A Progress Report to My Bosses

tt119.jpgOver the course of my two-year term in office, I like to update my bosses on the issues in Trenton that I am working on. I typically look at the term in four six-month intervals and seek to try and move initiatives forward along that timeline. That said, my main focus as it’s been since being afforded the honor and privilege of representing the Seventh Legislative District in 2011, is to seek to make our state a better place to live, work and raise a family. So, here are a couple of highlights that I wanted to share with you.

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What Now America?

tt118_(1).jpgI was 17 years old and sat down at my family’s kitchen table with my father to have “The Talk”. Now this talk wasn’t about the birds and the bees but rather something more important. He said to me that now that I was driving he wanted to talk to me about my potential interactions with law enforcement. He never tried to scare me about what could happen if I get stopped, but rather how I should behave when I did. I remember this story because I recall having the same conversation with my oldest son when he turned the same age. The conversation centered around not making sudden movements or being combative on these occasions. No matter whether I thought I was in the right or not, the idea was to leave the encounter without it escalating into something far worse.

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Ending an Inhumane Practice: Declawing Cats

Screen_Shot_2016-07-06_at_12.09.10_PM.pngThere are a lot of important issues facing our state these days. Many have been discussed and debated through my blog posts over the years. One issue that I take very personally is in the area of animal protection and safety. So, while some may not read much of this week’s post past the headline because it isn’t as important to you as it is to me, I invite you to indulge me on this particular topic. Perhaps you will see why I care about it so much.

There are an estimated 82 million cats in the United States, making them among our most popular pets. Yet, there is a “medical” practice that many from around the globe have deemed to be barbaric, out of touch and frankly an unnecessary procedure: declawing.

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The Record: Uber safety

WHETHER PEOPLE are getting rides in a cab, in a limousine or from a ride-hailing service like Uber, they deserve a driver with a clean background. That's not negotiable.

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Millionaires and retired public workers wind up in the win column, but current public workers, businesses, and homeowners rack up a loss with overall spending going up by less than 3 percent, there isn’t much extra money to spread around in the new, $34.5 billion state budget that Gov. Chris Christie signed into law late last week.

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The Enemy of One-Person, One-Vote Democracy

tt0628-v1.jpgIf you examine the boundaries of election districts, you cannot help but notice that somehow they seem rather oddly shaped, and their configuration is not necessarily a coincidence.

The practice of creating election districts to benefit a specific candidate or party goes back to the founding days of our country. (Indeed, the term, gerrymander, appeared for the first time in 1812 when a Boston newspaper applied the word to then-Gov. Gerry and the salamander-shaped district he created in an attempt to give his party an electoral advantage.)

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Pay-to-Play in Politics: The Power of Transparency

tt118.jpgAfter the long presidential primary run, and those who anticipate the impending coverage of the presidential race can rest assured that the media will bring up one topic repeatedly: Campaign Finance.

The costs of campaigns and, more specifically, who is funding campaigns matter, especially when there is a veil of secrecy around donations. For that reason, I have introduced two proposals that would revamp and improve campaign finance and pay-to-play laws in New Jersey. My goal strikes at the core of what is often missing in campaign financing: greater transparency and broadening disclosure requirements.

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Heroin, Headlines and a Cry for Help

tt117.jpgNo one ever woke up one day and said, “Today, I will become hooked on heroin.” However, for far too many New Jersey residents the pain of this disease is far too real. One of the most sobering experiences of my life was when I visited a heroin recovery support group. There, men and women, who continue to fight this sickness, shared with me their pain of addiction. I must admit I was not shocked by their stories, as my family has faced this scourge of addiction, but it did bring me right back to those difficult memories in my own life.

I listened to their stories of the intense high of heroin and how the feeling becomes so addictive that you will do anything and everything you can to feel that way again. How when you aren’t on it, your body aches and you cannot sleep or think clearly…or how your mind is dominated of thoughts on getting high again. I was told of the close calls with death and the abandonment of family and friends just to chase that high. They also shared with me their stories of immense regret and sadness, on how their lives had spiraled out of control…the fellow addicts they lost to this disease along the way and how they were seemingly powerless to combat their addiction.

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Muhammad Ali: How Great Thou Art

tt116.jpgMuhammad Ali’s accomplishments as a boxer have placed him in the pantheon of the most accomplished athletes in sports history.

But, the stunning boxing accomplishments of this force of nature in the end would be overshadowed by his stature as a civil rights activist and a bona-fide worldwide cultural icon who defies description.

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Lest We Forget: Protecting the Children Left Behind

tt115.jpgGone but never forgotten. It’s a phrase that we hear frequently, but I wonder if it doesn’t strike a different emotional chord with children who have lost a parent, particularly if that mother or father served in the area of public safety and died in the line of duty.

The uncomfortable truth is that nothing can replace a parent for a child. And the other uncomfortable truth is that after all the solemn remembrances, the surviving family, especially the children, must face the burden and expense of daily life.  
For that reason, I am sponsoring a bipartisan proposal (along with my colleagues, Assemblymen Herb Conaway Jr., M.D., Adam Taliaferro, Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald, Senate President Steve Sweeney and Senator Diane Allen) to boost survivor’s benefits for children of law enforcement and firefighters who die in the line of duty.

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