Gov. James McGreevey Resigns From Post
Senate President Richard Codey to become State’s Acting Governor
By Robert J. Tartaglia
As you know, Gov. James E. McGreevey resigned from office effective Nov. 15 due to personal reasons he termed could prevent him from carrying out his duties as governor of New Jersey.
Republicans and certain Democratic lawmakers and powerbrokers responded that McGreevey should have stepped down immediately – and certainly by Sept. 2 – to force a special election to determine his successor. Most pundits agreed if there was to be a special election U.S. Sen. John Corzine (D-N.J.) would have been the easy favorite. By opting to step down on Nov. 15, state Senate President Richard Codey will become acting governor to serve out McGreevey’s term.
In fact, Codey has already received resignations of certain senior staff from the governor’s office. Codey has named his long-time chief of staff, Peter Cammarano, as chief of staff to the acting governor to oversee the transition.
Codey has also asked that Eric Shuffler, McGreevey’s senior counsel, stay on and that Paul Fader become counsel. NJBankers is following the transition closely and will give a full report as to further staff changes, especially within the state Department of Banking and Insurance.
Central Jersey ABC Progressing
Pat Ryan, chairman of Hopewell Valley Community Bank, will chair the new Central Jersey Action Banker Council. He has a long history of public affairs involvement and is very excited about leading the second of three regional groups that NJBankers is forming.
As you may recall, the Action Banker Councils (ABC) are a first-ever grassroots initiative that Government Relations Committee Chairman Michael Quick implemented. Our plan was to create three grass-roots regional groups that will assist the government relations program and give NJBankers a stronger voice on West State Street and in Washington.
The South Jersey group is up and running and has been active in meeting with leaders in Trenton. Members interested in joining an Action Bankers Council are invited to contact NJBankers.
Legislative Action In Trenton
The state Legislature has been in recess for the summer and, while the governor’s resignation was extraordinary, the Legislature has been relatively quiet. In fact, aside from the governor signing the Highlands bill, there hasn’t been much activity at all.
With the end of summer upon us, the Legislature is gearing up for a return in mid-September. High on Assembly Speaker Albio Sires’ list is the issue of creating the office of lieutenant governor.
Sires noted the importance of having the office of lieutenant governor in place in case of future gubernatorial vacancies. Forty-two other states have the office of lieutenant governor, and of those, 24 states choose the lieutenant governor simultaneously during general elections while 18 states hold separate elections for the office.
Currently, the state constitution requires that a governor’s responsibilities shift to the Senate when there is a vacancy in the executive office, which happened in 2001 when then-Gov. Christine Todd Whitman resigned for a position in the Bush administration. She was succeeded by then-Senate President Donald DiFranceso, who held the office until he was himself succeeded by several acting governors during a brief period of time before McGreevey took office in January 2002.
Other possible issues to surface in the fall include S.494 (Turner), which would affect the outsourcing of state contracts. Sen. Shirley Turner had the bill introduced after learning that operators in Bombay, India were handling telephone inquiries by welfare and food stamp clients under New Jersey’s Families First Program.
The company, eFunds, had moved its operations outside the United States as a cost-cutting measure. NJBankers has cited a number of concerns with the bill in that, if it expands to the private sector, it could severely impact financial institutions. Additionally, a number of financial institutions have contracts with the state and there is no indication or analysis of what the impact could be on those contracts.
The issue of offshoring or outsourcing has become a presidential campaign theme and is being championed by labor unions all around the country as a jobs issue. Businesses seeking cost-cutting measures could be seriously impacted by this legislation and ironically could create further job loss. NJBankers supports AR.184 (Van Drew), which would set up a commission to study the effects of outsourcing.
S.494 was released without recommendation from the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee on May 20 and passed in the Senate by a vote of 25-5. It will now go to the Assembly State Government Committee for its consideration.
ATM 9-1-1 security legislation, S.1335/A.2910 (Bucco/Cohen) was introduced in both houses but has yet to be given any consideration. S.1335/A.2910 would mandate that all financial institutions install a 9-1-1 emergency access device at ATM locations. NJBankers opposes the bills in that they could actually provoke an attack by a perpetrator if the ATM user reached for the button or phone. Also, law enforcement has continually opposed the bill since its inception and has cited false alarms, equipment failure or misuse of such devices as a distraction and nuisance.
Identity theft reform could also be discussed. The Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee had twice tried to move A.1080 (Cryan) and A.2048 (Chivukula) before the summer recess and may be willing to try again. Assemblyman Cryan had met with NJBankers and was willing to amend the bill to focus more on the perpetrators of the crime rather than making financial institutions liable for costs associated with stolen identities.
NJBankers testified before the Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee that financial institutions spend billions of dollars a year in fighting breaches of security and that we have taken the fight to the World Wide Web. On June 1, NJBankers launched FinCrime, an anti-crime network aimed at stemming the tide of crimes such as identity theft, check fraud and other financial crimes. It is a secure, centralized, Internet-based financial crimes reporting, tracking and alerting system owned by the NJBankers and 14 other state banking associations. To date, more than 150 bank security personnel and members of law enforcement have signed up to use the system.
NJBankers Vice President and Director of Communications Tim Doherty will be bringing the FinCrime presentation to the Legislature in the early fall so legislators can see firsthand how the association and many other states are taking the identity theft fight seriously.
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.