Codey Takes Over Government Reins
NJBankers Action Banker Council Meets with Governor’sChief of Staff
By Robert J. Tartaglia
Senate President/Acting Gov. Richard J. Codey was sworn into office Nov. 15 in a subdued ceremony at his home with Senate Minority Leader Leonard Lance presiding. Many legislators, lobbyists and others welcomed Acting Gov. Codey, citing his calming influence in these tumultuous times and his steadfast ability in crafting legislative compromise.
NJBankers immediately reached out to Acting Gov. Codey. We were fortunate to meet with his long-time confidante and chief of staff, Peter Camarrano. Chairman James Hyman, First Vice Chairman Ted Bessler, Second Vice-Chairman Michael Quick and Past Chairman Tom Bracken were all present to officially kick off the Action Banker Council meeting and to offer any assistance in the transition. Our discussions were very cordial and NJBankers listened as Camarrano talked openly about the challenges being faced in attaining a balanced state budget. Not an enviable task!
By the time you read this article the Central and Southern Action Banker councils will have met with Assemblyman Joseph Cryan (D-20) and Assemblyman Lou Greenwald (D-6). The Northern Jersey Council, which is chaired by Norman Beatty, will be meeting soon. Assemblyman Cryan was very prepared in his presentation and gave an excellent overview of the upcoming budget, along with discussing issues that are very important to NJBankers.
One issue in particular was the full restoration of the Net Operating Loss provision in the budget, which ironically, Assemblymen Cryan and Greenwald had pushed to preserve 50 percent of in last year’s budget meetings. Given the current fiscal problems, it is too early to tell if the full restoration will take place. NJBankers will continue to work with the prospective budget members on that important issue.
Assemblyman Lou Greenwald, truly one of the best consensus builders in the
Legislature, has agreed to meet and discuss issues important to the banking industry. The assemblyman is the chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee and sits on the Appropriations Committee and Joint Budget Oversight Committee. We look forward to working with both legislators on the upcoming budget and I personally am excited about continuing our ABC meetings throughout the state. They are informative and allow the legislators to interact with bank presidents in a relaxed setting.
Also, the grassroots tool CapWiz is just about up and running. We are working on the final details of applying it to the NJBankers Web site. CapWiz is a powerful new tool that will allow our members to access legislative positions and boiler plate letters and give direct contact to legislators in their district. Government Relations Committee Chairman Michael Quick’s and NJBankers President Stu Cameron’s support of this program has truly made it possible. A big thanks to both for their assistance!
LEGISLATIVE ACTION IN TRENTON
Since my last article, due to the federal election and changes in the executive branch in Trenton, legislative activity has slowed. However, we continue to hear prospects of an all-inclusive identity theft/financial privacy bill to be discussed early in 2005. Our general counsel, Mary Kay Roberts, and I will be working closely with the financial industry lobbyists as the bills progress. A-1080 (Cryan) was voted out of the Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee and second referenced to the Assembly Financial Institutions Committee, where it has yet to be considered. A-1080, as you may recall, dealt exclusively with identity theft issues. A-2048 (Chivukula), which focused on large-scale breaches of security, is still in the Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee. Assemblyman Chivukula has requested information from the financial industry on what steps are taken if large-scale breaches of security take place. We will follow up with him on that particular issue.
The other bills which could potentially be merged with the above-mentioned bills are S-362 (Turner) and S-493 (Buono). Both bills look to restrict a person’s financial information that is shared among banks, insurance companies and other financial institutions. Currently only California has a financial privacy law on the books, which has so far withstood a pre-emption challenge by the American Bankers Association, Financial Services Roundtable and the Consumer Bankers Association. There is an appeal under way, which will be closely watched going forward.
The New Jersey Business and Industry Association (NJBIA) held its annual public policy forum in which Acting Gov. Codey spoke frankly about his legislative plans for next year. He discussed the very strong possibility of raising the minimum wage. While Acting Gov. Codey wants to raise the minimum wage, the overall effect of the budget process could preclude any efforts, especially if more business taxes are on the table. Many employer-based organizations are of the mind they “gave at the office” during the Corporate Business Tax restructuring. Another widespread attempt to utilize the business community to bail the state out of its fiscal difficulties could provoke a backlash and thereby scuttle an attempt to raise the minimum wage.
Acting Gov. Codey has been intently focusing on the current budget situation and has asked private consultants to come in and assist the state in dealing with its $3 billion to $5 billion budget deficit. That number seems to change almost daily depending upon with whom you speak. Either way, Codey’s asking for pro bono help could be a positive sign to the business community in that they will have a seat at the table.
Finally, special thanks go to all the banks that participated in the 2004 JEBPAC campaign. I especially would like to thank JEBPAC Chairman Bob Corcoran for overseeing one of the most successful fundraising campaigns ever in the history of NJBankers. Have a healthy and prosperous 2005!
Robert J. Tartaglia is vice president and director of government relations for the New Jersey Bankers Association. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.