Category: Clips

Carroll talks about minimum wage hike proposal

NJTV -

Leslie Roberson opened JNR Beauty Supplies in Hammonton three months ago. She employs six people part-time but can’t swing $15 an hour.

“Fifteen dollars? I couldn’t survive right now, doing that. Maybe in the future I could, but I’m a new business, so that’d be difficult to do right now,” she said.

Democratic lawmakers who want to push the state’s minimum wage up 80 percent to $15 an hour, would find few takers at this South Jersey Heartland business luncheon on creative marketing, sponsored by the Pascale Sykes Foundation.

“It certainly would have an impact on small and independent owned businesses, for sure. It is a delicate balance, though. Because when you look at the cost of living in New Jersey, in South Jersey, wages are low,” said Jim Donio.

But the managing director of Hammonton’s Eagle Theater says the town’s worked hard to grow its downtown.

Michael Patrick Carroll

“My thought is, if $15 is good, $20 is better,” said Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll.

So, Republican Carroll’s proposing a test: raise the minimum wage in five New Jersey counties for five years to $20 an hour. See what happens.

“Those are urban counties with a large number of relatively poor people and which could use the economic boost the left tells us results from minimum wage increases and we should test the theory and see if it works,” Carroll said.

Most business people say in this economy, nobody’s cup runneth over and a $15 per hour minimum wage would drain resources even further.

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Webber weighs in on equal pay bills

Burlington County Times -

New Jersey lawmakers advanced legislation Monday that would mandate all workers receive paid sick time, and two bills aimed at ensuring women receive equal pay on the job.

All three have received support from union and worker advocacy groups but have drawn opposition from business groups.

The pay equity bills would amend the state’s law against discrimination to prohibit unequal pay for “substantially similar” work, as well as extend the statute of limitations for unequal pay claims and require all government contractors in New Jersey to report employee gender and compensation information to the Department of Labor and Division of Civil Rights.

Another bill would require businesses seeking state contracts to also report employee gender and compensation information.

The proposed bills are supposed to boost transparency surrounding wages and also hold businesses accountable if they are found guilty of discrimination.

Jay Webber

Assemblyman Jay Webber, R-26th of Morris Plains, said the bills would only help plaintiff attorneys.

“My concern is that bills like this and others will hurt our economy more than they will help the gender pay equity issue you’re advancing. I fully support equal pay for equal work,” Webber said. “What I don’t support is an engraved invitation to the New Jersey plaintiffs bar — which is already very, very powerful and doing quite well — to make themselves even richer at the expense of small-business men and women, and in the end destroy jobs for men and women.”

Business groups have opposed the measure, claiming that it surpasses both federal law and discrimination case law, and that the reporting requirements would be a burden on small businesses and drive up costs for public contracts.

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Bramnick says comedian’s fake gun charges should be dropped

Source: Star-Ledger -

A state legislator believes charges should be dropped for Carlo Bellario, the actor/comedian facing up to five years in jail for having a fake gun while filming a movie in Woodbridge last year.

Assemblyman Jon Bramnick (R-Union) said he and Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union) are working on a bill that would give prosecutors more discretion in cases where there was no evidence of criminal intent. Bellario’s case — which is being handled by the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office — has not yet been decided.

Jon Bramnick

“This actor is shooting a movie with no criminal intent whatsoever … Common sense dictates that this guy should not be facing (jail),” Bramnick said, adding, “What happened to common sense?”

The bill is still being formulated, Bramnick said.

Jef Herringer, an attorney representing Bellario, also believes the case should be tossed. Herringer, who has also done legal work the pro gun-rights group the New Jersey Second Amendment Society, also said there needed to be a change in state law.

Bellario, 48, spoke to NJ Advance Media on Monday and said he hasn’t been given a court date or any information about a future hearing. He said he feels like he is “in limbo,” and feels anxious, considering the jail time he is facing.

“I took this too lightly,” Bellario said. “And then I said, ‘I got to get moving on this.”

Last year in November, Bellario, of Toms River, was filming a small, low-budget, independent film called Vendetta Games, in a residential neighborhood in Woodbridge.

The director of the movie had not acquired a permit. When officers arrived, Bellario was holding the prop gun. The cast of the movie had just finished filming a scene.

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DiMaio chastises Democrats over Assembly’s $190 million day

Soure: Save Jersey -

On Monday, Assemblyman John DiMaio (R-Warren, Hunterdon) let Democrats have it for proposing no less than nine separate spending bills on Assembly Appropriations Committee agenda for a single day while a paid sick leave measure cleared the State Senate.

John DiMaio

“Collectively these bills, if enacted, would cost New Jersey taxpayers more than $190 million,” said DiMaio, who serves as the Republican appropriations officer. “In fact, a single piece of legislation has a potential fiscal impact of $120 million.”

It’s all a part of a decidedly anti-business legislative agenda that’s off to a strong start in 2016.

Unsurprisingly, the pension and benefits numbers remain particular brutal and front-and-center on Republicans’ minds during the latest Democrat spending binge. New Jersey contributed $1.3 billion into the pension system this year and another $3.27 billion public employee health benefits. By 2022? $10.27 billion on pension and benefits. The Democratic-controlled Legislature’s constitutional amendment prioritizing the public employees benefits is therefore met with great trepidation among the opposition.

“With pension payments significantly going up each year, we’re spending money we don’t have,” added DiMaio. “We need to restrain ourselves from adding recurring costs to every budget when we should be taking the money and using it to help fund the pensions. Even dedicating all revenue growth to pensions or health benefits is not enough. New Jersey’s budget diet doesn’t need to add more spending; we need to cut it out.”

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Brown: Possibility of in-state casino competition already hurting AC

Source: APP.com – A key lawmaker pushing for casinos in northern New Jersey says the state could impose a tax rate of 40 to 60 percent on their winnings.

Assemblyman Ralph Caputo, a northern New Jersey Democrat, said Monday the exact tax rate will be negotiated and included in “enabling legislation.” Lawmakers have not committed to deciding details of that legislation before a proposed statewide referendum on north Jersey casinos in November…

Chris A. Brown

But state Senate president Steve Sweeney has said that tax rate should be lower than that in order to ensure that the new casinos can thrive financially, particularly with a requirement that owners of the new casinos spend at least $1 billion on their projects.

The exact tax rate that two new proposed northern New Jersey casinos would pay is one of several key details that lawmakers have not settled, even as they hurdle toward a statewide referendum on the question this November.

The second of two required public hearings for a referendum was held Monday in the state Assembly…

Assemblyman Chris Brown, an Atlantic City-area Republican, said revenue from the two new casinos will not make up for the additional loss of revenue from Atlantic City that the new casinos will cause.

“What you’re saying is in this oversaturated market, the answer is to add casinos to the market,” he told Caputo.

Brown said a threat last week by billionaire investor Carl Icahn to scrap a proposed $100 million investment into the Trump Taj Mahal casino if north Jersey casinos are approved shows that the possibility of in-state competition is already hurting Atlantic City.

“Doesn’t that just prove the point that the uncertainty in the market is what has been holding Atlantic City back?” he asked.

The referendum would ask voters whether to approve two casinos in separate counties at least 72 miles from Atlantic City. It does not specify where they would be built, but the two leading candidates are the Meadowlands, where the NFL’s New York Jets and Giants play, and in Jersey City, where footwear magnate Paul Fireman has proposed a casino resort costing up to $5 billion.

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Chris A. Brown discusses impact of north Jersey casinos on Atlantic City

Star Ledger -

It’s been a key question surrounding plans to expand casino gambling to the northern part of New Jersey: If voters approve the two new gambling halls, what tax rate would casino owners have to pay the state?

On Monday, one of the proposal’s leading advocates gave a hint. State Assemblyman Ralph Caputo (D-Essex) said at a public hearing on the plan that the state could impose a tax rate of 40 to 60 percent on the casinos’ revenue.

That’s much higher than the 9.25 percent tax rate that Atlantic City’s gambling halls pay.

State lawmakers are still considering a resolution that would put a question on the November ballot asked New Jersey voters to approve amending the state constitution to allow two casinos in the north.

Currently, only Atlantic City is allowed to offer casino gambling. But the Jersey Shore resort town — which has given millions of dollars in casino tax revenue to the state each year — has seen four of its 12 casinos close in the last two years amid ever-increasing competition from neighboring states. That has caused the city’s casino tax revenue to be cut in half.

Proponents say the north Jersey casino plan would allow New Jersey to stay competitive in the gaming market, while also creating thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in new revenue.

At the same time, it would give up to $200 million annual in tax revenue to Atlantic City to help offset the losses it would suffer from the expansion and remold the city as a more diverse entertainment destination.

Opponents of north Jersey casinos on Monday made a familiar argument against the expansion: that more Atlantic City casino may close and that New York could render the whole thing moot by opening a gambling hall within the next few years.

Chris A. Brown

“What you’re saying is in this oversaturated market, the answer is to add casinos to the market?” Assemblyman Chris A. Brown (R-Atlantic) asked Caputo at the hearing.

Brown also wondered how they money the plan would send to Atlantic City would actually help.

“Is it going to pave the roads so that the people who are unemployed can get out of town?” he asked.

Brown noted that last week, billionaire investor Carl Ichan said he would not make a proposed $100 million investment into the Trump Taj Mahal casino if the north Jersey plan is approved.

“Doesn’t that just prove the point that the uncertainty in the market is what has been holding Atlantic City back?” Brown asked.

But the tax rate is not included in the resolution. Leaders have said that would be figured out in later legislation.

Where the two casinos would be located has also not been established yet — though there are proposals to build a gambling hall at the Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, another at the American Dream complex in the Meadowlands, and a high-rise casino in Jersey City.

Jeff Gural, the Meadowlands Racetrack operator whose casino proposal is a partnership with Hard Rock International, has offered to pay a 55 percent tax rate.

 

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Slain Hillsdale child’s mom hopes for passage of Auth bill expanding Joan’s Law

Source: Excerpted from the Bergen Record -

Despite the loss she has endured in her life, Rosemarie D’Alessandro says optimism was the driving force behind her devotion to protecting children from the horrors her daughter faced more than 40 years ago.

The indefatigable D’Alessandro, of Hillsdale, is hoping that same optimism will help her accomplish one more goal – amending a bill she helped pass nearly two decades ago; the first step in the process could come as soon as today.

Her idealism was what helped her find the strength to start what is now a 20-year crusade to honor the memory of her 7-year-old daughter, Joan, who was raped and murdered by a neighbor as she sold Girl Scout cookies in 1973.

Her optimism and passion has paid off. In 1997 Gov. Christie Whitman signed “Joan’s Law,” which barred those convicted of murdering a child – under the age of 14 – in the course of committing a sex crime, from parole eligibility and a year later when President Bill Clinton signed a federal version of Joan’s Law. In 2004, New York passed a version.

For the past three years D’Alessandro has lobbied lawmakers to amend the original Joan’s Law to protect a wider range of children – specifically anyone under the age of 18.

Lawmakers confirmed the state Assembly is expected to vote today on releasing the amended bill from the Judiciary Committee, the first step toward making the amended bill a reality.

“It’s amazing,” D’Alessandro said Sunday afternoon at a fundraising event benefiting the organization she founded in memory of her daughter. “I feel like we are one step closer – and it’s an important step. It is on the radar now, and it wasn’t before.”

Last year, the amended version of the bill passed through the Assembly’s Judiciary Committee at the last minute but did not come to the floor for a full vote – forcing the bill to be reintroduced this session.

Robert Auth

Robert Auth

“This is not about me, I’m just a cog in the wheel,” said Assemblyman Robert Auth, R-Old Tappan and a bill sponsor. “This is about Rosemarie and her family and the trials and tribulations they had to go through. This is for her and anyone else who has to go through a situation like hers in the future.”

The bill did not make it through the Senate’s Judiciary Committee last session and the timing is still unclear on the Senate’s version of the bill.

Sen. Gerald Cardinale, R-Cresskill, a sponsor of the Senate’s companion bill that will need to go to a full vote before it can be considered to become law, said he hoped action in the Assembly would spur a vote for the bill in the Senate’s Judiciary Committee.

“I am optimistic,” Cardinale said in an email. “We are not under the same time constraints as last session. It unfortunately was late in session when it started moving.”

While D’Alessandro was disappointed in what occurred last session, she said on Sunday that she believes this session is when all of her hours of calling lawmakers and gaining support will bear fruit.

“The day the bill got a new number when it was reintroduced, I got a lottery ticket,” she said. “When I looked at the numbers the next day, the first number was 607 – the number of the bill. Because of that, it was a sign to me that the bill was going to get through this term.”

But even with her ultimate goal possibly on the horizon, that hasn’t stopped D’Alessandro from working hard to help protect children on a local level and raise awareness.

D’Alessandro hopes that the bill will move swiftly through both the Assembly and the Senate so the new bill could be signed by Governor Christie at the memorial sculpture and garden outside the Hillsdale train station in April, which is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

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O’Scanlon Bill Would Prohibit Using Ticket Numbers to Evaluate, Discipline Police

NJTV -

Police union officials claim “Shame Boards” list how many summonses each officer has issued. Even though New Jersey outlawed ticket quotas more than a decade ago, they say several departments across the state routinely list officers names and numbers and push so-called standards.

The Policemen’s Benevolent Association called cops to Trenton on Thursday to lobby lawmakers for a Senate bill that would restrict departments from using ticket standards to evaluate or discipline officers.

One document we obtained instructs, “Officers will choose their districts with assigned meal breaks each day based on their performance from the previous month (November). The officer with the highest daily average will select first … Report Completion, MV [motor vehicle] Stops, Arrests and Summonses will be used to formulate the selection order.”

Declan O'Scanlon

“We have one town where it’s blatant. It’s in their directive from the shift leader, that they’ve got to write this many tickets, and they’ll get benefits. They’ll get first choice of breaks. It really is now running rampant,” said Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon.

O’Scanlon is sponsoring the companion Assembly bill. He’s deeply critical of how some departments use ticket standards.

“Departments will use the number of arrests, number of citations to pit officer against officer is what essentially becomes a competition to get advancement, to get the best shift and other perks,” he said.

Documents from a different police department announces that a “…new evaluation standard will raise the minimum summonses required to receive a satisfactory rating in motor vehicle enforcement.”

“That is outrageous. That is a blatant ticket quota. They’re already breaking the law in existence today and it’s pretty disgusting,” O’Scanlon said.

Chief Raymond Hayducka a spokesperson for the New Jersey of Chiefs of Police Association stated, “How are Chiefs supposed to keep the roads safe if we can’t hold officers accountable that refuse to write summonses? We are opposed to any law that forbids a police supervisor from evaluating a police officer on their core function and duties.”

The PBA says when people complain about cops going on a ticket writing blitz at the end of the month, that’s possibly true. Senate sponsor Anthony Bucco says that has to stop. His bill was unanimously voted out of committee and heads to the full Senate for a vote.

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Ciattarelli on impact of raising minimum wage

Star Ledger – letter to editor by Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli – published March 4, 2016

Jack Ciattarelli

Poverty needs to be urgently addressed, especially in New Jersey.  Raising the minimum wage to $15, however, isn’t the answer.  Good public policy needs to be driven by data, not emotion.  This proposal is just another expedient and dangerous impulse from politicians.  

Yes, we need to lift full-time adult workers out of poverty, but this policy will have the opposite effect. Increasing the minimum wage by nearly 80 percent is cruel and unfair to the most unskilled and vulnerable workers, who ironically may lose their jobs if this policy is enacted. They count on entry-level jobs for training and upward mobility.

There are other consequences. With this kind of government-mandate, watch what happens to the price of food and gas.  And are we now saying that my 15-year old son who bags groceries and all those high school kids pumping gas should be paid the equivalent of $30,000 a year?

The sponsors suggest it is time for big business to ante up.  They forget that small companies – family owned, mom-and-pop shops – drive employment and that this proposal will have disastrous effects on their business.

What the sponsors also forget is that there’s a difference between a person’s wage and their total compensation, the latter of which includes benefits like health insurance and a pension.  Mandating a $15 minimum wage jeopardizes those benefits as well as very successful anti-poverty programs like the federal and state earned income tax credit.

Our economy works best when government mandates necessary, but thoughtful policy.  To move us forward, we need to stop pandering and get serious about solving our problems, and soon.

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Wage hike would halt growth – Op-ed by Assemblyman Joe Howarth

Courier Post op-ed by Assemblyman Joe Howarth -

Joe Howarth

Joe Howarth

If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. In this case, it’s the Democrats’ proposal to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour. After all, what legislator wouldn’t want to put more money in residents’ pockets?

The reality is the plan is unrealistic. A 79 percent minimum-wage increase will bring the state’s rebounding economic growth to a grinding halt.

Operating a small business in New Jersey is challenging enough as entrepreneurs struggle to compete in a state with a hostile tax environment and a regulatory system mired in red tape. The corporate tax rate, income tax rate, sales tax, unemployment insurance tax and property taxes make it extremely difficult to survive, much less, thrive. That’s reality.

Despite these obstacles, New Jersey’s 810,000 small-business owners employ the majority of the state’s private-sector workforce. They provided more than 1.7 million jobs in 2012, accounting for 50.5 percent of private sector employment, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Raise the minimum wage by another $6.62 an hour and businesses will be forced to either cut staff or leave the state. They simply cannot afford such an enormous pay increase for their employees.

South Jersey’s economy, whose base includes agriculture, tourism and the health care and education sectors, often lags behind the rest of the state. Since the Great Recession, however, our region has seen slow to modest, but steady, growth. Raising the minimum wage will not only negate any gains we have made, but set us back exponentially.

Farming in South Jersey, for example, is a very vital industry. Four of the top five counties that accounted for agricultural sales in 2012 were in South Jersey: Cumberland, Atlantic, Salem and Burlington.

In a recent article, the president of the New Jersey Farm Bureau said a $15 minimum wage “will increase operating costs for farming operations by nearly 80 percent across-the-board, something our industry can ill-afford if we expect to stay competitive with farmers in other states.”

It’s folly to think that the small-business owner can absorb such a significant hourly wage hike, but larger companies, especially in the cities, will feel the sting as well. The food industry is a useful barometer of minimum-wage policy. Our nation’s capital added 1,500 such jobs during the recession from 2008 to 2010, but a $2.25 per hour incremental hike in the minimum wage in 2014 and 2015 put the brakes on that job growth. The district’s restaurants added only 100 jobs last year.

The Seattle metropolitan area experienced a similar situation in its restaurant industry.

In 2015, Seattle started phasing in the first year of its $15-per-hour minimum-wage increase, raising it to $11 per hour. While it will take time to see its long-term effects, some of the short-term ramifications should give us some pause. From January to September, Seattle’s restaurant industry shed 700 jobs, its largest decline since 2009.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown threw her support behind a similar minimum-wage increase, in part, to discourage well-funded special-interest groups from putting it on the ballot in her state. As a result of opposition from both sides of the aisle and the business community, Brown scaled back her proposal to a statewide 50 cent-per-hour hike. Many cities have also cooled on minimum-wage hikes.

In Trenton, Democrats contend that such a massive hike is necessary to combat poverty and help low-wage workers support their families, yet numerous studies by labor economists have found no correlation between higher minimum wages and lower poverty.

The Heritage Foundation, a research and educational think tank, found that few minimum-wage workers are poor. The average minimum-wage worker lives in a family making more than $50,000 a year. Many are, in fact, teenagers or college students working part time. They are not trying to support themselves (or a family) with their income. Only one-ninth of the workers who would potentially benefit live in poverty. In fact, higher minimum-wages actually cost some workers their jobs.

Fearing they won’t get their way, Trenton Democrats said if Gov. Chris Christie vetoes the legislation, they will ask voters to amend the state constitution. The constitution is not a living and breathing document. Arbitrarily amending it is irresponsible and sets a dangerous precedent.

If Democrats are really concerned about fighting poverty, then let’s make New Jersey more affordable. Let’s start an honest discussion about reducing taxes, which is a sure way to grow the economy and create higher paying jobs.

Assemblyman Joe Howarth represents the 8th Legislative District, which includes parts of Burlington, Camden and Atlantic counties.

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