TRENTON – Senator Joseph F. Vitale, Chairman of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee, issued the following statement in reaction to Acting Governor Codey’s State of the State address today:
“Governor Codey has offered a number of proposals in his State of the State which will move New Jersey in the right direction.
TRENTON – Senate Majority Leader Bernard F. Kenny Jr. today said Acting Governor Codey’s State of the State Address was a “poignant call for government activism” in the face of complex, troubling times.
“Governor Codey and his wife, Mary Jo, together displayed courage in using her battle for mental health as a way to help thousands of other voiceless New Jerseyans get the help they need.
TRENTON – Senator Barbara Buono, the Chair of the Senate Committee on Wagering, Tourisim and Historic Preservation, today said the sports wagering bill advancing in the Assembly is a bad bet for New Jersey residents.
“Plain and simple – sports betting in New Jersey is illegal under federal law,” said Senator Buono, D-Middlesex. “It would be wrong to waste a dime of taxpayers’ money on challenging what appears to be a rather straightforward federal ban (on sports betting in New Jersey).”
TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Ronald L. Rice which would provide an additional $15 million for the low-income rental assistance program was approved in the Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee today.
“It’s troubling to report that New Jersey is the third most expensive State in the nation for renters, behind California and Massachusetts,” said Senator Rice, Chairman of the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee. “What is even worse is that the minimum wage for our State is lower than that of California and Massachusetts. Working residents are unable to afford adequate housing and with legislation we can try to make the dream of affordable living a reality.”
TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senator Shirley K. Turner to help more low income families afford New Jersey’s high rent prices moved one step closer to law as it passed the Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee today.
“Recent reports have shown that New Jersey’s lowest wage earners can rarely afford even the most modest apartment for their families,” said Senator Shirley Turner, D-Mercer. “When a family has to work a collective 150 hours a week just to be able to afford the average two bedroom apartment, then there is a real and immediate need for the State to develop ways of easing the burden caused by our high cost of living. We have too many people in New Jersey without a home of their own to not take action.”
MAYWOOD- After an incident involving airplane debris, which fell inches from a local resident, Senator Byron M. Baer urged the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to work with the federal Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in order to ensure stronger security measures for area airports.
“The 3 by 4 foot plane fragment that fell from a passing airplane after it took off from Teterboro Airport on Sunday brings to light the need for stronger security regulation in order to ensure the safety of the 11 million people in the New York metropolitan area,” said Senator Baer. “This event which luckily resulted in no casualties, highlights a large national concern for the safety of our smaller local airfields. In a time of heightened terror, we need to take every type of security precaution and should not allow the privatization of security measures for our airfields to jeopardize our safety.”
TRENTON – State Senator Ellen Karcher, D-Monmouth and Mercer, issued the following statement regarding the removal of Rep. Chris Smith, R-Mercer, Monmouth, Burlington and Ocean, from the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee by Republican Congressional leaders for not toeing the party line regarding veterans’ benefits, organized labor and the environment:
“Chris Smith and I have our differences in many policy areas, but one thing that I’ve never doubted is his commitment to helping veterans receive the benefits that they rightly deserve.
TRENTON – Senator Joseph F. Vitale and Assemblyman Robert Morgan, MD, announced today that they will make it a priority to reform New Jersey’s FamilyCare health insurance system in 2005, to increase participation and provide expanded coverage to New Jersey’s uninsured.
“New Jersey’s FamilyCare program is a boon to those who would otherwise be without hope, but frankly, it doesn’t go far enough,” said Senator Vitale, D-Middlesex, Chairman of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. “Despite our best efforts under the current system, there are still more than 264,000 children in this State who remain uninsured. We need to dramatically change our current system of identifying and enrolling children, to live up to our commitment of providing health insurance to those in need.”
TRENTON – Senator Joseph F. Vitale and Assemblyman Robert Morgan, MD, will hold a news conference on Wednesday, January 5th to announce major reforms in the way New Jersey administers its FamilyCare health insurance program for uninsured children.
While FamilyCare has been instrumental in providing care for thousands of uninsured children in New Jersey, the legislators believe that certain reforms are needed to address the more than 200,000 uninsured children that continue to fall through the cracks despite qualifying for FamilyCare coverage. Their announcement at the news conference is the first step in major reforms pending for next year to address the uninsurance problem across the board in the Garden State.
TRENTON – A package of bills sponsored by Senator Ellen Karcher to head off federal efforts to close down many local New Jersey military bases and make base continuation a more attractive option to the federal government was introduced last week in the Senate.
“Aside from contributing to our continued homeland security and maintaining our national relevance as a major depot for military weapons and personnel, the bases also are a driving force in our State’s economy, employing thousands of New Jerseyans in civilian and military posts,” said Senator Karcher, D-Monmouth and Mercer. “It would be a huge mistake, and a huge misfortune for the State of New Jersey, to close these bases. In this time of international strife, we need to continue our financial support to the troops, not cut back.”
TRENTON – Two Democratic Senators – Ellen Karcher and Nicholas Scutari – have introduced a bill, S-2194, that would re-structure State purchasing procedures and implement reforms recommended by the State Commission of Investigation after its probe of the bungled E-ZPass electronic toll collection contract awarded by the Whitman Administration.
“These reforms will save money for New Jersey taxpayers and will help clean up the way we award State contracts so they go to those most qualified to do the job,” said Senator Karcher, D-Monmouth and Mercer.
THOROFARE – A measure sponsored by Senator Stephen M. Sweeney that would allow emergency volunteer workers to receive paid time off when they are called to alarm during work hours has been introduced in the Senate.
“The events of the past few years have demonstrated the huge importance of emergency workers,” said Senator Sweeney, D-Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem. “These volunteers put their lives on the line when they go out on emergency calls, and school districts should do their part to encourage their bravery.”
CAMDEN – A measure sponsored by Senator Wayne R. Bryant would permit municipalities to adopt ordinances making it unlawful for juveniles to be on public streets, or in any public place during school hours received final legislative approval.
“Students need to know that they have no better option than to be in school during school hours,” said Senator Bryant, D-Camden and Gloucester, who serves on the Senate Education Committee. “Most children do not see the full value of an education because their obligations are as limited as their life experiences; we as adults must take a stand and stress the importance of school attendance.”
TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senate President and Acting Governor Richard J. Codey and Senator Ellen Karcher to create a statewide Office of the Environmental Prosecutor in order to pursue legal action against criminals who violate environmental laws in New Jersey was approved today by the Senate by a vote of 38-0.
“Our environment is a precious resource and New Jersey has to show a commitment to protecting it,” said Governor Codey. “An environmental prosecutor sends the message that we will pursue polluters in the Garden State wherever they turn up, and we will impose strict and appropriate penalties based on the severity of their crimes.”
TRENTON – The first New Jersey Lieutenant Governor could be elected in November of 2009 under a bipartisan bill introduced today in the New Jersey Senate.
“It’s clear that New Jersey needs a structural improvement to its succession procedures for the Office of Governor,” said Senator Shirley K. Turner, prime Democratic sponsor of the reform legislation. “Fortunately, we’ve had two able Senate Presidents who were highly capable at filling in for departing Governors, but we can’t always count on having leaders like (current Senate President and Acting Governor) Dick Codey and (former Senate President and Acting Gov.) Don DiFrancesco.”