Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Kean: Let's Get Moving On Legislation

New Jersey Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean Jr. (Union, Somerset, Morris) renewed his call for Senate President Stephen Sweeney to post Republican legislation addressing issues faced by people all across New Jersey.

“Now that Senator Sweeney is finally ending his 50-day partisan ban of Republican solutions, hopefully he allows this Senate to come together and start advancing the people’s reforms,” Kean said. “I once again call on Senator Sweeney to post for a vote Republican legislation to protect families, make this state more affordable and hold government accountable at all levels. It is unacceptable for this Senate to fail in executing those essential public duties.”

Senator Kean recalled what was happening before Senator Sweeney’s unprecedented ban: “In September, the Senate Republican caucus started publicly petitioning Senator Sweeney to post common-sense, and in some cases bipartisan, Republican initiatives,” Kean noted. “And in November, the Senate President and other Democratic leaders vowed to join us in enacting Superstorm Sandy reforms. But both of these things haven’t really happened yet.”

Senator Kean offered some examples of the people’s solutions, which he said should not be blocked simply because they are Republican initiatives, as New Jersey is a state with millions of residents represented by both political parties.

Senator Kean said, “This Senate must leave nothing on the table when it comes to protecting children and families. For example, let’s pass:”

  • S185 (Connors, Beach) requires court to consider results of domestic violence assessment before dissolving certain domestic violence restraining orders. Defendants would pay for the confidential assessments.

  • S1950/”Joan’s Law” (Addiego, Bucco) requires life imprisonment without parole for people convicted of murdering minors in the course of a sex crime.

  • S2771 (Kyrillos, Oroho) strengthens rights of certain sexual assault victims to sole custody; allows victim to place child for adoption without notice to person who committed sexual assault resulting in birth of the child.

  • S884 (Bateman), now S2850 (Norcross, Bateman) requires that sexual abuse against a child be reported to law enforcement officials.

Senator Kean continued, “The people want this Senate to attack property taxes at their root. We can by:”

·         Ending sick-leave retirement jackpots via S808 or Sweeney’s own bill S1564, which he won’t post for a vote even though it has Republican support;

  • Passing civil service reforms, and cut other duplicative spending at the local level: (S1694, Doherty, with Sweeney signing on later, permits counties to share tax administrators).

  • Implementing real pay-to-play and ethics reforms to save taxpayers from funding excessively rich contracts and the actions of abusive public officials:

    • S2068 (makes all local public officials accountable to state ethics laws); S1917 (levels the pay-to-play playing field); S590 (co-sponsored by Weinberg) full forfeiture of pension of elected or appointed official convicted of any crime touching office); S1333 (Requires forfeiture of public office, position or employment upon conviction of certain offenses); S597(no wheeling);
    • S601 (suspends public pensions of retired public employees who resume public employment with compensation greater than $15,000, in order to mitigate pension system burden and help ensure equal opportunity for new positions); and S1891 (With bipartisan support in the Assembly, mandates that insurance producers perform bona fide services in order to be paid public dollars; requires insurance producers disclose public contracts with the state and detail services provided).

Senator Kean concluded, “Let’s do something to learn from and better prepare for the next Superstorm Sandy. There’s more we need to do now to help people recover. For instance:”

  • Senator Beck created S2505 to assure that insurance companies responsible for holding thousands of residents and small business owners hostage without providing timely and fair insurance settlement claims, can be held accountable by state authorities. Beck’s bill provides the state Department of Banking & Insurance with the authority to hold state-licensed flood insurers to state laws that ensure prompt, fair and equitable settlement of claims. It also establishes a process for DOBI to enforce provisions of what is referred to as the “Unfair Practice Act” that outlaw unfair or unreasonably delayed settlements. Beck’s now bipartisan bill has been referred to the Senate Commerce Committee. The Assembly version has been passed by the lower house’s Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee.

  • Senators Singer and Kyrillos sponsor S2494 to facilitate Sandy recovery by allowing shore municipalities to use beach access fees to rebuild and maintain properties near beaches that were decimated by the Superstorm. As per his ban, Senator Sweeney removed this bill from a May 20 Senate committee agenda.

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