Tag: Holly Schepisi

Schepisi on reforms to increase Port Authority transparency [video]

Source: NJTV Online -

“Every street, two square miles around here. It was impossible. The worst I’d ever seen,” said Fort Lee resident Ted Allen.

Libertarian Allen recalls the traffic nightmares of September 2013 when an aide to Gov. Chris Christie emailed the Port Authority to tie up traffic in Fort Lee leading to the most traveled bridge in America — the GWB — in an apparent act of political retaliation against this borough’s mayor.

Now, lawmakers in both states have approved bills to make the Port Authority more transparent, opening up its decision-making to the public, mandating a study of the Port Authority every two years and setting up protection for whistleblowing.

Holly Schepisi

“It really starts to implement some of the fundamental changes to the Port Authority that we really wanted to see,” [said Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi, one of the Republican sponsors of the bills. “Financial disclosure forms — we wanted to be able to know if people have monetary interests.”

There’s no question the Bridgegate scandal and the investigations have given lawmakers the momentum, the impetus to reform the Port Authority. Which raises the question would these reforms have prevented the Bridgegate scandal altogether?

“Nobody can say for sure because we don’t know as to exactly what occurred,” Schepisi said.

Seton Hall law professor Matt Hale says the reforms likely would have made carrying out Bridgegate more difficult. But real reform?

Schepisi appears on the video at 1:09 and 1:45

He said, “At the end of the day you still have to have people within the organization, within whatever agency it is, embrace a culture of openness and transparency.”

Lawmakers says their action is a good start.

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Schepisi: Two governors doing what is best for state residents

Source: NJTV Online -

Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi was interviewed by NJTV correspondent David Cruz for his story on the governor’s response to the Ebola threat. [Schepisi is featured at the 2:37 mark in the video]

Holly Schepisi

“I think that this is a situation where politics has to be taken out of it, and I think that happened when you saw governors Cuomo and Christie coming together from different political ideologies and sitting down and saying this is what is best for our residents. Now, is it a work in progress, absolutely,” said Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi.

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Handlin, Schepisi, McHose back Port Authority reform bills approved by panel

Source: The Star-Ledger -

A pair of bipartisan bills that would subject the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to more expansive open public records laws, protect whistle blowers, and require annual reports to lawmakers were approved today by the Assembly State and Local Government Committee.

Republican co-sponsors Amy Handlin, Alison McHose and Holly Schepisi applauded the committee’s passage of the two bills, which have already been approved by the state Senate, and could be scheduled by Prieto for a full vote of the Assembly as early as Nov. 13.

One of today’s bills, A3350, would subject the Port Authority to New York and New Jersey’s state freedom of information laws, requiring the agency to turn over any documents deemed public by either of the two states. People who believe their document request was wrongly denied would be able to sue the agency under either state law.

The other, A3417, contains provisions including mandatory annual reports by the agency to both states’ legislatures, and whistle blower protections for employees who report what they believe to be impropriety.

The bills were in response to the so-called Bridgegate scandal that grew out of the George Washington Bridge lane closures of September 2013, which exposed division within the bi-state agency.

The bills must be approved by both states’ legislatures and signed by both governors.

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Schepisi would prefer filling Supreme Court slots with confirmed judges

Source: Bergen Record -

Judges assigned as temporary replacements to the state Supreme Court have become common enough to prompt a legislator to propose a bill that would give them a better title.

Holly Schepisi

 

“My preference would be that we confirm our justices,” said Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi, R-Westwood.

 

 

No longer would temporarily assigned Judge Mary Cuff, for example, be called “judge.” Should the bill become law, she would be referred to as “acting associate justice of the Supreme Court.” The bill would change only a judge’s title; it does not call for a change in pay or benefits.

To qualify for the bump up in title, a judge would have to serve on the high court for 180 days. The bill would be retroactive to 2010, meaning that any of the judges temporarily assigned to the court under Governor Christie would be granted the new title.

In 2010, Christie did not renominate Associate Justice John Wallace, a Democrat, the first time since 1947 and the adoption of the current state constitution that a justice was not allowed to stay on the bench after an initial seven-year term. Last year Christie declined to renominate Associate Justice Helen Hoens, a Republican.

After Christie declined to renominate Wallace, Democrats have repeatedly blocked the governor’s picks for the high court – these deadlocks have created vacancies that are then filled by senior judges. Currently, Cuff is the only temporarily assigned judge on the court.

The Assembly Judiciary Committee released the bill on a unanimous 5-0 vote to the full Assembly. There is no companion bill in the Senate. The vote, however, did not take place without a dig at the nomination process by one of the committee’s members.

“My preference would be that we confirm our justices,” said Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi, R-Westwood.

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Schepisi cautious about allowing easier dismissal of SLAPP lawsuits

Source: Bergen Record -

A bill that would make it easier for people to dismiss certain types of frivolous lawsuits was released by the Assembly Judiciary Committee Thursday.

Holly Schepisi

Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi, R-Westwood, abstaining. Schepisi raised concerns about how it could be difficult to determine whether or not a lawsuit was frivolous or held actual merit. She said that as a public official, it was especially difficult to bring defamation suits against people even when they were warranted – she said she was wary of making that process even more difficult.

The bill, sponsored by Assemblyman Joseph Lagana, D-Paramus, is aimed at preventing lawsuits often referred to as SLAPP suits or Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation. They are suits targeting individuals who speak out about politically sensitive issues. The lawsuits aren’t filed to win but are instead intended to saddle the defendant with legal fees and a myriad of court proceedings to get them to stop speaking out or protesting.

The committee released the bill on a 4-0 vote with Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi, R-Westwood, abstaining. Schepisi raised concerns about how it could be difficult to determine whether or not a lawsuit was frivolous or held actual merit. She said that as a public official, it was especially difficult to bring defamation suits against people even when they were warranted – she said she was wary of making that process even more difficult.

The legislation now heads to the full Assembly. There is currently no version of the bill in the Senate.

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Schepisi: No tolerance for violence

Bergen Record (letter to editor by Holly Schepisi) -

Dear Editor:

Holly Schepisi

On Sept. 15, the New Jersey General passed a series of domestic violence bills that are designed to protect and help victims of domestic abuse. As part of the discussion on these bills, my Assembly Republican women colleagues – Caroline Casagrande, Nancy F. Muñoz, Mary Pat Angelini, Amy Handlin, Alison McHose, DiAnne Gove, BettyLou DeCroce, Donna Simon, Maria Rodriguez-Gregg – and I called for the resignation of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell over his handling of the domestic violence issue.

When someone sucker punches an innocent woman or takes a switch to his son, something is terribly wrong. The league either delays disciplinary action or issues a slap on the wrist of the offender. The victims are vulnerable to the power of these men. Commissioner Goodell is unsuccessfully trying to appease the fans and advertisers that the league takes these actions seriously. If he were truly serious, he would apologize and submit his resignation over his failure to take immediate steps to prevent these kinds of assaults. The NFL should send a message to society that it will not tolerate these actions and implement a no-tolerance policy with severe repercussions.

Asemblywoman Holly Schepisi

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Schepisi favors keeping oldest judges on job

Bergen Record -

New measures aimed at keeping judges on the bench longer by increasing the mandatory retirement age were approved by an Assembly committee Monday.

Under the measures, the retirement age for most judges would change from 70 to 75. The retirement age on the state Supreme Court would remain 70.

Along with keeping experienced people on the bench, the measures would slow the rise in judicial vacancies, proponents of the changes said.

In Bergen County, the presiding judge has decided to suspend some lengthy civil trials because there are nine vacancies out of 36 total spots on the bench.

Holly Schepisi

“There is absolutely no reason, particularly as we have these significant backlogs in Bergen County, not to allow people who are competent, who have the knowledge and want to continue participating, to participate,” said Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi, R-River Vale.

Any increase in the judicial retirement age requires a change to the state constitution, which would have to be approved by voters.

On Monday, the committee released three bills concerning how long judges can serve on the bench and one resolution that would call for a constitutional amendment.

The Assembly Judiciary Committee approved the measures on unanimous 5-0 votes, and they now head to the full Assembly.

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With Reform Measures Bogged Down, Schepisi Expresses Frustration [video]

Source: NJTV -

We don’t know if Chris Christie knew that sources at the U.S. attorney’s office were telling reporters that they had found no evidence linking him to the lane closures at the GWB, but the governor (coincidentally?) chose yesterday to unleash his most personal and aggressive attack on the legislative committee looking into the GWB scandal — and the leaks coming from the panel.

Holly Schepisi

 

“We are legislators,” she said. “How is it that New York state, The Assembly and the Senate, in New Jersey, the Senate have managed to unanimously put forth reform initiatives and here we are in the Assembly saying OK, will have it for discussion only purposes, some of this stuff. It’s absurd.”

 

“This is Assemblyman [John] Wisniewski and the leadership of that committee,” said Christie in a lively State House press conference. “They care more about being on television than they care about actually getting to the truth and being on the front page of the newspaper, and I’m tired of it; I really am. I’ve cooperated in every way that I possibly can, not only with them, but with everyone else who has asked us any questions.”

This week, the committee’s attorney sent members a letter, warning them about the leaks. Committee member Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi says she’s been frustrated by its work (or lack thereof) for months.

“We are legislators,” she said. “How is it that New York state, The Assembly and the Senate, in New Jersey, the Senate have managed to unanimously put forth reform initiatives and here we are in the Assembly saying OK, will have it for discussion only purposes, some of this stuff. It’s absurd.”

Christie said he’s done trying to work with the committee. “I am not going permit them — when they conduct themselves in such an irresponsible way — to have an unfettered access to this office, just so they can use themselves as a highway to the media. So, you know, if he’s got some complaints, he knows what to do,” he said.

Chairman Wisniewski says he won’t put a time clock on his committee’s work, regardless of what schedule works best for the governor or, for that matter, his own party’s leadership.

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Schepisi School Defibrillator Training Bill Wins Assembly Approval

Assembly Republican Press Release -

School staffs will learn how to save lives by correctly using an automated external defibrillator (AED) under Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi’s legislation which was passed by the General Assembly today. Schepisi’s bill, A-1264, requires that school districts adopt policies to train designated staff on the use of defibrillators.

Holly Schepisi

“Life-saving equipment should be more than just a fixture,” said Schepisi, R-Bergen and Passaic. “Learning how to respond to a cardiac arrest is just as important as following the guidelines during a fire drill. Response time is critically important when a cardiac episode strikes. With proper training and access to a defibrillator, tragedies can be prevented.”

Schepisi cited an instance last spring where an athlete’s heart stopped during track practice at Pascack Hills High School. While a coach administered CPR, the athletic trainer used a portable defibrillator which restarted the athlete’s heart and saved his life.

Under “Janet’s Law,” which was signed in September 2012, public school districts and nonpublic schools must ensure that an AED is available in an unlocked location on school property. The AED must be accessible during the day and any time a school-sponsored athletic event or team practice is taking place.

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Assembly Approves Schepisi & Auth Measure to Fix Dams, Prevent Flooding

Source: Assembly Republican Press Release -

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Republicans Holly Schepisi and Robert Auth that appropriates more than $21 million for the restoration of 14 dams across the state was approved today by the General Assembly.

Holly Schepisi

“Making these dams more resilient to storms helps control water levels, prevent flooding and avert the damage that is inevitable when a dam fails. These projects ensure safer communities,” said Schepisi, R – Bergen.

Projects listed in A-3229 access existing monies made available in the Dam, Lake and Stream Project Revolving Loan Fund. These funds are a self-replenishing pool of money, where principal and interest payments from old loans are used to issue new ones. Local governments or private associations and owners of private dams that are co-applicants with local government units are eligible for loans.

Robert Auth

Robert Auth

“This is ready money that won’t cost taxpayers a dime,” said Auth, R – Bergen, “These are necessary projects, but they are extremely difficult, if not impossible, to finance through private lenders. In the future, more dams will be repaired as more money is paid back into the fund.”

According to the American Society of Civil Engineer’s 2013 report card, New Jersey is particularly vulnerable. It is in the top 10 states with dams in need of repair with 217 high-hazard dams.

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