“Twenty-four days ago, Senator Stephen Sweeney made a public vow unprecedented in modern American government to explicitly ban legislation sponsored by Senators who represent some 3.5 million New Jerseyans,” said Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean Jr. “His partisanship is delaying solutions to stop a landfill from polluting children’s athletic fields and neighborhoods, as well as reforms to prevent sexual assault of children and the public safety of motorists. Sweeney must be held accountable each day that his irrational attack on democracy continues.”
What They Have Said:
“…Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-3, has basically declared that his house won’t consider any bill sponsored by a Republican, even local measures that any good lawmaker would sponsor for his or her district.” (Editorial, “Pettiness Aplenty Plaguing Trenton,” South Jersey Times, 5/28/13)
“…It’s Sweeney, in fact, who isn’t showing the proper respect for his own office, or for New Jerseyans. The refusal to post Republican bills is an abuse of his power as Senate president, and while such heavy-handed control over legislation is hardly unusual in the Senate and Assembly, it’s not often this blatant or overtly petty.” (Editorial, “Sweeney Abusing Position in Feud,” The Asbury Park Press, 5/23/13)
“…Sweeney certainly has shown himself to be both a legislative obstructionist and a compromiser. He’s a far better legislator when he works with Republicans for the good of the state. It’s time for the compromiser to take center stage.” (Editorial, “Sweeney’s Tirade,” The Record, 5/22/13)
“…Sweeney’s response in purposely blocking all Republican bills simply because they are offered by the opposing party is unacceptable, like a playground bully taking his ball and going home.” (Editorial, “Sweeney Abusing Power in Kean Feud,” The Daily Record, 5/22/13)
Timeline of Sweeney’s Attack on Democracy:
May 13, 2013 – A Senate vote on Sweeney’s cost-prohibitive S2723— which is in large part inconsequential and allows the Attorney General a few years to certify certain provisions — is moved to May 30. Senate Republicans were not allowed to see how the ever-changing legislation was amended that day.
The Star-Ledger: Sweeney (D-Gloucester) said he did not put his permit-related measure up for a vote because of a “drafting error.” Instead, the full Senate voted to amend the bill — which would embed firearms permits onto driver’s licenses — and vote on it and four other gun-related bills at the Senate’s next session on May 30.
May 15, 2013 to May 20, 2013 – Senate President Sweeney vows in media reports to indefinitely prevent all Republican-sponsored legislation, because S2723 was held until May 30. He starts by removing from May 20 Senate committee agendas several Republican-sponsored bills, including measures to spark Sandy recovery and to end the suffering of hundreds of children and families near the hazardous Fenimore Landfill.
The Bergen Record: That delay embarrassed Sweeney and apparently prompted him to retaliate by holding up all the Republicans’ bills. Sweeney promised that no bill sponsored by a Republican will get a vote. “Until I see fit”…
May 16 and May 23, 2013 – Senate Republicans continue to fight for the people’s needs, reaching out via caucus letters to Sweeney to urge the advancement of vital legislation.
The Star-Ledger: “Sweeney’s order “directly keeps dozens of suffering local families and hundreds of area school students at risk,” Bucco said in a statement. The landfill, which closed in 1977, reopened in 2011 with plans to cap it, close it and build a solar facility there. In the past year, however, the landfill, operated by Rich Bernardi’s Strategic Environmental Partners, has drawn hundreds of complaints from residents about rotten-egg-like odors … Also joining Bucco’s battle late today were Republican Sens. Tom Kean Jr. (R-Union) and Steven Oroho (R-Sussex), who sent a letter asking Sen. Richard Codey (D-Essex) to support Bucco’s bill. Codey, whose district includes six MorrisCounty towns, but not Roxbury, said he intends to support the bill.
Senatenj.com: “Dear Senator Sweeney, We are writing in regard to today’s news of Jersey City facing an immediate $5 million sick-leave bill for 25 retiring police officers … Senate Republicans sponsor a bill to end sick-leave payouts and save property taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars (Kyrillos/S808). We know you have publicly vowed not to let any Republican-sponsored bills advance, but we fully support another solution: Your bill (S1564) to eliminate sick-leave boat checks.”
May 30, 2013 – Democrats again deny a hearing on Senator Bucco’s bill to close the Fenimore Landfill, this time, in front of hundreds of local families, school children and officials. Democrat co-sponsor Bob Smith said he would take the idea and introduce his own bill.
The Daily Record: A standing-room-only crowd of Roxbury residents traveled to the state capitol Thursday for hearings about a bill to close and seal Fenimore Landfill. They left with the promise that something will be done to solve the problem, although it likely will not be fast enough for thousands of Fenimore neighbors who have been starved of clean air since November… Smith joined the unanimous agreement with the committee members, most of whom expressed shock and disgust about the situation, but Smith would not allow a vote to pass out of committee the bill, S2617, which was sponsored and introduced by Sen. Anthony R. Bucco, R-Morris.
June 6, 2013 – Assembly Democrats delay a committee vote on Sweeney’s gun bill S2723, expressing the same concerns about the legislation as Senate Republicans. Kean wonders, “Will Sweeney now disenfranchise people represented by Assembly members by banning their legislation?”
The Star-Ledger: Realizing the bill did not have the votes to advance, the committee’s chairman, Charles Mainor (D-Hudson), stopped the vote and called a recess. When the committee started back up, they moved on to another bill. “It didn’t have the votes,” Cryan said after the meeting. “I abstained based on cost concerns … I along with many other thousands of New Jerseyans have lost a motor vehicle office in our district. We had some real cost concerns about the bill.”