Category: Press Release

Handlin-Sponsored Port Authority Transparency Bill Signed Into Law

S-2183 Subjects Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

to New York’s Freedom of Information Law

and New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act

Source: Assembly Republican Press Release -

Amy Handlin

Legislation sponsored by Deputy Assembly Republican Leader Amy Handlin subjecting the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to each state’s Freedom on Information Law (FOIL) and Open Public Records Act (OPRA) was signed into law by the Gov. Christie. Handlin’s bill, endorsed by the Governor on Thursday morning, also recognizes the Port Authority a public agency, subjecting it to requests to release government records.

“It is outrageous that a public agency spending nearly $23 million per day has been able to escape basic operational and financial discipline and disclosure,” said Handlin, R — Monmouth. “Inquiries have been stymied for years, frustrating toll-payers and organizations that want to examine how the agency accounts for the funds it spends. The roadblocks and impediments for gaining access to public information are now a step closer to being removed.”

The bill declares the Port Authority is an “agency.” As such, it must comply with New York’s Freedom of Information Law and New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act. Any records subject to public access under the laws of either state must be made available for inspection, copying or examination.

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DeCroce Resolution Recognizing Aviation’s Role Signed by Governor

Press Release – A resolution sponsored by Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce that recognizes the vital role aviation plays in the Garden State has been signed by Governor Christie. The measure, AJR-62/SJR-55, designates the month of May each year as “General Aviation Appreciation Month.”

“General aviation plays a critical role in the operation of businesses and the transportation of people and goods across the country and around the state,” said DeCroce, R-Morris, Essex and Passaic. “This measure recognizes the vital role aviation plays in our state’s economy and will help promote public awareness, education, advocacy, safety and technology within the industry.”

The aviation industry in New Jersey provides employment to approximately 18,000 residents, with an estimated payroll of more than $620 million, serves 12,000 pilots, and contributes $1.7 billion annually to the state economy.

The resolution calls for public officials, private organizations and residents to observe the month with appropriate activities, programs and events.

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Governor Signs Angelini Prescription Drug Disposal Bill

Press Release – Legislation Deputy Republican Conference Leader Mary Pat Angelini sponsors that requires pharmacies and physicians to instruct patients on how to safely dispose unused prescribed controlled dangerous substances such as Percocet and Oxycontin has been signed into law by Gov. Christie.

Mary Pat Angelini

“The improper disposal of unused prescription drugs, especially medicines such as opiates, poses a danger to humans, animals and the environment,” said Angelini, R-Monmouth. “Storing these medications in the home increases the potential for drug abuse or overdose by children. Providing consumers with information on proper disposal methods is an important component in our efforts to address the state’s prescription drug abuse epidemic.”

Angelini’s bill, A-709/S-2370, requires the state Division of Consumer Affairs to post a notice on its website that will advise patients about:

• the availability of drug take-back programs sponsored by a local, State or federal government agency; and

• how to obtain information from those programs concerning where the unused prescription drugs may be dropped off for safe and environmentally sound disposal.

The measure is part of a 21-bill package to address New Jersey’s heroin and prescription drug abuse crisis.

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Peterson: Dems Haven’t Learned from History

Source: Assembly Republican Press Release -

Assemblyman Erik Peterson, R-Hunterdon, Warren and Somerset, said today’s Assembly passage of legislation (ACR-244) that urges the governor to make a $1.3 billion pension payment by July 15 is proof that Democrats have yet to learn from fiscal missteps of the past.

Erik Peterson

“Today, the Democrats passed legislation that calls for the same thing that brought us into the current pension trouble we are facing. Democrats are relying on a ‘hope and a prayer’ that if we borrow money and invest it in the stock market, we will make more in profit than what we owe in interest payments. Arbitrage with pension payments did not work in the 90’s nor is it likely to work today. Gambling with taxpayer money is irresponsible. It is this kind of political thinking that led us to the pension Armageddon we now face.

“We need fiscally sound solutions to solve the pension issue, not more political theater posing as a solution. That is why I have repeatedly called on leadership to hold a special session so that the entire Legislature can work together to devise a responsible plan to address the pension funding issue.”

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O’Scanlon: Dems Fail to do Research on Pension Payment

Assembly Republican Press Release -

Declan O'Scanlon

Assembly Republican Budget Officer Declan O’Scanlon, R-Monmouth, called out Democrats regarding their last minute pension payment maneuver (ACR-244) of making a $1.3 billion payment by July 15 during today’s Assembly voting session:

“One thing that should have been embarrassingly clear from today’s debate is that the Democrats didn’t do their homework on this idea. The fact the Democrats didn’t reach out to the treasurer to discuss the dynamics and ramifications of such a move makes it abundantly clear that this is all about politics and nothing at all to do with thoughtful policy. It is outrageously irresponsible not to have done that essential homework. Moody’s plainly states a maneuver such as this will make things worse.”

O’Scanlon pointed out the credit rating agency has stated that without meaningful structural changes to the state’s budget, such as pension reform that dramatically improves pension affordability, the state’s structural imbalance will continue to grow, and the state’s rating will continue to fall.

“Moody’s said in their April report that one of the things that could make our rating improve is if we decrease our reliance on cash flow borrowing to below 8 percent. We will achieve a 5.6 percent cash flow borrowing level as long as we stick to our current pension contributions schedule. Conversely, if cash flow borrowings increase to more than 10 percent of revenues, as it would under today’s Assembly proposal, our rating could be downgraded again.

“The Democrats, who complain about rating drops, apparently don’t care if their political maneuvering hastens another one. This move will shatter our efforts to hit cash flow milestones clearly set forth by the ratings agencies. The destructive pandering must stop. Discussion of substantive reform must begin.”

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Peterson Welcomes Democrats’ Willingness to Address Pension Reforms

Source: Assembly Republican Press Release -

Assemblyman Erik Peterson, R-Hunterdon, Warren and Somerset, said he welcomes the comments of the Assembly Budget Committee chairman and members of his caucus who said they are willing to work together to address additional pension reforms during today’s General Assembly voting session.

Erik Peterson

”It’s encouraging to hear that some of my Democrat colleagues are finally serious about finding long-term solutions to the pension problem,” said Peterson who has three times called for a special session to find solutions to the pension issue. This issue can only be resolved by earnest and serious debate. I can only hope my Democrat colleagues’ comments today indicating their willingness to work with the Republican members is not just more rhetoric as time is of the essence with this issue. Everyone, including taxpayers and public employees have a vested interest in pension reform.”

Below is the link to some of the recommendations put forth by the administration through the bipartisan New Jersey Pension and Health Benefit Study Commission:

http://www.state.nj.us/treasury/pdf/NJEA-CommissionRoadmap-Final_February2015.pdf

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Peterson Welcomes Democrats’ Willingness to Address Pension Reforms

Source: Press Release – Assemblyman Erik Peterson, R-Hunterdon, Warren and Somerset, said he welcomes the comments of the Assembly Budget Committee chairman and members of his caucus who said they are willing to work together to address additional pension reforms during today’s General Assembly voting session.

“It’s encouraging to hear that some of my Democrat colleagues are finally serious about finding long-term solutions to the pension problem,” said Peterson who has three times called for a special session to find solutions to the pension issue. This issue can only be resolved by earnest and serious debate. I can only hope my Democrat colleagues’ comments today indicating their willingness to work with the Republican members is not just more rhetoric as time is of the essence with this issue. Everyone, including taxpayers and public employees have a vested interest in pension reform.”

Below is the link to some of the recommendations put forth by the administration through the bipartisan New Jersey Pension and Health Benefit Study Commission:

http://www.state.nj.us/treasury/pdf/NJEA-CommissionRoadmap-Final_February2015.pdf

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O’Scanlon Welcomes Tax Relief for New Jersey’s Most Vulnerable Families

Source: Assembly Republican Press Release -

Declan O'Scanlon

Assembly Republican Budget Officer Declan O’Scanlon, R- Monmouth, issued this statement after Gov. Christie announced that he is vetoing the Millionaires’ Tax and increasing the Earned Income Tax Credit from 20 percent to 30 percent:

“Gov. Christie is living up to his promises not to raise taxes, and to cut taxes for hard-working New Jersey families. For six years, the Republicans and this Governor have fought hard to make New Jersey affordable for everyone, but the Democrat-controlled Legislature has blocked giving taxpayers real relief.

“Today, the Governor red-lined a massive, job-killing tax on employers, helping preserve jobs for middle-class workers. And at the same time, he has delivered desperately needed tax relief to the people who need it most. This is a 50 percent increase in tax relief for hundreds of thousands of hard-working families who struggle every day in the state with the highest taxes in the nation.”

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Handlin Expresses Support for Port Authority Transparency Bill

S-2183 Subjects Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to New York’s Freedom of Information Law and New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act.

Source: Assembly Republican Press Release -

Legislation subjecting the Port Authority of New York andNew Jerseyto each state’s Freedom on Information Law (FOIL) and Open Public Records Act (OPRA) was approved by the General Assembly today. Deputy Assembly Republican Leader Amy Handlin, R-Monmouth, sponsors the bill, S-2183, which considers the Port Authority a public agency, subjecting it to requests to release government records.

Amy Handlin

“It is outrageous that a public agency spending nearly $23 million per day has been able to escape basic operational and financial discipline and disclosure,” said Handlin. “Inquiries have been stymied for years, frustrating toll-payers and organizations that want to examine how the agency accounts for the funds it spends. The roadblocks and impediments for gaining access to public information are now a step closer to being removed.”

The bill declares the Port Authority is an “agency.” As such, it must comply with New York’s Freedom of Information Law and New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act. Any records subject to public access under the laws of either state must be made available for inspection, copying or examination.

Handlin also noted the New York Assembly passed A-08298, which makes the structural reforms to the Port Authority supported by Governors Christie and Cuomo. Handlin sponsors the identical bill in New Jersey (A-4594).

“We’ve talked enough about reforms to the authority. Now is the time for action,” stated Handlin. “We need to join withNew York legislators as soon as possible and enact these comprehensive changes. It would be unconscionable to let the Port Authority continue to operate as it does for another six months.”

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Muñoz Cost Saving Bill Allowing Generic Biological Meds Continues to Advance

Press Release – Legislation to reduce the price of expensive biological medications for people who need the drugs for treatment of serious diseases by allowing pharmacists to substitute generics today won General Assembly approval. The bill, A-2477/S-1705, sponsored by Assembly Deputy Republican Leader Nancy F. Muñoz, now goes to the governor for his consideration.

Nancy Munoz

Biological drugs (biologics) are created from living cells (animal, yeast, plant) rather than through traditional chemistry, which produces chemical pills. They are used to treat cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, MS and other debilitating diseases. While a (chemical) generic medication is identical to a brand named drug, replication of an identical biologic by another manufacturer is nearly impossible.

“The cost of these drugs often places a financial burden on patients who rely on them to treat very serious diseases and painful conditions,” said Muñoz, R-Union, Morris and Somerset. “Generic versions are just now becoming available which is great news because they can significantly reduce costs, giving more patients access to these vital medications.

“At the same time, we need to make sure pharmacists and physicians are communicating with each other since these products are more complex than chemical drugs and it’s not yet certain what kind of a reaction a patient may have from a generic version,” she continued. “This bill enhances the safety and effectiveness of biologics while providing more treatment options to patients.”

Muñoz said measure is needed to ensure that once the FDA has approved a biosimilar as “interchangeable” with a biologic, a law is in place to address the issue of substitution. Currently, the only biosimilar product approved by the FDA in the U.S. is Zarxio. Manufactured by Sandoz, it is the generic version of Neupogen, made by Amgen, Inc. It is used to treat patients with certain types of cancers and related illnesses, but has not yet been approved as an “interchangeable” product. “Interchangeable” means that pharmacists may substitute a biosimilar or generic for a biological drug.

Under the bill, a pharmacist who dispenses an interchangeable biosimilar is required to notify the prescribing physician of the substitution within five business days after dispensing the medications and provide the name and manufacturer of the product.

Muñoz noted that only Virginia, Indiana, North Dakota, Delaware, Florida, Utah, Oregon and Massachusetts have passed similar legislation. Should the measure become law and, as more biosimilars become available, New Jersey would be at the forefront of providing cost effective medications for patients with debilitating diseases. She added that both generic and brand manufacturers support the bill.

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