The following editorial by Senator Sam Thompson (R-12) regarding the historic number of veto override attempts conducted by legislative Democrats against Governor Christie was published by the Asbury Park Press on March 26:
Editorial writers, Democrats and others have reported Gov. Chris Christie has set a record with the number of bills he has vetoed and have continuously asserted that Republican members of the Legislature are spineless, intimidated cowards because, despite 50 veto override attempts, they have never provided the votes for a single veto override.
A historical review of records of gubernatorial vetoes and veto override attempts belies both of these statements. However, it also reveals the most significant and record-making number usually cited is actually the 50 override attempts. This is truly a record for the last 60 years.
Editorial: Thompson Urges Committee to Vote on Bill to Require Schools Buses to Have Same Seat Belts as Family Cars
The following editorial by Senator Sam Thompson on legislation that would require all new school buses to include three-point lap and shoulder belts was published in the Times of Trenton on March 13, 2015:
As our communities grow concerned over yet another New Jersey school bus crash, I am trying to do everything possible to ensure the passage of legislation to keep our children secure and safe every time they step onto a school bus.
In 2013, I introduced S632, which would require all new school buses to include three-point lap and shoulder belts, following school bus crashes in Chesterfield and a pair in Old Bridge, and others more recently in Bergen and Mercer counties. On March 9, a school bus was struck from behind by another vehicle in Lumberton (“School bus turns over in Lumberton,” March 9, nj.com), flipping the bus onto its side, reportedly injuring one of the three students who were on board.
It is clear that children in school buses are in no way immune to dangers of the road faced by all other motorists and passengers and that our next generation must have the same protections no matter what vehicle they are traveling in.
Thompson & Rice Renew Call for Legislative Select Committee Investigation of Abuses at Newark Watershed
Report Indicates Active Federal Investigation
Senator Sam Thompson (R-12) and Senator Ron Rice (D-28) renewed their call for the New Jersey Legislative Select Committee on Investigation (SCI) to launch an inquiry into abuses of government power and cover-ups at the Newark Watershed Conservation and Development Corporation (NWCDC).
An attorney for the NWCDC has confirmed in a published report that the watershed corporation, formerly chaired by current United States Senator Cory Booker, has provided documents to a federal grand jury and has been “assisting the U.S. Attorney’s Office with their investigation.”
“The report by the State Comptroller into wrongdoing that occurred at the Newark Watershed while Cory Booker was Chairman detailed the likely abuse of millions of dollars of taxpayer and ratepayer funds,” said Thompson. “While the federal investigation looks into the possible violation of federal law, it is imperative that the Legislature use its investigatory powers to determine how we can strengthen state law to prevent abuses.”
Senator Sam Thompson (R-12) said that the New Jersey Senate is sending conflicting messages regarding its concern for the safety of children riding on Garden State roads and highways.
The Senator commended the Law & Public Safety Committee’s passage of legislation (S-2026) sponsored by Senator James Beach (D-6) that updates state laws regarding the use of child safety seats in passenger vehicles to match current recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), but questioned the Senate Education Committee’s refusal to hear similar legislation (S-632) that addresses the AAP’s recommendations regarding the need for seat belts in school buses.
“Our kids deserve to be safely secured in age- and size-appropriate seats and restraints regardless of the type of vehicle they are riding in,” said Thompson. “Injuries caused by school bus accidents are not uncommon, but they are preventable. It is mind boggling that the Senate has not taken action yet.”
Senator Sam Thompson and Assemblyman Ron Dancer, both R-Ocean, Monmouth, Burlington and Middlesex, attended and participated in a news conference outside the main gate to Fort Dix of the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in Wrightstown. The legislators lauded that portion of the Fiscal 2015 budget which includes $200,000 in funding to protect the base and Picatinny Arsenal from potential cuts or closure by the Department of Defense (DOD). Thompson and Dancer were sponsors of the budget initiative.
“Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst is the second-largest New Jersey employer and a huge multi-billion dollar segment of our state’s economy,” said Thompson. “It’s imperative that we have a bipartisan effort of state and federal lawmakers that is prepared to defend the joint base and New Jersey’s other military installations in the event of another round of base closures.”
The Senate Republican members of the Budget & Appropriation Committee — Jennifer Beck, Anthony Bucco, Steven Oroho, Kevin O’Toole and Sam Thompson — joined in support of options to avoid $1.7 billion in tax and fee increases proposed for the FY15 New Jersey state budget.
“We oppose the Senate Democrats plan to raise taxes by $1.6 billion. It is not a workable plan for the people of New Jersey, and for similar reasons, we oppose $137 million in tax and fee increases proposed in the governor’s budget and supported by Senate Democrats.
“The federal tax increases on families and small business owners have already caused a state revenue shortfall, to the detriment of New Jersey’s workforce. The Senate Democrats’ proposal to raise taxes by $1.6 billion will damage our economic viability regionally, nationally and internationally.
State legislators Sen. Sam Thompson and Assemblymen Ron Dancer and Rob Clifton, all R-Ocean, Monmouth, Middlesex and Burlington, praised the recent announcement by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) of the $4.5 million purchase of a 293-acre tract in the Barnegat Bay watershed in Jackson Township that will be permanently preserved.
“This is an important open space purchase that will help us to prevent additional runoff into Barnegat Bay and protect a major aquifer that provides drinking water to Central and South Jersey,” said Thompson. “This purchase is also a good demonstration of how different levels of government can partner together to fund major land preservation projects.”
Senators Sam Thompson (R-12) and Peter J. Barnes, III (D-18) called a non-profit organization’s report calling for sales and/or property tax increases in five New Jersey counties to generate new revenues to reduce operating deficits of the Port Authority Trans-Hudson (“PATH”) rail system a “nonstarter.”
The report, issued by the New York Citizens Budget Commission (“CBC”), recommends tax increases in Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex and Union counties to generate up to $233 million for PATH deficit reduction.
“The New Jersey Legislature has been committed to finding ways to reduce our residents’ tax burden,” said Thompson. “The CBC’s suggestion to increase sales or property taxes on millions of New Jersey residents to fund a service that few actually use is nonsensical.”
Thompson: Millions Wasted in Newark Abuses Could Have Been Used to Fund Public Safety, Prevent Spike in Violent Crimes
Senator Sam Thompson (R-12) said that the spike in violent crimes in Newark precipitated by budget problems and police layoffs demonstrates the tangible harm caused by fraud and the abuse of government authority by public officials in the city:
“At the same time that the State Comptroller identified millions of dollars being wasted at the Watershed Corporation under ex-Mayor, now U.S. Senator Cory Booker, hundreds of Newark police officers were laid off due to budget cuts leading to a surge of violent crimes, including a 41 percent increase in murders in the city from 2009 to 2013.
“It is crystal clear that the reported waste, abuse or fraud associated with the Newark Watershed has directly impacted the safety and well being of residents.
In the following video, Senator Sam Thompson (R-12) breaks down the need for the New Jersey Legislative Select Committee on Investigation to look into serious abuses of government power in Newark that were uncovered by the State Comptroller.
Thompson and Senator Ron Rice (D-28) have launched a petition at http://senatenj.com/newark to support their bipartisan call for the Select Committee perform this inquiry.