Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Message From Senator Menendez on Connecticut School Shooting

No More Senseless Tragedies

Dear Friend,

The senseless, horrific tragedy that took place in Newtown, Connecticut last Friday has shaken us all to our cores.  We ask ourselves, why?  Today, I spoke on the Senate floor to join with every American in expressing our deep and abiding grief as a nation and our deepest -- most heartfelt -- condolences to the families of the victims.

As the father of two, this strikes painfully close to my heart, painfully close to the heart of every parent.  There is no greater sorrow -- no deeper pain -- than the enormous grief that these families are suffering: 20 innocent children, 6 teachers and school employees and their families.  No parent should ever have to bear the unspeakable pain of losing a child, especially to this type of tragedy.
Enough is enough. 

We must ensure the Newtown tragedy marks a turning point when we are all willing to come together and do what’s right.  As we pray for the victims, I believe we must commit ourselves -- as a nation -- to a long-overdue debate about gun violence and how we help those who suffer mental illnesses in our society.
We must finally pass common sense gun laws.  No more politics. No more excuses.

Robert Menendez
United States Senator
Please do not reply to this e-mail as this address is not monitored. To contact my office, please use the contact form found on my website at

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Riley, Mosquera, Moriarty & Fuentes Bill to Help Domestic Violence Victims Seek Justice Against their Abusers Clears Assembly Panel

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Celeste M. Riley, Gabriela M. Mosquera, Paul D. Moriarty and Angel Fuentes to allow domestic violence victims to testify against their abusers via closed circuit television under certain circumstances was released Thursday by an Assembly panel. 

“Many victims struggle with reporting their abusers out of fear for their safety. The same fear extends to testifying against them in court,” said Riley (D- Cumberland/Gloucester/Salem). “This bill ensures a victim can have her day in court without being intimidated by her abuser.”

“Having to recount an abusive relationship in front of your abuser can be unnerving for an individual who’s been battered,” said Mosquera (D-Camden/Gloucester). “Allowing victims to testify via close-circuit television allows them to confront their abusers without fear.”

“Domestic abuse is traumatic. Some victims are so frightful of their abusers that they would rather not press charges or even testify in court for fear of retribution,” said Moriarty (D-Camden/Gloucester). “This bill makes it easier for victims to come forward and get justice.”

“It takes a lot of courage and strength for victims of domestic abuse to face their perpetrators. We should be able to accommodate these victims who want to hold their abusers accountable, but are too afraid to do so under their glare,” said Fuentes (D-Camden/Gloucester). 

The bill (A-3219) would allow a domestic violence victim to testify against an alleged abuser via closed circuit television in prosecutions for a crime or offense involving domestic violence.  

Under the bill, the court may, following a hearing, order the taking of the testimony out of the presence of the jury, defendant, or spectators. Closed circuit testimony would be allowed if the court determines by clear and convincing evidence that there is a substantial likelihood that the witness would suffer severe emotional or mental distress if required to testify in open court.

The bill was released by the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Green, Sumter Bill to Help Communities Transform Idle Hospitals into Newly Productive Health Care Centers Clears Committee

Legislation Would Provide Tax Credits to Help Redevelop Aging/Obsolete Hospitals

(TRENTON) – An Assembly Panel on Thursday approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Jerry Green and Shavonda E. Sumter to help transform ailing or obsolete hospitals into productive healthcare facilities once again.

“Shifts in population, economic pressures and scientific advancement often lead to the construction of new hospital facilities and the closing of older hospitals,” said Green (D-Middlesex/Somerset/Union).  “This is unfortunate for the communities that house these once productive hospitals because they often contribute greatly to local employment and tax revenue.  This legislation would aid in repurposing former hospitals health in a positive transition to health centers that can still provide much needed support to the community.”

“If we can help transform these former hospitals into centers for the delivery of other health care services and health support services then we can achieve a win-win for our communities,” said Sumter (D-Bergen, Passaic). “The bill would support the transition of former medical buildings into viable, productive community centers and service support for other hospitals in the area.”

The bill (A-3043) targets facilities that were general hospitals but that have been granted a certificate of need to cease operation as a general hospital. These “qualified health care facilities” can be renovated and redeveloped as a health care and health support services center.  

Specifically, the bill would grant corporation business tax credits to developers who make certain capital investments for repurposing qualified health care facilities. 

The bill would allow the developer of a repurposed qualified health care facility to qualify for corporation business tax credits equal to 100 percent of the capital investment, if that capital investment is at least $10 million and is applied towards repurposing a facility that will have tenants with a total of 100 or more full-time employees. Annually for ten years the taxpayer may use a credit equal to 10 percent of the qualified capital investment. The bill was approved by the Assembly Appropriations Committee and now awaits consideration by the full Assembly.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Diegnan’s ‘Tabitha’s Law’ Requiring Parents to Notify School of a Child’s Absence Signed into Law

Measure Inspired by Nashville Teen’s Disappearance is Designed to Help Law Enforcement in the Event of a Missing Child

 (TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr. to require parents to notify a school if a child will be absent, and in turn require schools to notify parents if a student fails to attend - an idea stemming from the tragic disappearance of a Nashville teen – has been signed into law.

            “It’s well known that the first few hours of a child’s abduction are the most vital to the recovery process,” said Diegnan (D-Middlesex).  “Tabitha's Law is meant to provide families and law enforcement with an early warning trigger during that critical time.  Our hearts go out to the family of Tabitha Tudor who to this day still has not received complete closure.”

The law (A-1902) requires parents to notify school administrators whenever their child will be absent from school, and requires administrators to contact parents whenever a pupil is absent without the parent's having provided prior notice. 

On the morning of April 29, 2003, 13-year-old Nashville, Tennessee student, Tabitha Tudor, did not show up for school. 

Although school administrators had received no notification from Tabitha's parents that she would be absent that day, the school failed to alert the Tudors of their daughter's unexplained absence.  As a result, her parents did not learn that Tabitha was missing until after her father arrived home at 4:45 p.m.  Due to the delay, law enforcement officials and Tabitha's parents lost an entire day before their search could begin.  Tabitha is still missing.

Josef C. Gutenkauf (October 13, 1925 – December 8, 2012)

Josef C. Gutenkauf
(October 13, 1925 – December 8, 2012)

On behalf of the Plainfield Democratic Committee I would like to send my condolence to Joe's wife Dottie and the rest of the Gutenkauf Family.

You couldn't have found a better and more loyal Democrat and also a personal friend then Joe Gutenkauf he's in a better place but all of us that knew him will always remember what a wonderful man he was.

Josef Charles Gutenkauf, 87, a 30-year resident of Plainfield, NJ, died Saturday, December 8th, 2012 at JFK Medical Center, surrounded by his loving family. Born October 13, 1925 in Chicago, he was the son of Joseph and Martha (Madison) Gutenkauf, and spent much of his childhood on the family farm in Clifton, IL. A World War II Army veteran, he served during the liberation of the Philippines and in the occupation of Japan. After the war, he attended the University of Chicago, where he received a B.A. in History.

Active in the Civil Rights movement, Joe joined the Socialist Party in 1944, and in 1948 served as executive secretary of the Chicago branch of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), working with Bayard Rustin, Michael Harrington, Norman Thomas, and many other noted political and intellectual luminaries. He was a founding member of what is now Democratic Socialists of America.

At Southern Illinois University, he met fellow Sociology graduate student Dorothy Miller, and they were married in 1964. Joe enrolled in the graduate program at Syracuse University in 1966, joined the faculty at Ithaca College, and later taught at Glassboro State College (now Rowan University). After moving to New Jersey, Joe worked at the NJ Treasury Department’s Affirmative Action Office until his retirement in 1992, and was a member of the American Federation of Teachers and the Communications Workers of America. He was an avid WWII historian, a voracious reader, and a terrific cook, and loved classic films and European history.

An active member of the Plainfield community, Joe worked on political campaigns for school board and for candidates for local, state and national office. A member of the Democratic City Committee for many years, Joe worked to abolish the death penalty, achieve marriage equality, and keep - and later restore – Plainfield’s Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center. He received awards for his commitment to social justice from the Plainfield Area NAACP and Garden State Equality.

Joe is survived by his devoted wife of 48 years, Dottie Gutenkauf; his daughter, Polly Armour and her husband, Jay of Gardiner, NY; and his son, Jon Martin and his partner, Craig Roseberry of New York City. He was the beloved brother-in-law of Alice Gutenkauf of Morton Grove, IL; uncle of Diane Gutenkauf and her husband Michael Hassan of Elmhurst, IL, and Karen Gutenkauf of Broken Arrow, OK; grandfather of Sarah and Josh Armour; and cherished friend to Joan Hervey and Linda Geczi and to his loyal canine companion, Sheba. Joe was predeceased by his dear brother Martin.

At his request, his remains have been donated to the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. A memorial gathering will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory may be made to the Plainfield Rescue Squad at P.O. Box 707, Plainfield, NJ 07060, and to the New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players at 302 West 91st St, New York, NY 10024.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Congratulations Mayor-Elect of Scotch Plains Kevin Glover

I want to take this opportunity to congratulate Mayor-Elect Kevin Glover on his victory in Scotch Plains.

I had the opportunity to work with him over the years as a councilman and when he decided to run he asked for my advice and support. I shared with him that as a mayor there’s a commitment that you have to be mayor for all people and it’s a 24/7 job. I saw then his commitment and saw in him the ability and I am confident he will do a good job.

I am also committed to the Township of Scotch Plains.

Today he offered me the honor of swearing him in as the next Mayor of Scotch Plains. I told him I would be happy and honored to swear him in.

I look forward to working with him as one of his Assembly representatives of the 22nd district. So again I want to take this opportunity to thank him publicly for the honor of swearing him in.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Green, Singleton, Jasey & Wimberly Bill to Help Rid Neighborhoods of Vacant, Nuisance Properties Now Law

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Speaker Pro Tempore Jerry Green, Assemblyman Troy Singleton, Assemblywoman Mila M. Jasey and Assemblyman Benjie E. Wimberly authorizing lenders to foreclose mortgages on vacant and abandoned properties has been signed into law.

“Vacant properties are problematic for neighborhoods. More than being unsightly, they drag down property values and attract criminal activity,” said Green. “This law will help clear neighborhoods of these nuisance properties by changing a process that can take over a year in most foreclosure cases, and compact it to a few months.”

The law (A-3248) authorizes lenders to bring summary actions to foreclose mortgages on vacant and abandoned residential property. In order to secure entry of a foreclosure judgment, the lender will have to follow procedures in addition to those set out in the “Fair Foreclosure Act” and the Rules of Court. The court may enter a final residential mortgage foreclosure judgment under the law if it finds that the residential property is vacant and abandoned, and that a review of the pleadings and documents filed with the court supports the entry of a final judgment. The court may not enter a final residential mortgage foreclosure judgment if it finds that the property is not vacant or abandoned, or the mortgagor or any other defendant has filed an answer, appearance, or other written objection asserting defenses or objections that provide cause to preclude the entry of judgment.

“These are properties that have been left behind by their owners to sit and deteriorate without thought or concern to the impact they might have on neighborhoods,” said Singleton (D-Burlington). “This law will help speed up the foreclosure process for these problematic properties and provide much needed relief to neighborhoods that must deal with the headaches they create.”

“It’s unfair to neighbors who keep up their properties to have these dilapidated properties just sit there,” said Jasey (D-Essex/Morris). “If a property has been abandoned by its owner, and the owner has let the property fall into such a state of disrepair that it represents a blight on the community, then the court should be able to step in so municipalities can turn these properties around.”

“Abandoned properties not only attract trouble, but can be dangerous depending on the extent of neglect and disrepair. Neighborhoods should not be held hostage by the irresponsibility of these property owners,” said Wimberly (D-Passaic/Bergen). “This law will help these communities reclaim their neighborhoods from these properties and the nuisances they attract.”

Under the law, real property would be deemed “vacant and abandoned” if the court finds that:

· The mortgaged property is not occupied by a mortgagor or by a tenant who entered into a lease agreement before the mortgagee served notice of intention to commence foreclosure under section 4 of the “Fair Foreclosure Act” and;

· There exists at least two of 15 conditions enumerated in the bill which indicate vacancy and abandonment.
Real property would not be considered “vacant and abandoned” under the following circumstances:

· There is an unoccupied building on the property which is undergoing construction, renovation, or rehabilitation that is proceeding diligently to completion, and the building is in compliance with all applicable ordinances, codes, regulations, and statutes;

· There is a building occupied on a seasonal basis, but otherwise secure; or

· There is a building that is secure, but is the subject of a probate action, action to quiet title, or other ownership dispute.

Wisniewski Urges Republicans to Work With President Obama on Middle Class Tax Cuts

(Trenton)– With less than a month remaining before the New Year, President Obama is committed to fighting for an extension of the middle class tax cuts and working toward a balanced approach to reducing our nation’s deficit.  Assemblyman John Wisniewski, Chairman of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee, issued the following statement:

“Even as people in our state were still reeling from Superstorm Sandy, New Jersey voters went to the polls this November and elected President Obama with a larger margin than we had in 2008.  We sent a clear message to Washington: we support President Obama and want Congress to work with him to help middle class families and find a solution to bringing down America’s deficit in a balanced manner.  President Obama has a plan that reduces our deficit by $4 trillion. It asks the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share and continues making the investments needed for economic growth – such as key investments in small businesses, American manufacturing, education, and clean energy.

As many New Jerseyans are still struggling after the devastation wrought by Sandy, we need Congress to renew the middle class tax cuts and offer these families relief and certainty at a time when they need it most.  If Congress does not act, New Jersey families- some of whom are still displaced from their homes- will see an income tax hike of $2,200.  We call upon New Jersey Republicans, both in Congress and in Trenton, to urge their colleagues to do the right thing by coming to the table and agree with the President on a credible plan that pays down our nation’s deficit and protects the investments that will continue to grow our economy.”

Insurance & Utility Issues Related to Sandy, Casino Gaming at Meadowlands for 2014 Super Bowl & Innovative Social Impact Bond Top Thursday Assembly Agendas

Fire Safety, Energy Receipt Property Tax Payments Also on Tap
(TRENTON) – Insurance issues related to Superstorm Sandy, the state utility industry’s response to the storm and the role higher education played in the planning and response to it highlight Thursday’s Assembly agenda, along with legislation to allow temporary casino gaming at the Meadowlands during the 2014 Super Bowl.

Also on tap is innovative legislation to create a five-year pilot program that allows private entities to fund public policy initiatives through pay-for-success contracts, or social impact bonds.
            The hearings are scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. They will be streamed live at:

The agenda is attached. Highlights include:

·         The Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee will meet at 10 a.m. to receive testimony on insurance issues facing New Jersey residents in the aftermath of Sandy, including responsiveness to insurance claims submitted and the extent of insurance coverage available to restore homes and businesses. The committee will hear testimony from the Department of Banking and Insurance, organizations involved in providing property and casualty insurance in the state and other invited guests. Members of the public are also welcome to testify.
·         The Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee will meet at 10 a.m. to take testimony from utility industry representatives concerning the utilities’ response efforts to Sandy to date as well as the industry’s ongoing and remaining efforts in the aftermath of the storm.
·         The Assembly Higher Education Committee will meet at 10:30 a.m. to hear from representatives from New Jersey's institutions of higher education to discuss the role of the higher education community in recovery efforts following Sandy.
·         Legislation (A-3266 and ACR-160) to allow temporary casino gaming at the Meadowlands complex for the 2014 Super Bowl will be discussed. The resolution seeks voter approval to amend the state Constitution to allow it. The bill provides for regulation and enforcement. They’re sponsored by Tim Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic), Ruben J. Ramos Jr. (D-Hudson), Jerry Green (D-Union/Middlesex/Somerset) and Gary Schaer (D-Passaic/Bergen) and will be discussed at 10 a.m. by the Assembly Regulatory Oversight and Gaming Committee.
·         An innovative measure (A-3289) sponsored by Angel Fuentes (D-Camden/Gloucester) and Albert Coutinho (D-Essex) to create a five-year pilot program that allows private entities to fund public policy initiatives through pay-for-success contracts, or social impact bonds. The bill will be heard at 2 p.m. by the Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee.
·         A bill (A-1570) sponsored by John Wisniewski (D-Middlesex), Jerry Green (D-Union/Middlesex/Somerset) and Mila Jasey (D-Essex/Morris) to require fire suppression systems in new single- and two-family homes. It will be heard at 2 p.m. by the Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee.
·         Legislation (A-2753) sponsored by Daniel R. Benson and Wayne DeAngelo (both D-Mercer/Middlesex) that would require certain energy tax receipts currently collected by the state be paid directly to municipalities for property tax relief. The intent of the bill is to ensure towns are able to collect the amounts of energy tax receipts that they were originally promised when the state revised the collection and distribution process in 1997. Energy tax receipts are collected from utilities and energy companies. The bill will be heard at 2 p.m. by the Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee.

Prieto Calls Proposed Privatization of New Jersey’s Award-Winning Lottery ‘Troubling’

(TRENTON) – Assembly Budget Committee Chair Vincent Prieto (D-Bergen/Hudson) on Wednesday issued the following statement after the committee’s hearing on the administration’s proposal to privatize the New Jersey Lottery:

“This latest proposal to monetize one of our most profitable and well-run assets is troubling to say the least. Absent any testimony from the administration, we appear to be looking at a plan to forfeit substantial long-term revenue for a one-shot upfront payment that will hurt small business owners and deprive us of considerable revenue to serve students, veterans and the disabled. 

“Privatization should be reserved for when the government cannot perform that function well on its own. In the case of our award-winning lottery system, we have one of the most efficient operations in the world. 

“At the end of the day, it appears that the only one that stands to benefit from this proposal is the company chosen to take over this asset,” said Prieto.

Schaer, Lampitt, Giblin & Mosquera Bill to Require Health Benefits Coverage of Early Refills of Eye Drop Medicine OK’d by Assembly

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Gary Schaer, Pamela Lampitt, Thomas P. Giblin and Gabriela Mosquera to require health insurance providers to cover early refills of prescription eye drops under certain circumstances was approved Monday by the full Assembly. 

“Anyone who has used eye drops knows how easy it is to miss or have more than one drop fall from the bottle. Punishing patients who rely on prescription drops to treat diseases like glaucoma for this inevitability is unfair and puts their well-being at risk,” said Schaer (D-Bergen/Passaic). “This bill helps ensure that people do not skip taking critical prescription eye drops simply because they spilled or lost some of their eye drops and were not allowed by their insurer to get an early refill.”

The bill (A-3080) requires, in certain circumstances, that health insurers that provide coverage for prescription eye drops provide coverage for expenses incurred for a refill of prescription eye drops in accordance with Guidance for Early Refill Edits on Topical Ophthalmic Products provided to Medicare Part D plan sponsors by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). 

The CMS issued guidance on topical ophthalmics to prevent the unintended interruption of drug therapy in situations where patients legitimately need earlier refills of prescription eye drops. While the guidance acknowledges that health insurers monitor appropriate refill periods as part of utilization management, it also recognizes that self-administration of drops may involve some reasonable amount of waste and that earlier refills may be appropriate in some circumstances.

The requirement to provide this coverage is conditioned on two factors: (1) the prescribing health care practitioner indicates on the original prescription that additional quantities of the prescription eye drops are needed; and (2) the refill requested does not exceed the number of additional quantities indicated on the original prescription by the prescribing health care practitioner.

 “The refill limits imposed by insurance providers leave no room for error which is unfair to patients who depend on this medicine to treat serious eye problems,” said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). “The bill won't let patients get any more medicine then their prescription allows, it simply allows them to get the next refill sooner when they actually need it.”

“These quantity restrictions can be difficult to meet. It’s not about being wasteful, it’s about being human,” said Giblin (D-Essex/Passaic). “Individuals who rely on prescription eye drops to treat certain diseases should have the peace of mind that their refills will be covered if their drops run out before their insurance company says they should.”

“Individuals who use prescription eye drops to treat diseases like glaucoma can’t risk missing even a couple of days of medicine,” said Mosquera (D-Camden/Gloucester). “They should not have to go without important medicine because their usage on occasion did not meet the timeline set by their insurance company.” 

The bill was approved 69-7 by the Assembly on Monday and now awaits further consideration by the Senate. 

Assembly Democratic Leadership on Final Legislative Approval Of Bill to Boost New Jersey’s Minimum Wage

Measure Would Increase Minimum Wage to $8.50/hr; Requires Annual Adjustments

(TRENTON) – Speaker Sheila Y. Oliver (D-Essex), Deputy Speaker John S. Wisniewski (D-Middlesex), Majority Conference Leader Gordon M. Johnson (D-Bergen) and Assembly Budget Committee Chair Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson) on Wednesday issued a multimedia package on the final legislative approval of their bill to increase New Jersey's hourly minimum wage to $8.50 and require the rate to then be adjusted annually based on the Consumer Price Index.

The multimedia package consists of a video of the sponsors discussing the benefits of their legislation and the need to increase the state’s minimum wage and audio and a transcript of same.

The video can be accessed directly via our website – – or by pasting the following link into a Web browser: The audio file is available upon request. 

The Assembly initially voted to approve the bill in May. The Senate approved it on Thursday. The Assembly then had to reconsider it because of amendments that moved the effective date to March 1, 2013 and the start of the CPI indexing to Jan. 1, 2014.  The Assembly gave final legislative approval to the measure by a vote of 44-33-1.  It now heads to the governor.

The bill is sponsored by Speaker Sheila Y. Oliver (D-Essex/Passaic), Assemblywoman L. Grace Spencer (D-Essex), Majority Leader Lou Greenwald (D-Camden), Speaker Pro Tem Jerry Green (D-Union/Middlesex/Somerset), Majority Conference Leader Gordon Johnson (D-Bergen), Budget Chairman Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson/Bergen) and Deputy Speaker John Wisniewski (D-Middlesex).

Speaker Oliver, during the Assembly reorganization ceremony in January, announced increasing the minimum wage – which is currently $7.25 per hour – would be a Democratic priority this legislative session.

The bill (A-2162) specifically increases New Jersey's hourly minimum wage rate to $8.50 on and then requires it be adjusted annually based on any increase in the Consumer Price Index, with the adjustment taking effect on July 1 of each year.

A transcript of comments by Assembly Democratic leadership is appended below:

Assembly Deputy Speaker John S. Wisniewski (D-Middlesex):
“The minimum wage is the legal minimum that an employer can pay anybody in the State of New Jersey.  The current minimum wage, at $7.25 an hour, puts a family at below the poverty rate.”

Assembly Speaker Sheila Y. Oliver (D-Essex):
“Minimum wage earners bring home approximately $15,000 a year.  That translates into about $290 a week.
“You cannot afford housing, food, transportation, medicine; the things you need just to have a modicum of a quality of life on minimum wage.  And we’ve not elevated the minimum wage in New Jersey since 2005.  We all know that the cost of living has gone up, and I think it is imperative – morally and ethically – for the state legislature to take action to elevate the minimum wage.”

Majority Conference Chair Gordon M. Johnson (D-Bergen):
“This bill raises the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $8.50 an hour and also ties the minimum wage to the CPI – the Consumer Price Index.
“Now, what does that do for a person who’s in that income bracket?  It makes their life just a little better, because now they will have more money to take care of their family to take care of their expenses.  But also, the impact of this is that this money goes right back into the economy.”

Assembly Budget Committee Chair Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson):
“It’s so important, because the working poor of the State of New Jersey, a lot of them work for minimum wage and a lot of them supplement their income with minimum wage.  And we think that an increase, it’s the right thing to do.  We need to help out the most vulnerable in the State of New Jersey.”

“There are families that need this money.  There are families that are working hard, playing by the rules, but struggling to get ahead.  And it’s our obligation as a legislature; it’s our obligation as a state to create the rules that allow these families to earn just a little bit more.”

Assembly to Move Job Creation & Economic Development Bill Package

Effort Aims to Create New Jobs, More Robust Economy as Part of Sandy Recovery

(TRENTON) – Members of the Assembly Democratic leadership – Speaker Sheila Y. Oliver (D-Essex), Majority Leader Louis D. Greenwald (D-Camden) and Budget Committee Chair Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson) – on Tuesday issued a multimedia package in which they announced the Assembly will focus much of its December activity to an extensive job creation and economic development initiative.

The multimedia package consists of a video of the news conference announcement by Assembly Democratic leadership and audio of same.

The video can be accessed directly via our website – – or by pasting the following link into a Web browser: The audio file is available upon request. 

The December effort will build off the final legislative approval (A-2162) recently given by the Assembly to increase New Jersey’s minimum wage to $8.50 per hour and adjust it annually in order to create a more livable wage for working class residents and in turn boost economic activity.

A detailed agenda will be announced soon, but highlights will include:

·         Revised legislation sponsored by Oliver to create the Back to Work NJ job creation and economic growth initiative. The governor has vetoed previous versions of the job training bill modeled after a successful Georgia program, but the Speaker remains committed to fighting for its passage.
·         The New Jobs for New Jersey tax credit program to provide incentives to small private sector employers who increase their workforce by hiring unemployed workers. It’s sponsored by John Burzichelli (D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland), Troy Singleton (D-Burlington), Wayne DeAngelo and Daniel R. Benson (both D-Mercer/Middlesex).
·         Legislation sponsored by Gabriela Mosquera (D-Gloucester/Camden) to authorize creation of a new corporate structure designed to create high-paying manufacturing jobs.
·        Legislation sponsored by Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Mercer/Hunterdon) to help more small-, women- and minority-owned businesses qualify for economic development assistance.
·         Various bills to support veteran-owned businesses and businesses that employ veterans and to help veterans find work.
·         Legislation sponsored by Singleton and Benson to provide tax credits for qualified investment in biotechnology businesses.
·         A bill to provide tax credits for investing in New Jersey’s emerging business technology sector. It’s sponsored by Annette Quijano (D-Union), Gary Schaer (D-Passaic/Bergen), Nelson Albano (D-Atlantic/Cape May/Cumberland), DeAngelo and Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer/Hunterdon).
·         A bill to encourage training in labor fields with workforce shortages. It’s sponsored by Oliver, Greenwald, Mila Jasey (D-Essex/Morris), Watson Coleman, Connie Wagner (D-Bergen/Passaic) and Pamela Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington).

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Plainfield Recieves $1.13 Million From FEMA

City one of first four municipalities in state to get Sandy funds

Nearly a month after Hurricane Sandy devastated communities across the state, the Federal Emergency Management Administration has begun cutting checks to local agencies.

Four municipalities in Monmouth and Union counties became the first on Wednesday to receive the money, totaling $8.3 million, for debris-removal costs.

Plainfield received $1.13 million, Manalapan received $3.94 million, Little Silver received $1.67 million, and Keansburg received $1.58 million.

The state on Wednesday also received $31.1 million in federal grants to reimburse costs for feeding and housing 8,000 utility workers, 725 survivors and 500 support personnel after the storm. Of that total, $20.4 million came FEMA’s Public Assistance fund, which was established to reimburse local governments in federally declared disaster areas.

As of Tuesday, nearly 900 municipalities, school boards, fire districts and nonprofit agencies, including the state’s public colleges and universities, had applied for public assistance, FEMA spokesman Scott Sanders said.

Even more money has been awarded to individuals that lost their homes or had to relocate.
As of Tuesday, more than 234,000 people had registered for the Individual & Housing Assistance program, which had awarded $260.4 million.

Reimbursements for local governments include overtime paid to workers and repairs to damage buildings, roads and bridges. FEMA pays for 75 percent of the costs.

Old Bridge Mayor Owen Henry said his Middlesex County township’s storm costs could amount to $1 million, including worker overtime and repairs to municipal buildings. The township’s school board, fire districts and Municipal Utilities Authority submitted separate applications through the state Office of Emergency Management for FEMA money.

“Our biggest concern is the embankment along the Raritan Bay, that we stabilize that so it doesn’t erode any further,” Henry said, noting it would take time to estimate how much that project would cost.

Written By

Sergio Bichao

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Green Will Introduce Bill to Prevent Public Adjusters in NJ from Overcharging Homeowners Following Claims of Price Gouging During Sandy

(TRENTON) – After hearing complaints from homeowners affected by Superstorm Sandy who claimed they were overcharged by public adjusters, Assembly Speaker Pro Tempore Jerry Green (D-Union/Middlesex/Somerset) today announced plans to introduce a bill that would cap how much a public adjuster can charge a homeowner for insurance claim assistance for certain emergencies.

Green said he decided to pursue the bill after hearing numerous complaints during a meeting in Union County from homeowners affected by Sandy who were overcharged by public adjusters hired to appraise their insurance claims. Public adjusters are experts on property loss adjustment who are retained exclusively by policyholders to assist in preparing, filing and adjusting insurance claims.

“Public adjusters are supposed to represent and look out for the best interests of the homeowner, but according to these residents, some of these adjusters were charging up to 40 to 50 percent of what the insurance company was to pay eventually. This is a crime. A loan shark doesn’t even charge that much,” said Green. “Unfortunately, there is nothing currently in the books to prevent these individuals from taking advantage of these homeowners. This bill changes that.”

The bill would prohibit an individual, firm, association or corporation licensed under the “Public Adjusters’ Licensing Act” from charging, agreeing to or accepting any compensation in excess of 10 percent of the amount paid out by the insurer for claims based on events that are the result of a catastrophic loss occurrence. As defined in the bill, “catastrophic loss occurrence” means an occurrence designated by the President of the United States or the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or the Governor or the State Office of Emergency Management in the Division of State Police in the Department of Law and Public Safety, or any other authorized federal, state or local agency, as an emergency or a disaster and includes, but is not limited to, a flood, hurricane, storm or earthquake.

The compensation level established by the bill would apply to such claims made for a period of one year from the occasion of the declaration of the catastrophic loss occurrence. 

“These natural disasters bring out the best and worst in people. For every Good Samaritan, there is a hustler looking to benefit from the misfortune of others. People who’ve suffered property damage due to a natural disaster deserve someone on their side during the complicated insurance claim process, not someone who is going to make the financial hit even more severe,” said Green.

Scutari, Stender and Green hold Relief Drive for Hurricane Sandy victims

District 22 representatives, Senator Nicholas Scutari, Assemblyman Jerry Green and Assemblywoman Linda Stender will be accepting donations for the Hurricane Sandy relief effort in conjunction with the American Red Cross. The offices will be collecting items such as non-perishable food, water, blankets, and new clothing only. All items will be continuously donated to local Red Cross warehouses and or those directly affected by the storm.

“We are hoping to help as many people as possible through this drive,” said Scutari. “Unfortunately, due to the damage cause by Hurricane Sandy, countless households were affected by the storm. Donating these items can be a huge help especially as the weather becomes colder.”

Beginning Tuesday, November 20th, residents of the surrounding area can drop-off needed items to:

Senator Scutari - 1514 E. Saint Georges Ave. 2nd Fl Linden, NJ 07036. Phone (908-587-0404) Email (

Assemblyman Green- 17 Watchung Ave., Plainfield, NJ 07060. Phone (908-561-5757) Email (

Assemblywoman Stender- 1801 East 2nd St., 2nd Fl, Scotch Plains, NJ 07076. Phone (908-668-1900) Email

If you are interested in making a monetary donation, please visit or call 1-800-RED CROSS.

“Please take a moment to help those in need, many victims are still without the comforts of home,” said Green. “As the holidays approach, we are looking to supply families with as many goods as possible.

“Many of these households include children,” added Stender. “Small donations from residents add up and have a big impact on many of the displaced families of New Jersey.”

All three district offices will accept donations Monday through Friday 9am to 5pm. For additional information about the drive or ways to volunteer please call Assemblywoman Stender’s Office at 908-668-1900.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Assembly Leadership Announces State Police-Led Thursday Tour of Shore Devastation One Month After Superstorm Sandy

Members of General Assembly Able to see Damage First-Hand as Legislature Prepares to Work Together on Long-Term Solutions

(TRENTON) – Bipartisan Assembly leadership on Tuesday announced New Jersey General Assembly members on Thursday will tour parts of Ocean County that have been devastated by Superstorm Sandy.

            “Now that the immediate emergency response is more settled, it’s important for Assembly members to directly meet with residents and business owners impacted by the storm and to witness the challenges we will face together as we prepare a legislative response,” said Oliver (D-Essex/Passaic). “Assembly members have been devoted to working tirelessly on constituent needs since the storm, but as we move toward rebuilding and recovery, it also will be crucial to know exactly what the state and our residents and businesses are facing.”

           “It is very important to obtain as much information as possible from residents in the devastated areas,” said Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Union, Morris and Somerset). “We will work in a bipartisan manner as one unified legislature to rebuild New Jersey. My thanks to Governor Christie for his leadership and Speaker Oliver for her concern for policy over politics.”

The tour will depart the Statehouse around 10 a.m. on Thursday and return at approximately 4 p.m.  Members will travel via buses led by the New Jersey State Police with anticipated stops at Seaside Heights, the Casino Pier and boardwalk, Ortley Beach, Normandy Beach, Brick and Mantoloking.  Members also hope meet with local elected officials.

Members of the media are welcome to join the tour. Those wishing to join the tour are simply asked to RSVP to the Assembly Majority Office at or

The Assembly leadership said they wanted to especially thank the Christie administration for helping to arrange the tour.

             “In order to rebuild our state stronger than before, we need to understand what worked and what didn’t and what can be done to avoid large-scale problems in the future,” said Majority Leader Louis Greenwald (D-Camden/Burlington) “Touring the damage and speaking with residents and business owners first hand will help us better gauge the challenges that lie ahead as we work together on solutions.”

           “Visiting the impacted communities along the Jersey Shore will give all legislators a better understanding of what issues these towns face as they rebuild,” said Assembly Republican Conference Leader Dave Rible (R-Monmouth and Ocean). “The opportunity to speak with residents, business owners and local officials and gain their insights will be extremely beneficial as we begin the effort to restore the shore.”

Left Out By Frank Capece “No Answers Provided”

        Assemblyman Jerry Green sat on the dias at Union College last week showing a growing level of simmering as County residents spoke on the post Sandy efforts to restore their homes.  A joint meeting was sponsored by Assemblyman Jon Bramnick and the County Freeholders bringing out representatives of the State Department of Banking and Insurance, a professional adjuster, fellow Legislators and a bevy of people from FEMA.
        The County residents brought forth terrible tales of trees falling on their houses, inability to get assistance at the one help center located in Springfield and the complexities of insurance policies.  Bramnick serving as a moderator moved along at a brisk pace.  The state representative and the adjuster gave a good account of what to expect when attempting to recover money.
        After listening to the difficulties FEMA personnel had in answering the most basic of questions Green had enough.  His district which runs from Linden through Clark and Rahway to Plainfield still had people without power living in devastation.  Maybe it was just that the representatives sounded like lecturing in a course in business law 103, but Green was hitting back.  He laid it out on the line that “no answers were being provided.”
        The next morning reflecting on his criticism he said, “Look these were intelligent people asking pointed questions and not getting answers.”  Actually Green provided a good of answers himself the night before.  He reminded the insurance representatives, that as Chairman of an Assembly Committee that oversees housing issues, he was expecting satisfactory assistance to be provided to the residents.
        For homeowners, over the initial hit of Sandy the battles with adjusters and insurance companies for assistance had just begun.  Green wasn’t at all happy with the legalistic distinctions drawn between wind blown water damage and flooding. He was pleased that the County Freeholders were pushing for more emergency centers beyond just Springfield.
        Green also had some answers for unsavory out of state adjusters.  He intends to introduce legislation capping their fees in battles with insurance companies at 10%.  This is the amount local adjusters have argued is fair.  For the insurance companies who will have to deal with Green in the future, considering his safe election district Green also has some answers.  “Look these companies are dealing with people at their most vulnerable time.  I don’t intend to let the companies forget that fact.”
        Green also said he would study a January 2012 decision by Union County Superior Court Judge Regina Caulfield.  In that case after hurricane Irene, a Cranford resident awoke to find a 60 foot oak tree on his back lawn.  After hearing the case, citing existing case law from the State Appellate Division, Caulifield wrote, “Liability cannot be imposed on the owner of the tree without proof of some negligence or intentional.”  The translation is, when your neighbor’s tree falls on your lawn, call your insurance    company.
        The week got more curious when it was announced that ex U.S. Senator Bill Bradley, now a New York resident had been named to the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund and will serve as an adviser.  For the people who battle the parking woes at Union College last week to get answers to their needs, the betting here is that more help is coming from the efforts of Green, Bramnick and the County Freeholders.

Wisniewski Will Introduce Bill Allowing Early Voting in NJ

Measure would add New Jersey to list of more than 30 states that currently allow early voting

(TRENTON) – Seeking to give residents more voting alternatives following the Election Day woes created by Superstorm Sandy, Assembly Deputy Speaker John S. Wisniewski (D-Middlesex) will introduce a bill creating an early voting option for primary and general elections in New Jersey.

“People are busy. Many have long work days or other responsibilities that prevent them from hitting the polls on Election Day. Then there are the natural disasters that we simply can’t plan for. Sandy threw a wrench into the machinery of Election Day and created tremendous confusion in some counties,” said Wisniewski. “This is a matter of convenience and ensuring that every resident who is registered and wants to vote will have the opportunity to do so. The right to vote and participate in the democratic process is one of our most sacred rights. We should give residents every chance to exercise it.”

Thirty-two states and the District of Columbia currently have an early voting program allowing duly-registered voters to vote in person at specially-designated polling locations prior to Election Day.

The bill proposed by Wisniewski creates an early voting process to allow registered voters in New Jersey to cast their votes at specially designated polling places, starting on the fourth Monday before a primary or general election and ending on the Sunday before the election. A municipality holding municipal elections on the second Tuesday in May may also conduct early voting for those municipal elections via an ordinance adopted by its governing body. A voter who participates in early voting would not be allowed to vote by mail-in ballot or in person on Election Day. 

Under the bill, each county board would designate each county clerk’s office in each county and each municipal clerk’s office in each municipality as the sites for early voting to take place. The sites would be open for eight hours each day, seven days a week, and early voting would be conducted using the same machines, ballots and procedures used on the day of any election.

A duly-registered voter would be permitted to vote after signing an early voting voter certificate, and after the voter’s eligibility to vote is ascertained in the same manner as is done on Election Day. At least once each day during the early voting period, and prior to the start of the regularly scheduled election, each county board must make such changes as may be necessary to the voter’s record in the statewide voter registration system and the signature copy register used at each polling place to indicate that a voter has voted in that election using the early voting procedure.

The bill also provides that, in addition to any publications required under Title 19 of the Revised Statutes, the Secretary of State and county boards of elections must publish information concerning the early voting procedure on the Department of State website and the respective county’s website. The early voting information must include, but may not be limited to, a notice to the public concerning their eligibility to participate in early voting, the duration of the early voting period and the locations and hours of operation of specially designated polling places for early voting in each county.

Funds to pay for early voting would be provided to each county governing body and each non-partisan municipal governing body that approves early voting in such amounts as the State Treasurer and the Director of the Division of Budget and Accounting in the Department of the Treasury deem necessary to cover any additional costs incurred as a result of this bill.

“We already allow absentee and mail-in voting as alternatives to voting on Election Day. Adding a third option gives residents who may not be able to vote on Election Day the opportunity to have their voices heard and votes counted,” said Wisniewski. “More than half the country currently allows its residents to vote early. It’s time for New Jersey to give its residents the same benefit.”

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thank You For The Letter I Recieved Today

I want to thank the Pender Family for the wonderful letter I received today

Monday, November 19, 2012


“I am happy to officially announce today that FEMA has opened an office here in the City of Plainfield. They opened up at 2:00 PM this past Saturday the 17th at the new Plainfield Senior Citizens Building at 400 East Front St.  I want to take this time to thank everyone who participated in making this happen.

Last Wednesday I was able to participate in a legislative and freeholder town hall meeting to talk about the storm and its effects on Union County as well as Central Jersey. As people came up to share their personal experiences in dealing with this crisis, it gave me the opportunity as a legislator to look into the future in hoping that as much as we were prepared this time, we can be better prepared for such crisis in the future.

When I asked FEMA about the possibility that an office be located in the 22nd District to service Central New Jersey no one was able to give me an answer. The very next morning I was on the phone with the County of Union, and State of New Jersey as well as Congressman Rush Holt. I felt it was important that his and my district, which makes up a large proportion of Central Jersey, receives the services they are entitled to.

It was important that we have an office in Central Jersey so that people don’t have to travel to other parts of state to receive the help and services that they need. With everyone’s support, Friday I was notified that FEMA was going to be setting up an office in Plainfield. Congressman Rush Holt has been in discussion with FEMA about using a van to go to other municipalities in Central Jersey to offer the same services. This is currently in discussion and no one has yet to make a final decision.

We are trying to do the best we can to make sure every municipality in Central Jersey receives the support that they need without having to do a lot of traveling. Therefore, I want to take this time to thank everyone who participated in this process and making this a reality. I would like to especially thank the City of Plainfield who has opened up their doors to be a host community.  

I look forward to working with FEMA as well as any other agency that is prepared to help the families of New Jersey put their lives back together. My staff is available so that if anyone has any questions or need any help don’t hesitate to call my office at 908.561.5757.

Again, I want to thank everyone because I feel that our elected officials as well as the people who work in government at all levels have stepped up to help people in a time of need. No one is to blame anyone for lack of effort. As a person who has worked around the clock dealing with this issue, I think everyone has stepped up to the plate and done everything humanly possible to help people put their lives back in order.”

Assemblyman Jerry Green
22nd District

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

I want to thank everyone for their patience and support by sticking together as a community to get through this crisis and at the same time participating in an election that will have an impact on the future of this county and country for years to come. As far as getting the job done, Congressman Pallone has been a great help and the newly appointed Congressman Rush Holt who will be representing Plainfield, Scotch Plains and Fanwood in Washington; even when he was in Washington my concerns were heard. Congressman Holt made it very clear to me, I would be able to personally call him on his cell phone to communicate almost on a daily basis, the assistance he provided to me helped navigate through the red tape in order to get PSE&G to pay special attention to the 22nd District as well as FEMA is to be commended.

My reason for bringing this issue to everyone’s attention is because even though people were still in the dark and without basic necessities, they thought it was important to vote and I am extremely proud and grateful that people took their civic duty so very important when areas of the 22nd District were still in the dark. Thank you for not giving up hope and working with every level of government so we can get the 22nd District back to normal.

As the 22nd District begins to move in the direction of recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy; damage I’ve never experienced before, I would like to take this opportunity to explain to the people of the 22nd District events that took place. This was not the time to grand stand or point fingers at anyone because with these kinds of issues we are all together, our responsibility is to save lives and help. The very next day after the storm, I took it upon myself to ride through every town in my district. Some of the newer towns like Clark were not hurt as bad as older towns such as Scotch Plains and the city of Plainfield. I felt it was more important to open up lines of communication with elected officials as well as organizations that had the ability to help the people of the 22nd District get back on their feet.  I was able to participate on a conference call with the governor’s office and his staff and listen firsthand to the conditions of the state as well as the strategy to be implemented for New Jersey. One of the first organizations I contacted was the Union County Public Works Department because the majority of our county roads are the most used roads in 22nd district, they reassured me that 22nd district would get the attention they needed because they realized if these main streets were not cleaned up it would paralyze the city. I reached out for Mayor Robinson-Briggs and she identified Mr. Eric Jackson as the contact in her administration I should communicate with in terms of working with the city, which was one of the things the governor stressed. As I received information I shared with Freeholder Linda Carter, Eric Jackson on the city level and Emergency Director Sheldon Green and other elected officials.

Public Service Electric and Gas Company was one of the major problems facing the city due to the extensive lack of electricity that rendered the 22nd District unable to function at its fullest. It was important to share with the community what has really been happening behind closed doors because Sandy affected everyone, including myself who was without heat and electricity for seven days. In spite of no electricity being available at my home or office in the closing days of the general election we were able to work in the dark up until the day before election, with the aid of a rented generator in order to have heat and electricity for election day and to this end I thank each and every one of you. Please don’t hesitate to contact my office at: 908-561-5757.”

Assemblyman Jerry Green
22nd District