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Whelan Encouraged By Progress With Red Tape Review Commission

Senator Jim Whelan, D-Atlantic, speaks about a bill on the Senate floor.

Senator Says Lt. Governor Has Considered His Recommendations for Atlantic City

NORTHFIELD – Senator Jim Whelan said today that he was encouraged by the progress of the Governor’s “Red Tape Review Commission,” and said that revising regulatory restrictions on the casino industry could help give the resort destination the flexibility and competitive edge it needs to maintain economic viability into the future.

“There’s no question in my mind that a major part of the problem in Atlantic City is the stranglehold of regulations choking the life out of the casino industry,” said Senator Whelan, D-Atlantic, the Chairman of the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee. “While I don’t think complete deregulation is the answer, we need to review our State’s regulatory system, and create more flexibility where we can. Whether it’s Atlantic City’s casino industry, or the State’s builders or biotech industries, we can generate serious economic activity by scaling back some of the overregulation which has occurred for a number of years.”

Senator Whelan specifically said he was interested in looking for ways to provide regulatory relief to hard-hit casinos and promote green energy alternatives along the Jersey Shore. In a letter to Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno, he urged her to direct the Commission to look at easing restrictions on windmills on Atlantic City’s Steel Pier, to provide relief from Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) regulations for casino-run beach bars, and to establish a compromise on landfill closures and cappings in the Pinelands, to allow projects to move forward but still provide enough oversight to safeguard against the sort of system-wide breakdown which occurred with the EnCap project in Bergen County. He also urged the Red Tape Review Commission to review recommendations set forward by the Casino Control Commission to establish a common-sense regulatory structure designed to encourage growth in the casino industry.

“New Jersey as a whole – and South Jersey in particular – would benefit greatly from having a thriving, economically viable casino industry in Atlantic City,” said Senator Whelan. “However, years of regulation upon regulation have resulted in an industry with a relatively narrow band of operations, and even the regulators have finally said ‘enough is enough.’ It’s time that we interject a little bit of common sense when it comes to the regulations and rules we put forward on the casino industry.”

In her reply to Senator Whelan’s letter, Lt. Governor Guadagno noted that the DEP has preliminary rules in place to allow for permanent structures for casino-run beach bars and to pave the way for the construction of wind turbines on the Steel Pier. The Senator said he was encouraged by her willingness to help, and that he looks forward to working together with the Lt. Governor and the Red Tape Review Commission to strike an appropriate balance between the public’s interest in regulating green energy and the casino industry, and the need to create economic activity in the region.

“I think the Lt. Governor recognizes that the success of the casino industry and the green energy sector aren’t north-south issues, or Democrat-Republican issues, but New Jersey issues,” said Senator Whelan. “We have to be willing to work together on behalf of the people we represent in order to create the sort of lasting, sustainable economic growth that will mean well-paying jobs for our constituents, and an investment of capital into our communities. I think we’re off to a good first start with the Red Tape Review panel, and I look forward to working with the Commission and the Lt. Governor to make sure we can ease some of the crushing regulations which are stifling the South Jersey economy.”

Click here to read Senator Whelan’s original letter to Lt. Governor Guadagno and the Red Tape Review Commission.

Click here to read Lt. Governor Guadagno’s response.