Tag Archive: NJ Assembly

Hearing Today on Local Control of Charters

Today, the Assembly Education Committee is scheduled have a hearing on charter schools; specifically, on a bill that would require local approval for charter applications and expansion.

Mother Crusader reports that the New Jersey Charter Schools Association – which is funded by the Walton Foundation, among others – is asking its members to call members of the committee and tell them to kill the bill.

After the jump, find the names and numbers of the Education Committee members. Tell them you support A1877 and A2147, which will require local approval for charters, and increase charter accountability and reporting requirements.

Thursday morning: Marriage Equality Testimony in Assembly Judiciary

Thursday morning, the New Jersey Assembly Judiciary Committee will hear testimony and then vote on A-1, the marriage equality bill, first up in the legislation line-up for the Assembly in the 215th NJ Legislature.

Eight days ago, Senate Judicary heard hours of testimony, then voted 8-4 to send the bill (companion to the Assembly bill) to the full Senate. Far more people showed up to testify on the pro-side, including a long list whose names were read at the end. Testimony on the pro-side was uplifting, accepting, community- and family-minded. Testimony on the anti-side repeatedly invoked Anne Heche as some kind of emblematic figure for a misguided impression of gay life. And there was talk of marriage equality leading to people marrying their dogs. All the infuriating, bigoted stuff you always hear trotted out when some folks get a microphone.

Alex DeCroce dies: Tragedy mars the new legislative session

This was written late last night, with some morning additions. But some people are still hearing this for the first time, so we’ll leave this up top for a while. Today’s morning news roundup can be found here. – Rosi

VOTERS GUIDE 2003 DECROCESenator Weinberg informed us late tonight that 26th District Assemblyman Alex DeCroce has just died in the New Jersey statehouse. He was 75.

Update: Due to the death of Assemblymember DeCroce, all swearing in festivities as well as the State of the State have been cancelled. The governor, who is required by state Constitution to address the Legislature ,will simply speak about and eulogize his friend and their colleague at 1pm today. The more formal State of the State address, where the Governor lays out his agenda for the coming year, will be postponed.

Senator Loretta Weinberg described an awful scene. Shortly before midnight, with legislators headed out to their cars after a long night, Weinberg saw people running towards the men’s room on the lower level toward the state house back. Via Star-Ledger State Police Lt. Stephen Jones said a physician on hand attended to the legislator but he was found to be dead. We now know that physician was Herb Conaway, 7th District Assemblyman and the NJ Legislature’s only physician.

Tomorrow, the NJ legislature will be sworn in. Tonight, was the last day of the lame duck session, a long day and night of legislative decisions. The NJ Assembly began their day at 1pm.

DeCroce has been the Assembly’s Republican Leader since 2003, served as the Republican Conference Leader from 2002-2003 and was the Deputy Speaker from 1994-2001. DeCroce serves in the Assembly on the Legislative Services Commission. He has served the 26th district since 1989.

Our deepest sympathies to the Assemblyman’s wife Betty Lou, to his family, friends and staff, to DeCroce’s 26th District partners Sen. Joseph Pennacchio and Asm Jay Webber, and to colleagues who expected a fresh start tomorrow with swearing in and new session and will now mark tomorrow feeling the loss of a 23-year colleague.  

Assembly Democrats Rally Mashup

As thousands of New Jersey’s first-responders – firefighters, police, corrections officers emergency medical services members & many of the people they protect every day – rallied outside the State House, many of their signs expressed their disgust with Senate President Steve Sweeney, members of NJ’s other legislative body were out in force at yesterday’s massive rally.

Below, in video shot by the Assembly majority office, Democratic legislators look out at a sea of blue:

Assembly Democrats Voice Their Support for Workers’ Right to Collectively Bargain from NJ Assembly Democratic Office on Vimeo.

Senate shoots down Christie’s disruptive medi-pot rules

The New Jersey Senate, like the NJ Assembly before it, has sided with ill and suffering New Jerseyans to protect them from an ideologue governor. Today, the full Senate voted to reject Gov. Christie’s unnecessarily restrictive rules on NJ’s already-conservative medical marijuana law. Christie’s going to have to rethink and rewrite how the state will distribute marijuana intended for sick people. He’d better get moving.

Governor Christie’s wasting sick people’s time. Maybe he should make one less cute video of himself and spend the time working on sensible regulations, and get this done. He’s governor of all of New Jersey, not just the people who agree with him, and he is charged to do his job with all New Jersey’s laws, not just the ones he likes.  

Addressing Gender Inequality in the State House

Assemblywoman Connie Wagner (via PolitickerNJ):

There are currently 13 districts without a woman in the New Jersey state legislature,” she said in an email. “That means 2.83 million people in New Jersey are being solely represented by men. Women make up more than 50 percent of the population, but only 28.3 percent of New Jersey legislature is female.”

Each time a seat opens up is an opportunity to send a very loud message to to the party’s base that the Democratic Party values fairness and diversity.

the good, the bad, the ugly below the fold

Assembly Speaker Oliver Please Show More Oomph

With a hyperactive, demanding, impatient governor in the opposing party, it’s time for you to display more  energy, confidence, dispatch, strength, and oomph. This week you released the following statement on the Assembly’s reform agenda:

“We laid out a timeframe quite some time ago that would allow us to take a thoughtful and deliberative approach. We have been working diligently to advance thorough and substantive reforms that will have a real impact on helping local governments meet the new two-percent cap and make a real difference in people’s lives… We have already considered a number of bills and we approved two property tax reforms today.”

“Thoughtful, deliberative, and diligent” are OK, but not much oomph there.  

On September 12 after the summer recess, several Assembly panels met to discuss how the recently enacted state budget is affecting residents and businesses. At the conclusion of the meetings you released the following statement, “This budget will have many deep impacts on the lives of New Jerseyans, and we plan to monitor it closely to see what might be done to ease the pain.” “Monitoring closely” is OK, but not much oomph there.

In February after marriage equality was voted down in the Senate, you spoke at a rally in Montclair about three key priorities: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, ENDA, and school bullying. The first two matters you have little control over, but you evinced strong passion over the harm of bullying and the need for legislation.  I understand that work on the bill is underway and that Assemblywomen Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) and Mary Pat Angelini (R-Monmouth) plan to introduce such a bill shortly. In your speech in Montclair you displayed some oomph.  It is time for more.  

Legislators set the tone for bullying

Barocas, Legal Director of NJ’s ACLU, suggests our Governor look in the mirror, and our Senate President’s words ring hollow. – promoted by Rosi

It didn’t take long for my feelings of horror and sadness at the suicide of Tyler Clementi to turn into anger – anger not just at the unfeeling young students who so cruelly invaded Tyler’s privacy, but at our state’s leaders who, through their refusal to provide gay and lesbian citizens with full equality, have stigmatized gay and lesbian relationships and set the tone for tragedies like this to occur.

A line from my testimony to the New Jersey legislature during the 2009 marriage equality debate echoed hauntingly in my mind:

“When the state itself segregates people, it grants the rest of society permission to do the same. Through its example, the legislature excuses bigotry and emboldens bullies.”

keep reading below the fold

Tuesday morning: First hearing on Race to the Top education mistakes

Well, we now know the “guest list” for the first formal legislative inquiry, by the NJ Assembly Appropriations Committee, on the Race to the Top education that cost New Jersey school kids $400 million in resources and Bret Schundler his job. The big name here, of course, is Schundler, who’s already made it clear he has a story to tell.

Hearing will take place Tuesday at 10 am in Committee Room 11, State House Annex 4th Floor.

  • Bret Schundler, former NJ Education Commissioner

  • Richard Bagger, Governor’s Chief of Staff

  • All members of the administration’s Race to the Top team who presented before the US Dept. of Education.

  • Any staff from the administration involved in the preparation of the state’s Race to the Top Application.

  • Gregg Edwards, Gov. Christie’s Dir. of Policy

  • Maria Comella, Gov. Christie’s Communications Director

  • Michael Drewniak, Gov. Christie’s Press Secretary

  • Department of Treasury officials with knowledge of the contract awarded to Wireless Generation

  • Any members of the administration that worked with the US Dept. of Education in the preparation of the Race to the Top application

  • The individual(s) who delivered the application from NJ to Washington, D.C.

  • Representatives of Wireless Generation (consultants)

    This is the list to date of those invited to appear before the committee, which appears to leave room for the possibility the list may grow. Either way, it’s going to be a long Labor Day weekend for a lot of people doing prep, both for those doing the questioning and those expected to answer for the governor’s administration. Big Tuesday.