Thursday, December 10, 2015

Officials And Donors Celebrate Opening Of "Alex DeCroce Media Center"

The County College of Morris (CCM) Board of Trustees and Foundation Board of Directors hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday, December 8, to celebrate the renovation of the Media Center and its naming in honor of late New Jersey Assemblyman Alex DeCroce.
Attending the celebration were members of the Morris County Board of Chosen Freeholders and other contributors to the foundation’s Visioning the Future campaign that helped to fund the center’s renovation. The Freeholders contributed $1 million from the county’s capital budget for the project. Another $900,000 was raised by the foundation in individual, corporate, private foundation and public support. Also in attendance to mark the opening of the Alex DeCroce Media Center were students, faculty and other members of the CCM community.
Prior to serving as an assemblyman, DeCroce served as a Morris County freeholder, as a CCM trustee and as Board of Trustee chair.
“As a result of the generosity of those who contributed to the campaign, we were able to create a state-of-the-art facility for the benefit of our students and local businesses,” said Dr. Edward J. Yaw, CCM president. “It is especially appropriate that this new center now is named in memory of Alex DeCroce who was such a strong proponent of education and a long-time supporter of the college through his many years of service as a Freeholder, on our Board of Trustees and as an Assemblyman.”
“‘An investment in knowledge pays the best interest’ said Benjamin Franklin,” noted Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce. “My husband, Assemblyman Alex DeCroce, knew that to be true and it served him well as a trustee and board chair at CCM. Our family greatly appreciates this recognition. We are so pleased that the investment into this state-of-the-art media center will serve not only the students but the community at large…”
The Alex DeCroce Media Center functions as a TV studio and classroom for students majoring in Broadcasting Arts and Technology or Communication. It also is a vital resource for faculty, staff and the community, providing multimedia support for a range of activities including classroom presentations, audio and video productions, sound and video for computer programs, and on-campus conferences. It also will be available to the area’s corporate and business community for the production of training, promotional and other videos.

Monday, December 7, 2015

DeCroce, Lawmakers Renew Push To Explore Full-Day Kindergarten

Several lawmakers are hoping to convince Gov. Chris Christie to reconsider previously vetoed legislation that would have created a task force to explore the pros and cons of all-day kindergarten.
In January of 2014, Christie vetoed the bill that would have created the task force. In his veto message Christie explained that almost three-quarters of New Jersey’s school districts already offered all-day kindergarten. He also said it should be a local choice, not a state mandate. Several Assembly members want to pass the legislation again in hopes that the governor would reconsider.

“Efficient and productive full-day kindergarten programs can be critical in launching our students to higher achievement, making them competitive with high-performing students from around the world and making New Jersey more competitive in the global marketplace,” said bill co-sponsor, Assemblywoman Betty Lou DeCroce (R-Parsippany) in a press release.
The full Assembly approved a new bill (A-447) last Thursday. The measure would establish a 21-member task force to study and evaluate issues regarding the establishment and implementation of full-day kindergarten. The NJ education commissioner would be a member. Others would be appointed by the governor and legislative leaders in both houses.
The panel would be charged with studying issue which include:
  • Staffing needs, facility space, and class size;
  • The long-term academic, social and emotional impact of full-day kindergarten;
  • Funding needs and sources of funding;
  • Recommendations and opinions of parents and elementary school teachers; and
  • The feasibility of offering full-day kindergarten in school districts statewide.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Carroll Stumps Dems As Christie Override Attempt Fails In Assembly [Video]

Assembly Democrats failed to aid their Senate colleagues by overriding Governor Chris Christie‘s veto of S2360 on Thursday afternoon, Save Jerseyans, with only 51 voting in favor of the override while 17 registered against and 11 abstained.
54 was the magic number. Speaker Vincent Prieto pulled the override vote at the last second when it was clear that the necessary voters weren’t present.
Four Republicans bucked the Governor and supported the Democrats’ failed override attempt: Assemblyman Chris Brown (R-2), Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli (R-16), Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-26), and Assemblywoman Amy Handlin (R-13).
Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll (R-25) spoke for the majority of GOP members by asking why the Democrats have no interest in passing a better bill in the form of the Governor’s conditional veto. The response (or non-response?) he received was extremely telling and confirmed that all of this has been 100% politically-motivated since day one:

“The majority party failed to consider any of suggestions by the governor regarding this bill and that’s unfortunate. In order to create meaningful and effective legislation it should be done in bipartisan manner.
If there is a demonstrable need for stricter gun control laws in New Jersey – which already has some of the toughest gun control laws in the nation, then let’s do it in a sober, well-reasoned manner. Attaching gun control measures, including those dealing with the ability of people with mental health issues to buy gun — to a bill dealing with domestic violence is not the way to create effective gun safety regulations.
Likewise if there is a need to address holes in our domestic violence laws, let’s address that need comprehensively and in the proper context.”
“I voted against the override,” added Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce (R-26) “because the opportunity to strengthen the bill was bypassed in order to make this a political showdown on gun control…”

Republicans Offer Condolences To Victims In San Bernadio

On Thursday, one day after the mass shootings in Southern California that killed 14 people, New Jersey Assembly members from both sides of the political aisle invoked or at least referenced the tragedy as they debated an override attempt of Gov. Christie’s veto of a gun control bill that would make it more difficult for mentally ill people to buy a gun.
In the end, the override was postponed until mid-December because there weren’t enough Republicans votes for it to be successful.
Here are some of the comments made by lawmakers in the wake of the San Bernardino massacre:
“I thought very hard about what I wanted to do considering what is going on across the country and throughout the world.” Assemblywoman Betty Lou DeCroce (R-Parsippany) who voted against the override.
“Let me begin by acknowledging what Assemblyman Gusciora spoke about. He raised the tragedy from San Bernardino yesterday and the fact is we don’t know yet if the two individuals involved in it had any mental health issues.” – Assemblyman Scott Rumana (R-Wayne) who voted against the override.
“I do think and I’d ask the Speaker if he could do a moment of silence for everybody that was killed yesterday.” – Assemblywoman Holly Shepisi (R-Westwood) who voted against the override. Assembly Speaker Vinnie Prieto (D-Secaucus) honored the request and asked for a moment of silence.
“When I heard the comments of my colleague Assemblyman Gusciora referencing how this bill demonstrates our action in the face of such a hard incident that took place in California, I said to myself, ‘This bill has nothing to do with that situation.’” – Assemblyman Chris Brown (R-Medford) who voted against the override.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Assembly Democrats Fail to Override Governor Christie On Gun Bill

On the same day national security presidential candidate Gov. Chris Christie jumped into fourth place in the New Hampshire Republican Primary, Assembly Democrats failed to override Christie’s veto of public safety gun bill S-2360 (A-3593).
What ended up as a much-debated, politically thorny bill originally passed at the urging of the courts in the assembly with unanimous Republican support by a vote of 74-0. Then Christie crushed the bill, forcing members of his party in the legislature into the awkward position of having to try to reverse their initial support.
Missing by three votes, the (late, wavering) tally was 51 in favor of the override, 17 against, and 11 abstaining. Perhaps a sign of the coming inability of Democratic leadership to twist the arms of three Republicans came as the assembly started an hour late today.
Four Republicans crossed the aisle to vote in favor of the override: Assemblyman Chris Brown (R-2), Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli (R-16), Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-26), and Assemblywoman Amy Handlin (R-13).
Technically speaking, Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-32) yanked the bill immediately prior to suffering the indignity of an official failure as the vote board flickered, failing to get the speaker to the required 54.
A prodigious debate occurred in the lead-up to the vote.
The rural-state-vote-seeking Christie vetoed the legislation that Democratic – and originally Republican – lawmakers say would help keep guns out of the hands of potentially dangerous people by requiring those seeking to have their mental health records expunged in order to purchase a firearm notify law enforcement. The information would be used by the courts when deciding to approve the application, giving law enforcement a voice in the process and providing the courts with more information before approving an expungement to allow gun purchases.
Subdued because of yesterday’s mass shooting in San Bernardino, California that resulted in the killing of 14 people and prompted a moment of silence on the floor, but buoyed by the Senate’s successful override of the governor on this bill, Prieto put the same bill before his colleagues this afternoon.
But in a sign of the unwieldy, more challenging terrain of lower house politics (the assembly has never been able to override the GOP governor), the bill failed to pass as Republicans refused to give Democrats the necessary votes.
Pointing to the reasoning in Christie’s conditional veto and making the case that the bill doesn’t successfully keep guns out of the hands of people with mental issues, Republicans throughout the long debate tried to argue that they weren’t informed the first time when they unanimously backed the bill.
They implied that Democrats want to embarrass Christie with the bill, or at least have politics as their motivation. “Are we really rying to protect public safety with this particular bill?” said Assemblyman Scott Rumana (R-40). “The reality is there is a loophole as big as a Mack Truck.”
That so-called loophole in an alternative bill put forward by Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean, Jr. (R-21) would require people with a psychiatric profile who apply for expungement of their record to additionally alert police for other reasons, not just the purchase of a gun.
But the bulk of Republicans led by Christie ally Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-21) saw it differently, and liked the CV offered by Christie.
“What’s wrong with making this bill stronger?” Assemblyman Tony Bucco (R-25) wanted to know, while Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon (R-13) accused Democrats, by resisting the Kean bill and doubling down on their initial legislation, of “poking the governor in the eye.” 

Early in the debate, Republicans tried to introduce the compromise bill put forward by Kean.
“I’m not going to play politics because politics is not going to protect them,” said Assemblywoman Betty Lou DeCroce (R-26), who attempted to offer Kean’s bill on the floor.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Route 53 Renamed "Assemblyman DeCroce Memorial Highway"

Parsippany Focus -
It’s official. Route 53 has been renamed “Assemblyman DeCroce Memorial Highway” at a ceremony held, on Tuesday, November 10 in front of Verde Restaurant.
Sheriff Edward Rochford said “This is a fitting Tribute for a person who dedicated his life to public service especially transportation issues.”
“I extend my sincerest thanks to the bill’s bi-partisan sponsors for initiating this measure. Those who knew Alex know he never sought the limelight. In fact, he would be quite uncomfortable over this because he was not one to flaunt his accomplishments. His only goal was to get the job done for the people of his district and the state. Alex was a huge supporter of transportation issues. To have Route 53, which runs through his hometown and district, named for him is truly a great honor to his legacy,” said Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce.
Alex, who devoted his life to public service, was an avid proponent of transportation issues in New Jersey, and was a former chairman of the committee. He was the prime sponsor of legislation that renewed the Transportation Trust Fund. He also was a strong advocate for crime victims’ rights.
Route 53 is a state highway that spans nearly five miles from U.S. Route 202 in Morris Plains, continues throught Parsippany north to Bloomfield Avenue in Denville. The route runs east of New Jersey Transit’s Morristown Line and passes under the New Jersey Transit’s Montclair-Boonton Line near the Denville Station.
The full Senate unanimously approved the legislation, S-2580/A-3789 on September 12, 2013. Governor Chris Christie signed the bill approving the legislation on January 21, 2014.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Ciattarelli-DeCroce Bill Supporting Voluntary Food Labeling Released By Committee

Assembly Republican Press Release -
A bipartisan resolution sponsored by Assembly Republicans Jack Ciattarelli and BettyLou DeCroce urging Congress to pass a bill allowing food manufacturers to voluntarily label their products as GMO-free was released by the Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee today. A product is genetically modified if its contents include more than one percent of materials that are produced or enhanced by genetic engineering or bioengineering.
Ciattarelli and DeCroce’s bill, AR-239, supports passage of the “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015” (H.R. 1599). Under the federal bill, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would create a federal standard for the voluntary labeling of products containing GMO ingredients. It also stipulates that states would not be allowed to require mandatory labeling on products which include GMOs.
“A state-by-state patchwork of labeling requirements is not in the best interest of consumers and more costly to food producers,” said Ciattarelli, R-Somerset, Hunterdon, Mercer and Middlesex. “The FDA should be responsible for developing consistent criteria. Without a uniform standard, added cost will be passed on to the consumer due to manufacturers having to comply with different state regulations. Centralizing GMO labeling is better for the consumer and less complicated for manufacturers.”
The House of Representatives passed H.R. 1599 in July by a vote of 275-150. The bill awaits action in the U.S. Senate.
“The science in food product development is constantly evolving,”’ said DeCroce, R-Morris, Essex and Passaic. “Consumer safety is best achieved when consistent and transparent guidelines are established and apply uniformly in all states. The FDA is the optimal place that oversees and ensures compliance with food safety standards. Allowing a hodge-podge approach by each state complicates this issue and may result in consumers misunderstanding what they read.”