Category: Press Release

Simon-Ciattarelli Bill Helps Food Banks, Emergency Shelters Purchase Generators

Assembly Republican Press Release -

Emergency shelters and food banks will be eligible for zero-interest loans to purchase generators for use in a state of emergency under legislation Assembly Republicans Donna Simon and Jack Ciattarelli, both R-Somerset, Hunterdon, Mercer and Middlesex, sponsor. The bill, A-276, was released today by the Assembly Homeland Security and State Preparedness Committee.

Donna Simon

“It is imperative that shelters and food banks have the ability to operate despite the loss of power,” said Simon. “They provide vital services to people without a place to stay or access to food during an emergency situation. The opportunity to buy generators without paying interest is a huge benefit to these organizations with limited budgets and the people who depend on their services.”

Under the bill, the two-year pilot program will grant loans up to $25,000, which must be paid back within 10 years. It will be administered by the Office of Emergency Management.

Jack Ciattarelli

“One of the lessons learned from the catastrophic weather events over the last several years is the importance of maintaining key elements of our infrastructure,” said Ciattarelli. “Having a backup plan that maintains the supply of electricity to critical services is essential. Emergency shelters and food banks operate on shoestring budgets. Purchasing a backup generator is sound contingency planning and allows this vital assistance to continue without interruption.”

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O’Scanlon, Beck Call HUD Audit Recommendations Overly Onerous for Sandy Victims

Source: Republican Press Release -

Declan O'Scanlon

Senator Jennifer Beck and Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon today called the recommendations resulting from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s recent audit problematic. The HUD audit found that “the documentation required by the State’s policy did not fully demonstrate that homeowners occupied damaged residences as their primary residences at the time of the storm.”

“This is getting to be a little outrageous,” Beck (R-Monmouth) said. “The state requires a copy of the owner’s driver’s license and performs a title search along with a check of corroborating documents. I think these people have been through enough. Demanding a more onerous process to prove your residency is just adding another pointless layer of bureaucracy. HUD’s own audit found no instances of money going to the wrong people. So, what’s the problem?”

Beck and O’Scanlon’s districts cover the majority of coastal Monmouth County which was one of the hardest hit regions in state. HUD has suggested that New Jersey should check to see if property tax homestead exemptions have been filed on a property or requesting additional documentation.

“What our Sandy affected homeowners have already provided is enough and this recommended layer of redundant requests should not even be considered by the Attorney General’s office,” explained O’Scanlon. “I do understand the need to verify residency, I get that. But that has already been accomplished, we’re doing it right. These people have been through hell twice – once during the storm and one – very long trip – through the process to qualify for aid. To continue to make these redundant and ridiculous requests is excruciating for these folks and helps no one.”

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Casagrande Lauds Directive Allowing Sports Betting at Racetracks and Casinos

Assembly Republican Press Release -

Assembly Republican Caroline Casagrande, R-Monmouth, said the horse racing and casino industries now have an excellent chance to improve their revenues following Monday’s directive by the Attorney General that clarifies casinos and racetracks may operate sports betting at their facilities without facing criminal or civil liability.

Caroline Casagrande

“The governor’s actions give racing venues like Monmouth Park and the Meadowlands a significant chance to increase their revenues. Sports enthusiasts will be able to visit a race track, enjoy the entertainment it offers and place a wager on a sporting event taking place in another state. We know that sports wagering is already taking place. The directive creates a revenue source that enables New Jersey to compete with neighboring states for gaming dollars and will give a big financial boost to the casino and horseracing industries alike. The economic ripples will be far reaching, from preserving more farmland to employing more individuals in racing and gaming.”

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Dancer Measure Revamps Real Property Assessment Procedures

Source: Assembly Republican Press Release -

In his continuing effort to shrink the cost of government, Assembly Republican Ron Dancer introduced legislation to help municipalities and counties better administer real property assessment.

Ron Dancer

“It is very difficult for counties and municipalities to plan responsible budgets when tax appeals come into play so late, in many cases after budget adoptions. By moving up the tax appeal process earlier in the year, we will have a more accurate tax rate that reflects the true value of the tax base and a more certain source of revenue to fund the local budget,” says Dancer, R-Ocean, Burlington, Middlesex and Monmouth.

“By making the tax assessment system more cost effective and accurate, taxpayers receive their tax refunds or credits more timely,” continued Dancer. “The municipality would not have to borrow money to pay those refunds resulting in further taxpayer savings.”

The bill, A-3477, permits any county to adopt alternative real property tax assessment dates, moving the deadline for filing an assessment appeal ahead by 10 weeks, and allowing appeals to be heard three months earlier before budgets are finalized.

With the adoption of the alternative calendar dates, Dancer says, all appeals in a county would be completed before the local property tax rate is calculated. Under Dancer’s bill, appeals can be heard as early as February, rather than waiting until June or July.

“This is just a better way to handle appeals. With some adjustments to the appeal deadlines, we can reduce the costs associated by successful appeals by property owners. The benefits of wrapping up the appeals before the budget are substantial,” says Dancer.

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Simon: Students Deserve Equitable School Funding

Assembly Republican Press Release -

Noting that schools in the 16th legislative district receive 40 percent less than the state average in per pupil aid, Assemblywoman Donna Simon today said all New Jersey students deserve equitable school funding. She also advocates consolidating services which will further reduce costs for property taxpayers.

Donna Simon

“I represent three school districts that receive about $800 per pupil while some schools are given more than $20,000 per child. Those students are still receiving an inadequate education and are underperforming,” said Simon, R-Hunterdon, Somerset, Mercer and Middlesex. “The way we fund children’s education is broken and unfair to students. Trenton politicians need to take their heads out of the sand and work together to fix the system.”

Simon said last year’s merger of four Hunterdon County School districts, including Stockton, should serve as a model to other communities because of the benefits consolidation provides for taxpayers and students. She noted it’s a concept whose time has come.

“Efficiencies and a quality education can be achieved by regionalizing local services and consolidating school districts,” said Simon. “Students, parents and taxpayers all benefit from the synergies that result from such mergers. The Legislature needs to make school funding and consolidation a priority when it reconvenes this week.”

On average, New Jersey spends nearly $19,000 per pupil to educate its students. In Simon’s district, its 16 school districts receive on average $2,832 per pupil in state aid to help offset those costs.

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Dancer Bipartisan Bill Gives Towns and Counties the Authority to Control the Use of Official Seals

Source: Assembly Republican Press Release -

Ron Dancer

Assemblyman Ron Dancer is protecting New Jersey residents from misleading or fraudulent use of the official seals and flags of municipalities and counties with recently introduced bipartisan legislation.

“Federal law excludes towns and counties from the trademark protections enjoyed by private companies. It doesn’t make sense, but a government’s official seal can be misrepresented to mislead or confuse the public, and there’s nothing they can do about it,” says Dancer.

Dancer says his bill was prompted by the recent decision of a federal judge that a county cannot use trademark law to stop the use of its official seal by a local access television program.

The bipartisan legislation, A-3556, protects residents from fraud by eliminating the loophole, allowing municipalities and counties to control the use of, and defend the integrity of, their official seal.

“Municipalities and counties should have that control,” says Dancer, R-Ocean, Burlington, Middlesex and Monmouth. “My measure gives them the authority to regulate the use of their seal to prevent the unsuspecting public from getting the wrong message and being deceived.”

The bill also establishes a monetary penalty for any person who violates the new regulations.

“When people see an official seal, they should be confident it is being used in an official governmental capacity,” Dancer says. “The seal should be trusted and carry the same credibility and weight as a trademark.”

The bipartisan legislation is also sponsored by Democrat Assemblywoman Annette Quijano.

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Fiocchi: We Need to Focus on Job Creation

Source: Assembly Republican Press Release -

Sam Fiocchi

Sam Fiocchi

Assemblyman Sam Fiocchi, in response to the District 1 Democrats’ press conference today, issued the following statement:

“I meet hardworking families everyday who struggle to make ends meet. Creating decent paying job opportunities for middle-class families remains my top priority. That is why I volunteered to serve on the Task Force three months ago and am still willing to serve.

“The public rightfully expects their legislators to put aside party differences and do what’s right. I will continue to use my experience to work with anyone to find solutions that help local families.”

Fiocchi, who successfully operated a family business in the district for nearly four decades, has already been holding round table discussions with local business and community leaders. Last week Fiocchi hosted more than 40 businesses at a roundtable discussion on cutting red tape. (Attached is a copy of Assemblyman Fiocchi’s May 22nd Letter to Senate President Sweeney.)

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O’Scanlon applauds Pohatcong leadership in sending message to companies peddling speed cameras

Source: Assembly Republican Press Release -

Declan O'Scanlon

Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon (R-Monmouth) today enthusiastically applauded Pohatcong Township’s stance on speed cameras. Pohatcong Township Mayor James Kern believes that speed cameras would be a mistake given the problems the red-light cameras are already causing. Tonight, he is pushing for an ordinance that would prohibit the cameras for speed-enforcement use within the township.

Recently Assemblyman John Wisniewski, Chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee, suggested he would not only consider renewing the red-light camera program but expanding it to include automated speed ticketing cameras.

“Mayor Kern is sending exactly the right message,” said O’Scanlon. “We have been through the red light camera nightmare – which Pohatcong initially embraced. The Pohatcong officials found out what honest host communities invariably find – the cameras provide no safety benefit. They do enrich the companies that operate them. The red light camera program looks like it will die a merciful death in December. Extending it, or even worse expanding it and adding speed cameras, would be a huge mistake. Our taxpayers would be the losers.”

“The comments from Assemblyman Wisniewski about not only continuing the red light pilot program but expanding it to include speeding citations show a major disconnect from reality,” said Mayor James Kern. “The pilot program has showed that aside from all the errors and glitches, driver behavior is not changing. I can only imagine the problems with an automated speed ticketing program.”

In Maryland more than 10 percent of photo-enforcement tickets were issued in error, and 26 percent were deemed “questionable,” according to a Baltimore City audit. While in Philadelphia problems with the camera’s timing caused the refunding or dismissal of over 4,000 tickets. The District of Columbia found issues with inclement weather caused false positives by the camera resulting in more than 400 refunds to drivers. Most comically, in Maryland, a car was issued a speeding ticket for exceeding the limit by 13 mph. The problem? The car was parked at the time it was ticketed.

“Pohatcong, a town that initially embraced red light cameras, sending the ‘no speed camera message’ is particularly significant,” said O’Scanlon. “These folks have had first hand knowledge of the deceptive tactics employed by automated enforcement companies. If the Pohatcong folks say we shouldn’t believe them, that they blatantly misrepresent what their products do, and that other towns shouldn’t get into bed with them, then we all should listen to that message born from experience.”

“In the event this program is extended, I will make sure that Pohatcong will not have cameras issuing speeding tickets,” Mayor Kern stated. “I will be introducing an ordinance tonight to have speed cameras prohibited which should take effect by the end of September. Ultimately, our Township Council will have to approve this proposal but I am optimistic they will.”

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Dancer Bill Aims To Prevent Child Deaths In Hot Cars

Source: Assembly Republican Press Release -

Assemblyman Ron Dancer, R-Ocean, Burlington, Middlesex and Monmouth is protecting young children and preventing tragedies with legislation he introduced that increases penalties for adults who leave a child unattended in a car.

Ron Dancer

“Every summer we hear of more unattended young children dying in overheated cars. These are preventable deaths and people need to be aware of the dangers and new criminal penalties. Even on a mild day, the temperature inside a car parked in the sun can increase by 20 degrees in an hour, every hour,” said Dancer.

Dancer noted that in the last two years, almost 70 children died in hot cars, including 44 in 2013 alone.

“My bill is intended to provide a deterrent to parents and care-providers who forget about the life-threatening dangers of leaving young children unsupervised in locked vehicles,” said Dancer. “Law Enforcement Officers will also be authorized to use whatever means are reasonably necessary to protect and remove the child from the vehicle and not be held liable in any civil action.”

Under Dancer’s bill, A-3604, leaving a child under 6 years old unattended in a vehicle would be subject to a $500 fine, and if the child is injured as a result, the charge would be a third degree crime, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $15,000 fine.

If the child was injured seriously or killed, the charge is a second degree crime, with a fine up to $150,000 and as long as 10 years behind bars.

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Fiocchi, Business Leaders Tackle Red Tape Issues

Press Release – In Vineland today, Assemblyman Sam Fiocchi met with 40 area business owners to discuss way to improve the state’s regulatory environment. Fiocchi was joined by Assembly Republican Whip Scott Rumana, a member of Gov. Christie’s Red Tape Review Commission (RTRC).

The event, which took place at Cumberland County College, featured several business owners concerned about the burdensome red tape and government mandates that hamper job creation and investment.

Sam Fiocchi

Sam Fiocchi

“Instead of more bureaucracy and more red tape, we need to create an environment that nurtures businesses to grow and thrive,” said Fiocchi, R-Cumberland, Cape May and Atlantic. “We don’t want to wait for industries to come to us. We want to go to them and stay connected. Our main goal is to create more jobs and grow South Jersey’s economy.”

Fiocchi said he asked Rumana to join him for today’s meeting because as a RTRC member, he will be able to directly share the business owners’ input with the commission. Rumana has had several bills signed into law that eliminate unnecessary red tape and encourages entrepreneurs to create jobs.

“New Jersey’s regulatory culture is changing,” said Rumana, R-Passaic, Bergen, Essex and Morris. “We continue to make substantial progress in reducing onerous and burdensome red tape. By streamlining business-to-government interaction, we are creating a more hospitable climate for business. We still have more work to do, but as a small business owner, I know Sam understands the business community’s frustrations. They couldn’t ask for a better advocate in Trenton.”

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