Tag: Jay Webber

Webber opposes assisted-suicide bill that passed N.J. Assembly

Source: Bergen Record -

New Jersey lawmakers voted Thursday to make it legal for the terminally ill to end their lives with medical help, a move that comes amid the continued national debate over assisted suicide and that faces an uncertain future in the state.

Jay Webber

 

“When one group of people in society, the majority, make it the law of the land that some minority have lives that are not worth living, that are not quite as equal as their own, then that is not the road to freedom … that is the road to tyranny,” said Assemblyman Jay Webber, R-Morris.


The bill passed 41-31, with the minimum number of votes needed to clear the Assembly. A companion version in the Senate has not been acted on since it was introduced in January. And Governor Christie has said he opposes the measure.

Still, supporters said on Thursday that families need this law and lawmakers offered painful, personal examples to urge colleagues to vote for what they labeled “The New Jersey Death With Dignity Act.”

The Assembly debate saw opponents make religious appeals and offer warnings that an assisted-suicide law would lead to euthanasia and tyranny.

“When one group of people in society, the majority, make it the law of the land that some minority have lives that are not worth living, that are not quite as equal as their own, then that is not the road to freedom … that is the road to tyranny,” said Assemblyman Jay Webber, R-Morris.

If the proposal approved in the Assembly on Thursday becomes law, New Jersey could be among the first group of states to allow patients the right to assisted suicide, according to National Right to Life, an antiabortion advocacy organization.

The bill would only allow a patient who is terminally ill and within six months of death to be given a prescription for medication that would help end the person’s life voluntarily.

In addition, the bill requires the patient to ask twice for a prescription. The second request would need to be in writing and signed by two witnesses. Those requests must come at least 15 days apart. Two physicians would be called upon to certify that the patient had a limited time to live and an attending physician would be required to offer the patient an opportunity to reconsider the request.

 

 

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O’Scanlon, Webber, Auth on end-of-life bill

Source: The Star-Ledger -

Terminally ill patients in New Jersey would have the right to obtain a prescription to end their lives under a bill that won a narrow victory in the state Assembly today, less than two weeks after the physician-assisted suicide of a young Oregon woman sparked a nation debate on the issue.

Declan O'Scanlon

Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon (R-Monmouth), who supported the bill, noted that it had no chance of being signed into law any time soon. Gov. Chris Christie has spoken out against it, and no bill becomes law without the governor’s signature. The bill still has to make it through the state Senate, which has been waiting for the Assembly to act first, Burzichelli said.

Lawmakers debated whether giving terminally ill people the legal means to end their lives would show them more or less compassion, and whether the right to die promotes or denies people their freedom to choose.

Jay Webber

“When one group of people in society — the majority — make it the law of the land that some minority have lives that are not worth living and are not as equal as their own, that is not the road to freedom, Mr. Speaker, that is the road to tyranny,” said Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-Morris).

Robert Auth

Robert Auth

“The medical community overwhelmingly opposes this bill because physicians believe their role as trusted healers should be sancrosanct,” said Assemblyman Robert Auth, (R-Passaic). “If government is going to start legislating that some death is preferable, where will it end?”

The 41-to-31 vote provided a rare moment of suspense in the Legislature. Seldom are bills posted for a vote when the sponsor and the party leadership do not know the outcome. Assemblyman John Burzichelli, (D-Gloucester) who sponsored the bill, said before the vote majority support was “fragile” given the moral issues it raised. Two lawmakers who support the measure were not present because of other obligations.

But with Brittany Maynard’s Nov. 1 death still fresh in the public’s minds, Burzichelli said he was willing to post the bill for a vote and risk defeat.

Under the bill, (A-2270) patients suffering from a terminal disease seeking to end their lives would have to first verbally request a prescription from their attending physician, followed by a second request at least 15 days later and one request in writing signed by two witnesses. The patient’s physician would have to offer the patient a chance to rescind their request, and a consulting physician would then be called upon to certify the original diagnosis and reaffirm the patient is capable of making a decision.

The bill is written for people with a terminal illness, defined as an incurable, irreversible and medically confirmed disease that will end the person’s life within six months.

 

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DeCroce, Webber on Responsible Solutions to Transportation Funding Crisis

Source: NJ Spotlight -

To new Transportation Commissioner Jamie Fox, the challenge is clear, and so is the solution: After years of “taking a Band-Aid approach to everything,” New Jersey’s transportation system is in crisis. The only way out is to raise taxes to replenish the soon-to-be-empty Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) and build a new rail tunnel under the Hudson.

BettyLou DeCroce

“If we did a 30 cents a gallon gas tax, they (the public) would tar and feather us, and throw us out of New Jersey,” Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce warned, even though that tax hike would still leave New Jersey’s gas tax — currently the second-lowest in the nation at 14.5 cents per gallon — below New York’s 50.6-cent-per-gallon tax. DeCroce said the state should consider a mixture of solutions, such as extending the state sales tax to gasoline, which would generate the equivalent of 24.5 cents per gallon based on an average price of $3.50 a gallon. She also suggested increasing the petroleum products gross-receipts tax, which is levied at the refinery or distributor level; imposing a tax on airport car rentals, as most other states do; and adding a tax on containers that come into Port Newark and Port Elizabeth.

“Crisis is opportunity. We are broke. We can let our infrastructure fall apart and become worse. Or we can put the ‘D’ and ‘R’ aside and pass a revenue enhancer, whatever that is,” Fox said in an impassioned plea to business and labor leaders to fight for a stable, long-term source of funding for highway, bridge and mass transit projects.

“This is not an easy vote to pass,” Fox warned the New Jersey SEED (Society for Environmental, Economic Development) business-labor coalition in Atlantic City Friday, referring to polls showing that most New Jerseyans oppose an increase in the gas tax. “There has to be a revenue enhancer. If it’s a gimmick, we’ve failed. We have to tell legislators we will be there with them. Anyone who thinks we’re going to get this done without a tax is just mouthing words.”

Fox said in an interview following the NJ SEED speech that ideally he would like to increase annual state transportation capital funding from the current $1.6 billion a year to $2 billion. That hike has been recommended by Forward New Jersey, a broad-based pro-transportation coalition headed by State Chamber of Commerce President Tom Bracken, but one that would presumably require a larger “revenue enhancer” at a time when Christie may be about to launch a bid for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination.

Christie, who had previously ruled out a gas tax increase, said when he announced Fox’s nomination that “everything’s on the table.” When asked if that included a gas tax, he responded testily, “What part of ‘everything’s on the table’ don’t you understand?”

Assemblywoman Betty Lou DeCroce (R-Morris), who also serves on the Assembly Transportation Committee, said there is a growing recognition among Republicans that a revenue increase will be needed to pay for transportation capital projects.

“If we did a 30 cents a gallon gas tax, they (the public) would tar and feather us, and throw us out of New Jersey,” DeCroce warned, even though that tax hike would still leave New Jersey’s gas tax — currently the second-lowest in the nation at 14.5 cents per gallon — below New York’s 50.6-cent-per-gallon tax.

DeCroce said the state should consider a mixture of solutions, such as extending the state sales tax to gasoline, which would generate the equivalent of 24.5 cents per gallon based on an average price of $3.50 a gallon. She also suggested increasing the petroleum products gross-receipts tax, which is levied at the refinery or distributor level; imposing a tax on airport car rentals, as most other states do; and adding a tax on containers that come into Port Newark and Port Elizabeth.

Even Assemblyman Jay Weber (R-Morris), a former state GOP chairman and leading conservative, acknowledged that an increase in New Jersey’s relatively low gas-tax increase was a possibility, although he suggested it should be accompanied by a corresponding cut in the state’s high estate and inheritance taxes.

Political fear of raising the gas taxes is not confined to Trenton.

U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), who serves on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, noted that “just as New Jersey hasn’t raised its gas tax, the federal government hasn’t raised its gas tax either.” And just as New Jersey’s Transportation Trust Fund is scheduled to run out of money for new projects early in the next budget year, Congress was forced to do a short-term extension when its Highway Trust Fund started running out of money in July.

Finding a funding solution that guarantees the continued flow of federal transportation aid to the states is critical for New Jersey, whose $1.6 billion state Transportation Trust Fund is matched on a dollar-for dollar basis with federal aid, LoBiondo and Fox both noted.

“Am I worried?” Fox said, when asked about the fiscal problems that would be created if Congress was unable to agree on a sufficiently robust federal transportation funding formula. “Of course, I’m worried.”

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Webber, DeCroce Named Outstanding Legislators by the NJ Society for Environmental Economic Development

Source: Assembly Republican Press Release -

BettyLou DeCroce

Jay Webber

Assembly Republicans Jay Webber and BettyLou DeCroce today were hailed as Outstanding Legislators by one of the state’s premier economic and environmental advocacy organizations. Webber and DeCroce were presented with the Arthur T. Young Award from the New Jersey Society for Environmental Economic Development (NJ SEED) during its 2014 Economic Summit in Atlantic City.

NJ SEED is dedicated to the creation of private sector jobs to bolster the economy and enhance the environment. Membership includes the business and labor communities.

“Economic growth and environmental protection are compatible policy goals that can and should be pursued together,” said Webber, R — Morris, Essex and Passaic. “NJ SEED recognizes that, and I appreciate its special recognition.”

“I am proud and honored to be acknowledged for promoting reasonable and responsible policies that provide private-sector jobs and economic growth,” said DeCroce, R — Morris, Essex and Passaic. “With the proper balance, we can augment our state’s environmental vulnerabilities and fuel a flourishing economy for New Jersey families.”

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Webber Bills Making Government More Efficient by Modernizing and Publicizing Rulemaking Process Sails through Assembly

Assembly Republican Press Release -

Two bills sponsored by Assemblyman Jay Webber that make government services more efficient and responsive to residents and businesses won unanimous approval in the General Assembly today.

Jay Webber

“We should always be challenging ourselves to make government more efficient and cost-effective. Taking advantage of today’s technologies better serves taxpayers and businesses,” said Webber, R-Morris, Essex and Passaic.

“Providing real-time access to agency rulemaking information through the Internet is a no-brainer – we live in a knowledge-based economy and, like it or not, government actions can have huge effects on private sector decision making. Government needs to do its best to keep up with the pace of the information age and share important rulemaking developments on the web.”

Assemblyman Webber’s two bills include:

A-1898, which saves money by requiring the Office of Legislative Services to provide certain notices and reports to legislators and legislative staff by electronic means only.

A-2581, which requires the Office of Administrative Law to maintain on its website, an up-to-date database that summarizes and identifies the number, nature, and status of all pending or proposed rule-making actions in the state.

The bills now head to the state Senate for consideration.

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Webber: Fixing Taxes and Transportation – Together

Source: Asbury Park Press (Op-Ed by Jay Webber) -

Jay Webber

New Jersey leaders are grappling with three major problems: New Jersey has the worst tax burden in the nation, our economy suffers from sluggish growth, and our state’s Transportation Trust Fund is out of money. There is a potential principled compromise that can help solve all of them.

Of the three problems, the Transportation Trust Fund has been getting the most attention lately, and for good reason — it’s broke. There is just no money in it to maintain and improve our vital infrastructure. Without finding a solution, we risk watching our roads and bridges grow unsafe and unusable and hinder movement of people and goods throughout the state. That, of course, will exacerbate our state’s slow economic growth.

Proposals to fix the trust fund have included a mix of cost cutting, reallocation of current spending, borrowing and increasing taxes. While I prefer some combination of the first three options if done smartly, more and more it sounds as if that last option, in the form of an increased gas tax, is a popular choice for many legislators on both sides of the aisle.

But increasing the gas tax in isolation will only worsen New Jersey’s biggest problem — an already-too-high tax burden. So any gas-tax increase should only be accompanied by measures that will help alleviate, or at least not increase, the overall tax burden on New Jerseyans. To that end, we should insist that if any tax is raised to restore the trust fund, it be coupled with the elimination of a tax that is one of our state’s biggest obstacles to economic growth: the death tax. By any measure, New Jersey is the most extreme outlier on the death tax, with worst-in-the-nation status.

Some advocates try to justify raising a gas tax with the fact that New Jersey’s gas tax is one of the lowest in the nation. But let’s look at the logical flip-side: if a tax that is “too low” and should therefore be raised, then a tax that is undeniably too high therefore should be lowered — or eliminated.

New Jersey’s death tax is not a concern for the wealthy alone, as many misperceive. We are one of only two states with both an estate and inheritance tax. New Jersey’s estate-tax threshold of $675,000, combined with a tax rate as high as 16 percent, means that middle-class families with average-sized homes and small retirement savings are hit hard by the tax. It also means the tax impacts small businesses or family farms of virtually any size, discouraging investment and growth in our private sector job-creators.

Compounding the inequity is that government already has taxed the assets subject to the death tax when the money was earned. Because of our onerous estate and inheritance taxes, Forbes magazine lists New Jersey as a place “Not to Die” in 2014.

That’s a problem, and it’s one our sister states are trying hard not to duplicate. A recent study by Connecticut determined that states with no estate tax created twice as many jobs and saw their economies grow 50 percent more than states with estate taxes. That research prompted Connecticut and many states to reform their death taxes. New York just lowered its death tax, and several other states have eliminated theirs.

The good news is that New Jersey’s leaders finally are realizing that our confiscatory death tax is a big deal. A bipartisan coalition of legislators has shown its support for reforming New Jersey’s death tax, and Gov. Christie has pledged to sign a proposal to reform the death tax if the Legislature sends it to him.

Which brings us back to the Transportation Trust Fund. Given the recent public statements by bipartisan leaders on both the death tax and the trust fund, there is a very real opportunity to forge a consensus that can address all three of the problems outlined above. We can replenish the trust fund and achieve a net tax reduction for New Jersey. (Taxpayer savings from the elimination of the death tax would eclipse the gas-tax increases currently proposed.) Doing both, in turn, would help improve our economic competitiveness and stimulate job creation.

Jay Webber is a Republican assemblyman whose district includes municipalities in Essex, Morris and Passaic counties.

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Assembly Webber, Space: Mandatory Paid Sick Time Could Leave NJ Economy Feeling Ill

Source: PolitickerNJ -

In a packed room of business owners and worker rights advocates here today, members of the Assembly Labor Committee mulled a bill that would mandate employers in the state offer paid sick leave to their employees — part of a much-harangued piece of legislation that has had Democrats and Republicans in the legislature at odds in recent weeks.

The legislation at issue concerns paid sick leave mandates for private employers in the state, and has already picked up some steam since coming to the fore earlier this year. Six New Jersey cities — Jersey City, Paterson, Newark, Passaic, Irvington and East Orange — have already passed local ordinances that allow employees to earn paid time off when sick or to care for sick family members, and two other towns — Montclair and Trenton — will allow voters to decide on the issue with November ballot initiatives. Democrats, led by Assembly Speaker Vinnie Prieto (D-32), have pegged the legislation as a top priority, while Gov. Chris Christie has expressed concerns.

The bill (A2354) would require businesses with 10 or more employees to offer workers a minimum of 72 hours of paid sick leave, while businesses with fewer than 10 employees would be required to let their employees earn 40 hours of sick time — one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours they work (or five days for full-time employees). If passed, New Jersey would become only the second state in the country to require employers to do so.

“No one should have to go to work or force their kid to go to school sick for fear of losing a paid sick day,” NJ Citizen Action Director Phyllis Salowe-Kaye said.

Jay Webber

But others present at the meeting, including some Republicans on the committees, expressed skepticism over how employers in the private sector would fare under the new restrictions. Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-26) jumped into the debate arguing that the bill is “straight jacketing” employers by forcing them to offer paid time off that can only be used for illness, while business figures took to the mic and said they had “critical concerns” over how such a bill would impact job and economic growth in the state.

“These are the hard choices for business owners a they continue to keep themselves afloat,” Mike Egenton, a senior vice president at the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce (NJCC), said. He argued that small business would likely feel the brunt of these new regulations.

“This bill would result in businesses losing their ability to respond to changes in their workplaces and workforce needs,” Stefanie Riehl, vice president of the New Jersey Business and Industry Association (NJBIA), told PolitickerNJ following the meeting. “Businesses have always been able to tailor their benefits and to customize their policies to meet individual worker needs. Paid sick leave mandates put businesses in a box by forcing them to use a one-size-fits-all program, even those with generous existing policies.”

Today’s meeting ultimately held off on a final vote for the bill, opting to hear testimony and debate potential amendments to it first. The legislation will be revisited in the coming weeks, and has widespread support among Democrats in the legislature — but has found little support from Republicans, many of whom argue it is not up to the state to regulate sick time compensation and benefits in the private sector.

Parker Space

“We can’t keep piling on the already high cost of doing business in the state and wonder why nearly 300,000 people are out of work,” Assemblyman Parker Space (R-24), a member of the committee and small business owner, said in a statement. “Small businesses need flexibility in order to do what they do best – create jobs.”

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Webber Bills Making Government More Efficient by Streamlining, Modernizing, and Publicizing Rulemaking Process Wins Committee Approvals

Assembly Republican Press Release -

Three bills sponsored by Assemblyman Jay Webber that make government services more efficient and responsive to residents and businesses won approval in two Assembly Committees today.

Jay Webber

“We should always be challenging ourselves to make government more efficient and help the private sector be more productive,” said Webber, R-Morris, Essex and Passaic. “Doing things like cutting needless time from permitting processes and taking advantage of today’s technologies better serves taxpayers and businesses.

“That’s why I believe state agencies need to examine whether their current permitting processes are effective or should be updated,” explained Webber. “And providing real-time access to agency rulemaking information through the Internet is a no-brainer – we live in a knowledge-based economy and, like it or not, government actions can have huge effects on private sector decision making. Government needs to do its best to keep up with the pace of the information age and share important rulemaking developments on the web.”

Assemblyman Webber’s three bills include:

•A-3123 requires each department to review the permitting process and identify any rules or regulations that can be revised in order to improve and expedite the timelines of issuing permits. This bill was approved by the Commerce and Economic Development Committee.

•A-1898 requires the office of Legislative Services to provide certain notices and reports to legislators and legislative staff by electronic means only. The Assembly Regulatory Committee released this bill.

•A-2581 requires the Office of Administrative Law to maintain on its website, an up-to-date database that summarizes and identifies the number, nature, and status of all pending or proposed rule-making actions in the state. This bill was also approved by the Assembly Regulatory Committee.

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Webber Resolution Changes Assembly Rules After Members Were Marked Present Without Knowing It

Source: The Star-Ledger -

The state Assembly has changed its attendance rules, a few months after several lawmakers found out from The Star-Ledger that they were marked as present at the Statehouse on a Friday evening in July when they were nowhere near it.

Jay Webber

 

“When you have a citizen Legislature and need to do routine things like introduce bills so committees can hear them and debate them, it just seems like an anachronism to bring everybody down there and have a quorum. Let’s all just consent, either in person or by telephone, and they can go about their routine business.” – Assemblyman Jay Webber

 

A resolution (AR166) that was hastily introduced and immediately passed by a vote of 72-0 on Monday will allow members to use phones, email and possibly other devices to give their consent to be marked as present in order to form a quorum — or a majority of members — so they can conduct “routine business” like introducing bills or laying constitutional amendment resolutions on members’ desks.

“This resolution recognizes the current common use of communication equipment that did not exist in 1947 when the Constitution was adopted and provides clarity,” it reads. “It also maintains transparency in the legislative process and requires the direct consent of at least 41 members of the General Assembly, present within the State of New Jersey, for the conduct of routine business.”

Members who attend committee meetings at the Statehouse on quorum days will also be automatically considered present, without having to walk to their desks and press a button.

The resolution was sponsored by Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson) and Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-Morris), and came about two weeks after Webber introduced a similar resolution.

Webber had been one of 70 Assembly members who were marked as present in order to form a quorum at 5pm on July 11. But only one member — Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer) — actually showed up to the Assembly chamber that evening.

Webber and several other Assembly members called by The Star-Ledger that night said they had no idea they were marked present.

The quorum was necessary to get the clock ticking on a constitutionally-mandated 20-day waiting period for a proposed constitutional amendment to allow judges to deny bail to some defendants.

In a phone interview earlier this month, Webber said members should have to consent to be marked present, but requiring them to actually go to Trenton for the purpose is outdated.

“When you have a citizen Legislature and need to do routine things like introduce bills so committees can hear them and debate them, it just seems like an anachronism to bring everybody down there and have a quorum,” Webber said. “Let’s all just consent, either in person or by telephone, and they can go about their routine business.”

Assembly members will still have to be present to vote on legislation.

According to the resolution, the use of electronic equipment to attend a meeting is already permitted under the Open Public Meetings Act.

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Webber Resolution Offers Solution to Absentee Votes in Legislature

Source: Bergen Record -

New Jersey lawmakers who have staff and other elected officials cast votes for them in their absence are violating state Senate rules, according to a report from NBC New York.

The report shows several instances of votes being cast on behalf of senators who are not present in the room. The Senate’s rules state, “No Senator’s vote shall be recorded unless the Senator is present in the chamber,” according to NBC.

The full report can be found here.

The report is not the first time the issue of absentee voting has been raised.

Jay Webber

Assemblyman Jay Webber, R-Morris, introduced a resolution this month that would allow members to call in for quorums when they can’t make it to the State House on non-voting days. The measure would change the Assembly rules to let members to check in through telephone and electronic communication methods, allowing for the introduction of legislation and other measures even when there aren’t enough members physically present.

Webber introduced the resolution after Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, D-Mercer, was the lone lawmaker in the room for a Friday night quorum call in July that allowed the Legislature to put a constitutional amendment, which would let judges deny bail in some cases, on the November ballot. Although Gusciora was the only Assembly member present in the chambers, 70 lawmakers were marked present because their staff pushed the buttons for them.

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