Tag: Holly Schepisi

Schepisi Bill Allowing Biofuel Production in New Jersey Approved by the Assembly

Source: Assembly Republican Press Release -

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Republican Holly Schepisi paving the way for new jobs for New Jersey workers in the expanding biodiesel industry earned approval from the General Assembly today.

Holly Schepisi

Holly Schepisi

“New Jersey’s geographics makes it a perfect fit for the development of local biofuel production,” said Schepisi, R- Bergen and Passaic. “The growing industry has its sites set on New Jersey, but we are one of only two states in the U.S. that does not have statutes in place for converting natural fats, greases and plants into renewable, clean biofuel in an environmentally friendly way.”

Schepisi’s bill, S-2599/A-4121 sends a signal for producers that New Jersey is open for business. Schepisi noted that the development of just one biodiesel plant can create 200 construction jobs, 35 to 40 long-term, good-paying jobs for plant employees, and more than 800 jobs in related industries like trucking and agriculture.

“The industry is experiencing rapid growth, and it is time for New Jersey to get in on the action.” said Schepisi. “The expansion of this new industry into our state will put thousands of people to work and ignite needed economic growth waterfront and track-side industrial areas.”

Schepisi’s bill now goes to the Governor’s desk to await his signature. The Senate version of the bill was approved in March.

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Schepisi Bill Defends First Responders’ Right to Volunteer

Public Retirees’ Can Jeopardize Their Pensions Under Current Rules

Assembly Republican Press Release -

Holly Schepisi

Holly Schepisi

Legislation introduced by Assembly Republican Holly Schepisi rescues volunteer firefighters who have retired from public employment from IRS language that could have prevented them from responding to emergencies.

“Our local Bergen County Fire Chiefs Association first brought the need for this legislation to my attention,” said Schepisi,R- Bergen andPassaic.  “Under the Internal Revenue Code (IRC),a retiring police officer,DPW worker,or municipal employee who was also a volunteer firefighter in the town where they worked,would have to sever both their employment and volunteer relationship at the time of retirement in order for the IRS to consider the retirement “bona vide.”  This meant that if the retiree continued to volunteer,his or her pension could be in jeopardy.”

“The unintended consequence of this interpretation of the IRC would devastate a town’s ability to recruit and maintain volunteers and would have forced the mandatory retirement of our most experienced and seasoned volunteers,” continued Schepisi.  “Further,it jeopardizes the response-readiness of crucial volunteer fire departments. We can’t change IRS code,but we can protect volunteers and limit the impact on towns.  If a retiring member of PERS or PFRS is in a pre-existing volunteer relationship,they should be allowed to continue in that capacity.”

The bill,A-4399,remedies IRS language a requiring a retiring employee covered by the Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS) or the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System (PFRS) to make a “bona fide severance from employment” that prohibits them from both working and volunteering for six full months.  Schepisi’s bill clarifies that a retiring member of PERS or PFRS who is already a volunteer firefighter prior to retirement may continue that established relationship.

“These dedicated,skilled and experienced volunteers respond to emergencies for no more payment than the gratitude of their neighbors,” said Schepisi.  “They should be able to continue to protect the community without risking their pensions.”


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Schepisi Bill Requires Coverage for Emergencies Handled at Out-Patient Facilities and Physician’s Office

Assembly Republican Press Release -

Holly Schepisi

Holly Schepisi

Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi is sponsoring legislation (A-4401) which would prohibit insurance companies from requiring pre-certification for tests or procedures that are done on an emergency basis, regardless of whether treatment takes place in a hospital emergency room, at an out-patient facility or physician’s office.

“People with health insurance shouldn’t have to jump through hoops just to satisfy insurance companies when their life depends on it,” said Schepisi, R-Bergen and Passaic. “Waiting a day for insurance companies to decide where a test can be performed is unnecessary and can be life-threatening. Insurers should cover the costs in an urgent situation, regardless of where the test was performed.”

Schepisi cited an instance in her district when a specialist ordered a specific test for a patient who was at risk of having a blood clot. The insurance company demanded precertification for such a test to be done in the specialist’s office and instructed the man to wait as the precertification process would take at least a day. The specialist was concerned that if the man did indeed have a blood clot, he could die before morning. Instead, the specialist advised the man to leave his office and go immediately to the emergency room where there would be no question that insurance would pay its share of the test. Under Assemblywoman Schepisi’s bill, such an emergency test would be covered no matter where it is performed.

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River Vale Assemblywoman recovering from surgery after brain aneurysm

Source: Bergen Record -

Holly Schepisi

Holly Schepisi

River Vale Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi is home recovering from surgery to treat a brain aneurysm and is expected to be sidelined from state politics “for a while,” she said.

Schepisi, 43, became aware of the aneurysm in March when she began showing symptoms of “neurological distress,” which peaked late one night.

“I woke up, jumped out of bed and told my husband it felt like my brain exploded, like a gun went off in my head,” she said.

Schepisi said she turned to the Internet and typed “My brain just exploded” into Google. After reading several articles, she determined that she exhibited symptoms of an aneurysm, and two days later drove herself to Hackensack University Medical Center, where doctors confirmed her diagnosis. She then visited four doctors for recommendations for treatment.

Schepisi underwent a roughly five-hour procedure Tuesday called a craniotomy with a clipping, in which a six-inch, crescent-shaped incision was made from the middle of her hair part-line to behind her ear and a surgeon inserted a titanium clip around the aneurysm, which is the swelling of a blood vessel in the brain, which can be fatal.

The craniotomy is a “permanent fix,” she said. “Now there should be no risk of rupture.”

The surgery was performed at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan, but was originally planned for late June or early July so Schepisi, a Republican, could participate in legislative committees and voting sessions before a summer break. Schepisi, who ran for election two weeks after having a Caesarean section to deliver her second child, said she “has been a bit of a workaholic and I do have a tendency to push myself, even when I’m ill.”

But when she had an episode in which she started blacking out at home several weeks ago, Schepisi pushed the surgery up to this week. She was discharged Thursday afternoon.

Schepisi is expected to stay at home recovering for the next six to eight weeks, and doctors told her she is limited to walking but no exercise. The surgery has caused some swelling and bruising on her face, she said, so “it looks like I survived a round in an MMA cage fight.”

And since the surgery also included inserting titanium into her skull, Schepisi and her husband, Paul, now share something new in common. Around the time she discovered the aneurysm, Paul Schepisi was convalescing from a skiing accident in which he fractured his collarbone and had steel plates inserted to realign the bone.

“It’ll be interesting the next time we go through an airport checkpoint,” Holly Schepisi said.

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Schepisi concerned by precedent of legislators condemning state settlement agreements.

Source: Assembly Republican Video -

Holly Schepisi

Thursday, Assembly Republican Holly Schepisi (R-Bergen and Passaic) spoke against Assembly resolution AR-242 which condemned the $225 million settlement reached with Exxon Mobil by the State Attorney General.

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Schepisi Bill Protects Property Taxpayers When Businesses Leave

Assembly Republican Press Release -

When Companies Vote With Their Feet, Property Taxpayers Pay Too High A Price

This week, Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi introduced legislation to lessen the impact on property taxpayers when big businesses pack up and leave.

Holly Schepisi

“Property taxpayers shouldn’t be socked to make up the difference when big companies leave New Jersey over higher taxes and costs,” said Schepisi. “We have to put the breaks on these built in tax hikes to protect the residents and businesses that are staying to help us rebuild our economy.”

Schepisi’s bill (A-4402) would allow municipalities to apply for short-term transition aid when key businesses that provide significant tax ratables close to lessen the impact on property taxpayers.

In a letter sent to Division of Local Government Services Director Timothy Cunningham, Schepisi called attention to the tax loss in Montvale after the closing of Barr Laboratories. Schepisi requested the division “…grant Montvale transitional aid to assist it as it adjusts to this loss in ratables…Without assistance, Montvale residents will experience a significant property tax increase due to the devaluation of the Barr Labs property.”

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center is acquiring the Barr Laboratories facility and it is estimated the town will experience a $750,000 loss in property tax revenue, which will only be partially offset by a payment in lieu of taxes, when the transaction is finalized as a result of Sloan’s tax-exempt status.

In addition to Montvale, Schepisi also identified the closing of Pearson Education in Upper Saddle River, and Hertz and Sony in Park Ridge as other examples of towns that face a similar loss in ratables.

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Schepisi speaks about legislation rejecting NJ’s Exxon settlement

Asbury Park Press -

The state Assembly voted Thursday, mostly along party lines, to go on record against Gov. Chris Christie’s administration’s controversial settlement of an envrionmental damages lawsuit against ExxonMobil.

The resolution adopted by the Assembly doesn’t scuttle the $225 million agreement or have any weight beyond urging the Superior Court judge who will ultimately decide whether to approve the settlement to reject it because it’s inadequate and “shocks the conscience.”

Experts hired by the state during the decade-long litigation had estimated the state should pursue $2.6 billion to restore the sites of the oil refineries and related operations in Bayonne and the Bayway site in Linden and $6.3 billion for compensatory damages. ExxonMobil fought the case and said those estimates were developed with faulty methodology.

Holly Schepisi

Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi, R-Bergen, expressed concern the Legislature going forward will involve itself in more active lawsuits. She also said appeals in the case could go on for another 10 years and end with the state getting nothing, if no settlement is struck.

“Endorsing this resolution gives me grave concern that we’re setting a precedent for any settlement, second-guessing any sort of litigation matter that our Attorney General’s Office handles and in doing so that we’re potentially improperly attempting to influence a court as legislators to find in some sort of fashion on an active matter that we have not been privy to for approximately 10 years,” Schepisi said.

The resolution passed by a vote of 45-16, with nine voting to abstain. Forty-one votes are needed for passage.

All nine votes to abstain were cast by Republicans: Christopher Brown, R-Burlington; Caroline Casagrande, R-Monmouth; Ronald Dancer, R-Ocean; John DiMaio, R-Warren; Amy Handlin, R-Monmouth; Gregory McGuckin, R-Ocean; Erik Peterson, R-Hunterdon; Maria Rodriguez-Gregg, R-Burlington; and Jay Webber R-Morris.

All of the votes against the resolution were made by Republicans.

The Department of Environmental Protection is taking public comments on the settlement until June 5. After the state formally responds to the comments, the settlement can be submitted to Superior Court Judge Michael Hogan, who had heard the case and was believed to be close to a decision when the state and Exxon instead settled the case. The agreement would require Hogan’s approval.


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Bramnick-Schepisi discuss Bridgegate

Jon Bramnick

Holly Schepisi

Star Ledger -

Friday’s federal indictment against his former allies involved in the George Washington Bridge scandal isn’t going to make governing in Trenton any easier for Gov. Chris Christie.

Since the scandal hit in January 2014, Christie’s second-term agenda — with the exception of an overhaul to the bail system and changes to state drug laws — didn’t get very far in the Democratic-led Legislature, which had worked with Christie to cap property tax growth and overhaul the pension system during his first term. The governor’s biggest initiative — further cutbacks to pension and health benefits for public workers — has thus far been a non-starter.

While there was little new information in Friday’s developments, it’s far from the end of the scandal. The specter of criminal trials now loom in which new information could be divulged, leaving open the possibility of more politically damaging revelations.

While Christie’s influence in Trenton is diminished from his first term, it hasn’t collapsed. Republicans in the Legislature, who have refused to join Democrats to override Christie’s vetoes even when it has put them in politically tenuous positions, show no signs of abandoning support for him.

“He did his own internal investigation which pretty much substantiates what took place today,” said Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi (R-Bergen), a member of the committee that investigated the scandal. “I really don’t think it impacts his governorship in any sort of way.”

Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Union) said that “now hopefully we can get back to the table with the Democrats and begin to get the job done we were sent down to do.”

“Chris Christie can speak for himself, but at this point there’s no evidence that he was part of this,” Bramnick said.

It’s also not clear whether Bridgegate will factor into this year’s Assembly races. All 80 seats are up in the lower house.

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Schepisi: SCI should concentrate efforts on improving accountability at Port Authority

Source: The Star-Ledger -

A co-chairman of the legislative committee investigating the George Washington Bridge scandal said the indictment of two former Christie administration appointees Friday did not answer the question at the heart of the scheme: Who gave the order to close the toll lanes in Fort Lee?

For that reason, state Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Middlesex) said he intends to reconvene the Joint Select Committee on Investigation to find the answer.

But the committee’s other co-chair, state Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen) said she wanted to meet with the committee’s in-house attorney before she was willing to discuss the next move. “We have things to talk about. For me, nothing I heard shocked me but hearing it sickened me,” Weinberg said.

Holly Schepisi

And Republican Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi (R-Bergen) said now that the case has entered into the criminal arena, the committee should confine its efforts to proposing new legislation that would improve the accountability of the Port Authority and state officials. Otherwise, she said, the committee should disband.

“Something like this should be left to those who do it for a living and be investigated by the professionals, and not the politicians who are trying to get into the newspaper or on TV,” Schepisi said, taking a swipe at Weinberg and Wisniewski, who were frequent guests on national cable news channels after the scandal broke in January 2014.

Bridget Kelly, Christie’s former deputy chief of staff, a former top official with the Port Authority, and former Port Authority Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni were indicted on conspiracy, civil right offenses and wire fraud for tampering with the traffic flow around the bridge.

U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said the scheme was intended to punish the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee for refusing to endorse Christie’s bid for re-election in 2013. The case against them stems largely from information provided by former Port Authority official David Wildstein, who pleaded guilty Friday morning to two counts of conspiracy and is a cooperating witness.

The legislative committee last year subpoenaed thousands of records and obtained testimony under oath from six witnesses. The committee learned the Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs, which was under Kelly’s purview, kept track of elected officials who supported the governor and those who didn’t. Mayors considered unsupportive to Christie were treated less favorably than his allies by staffers inside his office, many of whom moonlighted on his re-election campaign.

A top liaison between Christie and local officials, Christina Renna, told the committee her staff would receive “mandatory directives” to brush off calls from unsupportive officials.

The indictment delves into the cross-over between the campaign and the governor’s front office staff. Weinberg and Wisniewski said the indictment makes them want to dig deeper on this front.

Schepisi said the legislative committee should be commended “for bringing this to the attention of the U.S. Attorney” early on. But as the months wore on, she said, “we were a kangaroo court.”

“We unnecessarily put good people through a public spectacle and damaged the reputation of some people who legitimately had nothing to do with this,” Schiepisi said.

In December, the committee released an interim report saying it couldn’t determine if Christie was or wasn’t involved. The report also notes that because “several critical witnesses” have not testified, the record of the incident “remains incomplete and leaves several important questions unanswered.”

With the indictment filed, Weinberg said, she may want to recall some of those witnesses “who weren’t as cooperative before.”

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Schepisi-Handlin comment on GWB scandal probe

Holly Schepisi

Amy Handlin

Bergen Record -

Hearing that former Port Authority officials and a top deputy to Governor Christie allegedly caused widespread traffic jams in 2013 by closing access lanes to the George Washington Bridge was “sickening,” said the state lawmakers leading a separate investigation into the scandal.

But it was also a reminder, some lawmakers said, that there is more work for them to do.

But it was unclear on Friday how the Select Committee on Investigation would proceed, and a Republican member of the panel said it should stay on the sidelines while the federal charges play out. Otherwise, she said, legislative proceedings could turn into a “witch hunt.”

“To what end is our panel going to do anything?” said Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi, R-River Vale.

David Wildstein, formerly a top executive and Christie ally in the Port Authority, said that the traffic jams on five weekday mornings were done by closing access lanes to the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee. Wildstein pleaded guilty to two charges in the case in federal court in Newark.

A Republican member of the legislative committee, Assemblywoman Amy Handlin, R-Monmouth, agreed on that point.

“It’s so painfully obvious that until we can identify the clowns, then the Port Authority is going to continue to be a circus,” she said.

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