Tag: Holly Schepisi

Auth & Schepisi Bill Expanding Scope of ‘Joan’s Law’ for Murdering a Minor Gets Panel Approval

Assembly Republican Press Release -

The Assembly Judiciary Committee today advanced legislation, sponsored by Republicans Assemblyman Robert Auth and Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi, requiring life imprisonment without parole for molesting and killing a child under age 18.

Robert Auth

Robert Auth

“We don’t have the death penalty in New Jersey. Life without parole is the worst sentence we can require for these sexual predators, and it is more than warranted for horrific crimes against minors” said Auth (R – Bergen). “This is a crack-down on the most despicable creatures in our society.”

The bill (A373) expands the scope of Joan’s law, which denies parole to anyone serving a life sentence for molesting and killing a child under age 14. The legislation protects all minors, increasing the age threshold to 18.

Joan D’Alessandro was seven years old when she disappeared after delivering her last two boxes of Girl Scout cookies. He body was found three days later on Easter Sunday. A neighbor pled guilty to first-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison, which at the time made him eligible for parole after 14 years.

“For me, this is personal. This horrific crime happened in the district I represent, and the grief and pain was felt throughout the entire community,” said Auth, who was a junior fireman when Joan D’Alessandro went missing. He recalls helping with the desperate search for the child. “Predators should never be allowed back on our neighborhood streets,” said Auth.

Rosemarie D’Alessandro, Joan’s mother, dedicated her life to promoting harsh penalties for similar crimes. She has lobbied for – and collected thousands of signatures on a petition in support of – this bill, which also had been approved by the Judiciary Committee in the previous legislative session.

Holly Schepisi

Holly Schepisi

“We’re sending a message: If you prey on a minor, there is no second chance. The young are the most innocent and most susceptible targets, and protecting must always be the priority,” said Schepisi (R – Bergen). “On behalf of the D’Alessandro family and their multi-decade journey to tighten laws to protect our children, I am proud to be a sponsor of a bill which may represent a final step in ensuring these protections.”

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Schepisi leads N.J. lawmakers on week-long trip to Israel

Bergen Record -

A group of 16 New Jersey lawmakers began leaving for Israel Wednesday on week-long trade and fact-finding trip that will include visits with Israeli legislators and a cabinet official as well as side trips to the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

But unlike a visit by another group of lawmakers to Cuba last month, this trip has the full approval both of Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto and Senate President Steve Sweeney.

Also different is the fact that lawmakers are talking about the Israel trip in advance, which they didn’t do prior to the Cuban trip, which sparked criticism from opponents of that island nation’s Communist regime.

Holly Schepisi

Holly Schepisi

“There’s a tremendous amount of synergy between Israel and New Jersey,” Holly Schepisi, R-River Vale, said on her way to the airport in Newark. Schepisi, who was making her second trip to Israel.

“Israel is a country the size of New Jersey that’s a global leader in high tech,” Schepisi added. “This trip will enable us to bring additional business to New Jersey.”

The lawmakers are paying their own way, which comes to about $5,000 including air fare, Schepisi said.

The trip was organized by the New Jersey State Association of Jewish Federations, which represents 10 different federations. The same group that organized a visit by 12 lawmakers two years ago.

Association President Mark Levenson said the group will meet with the speaker of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament. They will also talk with a firm that has expressed an interest in locating an operation in New Jersey, he added without elaborating.

He said lawmakers will hear from Israeli officials involved in social services and anti-terrorism efforts and visit a biotech firm and a local university. There also will be some cultural stops involving history and religion, he said.

Other lawmakers on the trip are Senators James Beach, D-Camden; Nia Gill, Montclair; Christopher “Kip” Bateman, R- Somerset and Nilsa Cruz-Perez, D-Camden and Assembly members Christopher Brown, R-Atlantic, Herb Conaway Jr., D-Burlington; Nancy Pinkin, D-Middlesex; Raj Mukherji, D-Hudson, Gabriela Mosquera, D-Gloucester, Patricia Egan Jones, D-Camden.

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Assembly Approves Auth & Schepisi Bill Eliminating MVC Fee for New Licenses for Organ Donors

Assembly Republican Press Release -

Legislation encouraging life-saving organ donations, sponsored by Assembly Republicans Robert Auth and Holly Schepisi, cleared the General Assembly today. Currently, when drivers request to become a designated organ donor the Motor Vehicle Commission charges a fee for a replacement drivers’ license. The bill (A-374) removes the fee, eliminating an obstacle that could discourage drivers from becoming donors.

Robert Auth

Robert Auth

“The decision to donate organs is an incredibly selfless act. It just doesn’t sit right to turn around and hand them a bill,” said Auth, R – Bergen and Passaic. “Removing the financial obstacles for all organ donors will help encourage donations and promote awareness about donor programs that save lives.”

Holly Schepisi

Holly Schepisi

“We should encourage as many people as possible to become organ donors. I hope this small measure helps with that endeavor,” said Schepisi, R – Bergen and Passaic. “Eliminating the fee for a new license with ‘organ donor’ printed on it benefits society and encourages more participation.”

MVC, in collaboration with the NJ Sharing Network, offers its customers the opportunity to register as an organ and tissue donor when they apply for or renew their driver’s license or non-driver ID.

About NJ Sharing Network

Since it was founded in 1987, NJ Sharing Network has more than quadrupled the total number of organs recovered in New Jersey for transplantation. NJ Sharing Network also recovers tissue for life-enhancing transplants. NJ Sharing Network works closely with donor hospitals and transplant centers to steward the gifts of organs and tissue. NJ Sharing Network continues to reach New Jerseyans through educational tools and the media to inform them of the option to donate and of the benefits of transplantation.

For information, call the NJ Sharing Network at 1-800-742-7365, or e-mail info@njsharingnetwork.org.

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Bramnick Calls for New Regulations Following OMNIA Investigation

PolitickerNJ -

Jon Bramnick

With doctors, nurses and administrators by his side, Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-21) said Thursday that opposition to Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield’s much-maligned tiered health insurance plans is as strong as ever in the legislature. Speakers at this afternoon’s press conference came from the group of New Jersey hospitals pursuing a new lawsuit against Horizon for introducing plans that interrupt patient care and leave patients paying higher premiums and deductibles for the same services.

“I don’t believe that insurance companies should pick and choose who gets the patients and who doesn’t get the patients,” Bramnick said of the new plans, which designate hospitals and physicians as either ‘tier one’ or ‘tier two.’ Areas of South and Central Jersey found themselves with too few first-tier providers once the new plans went into effect last September.

Horizon has not made its criteria public, which Democratic lawmakers sought to change with a series of committee hearings and attempts to block the plan. A suite of Democratic bills is already circulating in the Senate with one measure to halt the rollout of tiered networks, one to force disclosure of network standards, and one to guarantee coverage regardless of where a patient lives. Horizon Blue Cross is the state’s largest insurer with 3.8 million members.

“The state insurance department needs to look at the regulation regarding networks. Some of these regulatory schemes have been set up a long time ago,” Bramnick continued, calling on state Insurance Commissioner Richard Badolato to change existing regulations so that hospitals can opt into the networks of their choice.

“We simply can’t throw hospitals out of their major networks without a reason,” he said.

“When you set up a network, all you have to do now is touch certain bases. Maybe there should be just one. Two, no insurance company should ever designate anyone first or second tier, first or second class without a legitimate basis in fact. That should be legislation if regulation doesn’t change.”

Holly Schepisi

Holly Schepisi

Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi (R-39) said that she experienced the frustration and costliness of the new plans when she had to change specialists after a brain aneurysm.

“My neurosurgeon, who is one of the top neurosurgeons in the country, would not fall under the plan because he is affiliated with Valley Hospital, which is one of the hospitals that is within several miles of my home,” Schepisi said.

Democratic Assemblyman Herb Conaway (D-7), himself a physician and the chair of the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee, joined Bramnick in calling for regulatory changes from the Department of Banking and Insurance, which approved the tiered plans before their rollout last September.

“As time goes on, we know that our regulations, the way we look at our marketplace, needs to change,” Conaway said. “We may end of with gaps in coverage and care that may very well work to the detriment of patients.”

Asked about the timing of his announcement, Bramnick said that his opposition to the tiered plans has been consistent and that his own reservations have paralleled those of the Democrat-lead hearings. On the possibility of new legislation blocking the tiered network, Bramnick gestured to Conaway.

“Ask the democrats, they’re in the majority,” he said to laughter, saying that he believes he would have the support of Speaker Vince Prieto (D-36). “You would have to ask the Democrats as to deadlines. I don’t give deadlines as the minority leader.”

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Schepisi on why mandatory pension payment would be worst idea ever for N.J.

Star Ledger -

Through a ballot question in November, voters are expected to decide whether New Jersey’s constitution should require the state to make regular payments to its $80 billion public pension debt.

Holly Schepisi

Holly Schepisi

Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi (R-Bergen) believes the proposal is “the worst idea” in the history of bad ideas in New Jersey.

“You have one class of payments that goes above all others,” said Schepisi, on the latest edition of The Backgrounder Podcast. “It goes above education. It goes above health care. It goes above every other thing in the state.”

The proposed amendment wouldn’t allow for money for pension payments to be used in emergencies like a natural disaster, Schepisi said. It doesn’t say what the state should do if it didn’t have the money or couldn’t borrow it, and the obligation would certainly mean budget cuts, particularly for schools in urban areas, she said.

But Schepisi sees a remedy to the pension crisis in another expected ballot question, one that will ask voters if casino gambling should be permitted outside of Atlantic City.

“(With) any additional revenue over what currently the state gets,” she said, “every single one of those dollars should be put toward the pensions until we stabilize.”

Schepisi further explains her position on the pension crisis on the latest edition of The Backgrounder Podcast. She also tells why she and other New Jersey lawmakers recently went to Cuba, and she talks about her experience of having suffered and survived a brain aneurysm nearly one year ago.

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Auth & Schepisi Bill Eliminating MVC Fee for New Licenses for Organ Donors Approved by Panel

Assembly Republican Press Release -

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Republicans Robert Auth and Holly Schepisi encouraging life-saving organ donations was advanced by the Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee. Currently, when drivers request to become a designated organ donor the Motor Vehicle Commission charges a fee for a replacement drivers’. The bill (A-374) removes the fee, encouraging more drivers to become donors.

Robert Auth

Robert Auth

“A person’s decision to donate organs is an incredibly selfless act, and it just doesn’t sit right to turn around and hand them a bill,” said Auth, R – Bergen and Passaic. “Removing the financial obstacles for all organ donors will help encourage donors and promote awareness about donor programs that save lives.”

Holly Schepisi

Holly Schepisi

“Eliminating the fee for a new license with ‘organ donor’ printed on it benefits society and encourages more participation,” said Schepisi, R – Bergen and Passaic. “We should encourage as many people as possible to become organ donors and I hope this small measure helps with that endeavor.”

MVC, in collaboration with the NJ Sharing Network, offers its customers the opportunity to register as an organ and tissue donor when they apply for or renew their driver’s license or non-driver ID.

About NJ Sharing Network

Since it was founded in 1987, NJ Sharing Network has more than quadrupled the total number of organs recovered in New Jersey for transplantation. NJ Sharing Network also recovers tissue for life-enhancing transplants. NJ Sharing Network works closely with donor hospitals and transplant centers to steward the gifts of organs and tissue. NJ Sharing Network continues to reach New Jerseyans through educational tools and the media to inform them of the option to donate and of the benefits of transplantation.

For information, call the NJ Sharing Network at 1-800-742-7365, or e-mail info@njsharingnetwork.org.

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Assembly GOP Members Accuse Dems of Stifling Debate [video]

Source: NJTV News [video] -

There was very little effort to hide the mutual disdain among members of the Assembly Judiciary Committee during today’s marathon public hearing on four constitutional amendments potentially headed before voters in the fall. Republicans accuse Democrats of steamrolling through the hearings without leaving room for debate.

Holly Schepisi

Holly Schepisi

“If I’m not allowed to ask questions, I’d like to at least be able to have my thoughts put forth,” said Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi.

“You’re making a comment about personal discussions in Democratic caucuses. I was just wondering, absent a hearing device, how you might know that,” said Assemblyman John McKeon.

“Because I actually speak to people and some of the members of your caucus actually don’t believe that we should be kept in the dark about everything, chairman,” Schepisi replied.

The tone set by lawmakers seemed to carry over to the public. Both members of interest groups and the unaffiliated snapped at, scolded and upbraided committee members for their positions and their process, particularly on key issues like the proposed constitutional amendment to mandate quarterly payments to the state pension fund.

“This is absolutely the wrong thing to do with regard to this issue. It is irresponsible of our legislators to consider putting this into the constitution because you were not elected to do that and also you are violating your oath of office by doing that,” said New Jersey Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Bracken.

On legislative reapportionment, particularly, a move by the Democratic majority to change how districts are drawn, speakers were especially pointed in their criticism.

“This bill is fascist on its face. This is completely outside the ideals of a democratic society,” said Gregory Quinlan of New Jersey for a Conservative Majority.

“If this was an election cycle, my mailbox would be full of mailings telling me how wonderful your positions are and what you’re going to do. I doubt if I’m going to see any real mailings in my mailbox trying to inform me, objectively, of what this is all about,” said Al Frech of Citizens for Positive Change. “I’m not going to hear it. I doubt it.”

“Can I ask you a direct question?” asked Barbara Eames of Whippany. McKeon replied, “No.” Eames said, “OK. I guess that’s representative government. The public can ask questions but can’t get answers. I’m going to pose it to you and maybe you can email me or something.”

These bills have already cleared the Judiciary Committee. Today was an opportunity for the public to comment. Republicans noted the irony of allowing the public to speak on an issue after it had already cleared the committee.

“This has to be approved by a majority of the voters in New Jersey. Does everybody understand that? This is going to the ballot,” McKeon said.

As McKeon noted, voters will have the final say on whether the state’s constitution will be amended to accommodate the political desires of the majority, but it’s clear the minority party has been left with little recourse but to stamp their feet and cry foul.

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Carroll & Schepisi: Dem redistricting plan attacks voter rights [op-ed]

Source: Daily Record [op-ed] -

Holly Schepisi

Holly Schepisi

Michael Patrick Carroll

Schemes hatched in lame-duck sessions of the Legislature should always give reason for pause, but changing voting rights without considerable public discussion is reckless. A proposed constitutional amendment with a significant but unknown impact on the voting rights of New Jersey’s citizens deserves more than the hasty, slapdash, non-transparent treatment the Democrats are giving this measure.

Ignoring the Legislature’s responsibility to hold fact-finding hearings, Judiciary Committee Chairman John McKeon dismissed concerns about fast-tracking the proposal changing the way the state redraws its legislative districts. “The law is clear an unambiguous and the people will decide,” he said at last week’s committee hearing.

We did not support this plan in part because the sponsors couldn’t answer basic questions. How can voters make an informed decision about a constitutional amendment when the Legislature itself does not fully understand it?

What’s the rush? Legislative districts won’t be reconfigured again until 2021. When the 1966 Constitutional Convention considered the standards used today, it met for three months and had 14 meetings full of expert testimony. Additionally, there were six meetings specifically on apportionment. In this process, the Democrats are advancing a plan after only two brief committee meetings with no expert testimony and only two members of the public commenting.

Their amendment relies on a decades-old report by Dr. Donald Stokes, who served on the Apportionment Commission in 1981 and 1991. Many of his assumptions are based on demographics from almost a generation ago. No one can deny that New Jersey has changed significantly in a quarter century. Does Stokes’ modeling still hold true?

The amendment deviates from the report on even more critical aspects. Stokes used legislative elections to create his models and proposal, but this amendment ignores them. Instead, it relies on federal and gubernatorial elections that have little to do with drawing up legislative districts. Why exclude legislative races to determine how those districts should be drawn? That’s like using baseball statistics to determine how football should be played.

Their plan requires only a quarter of districts to be competitive, but allows the remaining 75 percent to have no contest at all. Why not maximize the number of competitive districts? The Stokes test for determining whether a map is fair requires the popular vote across the state to be represented among the districts as a whole and be responsive to the shifts of public opinion. When electoral tides move strongly toward one party, that party should fairly quickly win an effective majority of seats. Using the 2013 legislative election returns, a fair map should have resulted with 20 Democrat and 20 Republican senators, rather than the 24-16 split that has remained since that election.

Further, the amendment intentionally excludes the equal representation requirement in the state Constitution. Every state respects equal population requirements, the bedrock of American democracy since “no taxation without representation.” Yet, the Democrats intentionally left it out in favor of gerrymandering districts, which almost always shift groups of voters to limit the voting rights of others. They may point to the compactness requirement in the constitution, but this amendment makes federal law pre-eminent.

Democrats have held a legislative majority since 2001 and hold their largest majority in 40 years. So why do the sponsors want to make this change?

The plan was conceived behind closed-doors by Democratic political operatives with essentially a super PAC in East Brunswick. They introduced it to the Assembly Judiciary Committee on Nov. 17, even though it was not mentioned during a previous meeting just three days earlier. With little more information than a Politico article, it passed on a party-line vote the week before Christmas.

While parties may disagree on the result of the map every 10 years, New Jersey’s electoral process has been routinely praised by academics when compared to other states. Why weren’t those experts invited to the committee hearing? Shouldn’t we know what other states do before moving forward with a constitutional amendment? Surely if this plan were all the Democrats say, there would have been a line of academics ready to back them up.

In no other profession would you first enact a policy to know what is in it. The lack of information, transparency and candor is reason enough to be concerned with where the state is headed under a Democratic majority. This constitutional amendment blindly leads the public into forever changing the way New Jersey votes.

Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll and Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi are Republican members of the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

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Republicans oppose Dems’ plan to change make-up of legislative districts

Source: Inquirer -

New Jersey Democrats are moving to change the process by which the state’s legislative districts are drawn, advancing a bill that would put the high-stakes political issue to voters through a constitutional amendment.

Their plan, opposed vociferously by Republicans, would change the composition of the Apportionment Commission and use data from all statewide general elections – for governor, U.S. Senate, and president – held in the previous decade to draw the political map.

Michael Patrick Carroll

 

“Politics is about winning; nobody knows that better than the other party. And[the Democrats have] been very good at it. If you’re the Democrats, and you’ve had two beautiful cycles which have delivered magnificent results, why change?” – Assembly Republican Michael Patrick Carroll

 

The wonky, math-intensive matter of redistricting helps shape the balance of power in Trenton and in statehouses across the country. Democrats in Trenton have won an advantage in each of the last two maps, drawn in 2011 and 2001. They control both houses of the Legislature.

Congressional redistricting is a separate process that wouldn’t be affected by the amendment.

The latest effort, which has unfolded in Trenton over the last two weeks, comes nearly five years before the next map will be drawn. The state constitution requires the Apportionment Commission to redraw the districts every decade to account for changes in the Census.

Voters elect one senator and two Assembly members to represent each of the state’s 40 districts.

Democrats say they want to put the issue on the ballot in 2016 because the presidential election will result in high voter turnout, and thus greater voter participation.

To get the question on next year’s ballot, the Legislature would need to pass the bill with majority votes both this session, which ends in mid-January, and next, or with one three-fifths majority vote.

Republicans have not minced words in their criticism.

“This is not our finest moment. It’s a terrible moment for democracy,” State Sen. Kevin O’Toole (R., Passaic) said during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Monday, when Democrats advanced the measure on an 8-5 vote along party lines. O’Toole, instead, offered an amendment to impose term limits, which Democrats shot down.

“Historically anti-American,” offered Sen. Gerry Cardinale (R., Bergen).

Holly Schepisi

Holly Schepisi

“Doubling down on stupid,” said Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi (R., Bergen), referring to the second legislative hearing she had attended on the matter in less than a week.

The principal target of their frustration: a provision in the bill that would require “at least” 25 percent of all districts, or 10 of the 40 total, to be competitive.

The legislation defines a competitive district as one that is more favorable to either party by no more than five percentage points of the “average district,” which would be calculated by using voting results in the statewide elections.

If the districts were to be redrawn today, the “average district” would lean 54 percent Democratic and 46 percent Republican, said Assembly Majority Leader Louis D. Greenwald (D., Camden), a sponsor of the bill.

The commission would also be required to ensure that each party has an equal number of “favorable” districts, relative to the average.

Republicans object that the 25 percent requirement would constitutionally enshrine an anticompetitive map, thereby deterring voters from heading to the polls and undermining the democratic process.

Democrats are moving ahead with the bill even as the U.S. Supreme Court is reviewing a case challenging the “one person, one vote” principle that undergirds federal law governing the political process.

The plaintiffs, from Texas, want each district to have the same number of eligible voters – not the same total population, which includes children, noncitizens, and others who can’t vote.

Opponents of the New Jersey legislation note that if the Supreme Court rules in favor of the plaintiffs next year, lawmakers would have to change the state amendment, voiding any vote held this session.

Still others suggest that the plan, which is being rushed through the lame-duck session, is a plot by Democrats to ensure they maintain an outsize majority in perpetuity.

“Politics is about winning; nobody knows that better than the other party,” said Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll (R., Morris). “And they’ve been very good at it. If you’re the Democrats, and you’ve had two beautiful cycles which have delivered magnificent results, why change?”

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Schepisi serving as honorary co-chair of state legislators’ mission to Israel

Source: New Jersey Jewish News -

Members of the New Jersey State Assembly Holly Schepisi (R-Dist. 39) and Pamela Lampitt (D-Dist. 6) have been named honorary co-chairs of the “NJ Legislators’ Study Mission to Israel” organized by the NJ State Association of Jewish Federations.

The mission, scheduled for Feb. 25 to March 4, follows upon the 2014 State Association’s trip in which 12 legislators — including Lampitt and Schepisi — participated and which, said State Association president Mark Levenson, “was an informative and educational visit which deepened the ties between New Jersey and Israel and among the participants.”

Holly Schepisi

Holly Schepisi

“Traveling to Israel for the first time two years ago,” Schepisi said, “I finally understood the import of United States support for this country. Here is a country, roughly the size of New Jersey, but ranked second in the world for venture capital funds and hosting the largest percentage by population of startup companies in the world, while developing such innovative technologies as Amazon’s Kindle and the Iron Dome missile defense system.”

Schepisi also pointed to Israel’s security concerns. “One cannot fully perceive the scope and magnitude of the dangers faced by Israel and its citizens before understanding that its neighbors are as similar in size and distance as New York, Pennsylvania, and Delaware are to New Jersey — but yet each of these neighbors have expressed a desire at some point to eliminate Israel.

“As NJ legislators it is important to learn firsthand how to look to Israel as a model for turning New Jersey back into a business leader while showing our support for Israel’s security concerns,” Schepisi said.

State Association executive director Jacob Toporek said the two legislators’ commitment to the mission “reflects the strong and reliable support in the Legislature from both sides of the aisle that the Jewish community counts on time and again on matters concerning Israel and the NJ-Israel relationship.”

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