Tuesday, April 1, 2014

With key NJ property law expiring, lawmaker says more than 40 towns took action

More than 40 towns and counties today scrambled to make sure their police and firefighters can't get bigger raises now that a law that has kept them low is about to expire, according to a state lawmaker.

On Tuesday, a state law in effect since 2011 that caps interest arbitration awards at 2 percent -- compensation given out by third party arbitrators when governments and police and fire unions can't reach a contract agreement -- will sunset.

Today, according to state Assemblyman Declan O'Scanlon (R-Monmouth), dozens of local governments that had been negotiating contracts with the unions dropped the talks and filed for arbitration.

NJ Supreme Court
"This action was necessary as a precaution to insulate property tax payers from any impact of the arbitration award cap expiration. There is the potential that some labor unions may be tempted to file frivolous law suits in an attempt to take advantage of the interest arbitration cap expiration," O'Scanlon said in a statement. "The action these bargaining units took today will help to make doubly sure they won't be vulnerable to such action."

The state Senate and Assembly on Thursday sent Gov. Chris Christie a bill that would extend the cap until the end of 2017, but would significantly loosen it. Christie conditionally vetoed it, putting it largely in line with current state law. But while the state Senate concurred with his recommendations, the Assembly left town and does not plan to return any time soon.

"It's disgraceful that the Assembly didn't follow suit," said O'Scanlon (R-Monmouth), who has led the push to renew the law.

When the law expires, it's unclear if the cap will apply to contracts that are under negotiation but have not yet gone into arbitration.

"But in this day and age, taking the precaution is the best thing to do," O'Scanlon said.

O'Scanlon attributed his figures to the New Jersey Public Employment Relations Commission. O'Scanlon said he did not have a list of counties and municipalities that have filed, though he said Monmouth County is among them.

The commission's chairwoman, Kelly Hatfield, said in a phone interview she was out-of-state and did not immediately have the numbers on hand.

The state League of Municipalities today wrote a letter to mayors urging them to lobby legislators to get back to Trenton and pass an extension.

"Also, if you have an unsettled Police or Fire contract we suggest you contact your labor attorney to discuss your options before the April 1 deadline," League executive director Bill Dressel wrote.

By Matt Friedman, The Star-Ledger,

Source: NJ.com

What the controversial new Georgia Gun Law really says

You know that gun control is no longer an issue, either pro or con, when both sides try to make you believe that something big has happened when nothing of any real importance happened at all. I'm referring to the gun law just passed in Georgia which is awaiting Governor Nathan Deal's expected signature, a law described by the New York Times as one of "breathtaking sweep" and by the NRA as a "historic victory for the 2nd Amendment."

Gun lawSince I really do believe in evidence-based discussion about guns, I took the trouble to read HB60, as the new law is known. If this law represents a "historic victory" for the 2nd Amendment, the NRA better find someone else to defend the beloved constitutional rights of gun owners. On the other hand, if the editors of Mother Jones really believe that this new law will result in guns being "everywhere" in Georgia, then there must be some place named Georgia other than the state where this law just passed.

Here's what the bill basically does: 1) It allows guns to be carried in places where liquor is served, which previously had been off-limits for guns; 2) It also allows guns to be carried in churches which, like restaurants and bars, were also off-limits for guns; 3) It further allows guns to be carried in certain non-secure areas of airports, which is really funny since Atlanta's airport was ranked #1 nationally in the number of guns confiscated in 2013.

The law also makes some minor changes in the application process, a few new dos and don'ts when it comes to hunting and, what has become requisite in virtually every gun law passed since Sandy Hook, some language allegedly making it easier to pass information about mentally ill people to the Feds. But if you take the time to read the new law and go back and read the current law as well, you discover that most of these "historic" changes don't really change things at all.

First of all, the law about carrying guns into liquor-serving establishments does not prevent any bar or restaurant owner from declaring his premise off-limits to guns. Just stick a sign in the window or simply stand at the door and tell patrons to leave their guns in their cars. As for bringing guns into houses of worship, this is an "opt-in" law which means that the congregation has to agree to let parishioners bring their guns into the building before anyone can have a conversation with the Almighty while sitting on their Glock.

Finally, while Georgia does not require a permit in order to purchase or own a gun, it does require a background check and prints in order to carry a weapon, and the issuance of said license can be denied if the licensing authority (County Probate Judge) decides that the candidate, even if he meets the legal requirements, is "not of good moral character." You'll have to read down to Section 1-7 to find this little gem and a few pages later you'll learn that someone who is denied a carry license can appeal the decision and will then appear at a hearing -- before the same judge! If the judge prevails at the hearing perhaps you can move to another County and try again.

Can someone from the NRA please explain to me how a law that determines my fitness to carry a gun based on something as vague as "moral character," advances 2nd Amendment rights? By the same token, does the Brady Campaign really believe that taking a pee in an airport toilet without first unhooking my holster indicates that guns will soon be found in every nook and cranny of the Peach State? Pro-gun and anti-gun groups can always manufacture a good argument -- but they might try, just once, to ground their opinions in real facts. On the other hand, why let facts stand in the way of a good argument?

By Mike Weisser

Source: The Huffington Post