The NJDSC Week In Review for December 16, 2011
Welcome to the latest installment of the NJDSC's week in review. Here's a look back at some of the news from this past week and toward the end, some of the upcoming events around the state next week:
Renewed Back To Work NJ Legislation Gets Approval As Democrats Focus On Jobs
- Renewed legislation to create the Back to Work NJ job creation and economic growth program was approved 24-13 Thursday by the Senate, giving it final legislative approval. The Assembly approved the bill 47-32, with Democrats supporting and Republicans opposed, earlier this month.
- Speaker Oliver: "Gov. Christie still has the chance to finally do the right thing and join Democrats in helping put New Jerseyans back-to-work. This is an innovative program that will allow out-of-work New Jerseyans to develop the skills to stay in the workforce in the face of unemployment. It will help workers and businesses alike to jumpstart our economy and move our state forward.”
- Chairman Wisniewski: "At this point, the only reason to oppose it is partisan politics, and that's just wrong. We all need to come together and do what's best for our residents to create jobs and grow our economy."
- The Senate voted out several pieces of legislation that will spur job creation and help small businesses grow in New Jersey. “We have seen some positive economic news recently, but it is nowhere near enough in terms of what needs to be done,” said Senate President Steve Sweeney. “Hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyans still can’t find work and our small businesses are struggling to hire and expand. The bills we have passed today, coupled with the various ones we passed earlier in the year, will go a long way towards getting our economy moving again. I hope Governor Christie will join us in this effort.”
- Assemblyman Moriarty: “We need programs like this to help workers and businesses emerge strong from this economy. This program is so exciting because it gives working class New Jerseyans an opportunity to get hands-on training that can improve their job skills and make themselves more attractive to potential employers. That's especially vital in this economy."
- Assemblyman DeAngelo: “Job creation must be our top priority, and when it comes to proven programs like this, we need to put politics aside and do what’s best for working class residents in this very difficult economy. We have to think of new ways to create jobs and economic development, and that’s why this program is worth a try. A 9.1 percent jobless rate is unacceptable.”
- Legislation to create jobs and economic development to combat New Jersey’s continued high unemployment rate was approved 60-2-4 by the Assembly. The bill (A-4306) builds upon ongoing Democratic job creation efforts and would establish the Grow New Jersey Assistance Program tax credit incentive program for New Jersey-based companies that retain and create new jobs.
- Legislation to create jobs and economic growth by promoting investment in small and minority- and women owned businesses was approved by the Assembly.
- NJ 101.5: Jobs Bill Heads Back To Governor’s Desk.
- Star Ledger: Democrats suggested Christie, an outspoken critic of wasteful spending at the Port Authority, was using it as a high-paying waiting room for Dow. "Seeing the deficits the Port Authority is now running, and the enormous toll hikes people are now facing, it shouldn’t be a parking space for someone who needs to get a high-paying salary in lieu of a judgeship," Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Union) said. Senate President Stephen Sweeney said the situation was "a little unusual" and he would discuss it with the governor,
- Chairman Wisniewski ridiculed Dow’s placement, or "parking," at the Port Authority, which is forced to send NJ Transit buses back across the Hudson River empty after each morning rush hour because there is no room to park them in Manhattan during the layover before the evening rush. "Apparently, the P.A. does not have sufficient parking space at he Port Authority Bus Terminal for buses from New Jersey," Wisniewski said. "But they do have sufficient parking space for former New Jersey cabinet officers."
- Citing recent Port Authority toll hikes, amid charges of mismanagement and a lack of accountability, Senator Lautenberg has introduced a bill to return oversight of the bi-state agency to the federal government. The Consumer Protection Act would restore the ability of the U.S. Department of Transportation to determine whether toll hikes are "just and reasonable" -- something it had the power to do until 1987.
- NJ Today: Lautenberg Intros Bill To Return Federal Oversight To Unjust Toll Hikes.
- Following up on his recent call for the Christie administration to investigate whether the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) misled the public in its justification for the recent toll hikes, Assemblyman Schaer asked the Governor to institute greater financial controls at the embattled agency, much like he has at many of the state’s other independent authorities.
- Press of Atlantic City: Gail Toth, executive director of the New Jersey Motor Truck Association, said the toll increase is ill-timed due to the poor economy and high gas prices. Toth said her agency had hoped that since the rail tunnel project was off the table, the toll increase either would be reduced or eliminated. "This is like a double whammy. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey just did a huge 163 percent toll increase when it's fully done, and now we're having a 50 percent increase (on the Parkway and Turnpike)," she said. "The ability to transport goods in the state is getting very expensive. ... This just increases the cost of goods, and that's a sad thing because we're all residents."
Out Of Touch Romney Kicks Off NJ Campaign After Failed $10,000 Bet
- From calling the President’s $1,500 payroll tax cut a "little Band-Aid," to joking that he’s unemployed despite being a multi-millionaire, it's clear that Mitt Romney just doesn’t get it. Learn more about Mitt's 10K bet here.
- Star Ledger: State Democrats hit back by pointing out a $10,000 bet Romney offered to rival Texas Gov. Rick Perry during a debate Saturday — a move critics derided as showing Romney out of touch with regular people. "New Jersey is an ATM stop for candidates and Chris Christie is offering to open up the ATM for his friend Mitt Romney," said state Democratic Chairman John Wisniewski. "I think Romney’s trying to get enough money together to pay off that bet."
- Chairman Wisniewski also noted Chris Christie’s return to New Jersey from his travels around the country playing attack dog for Romney: “It only took a visit from a Presidential candidate to bring Governor Christie back to New Jersey from his nationwide tour. Perhaps if Mr. Romney stayed here awhile, Governor Christie might stay here too and join Democrats who are fighting to help unemployed New Jerseyans find a new job."
- Jersey Journal: Local Democrats blast Mitt Romney as 'out of touch' for making $10,000 wager during debate.
- Bayonne Mayor and Hudson County Chairman Smith: “I think it paints the perfect picture that he’s not in touch with average Americas and with this economy that we’re trying to claw our way out of.”
Christie's Vindictive Bullying Insults The Office Of The Governor
- Chairman Wisniewski said the Governor's actions display a lack of understanding of the democratic process, which calls for power-sharing and compromise. "When Christie doesn’t get his way, he stomps his feet and terminates people just to show he’s boss," said Wisniewski. "It’s childish."
- Senator Codey said Gov. Chris Christie insulted the office of the governor this week when he apparently took revenge against him. “It’s time to leave it alone. It’s demeaning to the office, one of which both of us shared.”
- Assemblyman McKeon said the Republican governor’s actions were obvious. "I’ve know Mr. DeMarzo and Mr. Hartwyk to be the finest public servants the state has to offer. It’s abhorrent that the governor would hurt them and their families to settle a political score."
- AP: Pollster Patrick Murray, of Monmouth University, said there’s “something that smells decidedly political” about the most recent attack.
- Star Ledger on Christie's Decision: This is retaliation and the victims are entirely innocent. As a bonus, this move is certain to throw a new obstacle into the fight over the judicial appointments in Essex, where cases on things such as child support and visitation are being postponed indefinitely due to the crisis. This is not rational politics. It is vindictive bullying.
NJ Vets4Warriors Helpline Becomes National Program
- AP: NJ Veteran-to-Veteran Help Line Goes National.
- NJ Newsroom: Vets4Warriors crisis hotline aims to prevent military suicides across nation.
- Senator Madden praised both Senator Lautenberg and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) for their announcement that UMDNJ will operate a national “Vets4Warriors” Helpline. The helpline will assist members of the military once they return home from the battlefield.
- Senator Lautenberg on the NJ Military Suicide prevention helpline becoming a national program: "We can’t just stand behind our military on the battlefield; we must also stand by them when they return home. Too many veterans are coming home with mental wounds, and they are suffering in silence."
Lowe's Decision To Pull Advertising Condemned
- Business Week: NJ Muslims protest at Lowe's over pulled ad.
- Congressman Pascrell: “I am disappointed in the Lowe’s Companies’ short-sighted and impulsive decision,” Pascrell said. “They have hurt and offended many patriotic Muslim Americans, and all Americans, in my district and across the country.” Pascrell said Lowe’s decision to pull its ads from the TLC show “All-American Muslim” after complaints from an evangelical group was contrary to the company’s record of charitable works, especially during the recent flooding that ravaged Paterson, and of creating jobs in economically depressed areas.
- Assemblyman Schaer joined the litany of Americans dismayed by the decision of Lowe’s home improvement chain to pull its advertising from the TLC show All-American Muslim due to pressure from fringe groups: “Unfortunately, Lowe’s decision appears to have been made in response to pressure from a fringe group and the questionable values which they espouse, values which, at best, are antithetical to the founding principles of our nation. I commend Lowe’s for having originally sponsored television programming acknowledging and celebrating America’s commitment to tolerance and diversity. Your decision to end sponsorship due to pressure from extremist fringe groups is a matter of deepest concern and personal regret."
- Assemblyman Singleton fired off a letter to Lowe’s CEO Robert Niblock, chastising the corporation for endorsing bigotry and being out-of-touch with mainstream America: “Lowe’s endorsement of discrimination against law-abiding citizens simply on the basis of their religion is a shameful moment in our cultural history. This move violates the basic premise of our constitution and flies in the face of all we stand for as a country. For Lowe’s to bow to bigotry-inspired pressure from fringe groups, shows that your corporation is out-of-touch with the millions of Americans who support religious freedom and respect and embrace the cultural differences that have been the bedrock of our country for centuries,”
- A resolution was introduced in the Senate in opposition to the recent decision of retail home improvement chain Lowe’s Companies, Inc. to terminate advertising during TLC’s program, “All-American Muslim.”
- Blue Jersey: Injustice is just wrong.
- Senators Menendez and Lautenberg joined 20 other legislators in a bipartisan letter to the Senate Finance Committee last week, urging the committee to extend a tax benefit for bus and train riders. The benefit would revert back to $125 a month as of Jan. 1, if the higher $230 a month figure is not reauthorized.
- Senator Menendez, who chairs the Western Hemisphere subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, will host a hearing to examine the “threat to the United States posed by Iran's diplomatic and espionage activities in Latin America.”
- Senator Lautenberg defended Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Jaczko at a Senate EPW Hearing. (Video)
- Senators Lautenberg and Menendez, and Congressman Pascrell announced New Jersey fire departments have received a total of $172,629 in federal funding through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program. Eligible use of this grant funding includes investment in training, equipment, health programs, and facility modifications.
- Senator Menendez tweeted that he is proud to cosponsor a resolution to recognize 40th anniversary of the National Cancer Act and the strides made in research and development, treatments & survival rates.
- Senator Lautenberg, Chairman of the Commerce Subcommittee on Surface Transportation, announced the committee has approved key pieces of surface transportation legislation he authored, including the “Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Enhancement Act,” the “Hazardous Materials Transportation Safety Improvement Act,” and the “Research and Innovative Technology Administration Reauthorization Act.”
- Senators Lautenberg and Menendez announced that President Obama has nominated Kevin McNulty to serve as U.S. District Court Judge for the District of New Jersey.
- The Lung Cancer Alliance (LCA) praised Senators Lautenberg and Menendez, and Congressmen Payne and Rothman for their support for the first comprehensive lung cancer legislation now pending action in the Senate and the House of Representatives.
- Congressman Pallone announced that over $1.9 million in funding was approved to buy out seven residences along the Raritan River in Middlesex Borough that were affected by Hurricane Irene in August. The Middlesex properties are part of a larger allocation and effort to mitigate the effects of flooding across the state.
- Congressman Sires voted in favor of a series of comprehensive sanctions against Iran. H.R. 1905, the Iran Threat Reduction Act, passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 410 to 11. This legislation would strengthen current U.S. sanction laws in order to stop Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and other threatening acts.
- Congressman Rothman, a member of the House Appropriations Defense; and State and Foreign Operations Subcommittees, and cosponsor of the Iran Threat Reduction Act of 2011, praised its passage.
- Congressman Holt Commentary: Eligible voters should not need photo IDs at polling places - "Poll taxes were thrown out decades ago as discrimination and contrary to democratic processes. We cannot stand by and let big money and special interests manipulate the results of elections by enacting 21st-century poll taxes."
- Congressman Andrews criticized Rt. 295 cost overruns: “These overages are very disturbing. The Federal Highway Administration should be a much more aggressive regulatory administration. There are cozy relationships between state and federal transportation officials. They look after each other’s interests. We could make reforms establishing centralized oversight” tracking how money is spent in overages. We need to penalize states and contractors for foreseeable mistakes, such as for not having appraisals done or poor planning, without killing projects. If I budget $15,000 to upgrade my kitchen, I won’t spend $16,000.”
- Congressional Armenian Issues Caucus co-chairs Congressmen Pallone and Schiff met with Assistant Secretary of State Philip Gordon Wednesday to address issues related to Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh. The meeting represented a continuing dialogue between the caucus and the Department of State on the importance of the U.S.-Armenia relationship.
- Congressman Andrews announced $50,000 in federal money that will create skilled trade jobs in South Jersey. These funds will help improve the homes of low-income homeowners in rural areas throughout Gloucester County and make these homes safer by providing much needed repairs. This past September, Congressman Andrews casted his vote in favor of the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Housing Preservation Grant Program which will provide the funds.
- Congressman Pascrell spoke on the House floor to urge Congress to take action to improve traumatic brain injury screening for our soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. "I am glad to see that the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Help and Brain Injury will moving to the oversight of Army, where there will be increased efficiency and attention for our soldiers. But there are still problems with screening and treating our troops,"
- New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (HMFA) Executive Director Anthony L. Marchetta joined Congressman Sires and other officials to celebrate the grand opening of Horizon Heights, a 52-unit affordable housing community on Broadway in Union City and West New York.
- Congressmen Holt led a group of Members of Congress in expressing disappointment in the anti-scientific decision by U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius to limit the availability of Plan B emergency contraception.
- The Assembly approved legislation that would aid in the search for missing children by making it a crime to not report a missing child within 24 hours. The bill is called "Caylee's Law" and Chairman Wisniewski offered this reaction: “We know the first hours are crucial in finding a missing child. Prompt notification would help police with their search, and in the awful case that tragedy strikes, help them determine the cause of death, get a guilty conviction and bring justice to the victim.”
- When a child is abducted, the first few hours are absolutely critical in the recovery process. The state Assembly Education Committee has approved a bill that would require parents to notify the school when their child is absent.
- Bloomberg: Sweeney Says Sick-Day Payout Impasse Has Cost New Jersey Towns ‘Millions.’
- Fifth District Legislators hosted a public hearing on Camden City's property tax revaluation.
- Senate President Sweeney has been honored by the New Jersey Business and Industry Association (NJBIA) with their “Paul L. Troast Public Service Award” for his efforts to help spur economic growth and job creation here in New Jersey.
- Assemblywoman Wagner Op-Ed - NJ Flooding Victims Are Out of Site, Out of Mind.
- Legislation to help 9/11 veterans find employment through an expedited teacher certification program was approved by the Assembly Education Committee.
- Legislation that would protect children from exposure to potentially harmful pesticides at child care centers and certain schools, playgrounds and recreational fields was released by an Assembly committee.
- Legislation to help 9/11 veterans find employment through an expedited teacher certification program was approved by the Assembly Education Committee.
- NY Times Editorial: The New Jersey State Assembly made a sensible, life-saving decision this month when it approved a bill that allows pharmacies to sell a limited number of syringes to individuals without prescriptions. The bill has passed the Senate, and Gov. Chris Christie should sign it into law. It will help New Jersey reduce the spread of H.I.V.
- Legislation to ensure that family members are notified in a timely manner when a relative has been seriously injured in an accident continues advancing toward law.
- The Assembly passed bill A4385, which will permit casinos in Atlantic City and racetracks to conduct wagering on professional and collegiate sports or athletic events.
- A measure to protect pets during domestic disputes was approved by a vote of 71-0 by the full Assembly.
- Legislation to crack down on reckless and aggressive drivers after a Mercer County incident left a teen-age girl paralyzed was approved by the full Assembly by a vote of 69 to 0.
- Legislation to create specialized care nursing facilities for the treatment and care of patients with Huntington’s Disease gained final legislative approval by the Senate by a vote of 37-0.
- Legislation to improve evacuation plans throughout the state in preparation for a catastrophic event or natural disaster such as a hurricane or nor’easter was approved by the Assembly.
- Legislation that will help laid-off police officers passed the Assembly (70-0) and passed the Senate (35-0) in April. Under current Police Training Commission policy, if an officer has a break in service of more than three the basic police training course must be retaken. The legislation would extend the certification to five years from the date of termination, allowing laid-off officers additional time to find employment in a similar position or agency.
- The state Senate has approved a measure to allow wineries to sell directly to retailers, and to ship small amounts of wine to consumers by mail.
- Legislation to protect New Jersey homeowners from foreclosure rescue scams by unscrupulous lenders received re-approval by the full Senate by a vote of 37-0, bringing it in line with the Governor's conditional veto of the measure which was originally approved in June.
- A bill that would reduce potential penalties associated with the new state fishing registry awaits the governor’s approval.
- December 19
Sussex County Democratic Committee meeting
Hampton Diner, one mile north of Newton on Route 206/946:30 PM-
Dinner at Diner Fundraiser-$40 contribution for extensive buffet meal.
7:30 PM-8:30 PM-
Members and non-members welcome.
- December 20
2011 Dems2000 Toy Drive
361 George Street New Brunswick, NJ 08901
Admission is Free with an unwrapped toy
- December 21
Somerset County Holiday Party
Bamboo Grille (located downstairs at the Basking Ridge Country Club), 185 Madisonville Rd. Basking Ridge, NJ 07920
Free, Cash Bar
- December 22
Burlington County Democratic Committee Holiday Party
Kove II Caterers, Park Plaza, Route 130 South, Edgewater Park NJ 08010
South Jersey Young Democrats Holiday Party and Charity Drive
Camden County Democratic Committee, 2240 Marlton Pike West, Cherry Hill, NJ 08002
Support the New Jersey Democratic State Committee
We will continue to have updates about news from our elected officials and the many campaigns across the state. There will certainly be more to come next week. Have a great weekend.
John Wisniewski, Chairman
New Jersey Democratic State Committee