Lou in the News

Small business owners: Stronger NJ grant process not working

April 7, 2014
Andrew George
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In its storefront window visible from Bay Avenue in Highlands, Francesco’s Italian Restaurant proudly displays that it is currently celebrating 30 years in business.

But for owner Giorgio Migliaccio, this was supposed to be the backup plan.

Migliaccio said he sold the business sometime before Hurricane Sandy hit with the plan of retiring and drawing income from the property as a landlord. But when the storm came and went, so too did his tenants.

Seeking help, he first went to FEMA, who then directed him to go to the U.S. Small Business Administration, and eventually ended up looking for a Stronger NJ Business Grant through the state Economic Development Authority.

Mounds of paperwork later, Migliaccio said there was nothing left to do but take money out of his retirement plan, pour it back into the business and open up shop.

“This is my retirement plan,” Migliaccio says now. “I can’t give it up.”

On Monday morning, several other small business owners from Long Beach Island to Hoboken joined Migliaccio at his restaurant in order to voice their frustrations with the Stronger NJ Business Grant Program to Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald (D-Voorhees).


April 8, 2014
Scott Gurian
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Assemblyman Greenwald listens to tales of lengthy delays and checks that never came, despite repeated promises of NJ Economic Development Authority.

When Sandy made landfall along the Jersey Shore in October 2012, Keansburg restaurant owner Chris Madden had his hands full working his second job as a Holmdel firefighter. He said protecting his business wasn’t really among his top concerns. But while he was away, “Charlie’s Place Bar and Grill” filled with seven feet of water, part of the roof ripped off, and his brand new, $20,000 kitchen was completely destroyed.

Madden has spent the past year-and-a-half trying to apply for various state and federal grants and loans, but despite being promised he’d receive all sorts of funding, that help has yet to arrive.

“They dangle these giant carrots out in front of you,” he said. “‘Do this, do that!’ You feel like you’re jumping through hoops. I feel like a circus animal, you know?” Despite all his efforts, he’s told it could take another nine months before any money appears.

Lower capacity for gun magazines approved by NJ Assembly panel

Star Ledger
March 13, 2014
Matt Friedman
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TRENTON — Despite the protests of dozens of New Jersey gun-rights supporters — including a 9-year-old girl — a state Assembly panel today approved a bill that would reduce the number of bullets an ammunition magazine could hold from 15 to 10.

The bill (A2006), which was approved by a 5-3 vote along party lies after a three-hour-long hearing, was sought by gun-control advocates and family members of some of the 20 elementary school children killed at the sandy Hook School in Newtown, Conn., in 2012.

The measure has the support of Senate and Assembly leaders, but the question is what Gov. Chris Christie will do when it reaches his desk. Last year Christie signed several minor gun-related bills, but vetoed those most sought by gun-control advocates, including a ban on .50 caliber rifles that he had called for months earlier.

Asked about New Jersey’s gun laws at a town hall meeting in Mount Laurel, Christie didn’t say what he would do about new proposals, though he did take the opportunity to note that he had vetoed more bills than any governor since at least 1947.

Assemblyman Lou Greenwald (D-Camden), the sponsor of the bill considered today, said that gunmen in several recent mass shootings had used high-capacity magazines, and were only disarmed when they needed to reload.

More and More Kids Smoking Electronic Cigarettes

New Jersey 101.5
February 7, 2014
Kevin McArdle
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Electronic cigarettes are growing in popularity among adults because they’re odorless and smokeless, but that’s exactly the same reason the use of e-cigarettes among children is skyrocketing.

With no smoke or smell, if kids are using electronic cigarettes, it’s tougher for parents to know if they’re smoking. A pair of New Jersey lawmakers are now asking the federal government to get involved.

“Not only are electronic cigarettes a nicotine delivery device, which obviously is addictive, but there’s also other chemicals often in there and there’s also irritants, so there’s damage than can occur,” said Assemblyman Dan Benson (D-Hamilton Square). “Because of the marketing, especially with the different flavors that we’re seeing out there, we’re concerned — is this being marketed to children?”

An Assembly resolution, co-sponsored by Benson and Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald (D-Voorhees) urges the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Congress, and the President to enact measures overseeing the sale and use of electronic smoking devices, and to conduct research regarding the devices’ impact on the health of users and third parties.

Democrats Remain Opposed to Christie’s Income Tax Plan

July 2, 2012

After listening to Gov. Chris Christie’s speech about an immediate call for tax relief during a special legislative session Monday, Democrats said his plan doesn’t do enough to help working class New Jersey families. They also said they would offer residents a tax cut when they were sure the revenues were available to support and sustain the cut.

Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver said the Assembly never accepted the governor’s income tax cut plan. “We focused on real property tax relief for residents,” she said. She explained that Christie’s tax cut plan would have given the average family in the state approximately $20 in 2013 after filing taxes. Since the plan was to phase in the reduction over the next three to four years, she said the average working class family would receive about $80 at the end of that period.

Oliver said the Democrats would be willing to give tax relief, but only after knowing there is enough money to support and sustain it. “Without revenue targets being stabilized, we will find ourselves in a situation where we will not have enough revenue to meet the divergent requirements that are placed upon us, some statutorily and others because they are priorities for us in New Jersey,” she said. “The issue gets to be revenue, affordability and the Democrats in the Assembly are more than willing to effectuate a plan, but not until we settle this issue of revenue.”