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


Benson, Wagner & Lampitt Bill to Provide Stable Education Environment for Special Needs Students OK’d by Senate Panel

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Daniel Benson, Connie Wagner and Pamela Lampitt to establish stability in special education programming to help students suffering from developmental disabilities such as autism, was released Thursday by a Senate committee.
 “Transition and change in routine are very difficult for children suffering with Autism or other developmental disabilities,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex).  “Those who are shuffled from school-to-school are often prone to regression, which, in some cases, makes learning setbacks almost impossible to overcome.  This situation is incredibly frustrating for parents and often times confusing and scary for their children.  We can and must do better and hopefully this bill will see to it that we do just that.”
The bill (A-2739) directs the State Board of Education to create regulations requiring school districts to develop a plan to establish stability in special education programming. The plan must take into account the consistency of the location, curriculum, and staffing in the provision of special education programs and services.
The regulations must also require that when developing an individualized education program (IEP) with the parent or guardian of a student who is prone to regression due to frequent changes in location – such as students diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder - the IEP team shall consider, among other factors, the consistency of the location of services when determining in-district special education placements.
“Change is hard for any student at a young age, but doubly so when it is a student with special needs,” said Wagner (D-Bergen).  “Families deserve to have a school system that is working with them and not against them.   This bill will deliver critical stability to the students who need it most in order to become successful learners.”
“Children need stability in education, especially children with developmental disabilities. Having to move from one school to another can prove detrimental for these children,” said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). “These regulations ensure that their well-being and academic success is not compromised.”
Benson noted that the legislation was born out of meetings he had with advocates in the autism community, as well as a family from his legislative district whose 9-year old son suffers from severe disabilities including Autism and Tourette’s syndrome.  After being placed in four different public schools over the course of five years, the child encountered serious setbacks in learning.  In addition to being shuffled from school-to-school, the student was also denied enrollment in the extended school year program and other services that had previously been provided to him.
It took months of meeting with school district officials before the family was finally able to get their son placed in the proper programs, only to see him suffer extreme learning regression, which his teachers worried he would not be able to regain.  This prompted the family to remove the child from the public school system and place him in a costly private school environment to stabilize his education. 
The sponsors noted that Autism New Jersey and the NJEA have both expressed support for the bill. The provisions of the bill would go into effect 90 days after being signed into law.
The bill was approved 4-0 by the Senate Education Committee on Thursday. It was approved by the full Assembly by a vote of 73-3-2 in June.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

News from Assembly Speaker Oliver

Speaker Oliver Continues to Urge Charitable Donations to Help Storm Victims

(TRENTON) – Assembly Speaker Sheila Y. Oliver (D-Essex/Passaic) released the following statement on Wednesday:

"We've all seen the devastation, and now as we move forward, I again ask New Jerseyans to do what they can to help our friends and neighbors hurt by this storm. Some have lost everything, and I know New Jerseyans are ready to open their hearts to help.
"Financial donations can help the Red Cross provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance. To donate, people can visit, call 1-800-RED-CROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
"AmeriCares has launched a response to help people affected by the hurricane, starting with deliveries of water, family emergency kits, and other relief supplies. Please visit for more information.
"Feeding America is preparing to provide food, water and other supplies to those affected by Hurricane Sandy. You can visit or call 800-910-5524.
"The Salvation Army is also working to help victims. You can visit for more details.
"And of course we all know countless other local relief agencies that can use help as they respond.
We New Jerseyans are known for a lot of things, but let's make sure we're known most for having big hearts and helping our friends and neighbors. This is their most desperate time of need. If you're able, please do what you can to help."

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Green, Chivukula & Lampitt Bill Increasing Fines for Failure to Secure Children in Car, Booster Seats While Driving OK’d by Assembly

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Speaker Pro Tempore Jerry Green and Assembly Democrats Upendra J. Chivukula and Pamela R. Lampitt to increase the fines associated with failure to properly secure a child in a car or booster seat has been approved by the Assembly.
“Car accidents are the single biggest killer of children under 12 in our country,” said Green (D-Union).  “That is an awful statistic, made all the more terrible by the fact that almost half of the deaths could be prevented with proper car seat use.  Significantly increasing the penalties associated with failure to use car seats will help drive this point home and prevent needless deaths.”
“By steeply increasing the penalties associated with not using a child safety seat, parents will hopefully think twice before heading off on a car trip without one,” said Chivukula (D-Somerset) a member of the Assembly Transportation, Public Works and Independent Authorities Committee.  “If the increased penalties translate to an increase in child safety seat use, then they will have done their job.”
“As kids get older, it’s tempting to skip the hassle of securing them in a safety seat, especially on short trips,” said Lampitt (D-Camden). “But, by making the penalties associated with skipping the seat more of a hassle than using it is, we can get parents in the habit of properly securing their children every trip, every time, which will ultimately help save lives.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), car crashes are the number one killer of children between one and 12 years of age in the U.S.  In 2010, NHTSA data showed an average of two children killed and 325 injured each day in car accidents.  Properly securing infants and toddlers reduces their chance of fatal injury by 71 percent and 54 percent, respectively.
The Green/Chivukula/Lampitt measure (A-1711) would increase the penalties for motor vehicle operators who fail to secure a child under the age of eight and weighing less than 80 pounds in a child passenger restraint system or booster seat.
The current penalty is between $10 and $25 per incident.  Under the bill, these penalties would be increased to $100 for a first offense and between $250 to $500 for a second and subsequent offenses.  A judge would have the option to waive the penalty for a first offense if the driver is able to demonstrate that he or she is in possession of a proper child passenger restraint system.
The bill also would establish a “Division of Highway Traffic Safety Child Passenger Restraint System Assistance Fund,” administered by the state Treasury Department, that would receive $25 from each fine, to be used to purchase child safety seats for individuals and organizations that need them.
The measure was approved 63-16 by the Assembly last week and now awaits further consideration by the Senate.



    Senate President Steve Sweeney and Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg today called on Governor Christie to renounce his endorsement of Republican Indiana Senate Candidate Richard Mourdock after comments made during a televised debate in which he called pregnancy from rape “God’s intent.”

Last week, Christie traveled to Indiana to campaign alongside Mourdock, telling a crowd in Merrifield, IN, that the Tea Party Republican has "a principled background and courage.”
    During last night’s debate, Mourdock answered a question regarding whether a woman should have the right to choose abortion in the case of rape or incest by saying, “I think, even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”

     “Richard Mourdock’s ideas are as antiquated and cowardly as those made by Todd Akin in Missouri,” said Sweeney (D-Gloucester/Cumberland/Salem). “And just as he did with Akin, Gov. Christie needs to swiftly denounce them, and he also needs to revoke his endorsement. I’m sure the governor will give his stock answer about how he doesn’t agree with everyone in his party on everything, but these comments are so egregious that excuse will not fly.”

     The lawmakers noted that last month, when asked on ABC’s This Week about whether the national GOP should back Akin – who started a firestorm over the summer with his assertion that women who suffer a "legitimate rape" do not get pregnant – Christie replied, “No. No I don’t.” They said the governor must apply the same standard to Mourdock.

     “Richard Mourdock’s comments are an insult not only to women, but to anyone with any shred of intelligence, and compassion and empathy for victims of rape,” said Weinberg (D-Bergen). “These comments don’t belong in our public discourse, let alone anywhere in the last century. Governor Christie, the women of New Jersey are watching and waiting for your response. But given your antipathy towards women’s health and your defunding last year of a center for sexually abused children, we aren’t holding our collective breath.”

    Christie is out-of-state today, campaigning for Republicans in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

News from Assemblyman Benson

Assembly Panel Approves Benson Bill to Help Struggling New Jersey Families Stay in their Homes
Legislation Was Prompted by Reports of Christie Administration Sitting on Federal Funds that Were Designed to Help Homeowners Avoid Foreclosure

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Dan Benson to ensure that homeowners in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure receive critical financial assistance was approved by an Assembly panel following a special hearing on Wednesday.
Benson’s legislation comes amid continued concerns that Gov. Christie has failed to help many New Jersey homeowners facing foreclosure. New Jersey has the second highest foreclosure rate (7.7%) in the nation, yet the Christie administration has been slow to provide financial assistance to homeowners, with only 10 percent of the available federal funds being spent in the 15 months since New Jersey’s HomeKeeper program was launched.
“With our unfortunate distinction as the second highest foreclosure rate in the nation, clearly there are more New Jersey residents who would benefit from financial assistance through this program than have to date,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex).  “We need to make sure that this program is working the way it was intended so that families can stay in their homes and our economy will benefit in the long-run.”
New Jersey was allocated approximately $300 million from the federal government as one of 18 states and the District of Columbia to receive assistance through the Hardest Hit Fund, which was established under the “Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008.”  
The bill (A-3372) would require the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (HMFA) to expend the entire amount of funds provided to the state by the federal government from the Hardest Hit Fund no later than December 31, 2017. 
The bill also requires that those federal funds must be used solely and exclusively to provide financial aid to struggling homeowners through the New Jersey HomeKeeper program, to help those homeowners avoid foreclosure and maintain ownership of their homes.
“It’s a real tragedy to think of how many homeowners may have lost their homes in the last 15 months or how many more are struggling with the stress and financial hardship of the looming foreclosure process, when this could’ve been avoided had these funds been administered more quickly,” added Benson.  “A great deal of the recession was precipitated by the foreclosure crisis.  In order to get New Jersey soundly back on the road to financial recovery, we need to make sure we do everything in our power to stabilize our housing market.”
The bill requires the agency to expand the New Jersey HomeKeeper program to include components to facilitate principal reductions by lenders; second mortgage reduction or payoff; loans or subsidies to cover past-due amounts and facilitate reinstatement; mortgage assistance for underemployed and unemployed persons; and transition assistance such as a short sale deed-in-lieu of foreclosure, or relocation assistance. 
The bill also requires that the HMFA must review, and must approve or deny, an application for assistance under the New Jersey HomeKeeper program not later than the 90th day after the application is submitted by a homeowner.
The bill also requires that no later than January 31st of any calendar year, the HMFA must provide the legislature with a plan for the expenditure of remaining funds, as well as a year-end report detailing the amount of money expended through the New Jersey HomeKeeper program in that previous calendar year, the number of homeowners who were provided financial assistance through the program, and the amount of federal funds used for administrative expenses by the agency.
The bill was approved 4-2 by the Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee following a special joint hearing with the Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee to examine why the Christie administration has not been expending a significant portion of the federal funds allocated for struggling New Jersey homeowners.


Green & Schaer on Christie’s Failure to Help More New Jersey Families Facing Foreclosure

(TRENTON) – Assembly Speaker Pro Tempore Jerry Green and Assembly Deputy Speaker Gary Schaer released the following statements Wednesday after their committees jointly examined the Christie administration’s failure to help more families facing foreclosure.
New Jersey has the nation’s second highest foreclosure rate, but the Christie administration has been slow to help families with $300 million in federal foreclosure aid given to the state.
Green (D-Union/Middlesex/Somerset), chairman of the Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee:
“The Christie administration contends it has resolved its problems with this program, but that’s fixing the dam after the damage has been inflicted. We can only guess at how many New Jersey families lost their homes because of Gov. Christie’s failure to effectively implement this program, but we know for sure that it has hurt families and neighborhoods.
“Gov. Christie has devoted plenty of time lately to Republicans in far-flung states. I wish his focus had instead been on helping families struggling here in New Jersey.”
Schaer (D-Passaic/Bergen), chairman of the Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee:
“The administration’s slow action in help as many affected homeowners as possible likely means many New Jersey families needlessly lost their homes. It’s well and good that the administration claims now to have fixed the program, but that’s too late for many of our neighbors and communities.
“Helping New Jersey families affected by the Great Recession needs to be among our highest priorities. Hopefully, Gov. Christie is finally ready to devote his attention to helping families here in New Jersey, but we will continue to monitor this situation to ensure the program is actually working effectively.”