Tag Archive: State Senate

My Speech at the Reorganization of the 214th State Legislature

Senator Barbara Buono Speech at the Reorganization of the 214th State Legislature from Barbara Buono on Vimeo.

Earlier this month I was honored to be sworn in as the New Jersey State Senate’s first female Majority Leader.  Along with our new Speaker Sheila Oliver, two of the four leadership positions in our State Legislature are held by women. It is a truly historic moment for our State and I am confident that we can both provide unique viewpoints to make our government more effective.  I can promise you I will be fighting every day in my capacity as Majority Leader to make our State government is more transparent and accountable, while making New Jersey a more affordable place to live.  I hope you will enjoy the speech I gave at the reorganization on January 12th as we move forward in the new year and decade.  

A New Era in Trenton

Promoted by Jason Springer: Thanks to Senator Buono for stopping by with her take on the changes going on in Trenton these days and what to expect going forward.

On Tuesday, I was honored to be sworn in as the first woman to serve as Senate Majority Leader in New Jersey and I didn’t want the week to end without posting here on Blue Jersey.

This is a time to look to the future, as New Jersey is clearly poised for a transformation. Along with our new Senate President Stephen Sweeney, President Pro Tempore, Nia Gill, our new Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver and Assembly Majority Leader Joe Cryan, the Democratic leadership certainly has a lot of new faces in both houses of the legislature. And with a new governor ready to be inaugurated next week, I will be relying on the progressive netroots community now more than ever – for your passion, guidance and ideas.

Like many of you, I am a progressive.  I am proud of my vote for Marriage Equality – yet disappointed by the outcome. I also believe that being a progressive means being fiscally responsible, it means demanding more transparency and accountability from government and it means acknowledging the need for change in Trenton.  Governor-elect Christie is obviously going to offer a sharp contrast in his policy agenda from Governor Corzine’s four years in office. But this does not mean we cannot work together to find common ground to move New Jersey forward.

One of my top priorities as Senate Majority Leader will be to make significant strides toward establishing a more open, honest and responsive state government. That is the kind of change and reform that enhances the quality of life for all New Jerseyans, not just for someone’s narrow parochial self-interest. I look forward to ushering in a new era of unquestioned government integrity. And I am extremely confident this is a direction that Governor-elect Christie can support.

While there are many important issues where New Jersey’s Republicans and Democrats disagree, there can also be many areas of practical agreement. In order to succeed, we must look to one another and be willing to rise above our own partisan interests. This is how we can best begin restoring a vision for New Jersey’s future. And this is how we can make sure our children can afford to remain here and raise families of their own one day.

June 2011

Jeff Van Drew (D-Dennis)

Shirley Turner (D-Trenton)

Nicholas Sacco (D-North Bergen)

Ronald Rice (D-Newark)

John Girgenti (D-Hawthorne)

Fred Madden (D-Washinton Twp)

James Beach (D-Cherry Hill)

Stephen Sweeney (D-West Deptford)

Paul Sarlo (D-Wood-ridge)

Senator Van Drew is honestly the only person on this list who deserves a pass, his district is just overwhelmingly Republican.  

I’ve never been more disgusted and embarrassed than I was today to be a Democrat.  

Can we make this the official primary candidate suggestion list?  

Marriage Equality – We’re going back to court

Live blog & tally of the Senate vote.

Snapshots and vignettes from an overflow room.

LIVE from the Gallery

It boggles the mind that the New Jersey Senate could vote down – and by wide margin – a bill recognizing the civil rights of its citizens. Astonishing, too, is that this could happen with supporters by the hundreds – and maybe thousands today – all taking the day off to participate in the proceedings and make their opinions heard. But today’s vote is not a surprise; the writing’s been on the wall, in blood, for days.

But there is no giving up. All day long I’ve been asking people whether this finishes it for them. It does not. The movement is resilient. In a few minutes, as soon as everybody gets over there, there is a news conference. Here are Steven Goldstein’s remarks, prepared last night, and embargoed to Blue Jersey until now.

Steven Goldstein:

With today’s vote in the state Senate, the New Jersey legislature defaulted on its constitutional obligation to provide same-sex couples in New Jersey equal protection, as unanimously mandated by the New Jersey Supreme Court in 2006.  That’s why we at Garden State Equality are here with our partner Lambda Legal, which has an extraordinary track record of advancing LGBT civil rights in the courts.

Now our organizations will announce major news.  Our side is going back to court to win marriage equality.  

We’ll hear from Lambda Legal in a moment.   Let’s be clear about what this news means.  We are not waiting out the term of any new Administration to bring equality to same-sex couples in our state.  

In 2006, the New Jersey Supreme Court told the legislature it could enact marriage or another structure that provides the equal protection of marriage.  But the civil union law failed to do that.   Too often, civil union couples too often cannot visit loved ones in hospitals, make medical decisions for their partners or receive equal health benefits from employers.   Hospitals and employers have treated civil union couples differently because they’ve been labeled differently.   Children have been treated differently at school because their families are labeled differently.  

In recent months, including today and at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in December, New Jersey legislators publicly recognized these failures.  They publicly acknowledged that the civil union law has not provided equal protection.  That’s important.  New Jersey legislators themselves said it.  Our opponents in the legislature said it.

More after the jump.

State Senate Marriage Equality Liveblog

Today the State Senate is scheduled to debate and vote on S1967, the marriage equality bill. Live video can be found here, now that the session is underway. The calendar is pretty packed today, with six nominations and over fifty bills scheduled for a vote.

Final Tally of Marriage Equality bill in the NJ Senate


Unless the NJ Supreme Court grows a spine, gay people must wait until at least 2014 to get married in New Jersey.

The play-by-play of the Senate debate is below the fold.

Karrow wins the NJ-23 Senate Slugfest

Moderate Republican Marcia Karrow (R-Raritan Twp.) will inherit the NJ Senate seat left by newly sworn-in Rep. Leonard Lance in NJ’s 23rd District. The vote, moments ago, was Karrow 195, Doherty 143.

Voting took place at Clinton Twp. Middle School as Republican County Committee members from Warren and Hunterdon counties, which together make up NJ23, cast their votes after both candidates made their presentations at the podium.

Doherty (R-Washington Twp.), who describes himself as a Reagan conservative, backed Ron Paul in ’08 and  is disturbingly far-right, with a 100% rating from NJ Right to Life, actively protesting Roe v. Wade, 100% rating from the NRA. Doherty’s an anti-science zealot who has trouble with stuff like global warming and evolution.

Karrow, far less splashy, may have earned the loyalty of the voting committee members by announcing that she would not challenge Doherty if she lost the party vote today. Doherty has said he would challenge the party’s vote if he did not win the endorsement.

Karrow’s win may also be a matter of the pure numbers. There are more filled county committee seats in Hunterdon than in Warren. Each candidate came with their own loyal home constituencies, augmented by county committee members gained by the weeks of ferocious campaigning both have been doing in each other’s territory, Karrow presenting endorsements from 8 Warren County mayors and Doherty’s website bearing an effective graph showing he gets more votes than Karrow in each election they’ve both taken part in.

Unlike Doherty, Karrow grew up in the 23rd, and has spent years quietly developing good will among Republicans. Karrow, 49, is a former committeewoman and mayor in Raritan Twp. She is the daughter of the late, and well-liked Flemington businessman Sol Karrow, who was well-known to Republicans, campaigning for years alongside his daughter.

Both candidates campaigned hard today, but so did Bogota’s Steve Lonegan and Delaware Township’s Dick Zimmer, working opposite sides of the room. And Hunterdon Freeholder Erik Peterson, Hunterdon Freeholder Matt Holt,and Warren County Freeholder John Dimaio, each of whom is vying to grab the vacant Assembly seat the winner leaves empty, were also on hand, pressing the flesh.  

Where we learn “separation” is a total myth in New Jersey

In the ongoing saga of the big MAC, we learn that “separation of powers” simply doesn’t exist between the State Senate and the Treasury Department:

After denying authorship of the document last week, a spokesman for the Senate Democrats said Tuesday it was the caucus’s internal document. Budget staffers couldn’t recall it when asked about it last week, spokesman Jason Butkowski said.

“Apparently it was a Senate document, I’m sorry for the confusion,” said Butkowski, adding he was notified of the error via e-mail by Rousseau. “We were a little thrown off because of that little tag on the bottom. But apparently that tag comes out when the Treasury guys print their documents as a little identifier on the printer. So, yeah, it is one of ours.”

I believe this is probably the truth.  But it raises other questions.  Why is the Treasury using the State Senate office supplies so often that they actually have a pass code to operate the copy machine/printer?  And what other state documents have been wrongfully stamped?

Wait – maybe the problem is that we only have a single copy machine for all of Trenton…or maybe someone just wants to obfuscate who was responsible for what…

A step towards ethics

The official story is that Jon Corzine froze, and the shut down the Property Tax Assistance and Community Development Grants program.  However, the Guv says that the program was not illegal – because of his interpretation of the law.  I consider it good news that the Guv took affirmative steps in ending such a program.  What isn’t good news is that nothing else was done – it was ended and, apparently, it was a case of “no blood, no foul”.

Except now the matt is bloody as hell.

Lawyer Mark Sheridan, who represented a citizen who sued the state over the distribution of the grants, explained that it was up to the legislative branch to appropriate the funds, and up to the executive branch to administer the money according to the Legislature’s instructions.

“What happened here is the Legislature appropriated money to the executive branch to administer,” said Sheridan. “Instead of letting the executive branch administer the funds, the Legislature took control over who would get the money. The Legislature reached back over to say ‘here’s how we want this money spent.'”

I had an email exchange a few months back with a woman who, I believe, was caught in the crossfire of this blending of government branches.  Because she asked to remain anonymous, I can’t give you details, but she worked for an organization that depended on this grant program to pay its bills.  Then, without warning, the money disappeared and the State Senator responsible quit taking her calls.  As a result, the woman I spoke with was owed several thousand dollars of back-pay.  I can only assume that several creditors are in the same boat.

More after the jump.

Death Penalty votes next week!

Senate President Richard Codey has announced that the full Senate will vote on S-171, the death penalty abolition bill, this coming Monday, December 10 at 2PM.

That is the same day that the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee will hear the Assembly version of the bill.  That committee hearing starts at 10AM.

The final vote should be in the Assembly at their session on Thursday, December 13.  We’ll post the time when we know.

Let’s make sure we’re at the State House next Monday and Thursday to watch New Jersey make history!

District 38 Dems Fall in Line

It was unanimous! What a surprise. 

Joe Ferriero had a “private conversation” with Joan Voss on Saturday.  And once again, all became right with the world on Sunday, and the planets all lined up for Joe Ferriero.  Bergen County Committee members of the 38th LD unanimously coronated – I mean nominated  – Bob Gordon to run in place of Joe Coniglio and current Freeholder Connie Wagner to run for Gordon’s seat.

Joe Ferriero predicted which Dem would win, and gosh darnit, he’s like the Great Criswell, wouldn’t you know it – he picked correctly.  How DOES he do it?  It’s doggone AMAZING! Thank God those County Committee folks in the 38th didn’t have to worry their silly little heads over such a thing as a choice of candidates.  Uncle Joe made it easy for them – just like he always does.  Bless his heart!

And so, Uncle Joe protected the State Senate and Senatorial Courtesy from the clutches of another (dare I say it? – WOMAN).  Whew!  The Bergen Boys were getting pretty worried they were losing their touch.  Now all they have to do is wait till Ken Zisa’s bad karma rubs off and they’ll replace Connie with Ken.  Or, they’ll trot him out to replace another fallen male State Senator in the near future.  Why waste Ken on an Assembly seat?  Promises are promises.  And Joe (almost) always gets his man.