Tag: Jay Webber

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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Bramnick, Webber, Carroll Comment on Override Attempt

Source: Bergen Record -

Six months ago, every Republican in the state Assembly voted for a bill that would have required more detailed reporting by the state about the long-term impact of its soaring debt. The bill passed unanimously.

But Governor Christie, a fellow Republican, vetoed the measure, calling any such debt analysis “highly speculative.”

“Once we do it, we jeopardize a whole host of issues. …These are very technical issues.” – Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick

On Monday, when the Democratic majority tried to override that veto — which would have been a first since Christie took office in 2010 — those same Republicans had a change of heart. Most abstained or didn’t vote at all — and the bill died.

Christie’s veto, and the GOP lawmakers’ decision not to challenge it, marks the second time this month that the administration has sought to minimize the public release of economic data while the state’s finances continue to be tenuous — with an unemployment rate that remains stubbornly higher than the national average and a series of downturns in the state’s credit rating.

It also comes at a time when Christie’s record is attracting wider attention on the national stage amid indications that he may seek the Republican nomination for president in 2016.

Christie has sought to make the case that his fiscal policies and reforms — such as requiring public employees to pay more for benefits and rebuffing Democrats’ attempts to raise taxes on the highest earners — have rescued the state from years of fiscal mismanagement under Democrats. But critics have said that the New Jersey economy could be an area of vulnerability if Christie does seek higher office.

The measure under consideration Monday would have required a series of 10-year forecasts from the Treasury Department to help make it easier to gauge the affordability of New Jersey’s borrowing, which totaled more than $40 billion as of the latest official report, ranking it fourth highest per capita among all states. Ten days ago, Treasury announced that it would no longer release as much detailed monthly information about how state tax collections are measuring up to budget projections.

And earlier this year, the administration delayed the release of the annual state debt report, which showed the largest increase in borrowing during Christie’s tenure.

On Monday, the Republicans said they were persuaded by a last-minute warning from the administration that the measure could lead to lawsuits from bondholders and potentially violate federal securities law. They declined to offer much in the way of specifics about that warning and Treasury did not respond to a request for details. A spokesman for the governor, who was attending political events in Wisconsin and Ohio on Monday, declined comment.

The Democrats, meanwhile, said they’re still in the dark.

Jon Bramnick

Moments before the bill was posted for a vote, Republican Leader Jon Bramnick, R-Union, urged sponsors to postpone the override vote.

“Once we do it, we jeopardize a whole host of issues,” Bramnick said. “These are very technical issues.”

Democrats, who control the Assembly by a 47-32 majority, needed only seven Republicans to stick with the bill for an override. But the final results were 45 in favor, 5 against, 23 abstentions and seven lawmakers recorded as “not voting.”

In his veto message Sept. 11, Christie had said the debt-reporting bill could result in the release of “highly speculative” information that could hurt the state’s bond rating, which has already been lowered by major ratings agencies this year. He said the current state debt reporting is sufficient, and added a promise that cutting borrowing and spending “will continue to be a primary focus of this administration.”

Jay Webber

Sponsor Jay Webber, R-Morris, was among the handful of Republicans who voted for the override. He said the information is important to get out, especially as lawmakers are expecting a new transportation spending plan from the administration that is likely to rely on more borrowing.

“I think it’s the right thing to do,” Webber said.

Michael Patrick Carroll

But Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll, R-Morris, said the best course was to hold off from voting until the technical issues could be addressed.

“It seems to be the appropriate thing to do would be for the administration to sit down with the sponsors and see if there isn’t some possibility of figuring out a reasonable compromise,” Carroll said.

Previous efforts to override Christie’s vetoes on bills to increase the income tax on the wealthy, legalize same-sex marriage and boost funding for women’s health clinics all failed. Environmental activists are also trying to rally enough votes for an override of a bill Christie vetoed in August that would ban the dumping of fracking waste in New Jersey.

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Republicans on Dems’ attempt to override Christie’s veto

Source: Star-Ledger -

Democrats who lead the Legislature have tried dozens of times to override Gov. Chris Christie’s vetoes of their bills — not once with success.

Jon Bramnick

But on Monday, Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick has his work cut out for him to keep that perfect record going, when Assembly leaders attempt to cancel out Christie’s veto of a bill that almost every Republican voted for, and many even co-sponsored.

An override would be a political embarrassment for Christie, and a sign of weakening influence.

At issue is legislation (A961) that would have required the state to prepare an annual “affordability analysis” that would estimate state revenues and debt for the next decade. The purpose, according to the bill, was to “enable a more fully informed fiscal policy discussion on the State’s long-term debt portfolio to ensure sufficient financial capacity for essential capital projects.”

The measure was not controversial. It passed 77-0 in the Senate and 40-0 in the Assembly. The only people who didn’t vote for it — three Republican assemblymen – were absent that day.

To override the bill, Democrats need 54 votes in the Assembly and, if that’s successful, 27 votes in the state Senate. There are currently 47 Democrats, 32 Republicans and one vacant seat in the Assembly. It’s up to Bramnick (R-Union) and his leadership team to make sure Democrats don’t get the seven votes they need from his side of the aisle.

“Any issues between the Republicans can be worked out. I’m convinced. There’s no doubt in my mind,” said Bramnick.

Christie, in his Sept. 11 veto message, said the bill would force a state commission “to produce a speculative report that would be of little value in making future debt determinations, but may adversely and erroneously affect the State’s bond rating.”

Christie said the current method, in which the New Jersey Commission on Capital Budgeting and Planning prepares a State Capital Improvement Plan that includes an assessment of the state’s ability to increase its debt, can “reliably account for the affordability of its present debt.”

The conservative group Americans for Prosperity on Thursday came out in favor of the veto override. The group is tied to David and Charles Koch, who potential Republican presidential candidates like Christie court because of their huge campaign donations –

“Americans for Prosperity sees no reason for Gov. Christie to resist efforts to, in effect, open the books and allow for a robust, transparent assessment of the state’s debt problems” wrote the group’s state director, Daryn Iwicki.

A spokesman for Christie declined to comment on the override attempt.

Of the bill’s 22 sponsors in the Assembly and Senate, nine are Republicans.

Bramnick said Democrats are trying to gain political advantage from the vote.

“The Democrats, nationally and locally, are going to do everything they can to put wedges between Republican legislators and the governor. Bridgegate failed, and now they’re trying to find differences in Republicans so they can capitalize on that,” Bramnick said. “They’re not going to be successful in driving a wedge between Republican members of the Legislature and this governor.”

But it’s clear that Bramnick has work to do to convince some of his colleagues. Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-Morris), who was a prime sponsor of the bill, declined to comment.

Assemblywoman Alison Littell McHose (R-Sussex), a co-sponsor, said she was undecided.

“I think we will have a spirited discussion in caucus on Monday,” she said.

Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon (R-Monmouth), who co-sponsored the bill but was absent the day it was voted on, said he also hadn’t made up his mind.

“There’s plenty of time to re-think if something’s a good idea when you vote on it, and the governor comes up with a good idea as to why it’s not,” he said.

Indeed, Democratic legislative leaders have attempted to override Christie’s vetoes dozens of times, but never with success – even on bills that had wide, bipartisan support. For instance, in January, 27 Republicans reversed their votes on a bill that would have created a task force to study full-day Kindergarten after Chrisite vetoed it.

Asked what wisdom the governor has that 120 lawmakers do not, O’Scanlon acknowledged that there are political elements to the refusal to override him as well.

“There certainly is a component. We’ve got a relationship with the governor. There are things that are more or less important to us,” O’Scanlon said. “A lot of times I think there’s a political component on the Democrats’ side as to what they put up that we should override. You want to put up something that we have real passion for? Let’s talk about that. But I think they purposefully put up things that they expect us to decide that it’s not important enough for us to override the governor.”

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Webber: For our Veterans, the ‘New Jersey Tuition Equality for America’s Military’ Act

Source: Bergen Record (Letter-to-the-editor by Asm. Jay Webber) -

Jay Webber

Dear Editor:

On Sept. 15, the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee released S-849, known as the “New Jersey Tuition Equality for America’s Military” Act (NJTEAM). The bill allows a military veteran who attends a public college or university in New Jersey to pay an in-state tuition rate.

I am proud to be the sponsor of the identical bill, A-2622, which is currently working its way through the General Assembly.

Many of our returning service men and women are looking for opportunities to build a career once they leave the military.

One of the avenues to pursue in that quest is continuing their education at a college or university in New Jersey. Offering in-state tuition at a public college to all American veterans can help them acquire the knowledge and skills today’s employers are seeking at a reasonable price.

These patriots answered the call to serve our country, and helping them obtain a degree gives them a better chance at obtaining a job. We want these men and women to come home to New Jersey, and express our gratitude to those who have contributed to our country’s security and have asked nothing in return.

The legislation has strong bipartisan support and I am confident the NJTEAM Act will pass both houses of the Legislature.

Jay Webber, assemblyman, R – Parsippany

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