Senator Christopher Connors, Assemblyman Brian Rumpf and Assemblywoman DiAnne C. Gove of the 9th Legislative District joined with a broad coalition of fishing, sporting and environmental groups at a rally in Barnegat Light on July 2 to call on the Obama administration and Rutgers University to delay the planned seismic testing program off of New Jersey’s coast as a first step to address the harmful environmental and economic impacts that will likely result.
Some of the groups taking part in the event included the Recreational Fishing Alliance, Clean Ocean Action, Anglers Conservation Network, Jersey Coast Anglers Association, Surfrider Foundation, Point Pleasant Fishermen’s Dock Cooperative, NJ Outdoor Alliance, and Save Barnegat Bay.
Senator Sam Thompson and Assemblyman Ron Dancer, both R-Ocean, Monmouth, Burlington and Middlesex, attended and participated in a news conference outside the main gate to Fort Dix of the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in Wrightstown. The legislators lauded that portion of the Fiscal 2015 budget which includes $200,000 in funding to protect the base and Picatinny Arsenal from potential cuts or closure by the Department of Defense (DOD). Thompson and Dancer were sponsors of the budget initiative.
“Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst is the second-largest New Jersey employer and a huge multi-billion dollar segment of our state’s economy,” said Thompson. “It’s imperative that we have a bipartisan effort of state and federal lawmakers that is prepared to defend the joint base and New Jersey’s other military installations in the event of another round of base closures.”
Senator Steven Oroho today said he looks forward to working cooperatively with Senate President Stephen Sweeney to explore expanding casino gaming into northern New Jersey.
According to a report published Wednesday in The Record, Senate President Sweeney said he has discussed expanding gaming opportunities to northern New Jersey and that a statewide referendum on expanded gaming could be placed on the November 2015 ballot.
“I’m encouraged to hear the Senate President say that voters might soon get to decide on expanding gaming to north Jersey and other parts of the state,” said Oroho (R-Sussex, Warren, Morris). “Expanding gaming will not only bring additional needed revenue and jobs to New Jersey, but also boost local equine, racetrack and tourism industries throughout the area and state.”
Senator Joe Pennacchio, sponsor of comprehensive bi-state legislation to reform the troubled Delaware River Port Authority, stated the following regarding news that the public agency is now spending $7,500 per month on a politically connected “crisis communicator” to try to look better, in light of missing emails in a federal probe and a host of other issues:
“I’ll be the DRPA’s ‘crisis communicator,’ free of charge. The message is simple: ‘We are sorry. We screwed up. Over the years, we have lost the proper focus and politics has clouded our good judgment. We have lost your trust by wasting and abusing your money, but we want to regain that trust and serve the best interests of hundreds of thousands of hard-working commuters. We finally embrace and encourage the passage of bi-state legislative reform, so that these issues never happen again and the DRPA is forever transparent and accountable to the public.’”
Senator Dawn Addiego (R-8) commended the inclusion of $200,000 in the approved FY 2015 New Jersey budget to protect and grow the state’s military installations in the likely event of another round of federal base realignments and closures.
“This was an extremely tough budget year, and some items in the budget that the Legislature approved were reduced or eliminated by Governor Christie using his line item veto power,” added Addiego. “The fact that this funding has remained in the budget should serve as proof to anyone watching that New Jersey will be prepared to fight for the future of our military bases.”
The New Jersey Senate recently passed legislation sponsored by Senator Jennifer Beck re-establishing the moratorium on the imposition of fees on non-residential construction projects to support affordable housing projects for the period beginning with the moratorium’s prior expiration date of July 1, 2013 through December 31, 2015.
“This was essentially a tax on all non-residential development in New Jersey,” Beck explained. “Further, this fee voids all municipal ordinances that otherwise imposed development fees or payment in lieu fees on non-residential developers. I have opposed this 2.5% assessment on commercial development from day one — it deters new businesses from locating in New Jersey, which means it stops jobs creation.”
Senator Diane Allen is proud to announce that funding she fought for to preserve Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst is included in the FY 2015 state budget.
“The Joint Base is critical to communities, families and businesses in the 7th District and surrounding counties in the state,” said Allen (R-Burlington). “This funding is integral to making sure we do everything possible to keep the base open for our residents and thousands of our bravest men and women who sacrifice so much to protect us. As a longtime member of the Council on Armed Forces and Veterans’ Affairs, I’ve worked tirelessly with council members and the administration to get this appropriation.”
Last month, Senator Allen introduced a state budget resolution requesting an appropriation to protect the joint base, which is vulnerable to being realigned or closed by the federal Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC).
Senator Jennifer Beck applauded the funds allocated in the new state budget for domestic violence and sexual violence services. The 2015 budget provides $1.8 million for domestic violence services and an additional $400,000 for the direct services to victims of sexual violence.
“Over the past three years I have worked closely with the Christie administration to ensure these services were funded at the necessary levels,” said Beck. “In a year that every dollar was more important than ever, it is encouraging to see sexual violence services made a priority. I know these funds will go a long way in assisting victims of domestic and sexual violence.”
The New Jersey Senate has passed a trio of bills sponsored by Senator Anthony Bucco (R-Morris) to enhance public safety and allow land preservation or development.
The Senate gave final legislative approval today to S-1560, to enhance the New Jersey State Police with military veterans. The bill now heads to Gov. Christie for consideration.
“The people of New Jersey can be better protected and served if the State Police has a clear path to hire more military veterans,” Bucco said. “With their vast and profound experiences in dangerous, life threatening and fast-paced environments, military veterans become some of the best law enforcement officers. Our heroes and heroines are just what the State Police needs right now to help address historic levels of turnover.”
Legislation sponsored by Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean Jr. to create criteria to determine how state tax dollars are allotted to colleges and universities throughout New Jersey was advanced today by the full Senate.
“A Commission has long been needed to study and determine an accountable, consistent and equitable measure for how billions of dollars in public funding is annually provided to colleges and universities,” said Kean (R-Union). “New Jersey’s overtaxed residents cannot afford to pay for any arbitrary state spending. We need to continuously examine every dollar spent to ensure that taxpayers are getting the most for their money.”