Tag: Caroline Casagrande

Casagrande Receives 2014 Child Advocate of the Year Award from NJ Alliance for Children, Youth & Families

Source: Assembly Republican Press Release -

Assistant Republican Leader Caroline Casagrande, R-Monmouth, was honored today by the New Jersey Alliance for Children, Youth & Families (NJACYF) as its “Child Advocate of the Year.” “Casagrande was nominated by NJACYF member Collier Youth Services, located in Wickatunk, NJ for her advocacy on their behalf.

Caroline Casagrande

“I am humbled and honored by this recognition,” said Casagrande at today’s event in Trenton, where she received the prestigious award. “All the NJACYF members should be acknowledged for their tireless efforts, working in the trenches, and fighting to make our society a better place for our children and families. Too often, their work goes unnoticed.

“Each child we reach at an early age reaps measureable benefits down the road for every New Jersey resident” continued Casagrande. “I am proud to advocate on behalf of organizations like Collier who are on the front lines of saving our kids.”

NJACYF is an advocacy and support organization that assists children, families and individuals who are facing emotional, behavioral, or developmental disabilities as well as those with substance abuse disorders. Its member organizations are committed to providing services that give stability and comfort to all people experiencing these challenges.

“Assemblywoman Casagrande has been very supportive of Collier’s mission and services,” said Paul DeSantis, Director of Residential Programs at Collier. “She gets it!” Their facilities include a middle school, high school and group homes for teenage and young women.

The NJACF says Casagrande is “truly a champion for women and children.”

Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande with the 2014 Child Advocate of the Year Award from the New Jersey Alliance for Children, Youth and Families.

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O’Scanlon: Power to the people with initiative and referendum

Source: The Times of Trenton -

Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon (R-Monmouth) wants to persuade the New Jersey Legislature to do something it never has done and has demonstrated no desire to do.

He wants it to transfer a small portion of its power to the people.

O’Scanlon is a prime sponsor of Assembly Concurrent Resolution 67, a constitutional amendment that would allow voters to initiate laws and amendments by petition and enact them by referendum, or repeal existing laws the same way.

He knows it’s not going to pass anytime soon, especially in a Legislature controlled by Democrats, who are even more hostile than his fellow Republicans to the idea of initiative and referendum.

He believes it would take an as-yet invisible “public groundswell” just to get his bill out of committee and onto the Assembly floor for a vote.

Declan O'Scanlon

“But sometimes there are events we don’t see coming” that animate the public, he told me. “I want to be ready if that occurs.”

Besides being an optimist, O’Scanlon is a bit of an independent spirit.

He was one of only three Assembly Republicans who announced their intention to defy party policy by voting to override Gov. Chris Christie’s veto of the same-sex marriage bill, before the New Jersey courts made the issue academic by finding marriage equality to be a state constitutional guarantee.

Twenty-four other states have I&R in some form, and their voters have used it to bypass their elected lawmakers and establish new public policies on many issues.

New Jersey can’t do that, and never has come within hailing distance of allowing it.

Promises have been made and broken, though.

In 1991, Republicans who pledged to enact I&R were swept into control of the Legislature when the voters rebelled against Gov. Jim Florio’s tax hikes. Once in command, the party had second thoughts and reneged.

Gov. Christie, in his first campaign for governor in 2009, spoke eloquently in favor of I&R and vowed to make its enactment “a top priority” if he was elected. He was, but he didn’t.

It’s a weakness of self-government in New Jersey that many things shown by polls to be favored by a majority of the people never get done because there’s no incentive for the Legislature and governor to do them.

They’re strongly opposed by influential special interests, or they would eliminate perks enjoyed by the legislators themselves, or they simply seem too risky politically. And lawmakers know that voters, as a rule, are disinclined to replace their representatives because they disagree with them on one or two or even a dozen specific issues.

With I&R unavailable, the lawmaking process is a closed loop, with no way for ordinary citizens to break in. It’s a kind of Catch-22: The citizens will continue to be excluded until there’s a change in the constitution — but the constitution can’t be changed unless the Legislature acts to change it.

ACR67, co-sponsored by Assembly members Caroline Casagrande (R-Monmouth) and Donna Simon (R-Somerset), who represents Princeton, is a vehicle for that change.

It would give citizens advocating a new law or the repeal of an existing law at least one year to obtain petition signatures of registered voters equal to at least 6 percent of the number of votes cast statewide for governor in the last gubernatorial election.

For a constitutional amendment, the requirement would be 10 percent. These percentage thresholds would also have to be met in four defined regions: northwest, northeast, central and southern New Jersey.

Once the petitions were certified as valid, the Legislature and governor would have up to two months to approve the proposed law or erase the statute that was targeted for repeal. If they failed to act, the proposal would be put to a statewide referendum as written.

ACR67 would allow New Jersey voters to weigh in on a variety of policy proposals that the Legislature won’t touch. Among the possibilities, they could overhaul a tax system under which the property tax funds one-half the costs of government, far more than the national average.

Or ban pay-to-play public contracting at the local government level, where state law presently doesn’t apply.

Or require the Senate to confirm or reject nominations by the governor within a reasonable time, putting an end to senatorial courtesy, under which a lone senator can keep a nominee in limbo forever.

Or implement a badly needed code of ethics for officials and employees of local governments.

Or prohibit the “wheeling” of political campaign funds from one county to another by parties to avoid local contribution limits.

Or establish a truly nonpartisan method of redrawing legislative and congressional districts after every federal census, so that voters can choose their representatives, rather than the other way around.

Or rewrite the laws on marijuana possession by decriminalizing it or, as Colorado and Washington voters have done, legalizing it outright.

Or provide a “death with dignity” law that gives terminally ill patients the option of assisted suicide, as happened through I&R in Oregon and, again, Washington.

Opportunities such as those don’t exist here today. They’ll have to wait for that groundswell Assemblyman O’Scanlon is hoping to see.

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Handlin & Casagrande Laud BPU Staff Recommendation that JCP&L Lower Rates

Source: Assembly Republican Press Release -

Assembly Republicans Amy Handlin and Caroline Casagrande (both R-Monmouth), who have staunchly opposed a 4.5 percent rate hike proposal by JCP&L, applauded Wednesday’s recommendation by the Board of Public Utilities (BPU) staff that the utility company lower its rates by $207 million because the company earned a profit above its approved amount. The rate case request is not officially complete as the four BPU commissioners will make the final decision.

Last spring, Handlin and Casagrande initiated a grass roots petition drive that gave ratepayers an opportunity to express their displeasure with the proposed hike because of the unanswered allegation by the Division of Rate Counsel that JCP&L earned more in profits than legally allowed while allowing its infrastructure to deteriorate. In April, Casagrande and Handlin submitted a petition with 1,500 signatures at a BPU public hearing in Freehold. The legislators are most appreciative of all who took time to sign the petition.

Amy Handlin

“The BPU staff recommendation sends a clear message that JCP&L is accountable to ratepayers for the service they provide and profits they earn,” said Handlin. “The lack of reliable service by this utility is well-chronicled. Customers have every reason to expect improvements and that routine maintenance is conducted to protect this valuable commodity. Ratepayers are just as important as shareholders.”

Caroline Casagrande

“As we were the first to point out to anyone who would listen, JCP&L was overcharging its customers and sending profits to its corporate headquarters” stated Casagrande. “This BPU recommendation is clear vindication of our efforts on behalf of JCP&L customers, many of whom were without power for weeks following Superstorm Sandy. We must continue to keep the pressure on to ensure that the BPU implements the staff’s recommendations.”

If approved, ratepayers will actually see lower monthly bills as opposed to the estimated $7 per month increase proposed by the utility.

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Casagrande-Handlin Law bans specific type of bonus for superintendents

Source: Tri-Town News -

Legislation sponsored by state Assemblywomen Caroline Casagrande and Amy Handlin (R-Monmouth) regarding certain superintendent bonuses was recently signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie.

The law bans bonuses from being given to school superintendents based on reducing the number of special needs students who are placed in out-of-district educational facilities.

Caroline Casagrande

“It is inappropriate to ever tie a superintendent’s compensation to where a child attends school,” Casagrande said. “I am proud that New Jersey is taking a stand on behalf of our special needs students and their families.”

The bill, A3997 (S3076), was introduced after officials in some school districts had begun awarding bonuses for reducing the number of students being placed in out-ofdistrict facilities. The bill received unanimous support in the Assembly on June 20, 2013, according to a press release.

Amy Handlin

“Exploring constructive and achievable approaches to educating youngsters with special needs should be what motivates an educator, not figuring out a way to obtain an additional perk,” Handlin said.

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Gov. Christie Signs DeCroce and Casagrande’s ‘Autumn Joy Stillbirth Research Act’

Source: Assembly Republican Press Release -

The “Autumn Joy Stillbirth Research and Dignity Act,” sponsored by Assemblywomen BettyLou DeCroce and Caroline Casagrande, has been signed into law by Gov. Christie.

BettyLou DeCroce

“With the guidelines that will be established, we will provide effective tools to help medical professionals and staff provide sensitive and compassionate care following the loss of a child in stillbirth,” said DeCroce, R-Essex, Morris and Passaic. “Families grieving and struggling after a stillborn loss are especially vulnerable, and skilled care is crucial.”

The new law calls on the Department of Health to create a database for stillbirth research and to develop protocols for stillbirths and to create a database for stillbirth research. It requires the development of policies to ensure that families experiencing a stillbirth receive psychological and emotional support.

Caroline Casagrande

“An entire family is impacted by the stillbirth loss of a child,” says Casagrande, R-Monmouth. “This new law will better prepare medical workers to care for, and comfort, mothers and fathers struggling with the emotional and psychological trauma of that loss. In addition, establishing a comprehensive research database could ultimately provide clues for the prevention of stillbirths in the future.”

DeCroce and Casagrande’s bill is named in honor of Autumn Joy Vijayvergiya, a baby who was stillborn in New Jersey in 2011.

Approximately one in every 160 pregnancies in the U.S. ends in stillbirth, or 26,000 each year.

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NJ law bars some bonuses

Source: The Daily Journal -

No more tying money to school placement

Gov. Chris Christie has signed into law a bill that bans bonuses to school superintendents for reducing the number of special-needs students who are placed in out-of-district programs.

Caroline Casagrande

“It is inappropriate to ever tie a superintendent’s compensation to where a child attends school,” bill sponsor Assemblywomen Caroline Casagrande, R-Monmouth, said. “I am proud that New Jersey is taking a stand on behalf of our special-needs students and their families.”

Freehold Regional High School District paid its superintendent, Charles Sampson, a bonus of $5,910 in the 2011-12 school year for reducing the number of students sent to out-of-district special education programs. The bonus was on top of Sampson’s $177,500 annual salary. Middletown Schools Superintendent William George received a bonus of $899 for the 2011-12 school year for reducing tuition costs for out-of-district placement of special-needs students, and $3,080 for the 2012-13 school year for improving in-district special-education programs and services. The bonuses were on top of his $187,500 annual salary.

Christie signed the legislation Monday.

Amy Handlin

“Exploring constructive and achievable approaches to educating youngsters with special needs should be what motivates an educator, not figuring out a way to obtain an additional perk,” said another bill sponsor, Assemblywoman Amy Handlin, R-Monmouth.

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New law bans superintendent bonuses for not sending special ed students out of districts

Source: Asbury Park Press -

Gov. Chris Christie on Monday signed into law a bill that bans bonuses to schools superintendents for reducing the number of special needs students who are placed in out-of-district programs.

The bill, sponsored by Assemblywomen Caroline Casagrande and Amy Handlin, both R-Monmouth, was passed by the Assembly in June, but the Senate didn’t consider it until after the Asbury Park Press reported on it in November. The Senate approved the bill Dec. 19.

Caroline Casagrande

“It is inappropriate to ever tie a superintendent’s compensation to where a child attends school,” Casagrande said. “I am proud that New Jersey is taking a stand on behalf of our special needs students and their families.”

The Press reported that the Freehold Regional High School District paid its superintendent, Charles Sampson, a bonus of $5,910 in the 2011-12 school year for reducing the number of students sent to out-of-district special education programs. The bonus was on top of Sampson’s $177,500 annual salary.

The Press also reported that Middletown Schools Superintendent William George received a bonus of $899 for the 2011-12 school year for reducing tuition costs for out-of-district placement of special-needs students, and $3,080 for the 2012-13 school year for improving in-district special-education programs and services. The bonuses were on top of his $187,500 annual salary.

Amy Handlin

“Exploring constructive and achievable approaches to educating youngsters with special needs should be what motivates an educator, not figuring out a way to obtain an additional perk,” Handlin said.

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Casagrande-Handlin Bill Banning Bonuses Tied to Special Education Placements Signed into Law

Source: Assembly Republican Press Release -

Legislation sponsored by Assemblywomen Caroline Casagrande and Amy Handlin that bans bonuses given to school superintendents based on reducing the number of special needs students placed out-of-the-district was signed into law today by Gov. Christie.

Caroline Casagrande

“It is inappropriate to ever tie a superintendent’s compensation to where a child attends
school,” said Casagrande, R-Monmouth, said. “I am proud that New Jersey is taking a stand on behalf of our special needs students and their families.”

The bill, A-3997 (S-3076) was introduced after some districts had begun awarding bonuses for reducing the number of students placed out-of-district. It received unanimous support in the General Assembly on June 20, 2013.

Amy Handlin

“Exploring constructive and achievable approaches to educating youngsters with special
needs should be what motivates an educator, not figuring out a way to obtain an additional perk,” said Handlin, R-Monmouth. “This legislation makes it clear that teaching special needs students is an important component of a school district’s policies and curriculum and there is no reward for placing them in an outside district.”

The bipartisan legislation bars bonuses to schools superintendents for reducing the number of special education students enrolled in out-of-district programs.

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Casagrande, Handlin legislation to curb state doctor shortage moves to Assembly floor

Source: The Star-Ledger -

Legislation pushed by two Monmouth County legislators to address New Jersey’s shortage of doctors will move to the Assembly floor.

The Physician Loan Redemption Program, sponsored by assemblywomen Caroline Casagrande (R-Monmouth) and Amy Handlin (R-Monmouth, was released by the Assembly Budget Committee.

The Physician Loan Redemption Program, redeems qualifying loan expenses over a four year period for physicians in specialties that experience a significant shortage in the state, if they work in New Jersey for that same amount of time in designated medically underserved areas.

Caroline Casagrande

“This legislation addresses one of the biggest concerns expressed by medical students by offering them reimbursement for their loan expenses in return for a commitment to practice in our state’s underserviced areas,” Casagrande said. “We have learned much about this issue over the last year and we have listened to testimony from administrators, teachers and medical students. Now we can do something that provides a tangible benefit to our newest doctors while providing help in underserved areas which lack physicians.”

The program is a response to estimates one million additional people will seek medical care in New Jersey under the Affordable Care Act, the landmark 2010 federal health care reform legislation, and reports that New Jersey is already training too few while exporting too many doctors.

“We know from the report issued by the New Jersey Council of Teaching Hospitals that only about one-third of medical school graduates are opting to stay in New Jersey.” Casagrande said. “After speaking directly with stakeholders, repaying loans for their education is a major concern when they are ready to practice medicine. With an acute shortage of doctors expected in the near future, retaining new doctors in our state is a public policy challenge.

In return for their commitment, the participants’ eligible qualifying loan expenses will be reimbursed, subject to the maximum amount authorized by federal law.

Amy Handlin

“There is no magic pill that will cure this crisis. The medical profession is a noble one that provides essential services,” Handlin, R-Monmouth, said. “Our goal is to improve and implement public policies that encourage doctors to stay in our state and treat patients who need, and depend on their expertise. Working out a financial arrangement that addresses one of the primary concerns of medical students and locates physicians in underserved areas is a step in the right direction.”
The same bill was unanimously released by the Assembly Higher Education Committee on Dec. 12.

Casagrande and Handlin said their roundtable discussion held at Jersey Shore University Medical Center in September to discuss the physician shortage was extremely helpful in understanding the problems facing medical students.

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Casagrande-Handlin Physician Loan Redemption Program Bill Released by Budget Committee

Source: Assembly Republican Press Release -

The effort to address the projected shortage of doctors in New Jersey continued to progress today as bipartisan legislation sponsored by Assembly Republican Policy Co-Chair Caroline Casagrande and Deputy Republican Leader Amy Handlin, which creates the Physician Loan Redemption Program, was released by the Assembly Budget Committee. The same bill was unanimously released by the Assembly Higher Education Committee on Dec. 12.

The Physician Loan Redemption Program, A-1269/4507, provides for redemption of qualifying loan expenses over a four year period for physicians in specialties that are projected to experience a significant shortage in the state, if they work in New Jersey for that same amount of time in designated medically underserved areas.

Caroline Casagrande

“We know from the report issued by the New Jersey Council of Teaching Hospitals that only about one-third of medical school graduates are opting to stay in New Jersey. After speaking directly with stakeholders, repaying loans for their education is a major concern when they are ready to practice medicine,” said Casagrande, R-Monmouth. “With an acute shortage of doctors expected in the near future, retaining new doctors in our state is a public policy challenge.

“This legislation addresses one of the biggest concerns expressed by medical students by offering them reimbursement for their loan expenses in return for a commitment to practice in our state’s underserviced areas,” stated Casagrande. “We have learned much about this issue over the last year and we have listened to testimony from administrators, teachers and medical students. Now we can do something that provides a tangible benefit to our newest doctors while providing help in underserved areas which lack physicians.”

In return for their commitment, the participants’ eligible qualifying loan expenses will be reimbursed, subject to the maximum amount authorized by federal law.

Amy Handlin

“There is no magic pill that will cure this crisis. The medical profession is a noble one that provides essential services,” explained Handlin, R-Monmouth. “Our goal is to improve and implement public policies that encourage doctors to stay in our state and treat patients who need, and depend on their expertise. Working out a financial arrangement that addresses one of the primary concerns of medical students and locates physicians in underserved areas is a step in the right direction.”

Casagrande and Handlin said their roundtable discussion held at Jersey Shore University Medical Center in September to discuss the physician shortage was extremely helpful in understanding the problems facing medical students. Under the Affordable Care Act, it is estimated that an additional one million people will seek some type of medical care in New Jersey.

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