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A Senate committee passed bipartisan legislation sponsored by Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean to bring world-class entertainment to venues in Atlantic City and across New Jersey and, in turn, boost the state’s economy and job market.
“I’d like to thank the committee chairman for joining me in pushing this vital economic growth bill,” Kean said. “This cost-free measure would get more middle-class people back to work in a wide variety of careers and increase state revenues by enhancing state tourism, entertainment and a variety of industries from retail to restaurant to hospitality. There is tremendous value in the ability to consistently draw world-class entertainment here, especially considering widely successful A-Lister residencies in Las Vegas, where there’s no state income tax. The more than 50,000 fans who paid to see A-List performer Maroon 5 in August gives a glimpse of how Atlantic City can transform into a premier entertainment destination, drawing tourists from the most-densely populated northeast corridor; two of America’s largest cities that are each less than two hours away; and from around the world via nearby international airports.”
Legislation in Action: NJIT Breaks Ground on Science, Engineering Facility Funded by Kean’s ‘Building Our Future Bond Act’
On Thursday, Senator Kean attended the groundbreaking of NJIT’s $19 million world-class life sciences and engineering facility, designed to foster revolutionary research and high quality instruction. The State covered $13.5 million of the cost to build the facility, thanks in part to Sen. Kean’s “Building Our Future Bond Act.” This voter-approved legislation provides a $750 million bond to vastly improve infrastructure and instruction at public universities, such as NJIT, over a period of 20 years.
“Today’s groundbreaking proves that the people of New Jersey made the right decision when they voted to approve a $750 million bond to fund desperately needed upgrades to higher education institutions across the State,” Senator Kean said.
Governor Chris Christie signed legislation today sponsored by Senator Jennifer Beck (R- Monmouth) that provides for more affordable fuel during a state of energy emergency. The bill provides that when a gasoline retailer exhausts the supply of the lowest grade fuel during a state of energy emergency, the retailer may sell any remaining supply of higher-grade fuel at the same price per gallon of the lowest grade.
“I want to thank Governor Christie for signing this bill today,” said Beck. “This legislation allows gas stations to provide motor fuel at the price per gallon or liter of their lowest grade when they only have higher grades left to offer. We shouldn’t have to pay extra when we are vulnerable in the aftermath of disasters, just because there are supply shortages that are out of our control.”
Senator Christopher “Kip” Bateman joined nearly 200 cyclists from Ride 2 Recovery Tuesday morning, as the group embarked on a 51-mile trek from Princeton to Philadelphia. This was the last leg of Ride 2 Recovery’s 460-mile ride across New Jersey to raise awareness and help thousands of injured veterans around the country.
Trading in a suit and tie for athletic gear and a bright red bicycle, Senator Bateman addressed the crowd before cycling alongside the veterans for the first several miles of today’s trek to Philadelphia.
“I proudly support Ride 2 Recovery, an incredible organization dedicated to helping our nation’s brave veterans recover from injury and trauma through cycling,” Senator Bateman said. “Today we pedaled together to honor these heroes and show our support for the volunteers that work tirelessly to empower and inspire injured veterans on the road to recovery.”
Project Completion Expected by End of 2016
Senator Jennifer Beck (R-11), Monmouth County Freeholder Tom Arnone, and Neptune Committeeman Randy Bishop announced that the New Jersey Department of Transportation’s (NJDOT’s) Office of Maritime Resources has awarded the bid to complete the Shark River dredging project. The project’s contract was awarded to Mobile Pumping & Dredging Co., of Chester, PA.
“After over two decades, there has finally been a bid awarded to dredge Shark River. Notably, The National Marine Fisheries only allows dredging work from July 1st to December 31st, so I’m happy to see this monumental step taken forward, which, if all the stars align, will allow dredging to begin this year. None of this could have been possible without the work of Freeholder Tom Arnone and Committeeman Randy Bishop, working together in a bipartisan fashion with every state, county, and local stakeholder to make this project happen,” Beck said. “While the State is investing more than $5 million, the project couldn’t have moved forward without the assistance of Monmouth County, which is accepting the material at its landfill and helping to fund the trucking. In addition, a number of surrounding municipalities have preliminarily agreed to share in the cost of the project.”
The New Jersey Senate urged the federal government to accept a proposal by Governors Chris Christie and Andrew Cuomo under which New Jersey, New York and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey would pay for 50 percent of the $20 billion Gateway rail tunnel project if the federal government would pick up the other half.
The bipartisan resolution, sponsored by Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean (R-Union) and Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester), also endorsed the governors’ decision to have the Port Authority take a lead role in planning and funding the Gateway project. Gateway is designed to add two new rail tunnels under the Hudson, provide one-seat rides for commuters on all NJ Transit lines, and double New Jersey rail ridership to Manhattan by 2040.
“New Jersey residents and employers absolutely need this cooperative solution for a new Hudson River rail tunnel to maximize their opportunities and investments in our state,” Senate Republican Leader Kean said. “For years, we’ve been working to obtain this fair and balanced funding plan involving all stakeholders, and I urge federal officials to immediately sign off and let the building begin.”
A measure sponsored by Senator Robert Singer (R-Monmouth, Ocean) to create better coordinated and comprehensive primary and behavioral health care services was adopted by the full Senate.
Under Senator Singer’s legislation, S2375, ambulatory care facilities would be permitted to provide primary health care services and behavioral health care services under a single license.
“The state’s current requirement forcing facilities to obtain multiple licenses is an unnecessary burden that restricts a patients’ access to needed care and makes it much more difficult for health centers to provide coordinated, holistic care,” said Singer. “Making it easier for ambulatory care facilities to also provide mental health services will allow more patients to get the full spectrum of care that they need.”
Legislation Is Part of Senate Republicans’ 36-Bill Economic Growth Package
The New Jersey Senate has passed Senator Anthony Bucco’s bill instructing the Department of Labor to develop and conduct a survey designed to uncover the reasons why business owners shutter or move their businesses out of state. This vital effort will give lawmakers the tools needed to develop new strategies to make New Jersey more attractive to the nation’s top job creators.
“We simply cannot stand idly by as more and more businesses leave the state, forcing countless hardworking New Jerseyans into unemployment,” Senator Bucco said. “As a small business owner, I have seen first-hand how burdensome regulations, along with the high cost of doing business here, can deliver serious blows to New Jersey employers. This legislation will give lawmakers the answers we need to develop policies that can correct the root causes of job loss, and in turn, make our state more attractive to job creators.”
Senator Kevin O’Toole (R-Bergen, Essex, Morris, Passaic) introduced legislation to allow for more efficient prosecution of alleged drug dealers.
The bill eliminates the requirement for a forensic laboratory analysis of apparent unknown or imitation drugs that a defendant is charged with distributing or possessing with the intent to distribute.
“It’s already illegal to deal drugs and imitation controlled dangerous substances, so we don’t need to delay prosecutions by mandating costly testing when police bust dealers or pill rings,” O’Toole said. “The sooner we can lock up perpetrators and get these dangerous substances off the streets, the safer everyone will be. This legislation will also help mitigate processing and testing backlogs that labs are struggling to clear.”
Legal action originally encouraged by Senator Kevin O’Toole against a now-defunct Essex County travel agency, which baited hundreds of consumers to pay cash for nothing in return, has now resulted in a settlement that can provide restitution to local victims.
Approximately 250 consumers who paid for but did not receive all or part of the “all-inclusive” packages they ordered from Bloomfield-based Club ABC Tours are eligible for restitution, under a $644,000 settlement obtained by the Attorney General and state Division of Consumer Affairs. The State announced it would take action in this case after Senator O’Toole urged an investigation in October 2012.
“On behalf of my constituents and the victims of this disgusting scheme, I’d like to thank the state Attorney General’s Office and the Division of Consumer Affairs for investigating this matter and obtaining a just outcome,” said O’Toole (R-Essex, Bergen, Morris, Passaic). “After hearing horror stories from dozens of constituents who were defrauded and abandoned by Club ABC Tours, I initially said there was an appearance of conspiracy, consumer fraud and theft, and soon after we learned the extent and magnitude of this case was much worse. For people to spend significant amounts of their hard earned money on ‘trips of a lifetime’ only to arrive and learn they had been bamboozled was unconscionable.”