assemblywoman Donna Simon, all R-Somerset, Hunterdon, Mercer and Middlesex, said they will immediately introduce a bill that reverses a section of law changed in 2011 that eliminates a municipality’s right to have the final say on whether or not an off-track wagering (OTW) business could operate within its borders.

Though approval is still needed by the New Jersey State Racing Commission, the state’s fifth OTW is proposed for the former Hillsborough Township Maestro 206 restaurant on southbound Route 206 by Veterans Industrial Park. The New Jersey State Racing Commission will be scheduling a public hearing in the township.

“Municipal officials are elected to give residents a voice in the decisions that shape the quality of life and future of their communities,” said Bateman. “Approval of an off-track wagering business is a decision that impacts the unique character of a municipality and it’s one that should be made by the local officials who understand and represent the best interests of those in the community. It’s time we give the authority to make this important decision back to those best suited to do so.”

“While the racing commission still needs to sign off on this Hillsborough OTW site, and not before a public hearing, the decision-making authority for an OTW facility should be the municipality, not by fiat,” said Ciattarelli, R-Somerset, Hunterdon, Mercer and Middlesex. “Home rule has its drawbacks, but local land use is not one of them.”

Under current law, there is no requirement for notice to be given to a municipality nor can a town disapprove of the wagering facility by resolution. Under that same law, an OTW operation is a permitted use in any commercial or industrial district and does not need to appear before the local planning board.

“This legislation will make a town the determining authority, as it was prior to 2011,” explained Ciattarelli. “It will empower a municipality to decide if it wants an off-track wagering facility. This bill will also repeal the abatement automatically granted to any commercial building housing an OTW operation, as I am personally opposed to incentive programs that relieve property owners of paying, at the very least, school taxes.”

“Municipalities and its taxpayers should have more than a say about whether they want OTW,” said Simon. “Removing this responsibility from a town lets an important quality of life decision be made by outside interests. Residents can hold their elected officials accountable for the way they run their town, but who is answerable under this structure? A town’s local officials know the issues surrounding proposals such as this and they should have the final say.”

“We need to return to the fundamental fairness concept that a town should play an active role in its planning and zoning,” stated Ciattarelli. “With that in mind, I ask Hillsborough citizens, once the date for the public hearing is set, to join me in attending and expressing our sentiments.”

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O’Scanlon Praises Positive Budget Plan that Funds Priorities at Record Levels

Source: Assembly Republican Press Release -

Declan O'Scanlon

Calling it another positive budget for the people of New Jersey, Assembly Republican Budget Officer Declan O’Scanlon commended the Christie administration for changing the fiscal outlook in Trenton.

“It was clear today that Governor Christie has once again crafted reasonable budget that meets the state’s obligations and responsibilities at historic levels. There’s still some work to be done, but the core priorities are addresses, with the largest pension payment in history, and the highest education funding ever,” said O’Scanlon, R-Monmouth, after listening to the budget overview provided by State Treasurer Andrew P. Sidamon-Eristoff.

“The FY-2015 budget builds on the foundation of the Governor’s previous budgets, and the results are undeniable. New Jersey state government is more efficient, proactive, and cost-effective than ever, thanks to laser-focused diligence and a refusal to compromise the interest of taxpayers,” O’Scanlon said.

O’Scanlon cited several key budget items:

• $34.4 billion budget with a responsible surplus of 3.5 percent
• A 3.5 percent budget increase over FY 2014, with 94 percent of that dedicated solely to public employee pensions and health benefits, and debt service
• $2.25 billion pension payment, the largest in state history
• $12.9 billion for schools, the highest level of funding education funding ever, for the fourth year in a row

“This is a sensible spending plan that puts the breaks on debt increases and cuts the use of ‘one-shot’ revenues to historically low levels,” said O’Scanlon. “Before the Governor came to office, New Jersey’s budget depended on non-recurring ‘one shots’ for more than 13 percent of the budget. It has been reduced to less than 3 percent, and that kind of significant progress is commendable.”

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