Category: Press Release

Ciattarelli “Swatting” Bill Receives Assembly Approval

Press Release – Legislation Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli co-sponsors with Assembly Democrats increasing penalties for making a false public alarm was approved by the General Assembly today. Numerous false alarms have been called into law enforcement resulting in the deployment of emergency responders, including the Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT). “Swatting” is the common term used to describe the crime of calling in such false alarms.

Jack Ciattarelli

“Emergency responders can’t wait until they can confirm there is a legitimate threat to public safety,” said Ciattarelli, R-Somerset, Hunterdon, Mercer and Middlesex. “They arrive at the scene prepared for any situation. Swatting calls are occurring far too often and are a threat to public safety.

“Schools, malls and private residences are the targets of misguided people who think this is a harmless prank. Unnecessarily deploying emergency responders diverts their attention from a timely response to a real emergency,” he continued. “Time spent verifying a false alarm and the diversion of manpower is a real danger. Upgrading the penalties sends a message of the seriousness of the offense and that such hoaxes have serious consequences. I am happy to work in a bipartisan manner to advance this important legislation.”

The bill, A-4375, upgrades swatting from a third degree to second degree crime; which carries a 5-10 year prison term, a fine of up to $150,000, or both. Convicted individuals may also be assessed a civil penalty of $2,000 or the actual costs incurred by law enforcement and emergency services that respond to the false alarm.

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Rible Bill Requiring 9-1-1 Centers to Accept Emergency Texts Passes Assembly

Press Release – Legislation Assembly Republican Conference Leader David Rible sponsors to allow cell phone users to text 9-1-1 emergency messages today won General Assembly approval.

Dave Rible

“Time is crucial in an emergency. A matter of minutes can mean the difference between life and death,” said Rible, R-Monmouth and Ocean, a former police officer. “With so many people today owning cell phones, it’s only logical that 9-1-1 centers should be equipped to handle emergency texts. If an intruder is in your house, texting for help is probably the safest means of notifying emergency personnel of your situation.”

Rible’s bill, A-3461/3544, ensures that New Jersey’s 9-1-1 centers be equipped with a “Next Generation” 9-1-1 system that can receive emergency messages via electronics and text within three years of enactment. “Next Generation” is a system that processes electronic messages, including text, images, video or data. The measure also requires the system to be consistent with federal law, and increases the monthly 9-1-1 fee by only nine cents per month to fund it. The fee will expire in three years.

The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) has made Text 9-1-1 available nationwide by requiring all U.S. wireless carriers to support 9-1-1 text messaging. The wireless carriers must be able to respond to state programs to deliver text messages by June 30, 2015.

The bill was previously approved by the Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee and Assembly Appropriations Committee.

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Dancer Bill Banning Sale of Powdered Alcohol Advances

Press Release – A measure (A-3580/S-2846) Assemblyman Ron Dancer sponsors that bans the sale of powdered alcohol in New Jersey was approved by the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee today. Powdered alcohol, commonly known as Palcohol, was approved for sale by the Federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau in March.

Ron Dancer

“This is not like mixing Kool Aid or iced tea,” stated Dancer, R-Ocean, Monmouth, Burlington and Middlesex. “Mixing multiple packs can lead to an overdose or be fatal. The health risks from abuse at sporting events or in public far outweigh the convenience of carrying small packets that only need to be mixed with six ounces of water.

“The opportunity to illegally obtain this product is a major concern, especially for our youth. It poses another challenge in our colleges and schools,” explained Dancer. “The sale of this product is inviting another form of addiction.”

South Carolina, Louisiana, Vermont and four other states have already banned the sale of powdered alcohol which is expected to be available for purchase this summer.

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Senate Committee Advances Dancer Bee Bill Package

Press Release – Three bills Assemblyman Ron Dancer sponsors that are designed to protect the state’s commercial and recreational bee industry and heighten public awareness about its importance to our food supply today cleared the Senate Economic Growth Committee.

According to the state Department of Agriculture, more than 80 percent of U.S. food crops are pollinated by honeybees. In New Jersey, pollination is crucial for its blueberry, cranberry, pumpkin, squash, strawberry, peach and apple crops.

Ron Dancer

“People have an inherent fear of bees due to a lack of understanding about the various species of bees, their behavior and their importance to agriculture,” stated Dancer, R-Ocean, Burlington, Middlesex and Monmouth. “These measures are an attempt to educate the public about the importance of bees to our food chain, provide additional protections to commercial and hobbyist beekeepers and encourage residents to support beekeepers.”

Bill A-1294/S-1328 extends” Right to Farm” protections to commercial beekeepers to protect them from nuisance complaints. Currently, if a complaint is filed, the case is referred to a municipal court which can be time consuming and costly. In addition, prosecutors and judges usually have little understanding of the industry. Under this measure, such complaints would be referred to a county agricultural board which better understands issues involving beekeeping.

Dancer’s second bill, A-1295/S-1975, protects hobbyist beekeepers by authorizing the state to regulate the keeping of beehives while at the same time giving municipalities a role in managing this growing hobby. It also requires the state to prepare best management practices for hobbyist beekeepers. Beekeeping as a hobby is gaining popularity in New Jersey in both urban and suburban areas, but because the general public and local officials know very little about the hobby, some municipalities are attempting to ban beehives.

The third bill, A-1296/S-2302, establishes a fine of up to $500 for each offense when an individual intentionally destroys a man-made native bee hive. A native bee is native to the state and, unlike a honeybee, does not produce honey, but provides for the pollination of crops and plants.

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Handlin on U.S. Senators’ Request for $100M for Security at National Conventions: Are You Kidding?

Assembly Republican Press Release -

Amy Handlin

Deputy Assembly Republican Leader Amy Handlin today said she is outraged by the request of two U.S. senators who are asking for $100 million from the Justice Department’s grant program for security during next year’s national conventions. Democratic Sens. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and Sherrod Brown of Ohio asked the Appropriations Committee for the additional monies which would be divided equally between the two conventions.

“The public should be horrified that their tax dollars could be going to a bunch of politicians so they can have a party. At a time when our country faces so many important issues, it is hard for taxpayers to understand how an extra $100 million can be appropriated for this purpose,” said Handlin, R-Monmouth. “We have health care issues, Medicaid problems, inadequate services for veterans, a crumbling road infrastructure and insufficient grants for scientific research at our universities. All of these areas are far more deserving of federal funding. With all due respect to the critical role conventions play in the democratic process, the parties can – or should – accomplish their goals at their own expense.”

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Peterson Calls for Special Session to Address Pension Reforms

Assembly Republican Press Release -

Erik Peterson

Assemblyman Erik Peterson, R-Hunterdon, Warren and Somerset, reiterated his call for the Legislature to hold a special session to address additional pension reforms. Peterson said after Tuesday’s Supreme Court decision the Legislature needs to make this issue its top priority.

“It’s time to get serious about fixing the pension system and the only way to do that is with a special session focusing on this issue,” said Peterson, who has called for a special session twice before. “This issue can only be resolved by ending the delays and finger pointing,” continued Peterson. “Everyone, including taxpayers and public employees have a vested interest in pension reform.

“The Democrats are already talking about increasing taxes,” continued Peterson. “But to tax their way out, they would need to increase the sales tax to 10 percent or increase income taxes by 29 percent. If we hold a special session, we could take a hard look at the budget and decide what can be cut to make up the revenue.”

Below is the link to the recommendations made by the bipartisan New Jersey Pension and Health Benefit Study Commission which will help resolve the state’s pension issue:

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

 

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Dancer Bills Make Public Safety Priority When New Pipelines are Proposed

Source: Assembly Republican Press Release -

Assembly Republican Ron Dancer introduced a package of three bills to protect residents and communities from the potential dangers of natural gas pipelines. The first bill includes the public in the process, and two bills pertain to running gas main routes through communities and towns.

Ron Dancer

“We can’t be too cautious when pipelines are being run through the most densely populated state in the country,” said Dancer, R – Ocean, Burlington, Middlesex and Monmouth. “I have proposed some common-sense safeguards that will alleviate risk and calm some of the fears associated with potentially explosive pipelines.”

Dancer represents Legislative District 12, which would be heavily impacted by New Jersey Natural Gas’ planned $130 million pipeline. The new transmission line would carve through Chesterfield, North Hanover, Upper Freehold, Plumsted and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.

The Assemblyman sponsors a bill (A-4501) amending the Open Meetings Act and requiring the Board of Public Utilities (BPU) to hear public comment during open meetings. Under current law there is no requirement for public comment.

“One thing the public deserves is more participation in the process,” said Dancer. “People should have their say, and questions answered. They should have a role in the conversation, especially when the discussion is about a 300 psi high-pressure natural gas transmission pipeline, which is one of the highest pressurized intrastate gas mains to ever be installed in New Jersey.”

A-4503 enhances safety, requiring a 100-foot buffer between a pipeline and occupied structures.

“We shouldn’t be compromising public safety. As a matter of fact, this 100-foot buffer is BPU’s current regulation for public safety, but because it is a regulation, utilities can just request a waiver,” said Dancer. He explained that New Jersey Natural Gas’ application to BPU includes an application for relief from the 100-foot restriction.

“The safety of our residents should not be up for negotiation in an application. By making BPU’s own safety regs the law, my bill makes public safety a priority,” said Dancer.

A-4455 requires gas companies to utilize existing utility right-of-ways whenever possible eliminating the need to disrupt communities and towns for new routes.

Dancer said, “With the cooperation of providers, a new gas main route could follow the established right-of-way of existing electric transmission lines. It makes more sense than tearing through neighborhoods and interfering with traffic and school bus route stops in front of homes and gas lines under construction.”

Under the bill, utility companies must demonstrate to BPU that they have exhausted efforts to find a suitable location along an existing utility corridor before BPU approves a new right-of-way through another community.

“We recognize that the installation of utilities and gas lines are necessary and essential to homes, businesses and the state’s economy, however the proliferation of pipelines outside of existing utility right-of-way corridors is making New Jersey the Pipeline Capitol of the Northeast,” said Dancer.

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Simon Statement on Pension Ruling

Donna Simon

Assembly Republican Press Release -

Assemblywoman Donna Simon, R-Somerset, Hunterdon, Mercer and Middlesex, issued the following statement after the state Supreme Court ruled the government is not required to make additional contributions to the public employee pension system:

“The court’s ruling affirms the only way to solve this systemic problem is by working together. If half the energy was spent on a solution rather than politics, we’d have a good start. It is time for all interested parties to work with the Legislature and the governor to address the short and long-term pension fund issues, healthcare costs, fair school funding and ways to reduce spending to get New Jersey on the right track.”

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Bramnick Statement on Supreme Court Pension Ruling

Assembly Republican Press Release -

Jon Bramnick

Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick, R-Union, Morris and Somerset, issued the following statement after the state Supreme Court ruled the government is not required to make additional contributions to the public employee pension system:

“The Supreme Court decision was one of common sense. The Legislature and the governor can now begin to work on reforms to save the pension system. We must recognize the need to fix our system as stated in the findings of the bipartisan blue ribbon panel.”

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Senate Panel Approves Space and McHose Bill Increasing Funding Access for Small Businesses

Source: Assembly Republican Press Release -

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Republicans Parker Space and Alison Littell McHose making it easier for new and growing small businesses to find funding was approved Monday by the Senate Commerce Committee.

Under A-2073, which passed the General Assembly in March, small businesses can find investors to provide capital through a process known as crowdfunding to help them grow and create jobs. In crowdfunding, a start-up venture would publish information on its proposed business and invite potential small investors to offer capital. Once pledges for a project reach a predetermined threshold, the businesses would move forward.

Alison Littell McHose

“Difficulty accessing capital is one of the most difficult barriers to innovation our entrepreneurs face,” said McHose, R – Sussex, Warren and Morris. “Crowdfunding is one more source in the capital toolbox for business to access. It is a valuable way for the community to engage with and invest in local technology breakthroughs.”

This legislation is a version of the federal Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act, commonly referred to as the JOBS Act, which was championed by Congressman Scott Garrett (R-5). Parts of this law have yet to be implemented, leading to the introduction of the New Jersey version.

Parker Space

“This will help entrepreneurs star their own business, create jobs, and achieve their American Dream,” said Space, R-Sussex, Warren and Morris. “It’s an excellent way to develop a market for businesses while reducing the risk for investors. The bill significantly expands the pool of possible investors.”

State sponsored crowdfunding initiatives have proven successful in several states, including Georgia and Kansas.

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