Five Republican senators today said that it’s unlikely that a bill redefining marriage can pass the Senate and asked their Democratic colleagues to join them in a bipartisan effort to strengthen New Jersey’s civil union law. The five said that while they can’t support the Freedom of Religion and Equality in Civil Marriage Act (S-1967), they will work to ensure that New Jersey civil union law is enforced and provides all rights and benefits that legislators intended.
“Moving testimony in Senate hearings suggests that New Jersey’s civil union law is not always understood or followed,” Senator Tom Kean said. “We need to educate the public about the law, and enhance it if necessary so that no civil union partner is turned away from the hospital bed of a loved one.”
Senate Republican Budget Officer Anthony Bucco issued the following statement regarding the Corzine Administration’s refusal, to date, to identify the promised $400 million in budget savings that were due at the beginning of the month.
“My colleagues and I are disappointed that the governor has not honored his promise to identify $400 million in additional budget savings by December 1. It is vitally important that he release this list of savings that is now more than two weeks overdue.
Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean congratulated Paula Dow on her nomination as attorney general, and praised Governor-elect Chris Christie for the selection of a well-respected, experienced prosecutor as his first pick for a Cabinet-level appointment.
“Paula Dow stands out even among the many talented New Jersey lawyers qualified to fill the post of attorney general,” Senator Kean said. “I applaud both the governor-elect for his choice in this key nomination, and Paula Dow for her willingness to serve the people of New Jersey.”
Senate Republican Whip Kevin O’Toole praised Governor-elect Chris Christie’s selection of Essex County Prosecutor Paula Dow as New Jersey’s attorney general.
“This appointment proves beyond a doubt that Governor-elect Christie will build his leadership team based on ability and not partisanship,” O’Toole said. “Paula Dow has skillfully managed the largest and busiest county prosecutor’s office in New Jersey, and has a record of public service that any career attorney can be proud of.”
12th District Legislators Respond to Arraignment of Grimes and Sloan, Charged in Death of Tara O’Leary
Bridget Grimes and Debra Sloan were arraigned this morning in Warren County on the 17-count indictment handed down by the Hunterdon County Prosecutor’s Office in the death of Tara O’Leary, a developmentally disabled woman who had lived in a sponsor home. The case was moved to Warren County after two Hunterdon County judges were found to have conflicts of interest.
Earlier this week, the 12th District legislators called upon New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram to reverse her decision to not pursue a full investigation into the suspected corruption at the Division of the Developmentally Disabled that may have been what allowed Tara O’Leary’s death to take place while under the care of State workers (click here to view the letter).
Legislation (S-2182) introduced by Senator Christopher J. Connors and Assemblyman Brian E. Rumpf (both R-Ocean/Burl./Atl.) that would require a portion of tenant-based assistance vouchers under the State Rental Assistance Program be reserved for grants to veterans was passed by the State Senate.
“The changes to the State Rental Assistance Program provided for under our legislation would expand the state’s efforts to veterans who are struggling financially by helping them obtain housing that is affordable,” said Senator Connors who currently serves on the Senate Law and Public Safety and Veterans Affairs Committee. “By establishing this requirement solely for veterans, we can ensure that a greater number of those who have served our country in the Armed Forces will receive the housing assistance offered under this existing program. With its bipartisan sponsorship and today’s overwhelming support shown in the Senate, our Delegation sincerely hopes this measure will remain a priority in the Lame Duck Session and ultimately be signed into law.”
The Senate today passed a bill that would require that districts notify parents within 10 days when soil contaminated with pesticides or other chemicals is discovered at a school. Senator Christopher “Kip” Bateman, R-District 16, was a primary sponsor of Senate Bill 480 (Assembly Bill 1072).
“Administrators should let parents know immediately if there is a health risk present on school grounds,” Senator Bateman said. “This bill will make sure that parents are alerted to the risk and are informed of the steps being taken to prevent children from coming in contact with contaminated soil.”
Senator Christopher (Kip) Bateman, R-District 16, said he is pleased that the Senate unanimously passed his legislation requiring that state agencies release any report resulting from a school district audit within 30 days of completion.
“When taxpayers pay for a study or an audit, they should have the right to see it as soon as it is completed,” Senator Bateman said. “Keeping such information secret only contributes to a growing distrust of government.”
Senator Kip Bateman speaking during the Senate session on December 10, 2009.
Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean and Senator Diane Allen, members of the Senate Education Committee, issued the following statement regarding the State Department of Education’s decision to apply for federal “Race to the Top” education grants.
“I am pleased that Commissioner Davy has decided to apply for $200 million to $400 million in federal education grants,” Kean began. “Her initiative in applying for these funds will positively impact student performance for many years to come. Additionally, these funds will be vitally important to property taxpayers over the next several months.”
Connors/Rumpf/Gove Legislation Would Clarify Intent of Emergency Volunteer Personnel Tuition Credit Program
Senator Christopher J. Connors, Assemblyman Brian E. Rumpf and Assemblywoman DiAnne C. Gove have introduced legislation (S-3131/A-4354) to clarify the original intent of the Legislature by closing a loophole used by certain county colleges to deny volunteer emergency personnel tuition assistance under the state’s volunteer tuition credit program.
The volunteer tuition credit program provides a tuition credit benefit of up to $2,400 over four years to active members of a volunteer fire company or volunteer first aid or rescue squad or association and the dependent children and spouse of such members.