The following op-ed by Senator Kevin O’Toole (R-Bergen, Essex, Morris, Passaic) was published by The Bergen Record on Sunday, Aug. 17. Senator O’Toole’s op-ed urges legislative Democrats and Republicans to consider solutions to fix the judicial crisis in Bergen and Essex counties, and to step up for the people by making sure other counties aren’t strapped with empty courtrooms due to partisan politics.
I would like to echo The Record editorial board’s Aug. 11, 2014, piece: “It is time to end the practice of holding up nominees for judgeships and other key positions for undisclosed political reasons.”
The Bergen County court system faces a 25 percent judicial vacancy rate, and Essex County, which I also represent in the state Senate, has an almost 40 percent judicial vacancy rate. By October 2014, Passaic County will have a judicial vacancy rate of over 20 percent. These empty courtrooms caused by the political practice of “senatorial courtesy” add to the backlog of divorce and custody cases, as well as delays in criminal and civil matters.
Senator Kevin O’Toole (R-40) completed the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge on the New Jersey State House steps with ALS Association Greater New York President and CEO Dorine Gordon.
O’Toole raised the stakes by challenging Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Senators Steven Oroho and Donald Norcross. His challenge raised $30,000 for ALS.
Showdown at the State House Steps: O’Toole Issues High Noon Ice Bucket Challenge to Sweeney, Oroho, Norcross
Senator Kevin O’Toole (R-Bergen, Essex, Morris, Passaic) challenged Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester, Cumberland), Senator Stephen Oroho (R-Sussex, Warren, Morris) and Senator Donald Norcross (D-Camden) to join him in taking the ALS Ice Bucket challenge to a new level, at high noon on Monday at the State House steps in Trenton with the ALS Association.
Senator O’Toole, who was challenged by his son, Kevin Jr., is bringing $25,000 to donate to the ALS Association.
“This is Jersey, so I’m raising the stakes,” O’Toole said. “The Senate President and company can’t worry about their suspenders and suits getting wet. They need to saddle up, bring their checkbooks, go big or go home.”
Senator Kevin J. O’Toole and Assemblymen David C. Russo and Scott T. Rumana (all R –Bergen, Passaic, Morris, Essex) welcomed news that a state grant will help pave the way to school for students in Franklin Lakes, Bergen County.
The grant, one of 11 announced Monday by the New Jersey Department of Transportation, dedicates $203,000 to the municipality for sidewalks along routes traveled by children attending the Woodside Avenue School.
Senator Kevin O’Toole and Assemblymen David Russo and Scott Rumana (all R-40) have introduced legislation to create the “Christopher Goodell Memorial Highway” along State Route 17 in Waldwick in memory of the fallen hero.
“The profound sadness shared by people all across District 40 has not mitigated since this senseless tragedy, since we all lost a true local hero and his family lost their beloved son,” O’Toole said. “This act can instill the lasting honor that Christopher deserves in memory of his selfless service and sacrifices for us all.”
O’Toole Introduces Legislation to Address Reported Issues Regarding Restraint of Special Education Students
Senator Kevin O’Toole (R-Bergen, Essex, Morris, Passaic) has introduced legislation to address several reported issues regarding the restraint of special education students, as depicted by a series of investigative reports by News 12 New Jersey’s “Kane in Your Corner.”
“There are serious, eye-opening issues with how special education students are being treated in New Jersey schools, via at times overbearing and borderline abusive, unregulated and secretive physical restraining practices,” O’Toole said. “This legislature is empowered to do everything possible to protect our children, and that includes making sure they grow in a safe, nurturing learning environment. We must act accordingly by passing this legislation immediately.”
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.
New Jersey Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno and Senator Kevin O’Toole (R-40) met this morning with mayors from the legislative district to address local issues, such as jobs and the economy.
“I’d like to thank the Lt. Governor for taking the time to join us in our community to discuss job creation and retention, as well as other local issues in District 40,” O’Toole said. “The Lt. Governor and her department continue to offer tremendous programs, services and assets for New Jersey’s workforce, small businesses and communities, which are in a constant economic battle with other states. This forum was very helpful in letting our Mayors know first hand there are resources available from the state to help them grow their local economies.”
The following editorial by Senator Kevin O’Toole (R-40) and Mayor Paul Aronsohn in support of Senate Bill 2132, which would address a major statewide shortfall of special-needs housing, was published in The Record on June 10, 2014:
RECENTLY, the New Jersey Council on Affordable Housing established its latest housing regulations. It was a long-awaited attempt to clarify an increasingly complex situation and to provide our communities with clarity on this issue.
While we can spend hours debating the merits of such rules imposed on our municipalities, a housing shortfall must be addressed beyond this new set of COAH rules. This issue poses its own set of moral and practical challenges, as a relentless source of anxiety for many New Jersey families. Specifically, we are talking about our state’s significant shortage of special-needs housing.
Senators Diane Allen, Kevin O’Toole and Jeff Van Drew introduced today bipartisan legislation to repeal all Realty Transfer Fees in New Jersey.
“I am proud to have bipartisan support for this initiative to help all of New Jersey’s property owners keep thousands of their hard earned dollars,” said Deputy Republican Leader Allen (R-Burlington). “This legislature has the opportunity, and the duty, to correct some costly wrongs done under previous administrations. By working together we can indeed give a break to the middle class — including those struggling to make ends meet, facing short sales or foreclosures — in our uniquely expensive state.”
“This repeal effort launched by Gov. Christie sends a clear message to our constituents: we know how to cut your taxes to give you greater opportunities,” said O’Toole (R-Bergen, Essex, Morris, Passaic). “We will work tirelessly to completely reverse the course of past administrations that piled on to your tax and fee burdens.”