Job-creating legislation sponsored by Senate President Steve Sweeney and Senator Joe Kyrillos (R-Monmouth) to encourage small-scale and boutique casinos to set up shop in Atlantic City has passed the New Jersey Senate.
“The closure of Atlantic City’s four largest casinos put nearly 8,000 residents out of work and far too many are still struggling to get back on their feet,” Senator Kyrillos said. “Cutting red tape is critical to encouraging boutique casino owners to invest in Atlantic City. By passing this legislation, we can shore up the city’s fragile economy, put hardworking locals back to work, and generate huge benefits for New Jersey taxpayers.”
Cardinale Calls for Taxpayer Protections in Wake of $2 Million Paterson Police Officer Pension Abuse Scandal
In the wake of a Paterson legal case that will cost taxpayers $2 million, Senator Gerald Cardinale (R-Passaic, Bergen) today renewed his call for swift passage of taxpayer-protections to end pension abuses and million-dollar payouts.
“It is unconscionable that Paterson, a city that receives $430 million in state aid every year, would waste millions of taxpayer dollars to keep a police officer accused of such a heinous crime on the payroll,” Senator Cardinale said. “Now Manuel Avila will be eligible for lifetime Cadillac health benefits and thousands of dollars in extra pension payments – all on the backs of hardworking taxpayers.”
Manuela Avila, a suspended Paterson Police Officer who was accused of sexually assaulting a woman in custody, collected $900,000 in pay during the nine years he was suspended, according to recent reports. Despite accusations of wrongdoing, city officials allowed Avila to remain on the job long enough to be eligible for lifetime health benefits and extra annual pension payments.
Senator Jennifer Beck (R-11), Senator Michael Doherty (R-23), and Senator Gerry Cardinale (R-39) were joined by anti-tax advocates today in releasing a statement reiterating their opposition to a billion dollar gas tax increase. The General Assembly approved a 23-cent gas tax hike last evening, with a half-cent sales tax reduction starting January 1, 2017 and another half-cent reduction on January 1, 2018.
“I have heard the residents of New Jersey loud and clear and I remain steadfast in my opposition to a billion dollar, 23 cents per gallon increase in our gas tax,” said Senator Beck. “New Jersey residents see right through the fiscal shell game that is being played. Literally in three days, this Friday, July 1st, all 7 million New Jersey drivers will be faced with a billion dollar tax increase that will be imposed every time they take a trip to the beach, commute to work, or bring their kids to school. Without question, lowering the sales tax a penny over two years will not stop Democrats from raising it again as they have done before.”
Senator Kip Bateman (R-16) issued the following statement on the Legislature’s passage of compromise legislation, S-2456, that would implement the constitutional dedication of revenues for open space, farmland and historic preservation approved by voters in a 2014 referendum.
“This bipartisan compromise carries out the will of the voters to preserve New Jersey’s open spaces,” said Bateman. “We ensure that the funding voters chose to dedicate to preserving farms, creating parks and saving our state’s historic sites is used as intended.”
Under Ballot Question No. 2, which appeared before votes on November 4, 2014, the New Jersey Constitution was amended to dedicate four percent of Corporation Business Tax (CBT) revenues collected by the state for preservation programs.
Legislation sponsored by Senator Robert Singer (R-Monmouth, Ocean) to create a new task force that will study ways to expand New Jersey’s biotechnology industry passed the New Jersey Senate.
The resolution, SJR-57, creates the “New Jersey Biotechnology Task Force” to improve communication between state government and the biotechnology industry and to find ways to help retain and attract new biotechnology companies to the state. According to BioNJ, Inc., the industry directly provides more than 66,000 jobs and more than $1.5 billion in tax revenue to the state.
Legislation sponsored by Senator Robert Singer (R-Monmouth, Ocean) and Senator Tom Kean (R-Union, Morris, Somerset) to make more students aware of their possible eligibility for the New Jersey Student Tuition Assistance Reward Program Scholarship (NJ STARS) passed the New Jersey Senate.
“The cost of college is only getting higher, and NJ STARS offers students a chance to attend college without weighing them down with debt for years to come,” Senator Singer said. “If we can connect more students with the money available to them, we’ll make college more affordable and keep more of our brightest students in the state.”
Legislation sponsored by Senator Diane Allen (R-Burlington) requiring the NJ Department of Education to maintain an online database detailing legal decisions concerning special education cases in New Jersey has passed the New Jersey Senate.
“Current law ties the hands of advocates who are working tirelessly to secure resources for the more than 230,000 children enrolled in special education programs statewide,” Senator Allen opined. “Providing web access to legal decisions on all special education court cases, including those that are settled, is the best way to empower parents and school officials to fight for every child’s right to learn and thrive in the least restrictive environment possible.”
The New Jersey Senate passed legislation sponsored by Senator Joseph Pennacchio to prevent New Jersey Transit from denying a person with a service dog access to any vehicle.
“Service dogs are not just pets,” Senator Pennacchio said. “They are highly trained assistants that help people with special needs to get where they need to go safely. This legislation clears up any confusion in our laws and protects access to public transportation for all who need it.”
The Department of Education would be required to encourage school boards to offer instruction on media literacy, with a particular emphasis on how to demystify violence in the media, under legislation sponsored by Senator Diane Allen (R-Burlington). The bill, S-436, was passed by the New Jersey Senate.
“Media literacy education teaches students to apply critical thinking skills to evaluate how messages in the media shape our culture and society,” Senator Allen said. “The school curriculum should evolve to meet the needs of millennials everywhere. We already teach New Jersey students 21st century skills, such as cyber safety and responsible use of social media. The additional instruction proposed under this legislation is the next logical step to ensuring all students are prepared for the future.”
The New Jersey Senate advanced a bill by Senator Christopher “Kip” Bateman (R-Somerset, Mercer, Middlesex, Hunterdon) upping standards for school nurse certification. New requirements include clinical experience in a school nurse office and completion of a college-supervised school nurse practicum.
“School nurses are charged with protecting the health and welfare of every kid that walks through a classroom door,” Senator Bateman said. “The needs of our children are certainly not “one-size-fits-all.” Ensuring candidates for certification complete hands-on training in a school nurse’s office will ensure all are fully equipped to identify the early signs of serious health problems and provide the highest level of care for kids with complex needs.”