Press Room

Rice Continues To Fight For Small Businesses In Immigrant Community

NEWARK – Senator Ronald L Rice announced today that his fight against the indoor smoking ban “has just begun” because he feels a ban will destroy many small businesses and those in the immigrant communities of Newark.

“Newark is home to many locally run restaurants and bars that will be forced out of business if a indoor smoking ban takes effect,” said Senator Rice, Chairman of the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee. “A smoking ban will ruin small businesses in urban communities that rely on tobacco using clientele to keep afloat.”

Baer Proposes Expansion Of Film Commission

TRENTON – Senator Byron M. Baer has introduced legislation which would expand the Motion Picture and Television Development Commission from 11 to 15 members, in order to better address and meet the needs of the film industry.

“New Jersey has been successful in attracting film and television productions since the late 1800’s when Thomas Edison created the industry after inventing the Kinetoscope in West Orange,” said Senator Baer, D-Bergen. “The commission has made it known to the world that New Jersey is an ideal filming location.”

Coniglio Supports Consolidation Efforts In Cliffside Park And Fairview

TRENTON – Senator Joseph Coniglio announced his support today for the joint efforts of the Borough councils of Cliffside Park and Fairview to consolidate their public works complex.

“It’s no surprise to New Jersey residents that skyrocketing property taxes is an issue that needs to be addressed,” said Senator Coniglio D-Paramus. “Consolidating and regionalizing government services among municipalities will dramatically reduce the administrative, transportation, labor, health care and insurance costs needed to run these departments. There’s been a statewide push among property tax reform advocates toward consolidation, and Cliffside Park is establishing itself as a model for the rest of New Jersey to follow.”

By developing a joint public works complex, the two boroughs will be able to share expenisive equipment and cut the costs of running two separate facilities. Under the plan, both of the boroughs’ public works departments will move from their present sites to an undecided location in the Borough of Fairview. The Borough of Cliffside Park has already received a $200,000 grant for planning and engineering costs to determine the feasibility of this project.

“Basically, consolidation spreads the cost of local government out across a larger tax base, thereby cutting taxes needed to run a municipality,” said Senator Coniglio. “A consolidation of the boroughs’ public works facilities will create a more efficient and practical system that will give taxpayers the most for their money.”

The Cliffside Park Council passed a resolution on February 15, 2005 authorizing the borough to enter into written contracts with the Borough of Fairview pertaining to the proposed agreement of cosolidating the Department of Public Works facilities.

Smith Bill To Provide Funding For Wildfire Preservation Approved

TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Bob Smith which would provide $381,715 in State funds and free up more than $1 million in federal funds was approved by the Senate Monday by a vote of 35-0.

“The saying goes that you cannot make money without first spending money,” said Senator Smith, D-Middlesex and Somerset, the Chairman of the Senate Environment Committee. “With this bill, we are investing a small sum, in the larger scheme of government expenditures, to qualify for over a million in federal funds for wildlife preservation. Those funds will go a long way towards protecting wildlife habitats and ensuring that many of the endangered species that call New Jersey home are not vulnerable to extinction.”

Vitale Emergency Contraception Bill Approved In Senate

TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Joseph F. Vitale which would require hospitals to inform sexual assault victims about emergency contraceptives and provide them upon request was approved by the Senate yesterday by a vote of 33-0, receiving final legislative approval.

“Victims of sexual assault are already robbed of their right to choose a sexual partner, but in cases where the victim becomes pregnant as a result of an assault, they are also forced down a life path that many may not be ready for,” said Senator Vitale, D-Middlesex, the Chairman of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. “Motherhood should be a blessed event, but for sexual assault survivors, it can be a reminder of their worst nightmare. By requiring emergency contraception when requested, we can allow victims of sexual assault to reclaim at least an aspect of their former lives.”

Vitale Minimum Wage Increase Approved In Senate

TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Joseph F. Vitale which would increase the State’s minimum wage from $5.15 an hour to $7.15 an hour over the next two years was approved by the Senate yesterday by a vote of 26-10.

“Working class New Jerseyans are struggling under the current minimum wage to realize the American Dream, when the sad reality is that many cannot even meet their basic human needs, working more than 40 hours a week,” said Senator Vitale, D-Middlesex. “We cannot allow the hardworking people of our State to continue to toil away without being able to afford decent shelter, food and health care costs. We must establish a minimum wage that, at the minimum, addresses the cost of living in the Garden State.”

Kenny: GOP Blocks Pay To Play Advance

TRENTON – Senate Majority Leader Bernard F. Kenny Jr. today said it was “shocking” that the Republican Minority in the Senate blocked passage of the pay-to-play reform bill by playing politics.

“It’s a shame the Republicans decided to play politics instead of voting to move the process forward,” said Senator Kenny. “We all know reform is incremental, but it was shocking that the Republicans decided to stonewall for their own political reasons.”

Karcher Statement On Pay-To-Play

TRENTON – Senator Ellen Karcher, a leading champion of State government reform, issued the following statement regarding the Senate’s failure to approve S-2052, a bill which would restrict pay-to-play, or the practice of campaign donors cashing in on their donations to receive lucrative State contracts, in New Jersey:

“I am disappointed that we could not take this first step towards more ethical government in New Jersey. The time for action is long overdue, and I look forward to continuing to work hard towards that end.

Sweeney’s $2 Minimum Wage Increase Clears Senate

TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senator Stephen M. Sweeney that would increase the State minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.15 received approval today in the Senate.

“It’s time that the State stepped in to ease the burden on working families,”said Senator Sweeney, D-Gloucester, Cumberland and Salem. “A meaningful increase in the State’s minimum wage is the only real way to allow the State’s working poor to make ends meet without having to burn the candle at both ends. It is simply the right thing to do.”

Sweeney/Buono Measure To Reduce Mercury Emissions Receives Final Legislative Approval

TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senators Stephen M. Sweeney and Barbara Buono that would require the removal of mercury switches from vehicles before they are destroyed received final legislative approval today in the Senate by a vote of 36-0.

“An estimated 1,000 pounds of mercury are disposed of each year,” said Senator Sweeney, D-Gloucester, Cumberland and Salem. “Much of the mercury seeps into the ground, contaminating the State’s water and poisoning sea life. Even minimal exposure to mercury is harmful, especially for expectant mothers and small children. This measure is working to protect the environment for both current and future generations.”

Senator Buono Statement On Bush Social Security Privitization Scheme

TRENTON – Senator Barbara Buono made the following statement today regarding President Bush’s plan to jeopardize the stability of Social Security by creating private retirement accounts:

“When Franklin Roosevelt signed legislation authorizing the Social Security Administration in 1935, he created one of the most successful and popular government programs in the United States history.

Karcher Bill Package To Aid Military Bases Approved In Senate

TRENTON – A package of bills sponsored by Senator Ellen Karcher which would aid military facilities in New Jersey in an effort to avoid closings under the federal Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process was approved today by the Senate.

“In its decisions to close bases across the country, BRAC only takes into account the immediate cost savings to the military, without considering the larger impact on the region’s economy,” said Senator Karcher. “In New Jersey, our bases are linked inextricably to the communities in which they reside, and closure means that thousands of employees, both military and civilian, will have to look for new jobs in new locations, while surrounding industries which rely on the bases for business will take a huge hit. The closing of a military base leaves a hole in the local economy that may take years to fill in, and the State has to do everything in its power to avoid those closings.”

Turner Bill To Provide Equity In Mental Care Treatment Passes Senate

TRENTON – The Senate passed legislation sponsored by Senator Shirley K. Turner today that would ensure that patients undergoing mental health treatment and their families would see the same level of charity care relief as patients receiving non-mental health treatments.

“When individuals seek medical treatment for an illness, our laws should not discriminate between mental and non-mental illness,” said Senator Turner, D-Mercer. “The State’s charity care formulas currently do not cover both the mentally ill and non-mentally ill equally. We must break down these artificial barriers and making sure that mental illness is seen as what it truly is – a medical condition that often has a known treatment.”

Turner Bill To Extend ‘Animal House’ Provisions Passes Senate

TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senator Shirley K. Turner that would allow all municipalities to require landlords of “animal houses” to post bonds passed the full Senate today.

“When our local police officers must repeatedly break up college parties at these ‘animal houses’, they are distracted from their primary job of protecting the community,” said Senator Turner, D-Mercer. “It’s time for the landlords of these buildings to take responsibility for the irresponsible actions of those they rent to. Requiring bonds has been a proven method in shore communities for reducing disruptions coming from rentals and now it will be an option in all communities.”

Turner Measure To Promote Trenton Revolutionary History Passes Senate

TRENTON – A resolution sponsored by Senator Shirley K. Turner that would recognize a 24-block area of Trenton as the “Trenton Battlefield Historic Heritage Area” received final legislative approval today.

“History students and Revolutionary War buffs know that Trenton played a pivotal role in the military campaigns of the War for Independence,” said Senator Turner, D-Mercer. “We can all identify Emanuel Leutze’s ‘Washington Crossing the Delaware’ and recount the victory of George Washington in Trenton on the day after Christmas. What many people do not realize is that many of the places that played a role in those battles are still around today. By creating the ‘Trenton Battlefield Historic Heritage Area’ we hope to draw more people to Trenton to personally experience New Jersey’s history.”