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New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy appoints Darlene Bandazian of Christie’s Special Properties Real Estate Services to the New Jersey Real Estate Commission

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ramsey NJ, In late December, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy made his first appointments to the New Jersey Real Estate Commission, including naming Darlene Bandazian of Christie’s Special Properties Real Estate Services as an appointee and representative from northern New Jersey. Bandazian, Christie’s Special Properties’ Vice President of Regional Business Development, has been serving the real estate community, in various capacities for more than 30 years. 

“This is a well-deserved recognition of Darlene’s integrity, expertise and experience.  Given that the New Jersey Real Estate Commission ensures the enforcement of real estate law and protects consumer rights, Darlene’s skills and experience make her a perfect fit for the Commission and she will make great contribution in helping the Commission meet its objectives,” said Ilija Pavlovic, President and CEO of Christie’s Special Properties Real Estate Services.

Real estate laws in the United States are state-regulated, with the interpretation, implementation and enforcement of real estate laws falling under the jurisdiction of state-based commissions. For the New Jersey, members of the Real Estate Commission are appointed by the Governor.

With nearly 30 years’ experience in real estate, Darlene has served in a variety of roles that include sales associate, broker-associate, branch manager and regional vice president for local and global companies. Darlene is a member of the National Association of Realtors, the New Jersey Association of Realtors, the Real Source Board of Realtors, New Jersey Multiple Listing Service, and the Garden State and Hudson Multiple Listing Services.

“I am very honored by my appointment to the New Jersey Real Estate Commission. Our industry is about providing the best service to our customers and that fundamental element has been the constant focus of my career,” said Bandazian.  “I will continue to bring that commitment to this new state appointment, ensuring the proper administration and enforcement of New Jersey’s real estate licensing laws.”

In her current role as Vice President of Regional Business Development for Christie’s Special Properties, Bandazian oversees the growth of the organization’s brokerage locations in New Jersey, as well as participating in the process to identify new future locations for the organization. She also assists in the development of agent training programs that encompass both proven techniques and cutting-edge and trending concepts

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NJ Fiscal Crisis Deepens: Department of the Treasury Reports Tax Collection Shortfall of 10.1 %

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the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Trenton NJ, The Department of the Treasury reported that December revenue collections for the major taxes totaled $2.973 billion, down $335 million, or 10.1 percent below last December.  However, year-to-date, total collections of $12.901 billion are up $269 million for FY 2019, 2.1 percent above the same period last year.

The dip in overall December collections is due primarily to a drop in Gross Income Tax (GIT) receipts, which are constitutionally dedicated to the Property Tax Relief Fund.  GIT receipts were down 35.2 percent from last December with $1.182 billion collected while year-to-date collections were down 6.5 percent with $5.667 billion collected.  This dip is attributed to federal tax law changes that created a shift in tax planning behavior, a pattern that is being reported in a number of states.

Last December’s GIT collections, which rose by 30.5 percent, were enhanced by certain one-time hedge fund payments made because of a federal tax deadline, as well as accelerated tax payments made in December 2017 in order to avoid the new federal cap on the State and Local Tax (SALT) deduction, which took effect in January 2018.  Additionally, the capped federal SALT deduction may have prompted a change in tax planning behavior this year because it eliminated the incentive to prepay the estimated fourth quarter payment in December, which is due January 15.  While this last factor may have reduced December GIT receipts, it also may increase January receipts.

The Sales and Use Tax, the largest General Fund revenue source, reported $788.1 million in December, up 5.4 percent.  Year-to-date, sales tax collections of $3.982 billion are up 1.2 percent from the same period last year.  The second step of the sales tax rate reduction that began on January 1, 2018 will continue to impact collections for one more month, through the January revenue report.  If not for the rate reduction, underlying growth in the sales tax through December would be 5.0 percent.

The Corporation Business Tax (CBT), the second largest General Fund revenue, brought in $596.1 million, 40.9 percent above last December.  Year-to-date, the CBT has collected $1.536 billion, or 60.8 percent above last year.  The CBT for banks and financial institutions is up 247.8 percent so far in FY 2019 spurred in part by strong bank profits.  In FY 2019, corporate tax revenues are expected to grow significantly due to substantial state and federal tax policy changes that influence the tax base and the timing of certain payments.

Casino Revenues of $119.0 million are running 20.3 percent ahead of last year through the end of December.  Sports betting has contributed $4.6 million to the Casino Revenue Fund and another $3.1 million to the General Fund through November.

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AFP-New Jersey Time For Gov. Murphy to Address State’s Looming $220 billion Pension Crisis

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photo Detroit crushed by pensions and fiscal irresponsibility

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

TRENTON NJ, Americans for Prosperity-New Jersey (AFP-NJ) is calling on Governor Phil Murphy to address the state’s looming $220 billion pension crisis and take action on common-sense reforms, such as a comprehensive review of all the occupational licensing boards, as originally prioritized in the Governor’s transition reports.

AFP-NJ plans to work with broad-based policy coalitions to reform the criminal justice system, overhaul the burdensome occupational licensing practices, and address the state’s underfunded pension. The group will encourage lawmakers to provide property tax relief and act on the comptroller’s audit of the Economic Development Authority Grow NJ Program.

AFP-NJ State Director Erica Jedynak issued the following statement:

“The Governor and lawmakers must focus on reining in the misuse of taxpayers’ dollars and act on the deeply troubling audit released last week. Ending the failed corporate-welfare scheme at Grow NJ is a great first step for the governor to tackle out of control spending. The legislature must also reduce occupational licensing bureaucracies, address our antiquated criminal justice system, and reform our underfunded pension system to set New Jersey on the right course.

“There is no shortage of work to be done and we’re ready to work with Gov. Murphy, or anyone else, willing to put the interests of New Jerseyans above all. No matter the officeholder, our mission remains the same—break down barriers so individuals can improve their lives.”

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NJ’s Tax Policies Trigger Highest Outmigration Nationwide

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file photo by Boyd Loving

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Trenton NJ, Senator Steve Oroho (R-24) is again calling for action on fiscal reforms, in light of three recent reports that prove that New Jersey’s high cost of living and bad tax policies are forcing people of all ages, and business owners, to leave the Garden State in droves.

The most recent report, released by WalletHub on Jan. 14, named New Jersey as one of the worst places in the country to retire. The NJBIA’s 2018 Regional Business Climate analysis also ranked New Jersey as one of the least innovative and business-friendly state in the region. Additionally, United Van Lines, a national moving company, also released a survey earlier this month identifying New Jersey as the number one state for outmigration.

New Jersey’s property taxes and the cost of living are the highest in the nation.

“These reports tell us what most of our neighbors already know – we live in one of, if not the most unaffordable state in the nation,” Oroho said. “New Jersey’s current tax policies are causing our family and friends, in particular retirees, to flee the state in record numbers. We must implement prudent fiscal policies to stop this mass exodus and keep what little revenue we have from disappearing entirely.”

Senator Oroho is a co-chair of the bipartisan New Jersey Economic and Fiscal Policy Workgroup, which is committed to pinpointing fiscal ineffectiveness and proposing commonsense reforms.

Oroho successfully advocated to increase the tax free retirement income exclusion as well as eliminate of New Jersey’s estate tax.

“Despite our best efforts to get the state’s spending back on track there is much more work to be done,” Oroho added. “We want to enact policies that will allow grandparents to be able to stay in New Jersey and watch their grand kids grow up. We want to create an economic climate where young parents can find good opportunities, so they they can actually afford to raise a family in New Jersey. We can and must do more to create friendlier tax policies that will slow outmigration and make New Jersey more competitive.”

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Menendez Legislates from the Beach

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

San Juan PR, from the sunny shores of Puerto Rico U.S. Senator Bob Menendez announced that he is cosponsoring bicameral legislation to protect federal workers and contractors from foreclosures, evictions and loan defaults as a result of not getting paid during the longest government shutdown in American history.  Now into Day 24, the partial government shutdown has impacted 800,000 federal workers, including more than 5,000 in New Jersey.

“Hardworking, dedicated federal employees and their families should not have to worry that they could lose their home, health coverage or face financial hardship as a result of falling behind on their bills during the shutdown.  It is absolutely unconscionable that President Trump has put them in this position by shutting down the government,” said Sen. Menendez.  “Congress must do its part to protect federal workers and their families from further harm.  I would implore President Trump and Majority Leader McConnell to immediately end this needless shutdown before anyone else gets hurt.”

The Federal Employee Civil Relief Act addresses the real threat of federal workers losing their homes, falling behind on student loans and other bills, having their car repossessed, or losing their health insurance because they have been furloughed during a shutdown or required to work without pay.  It prohibits landlords and creditors from taking action against federal workers or contractors who are hurt by the government shutdown and unable to pay rent or repay loans during and up to 30 days after the end of the shutdown, while empowering federal workers to sue creditors or landlords that violate this protection.

This is just the latest in a series of actions Sen. Menendez has taken to help federal workers and contractors who have lost pay:

·       Cosponsored the Government Employee Fair Treatment Act, which would guarantee all furloughed workers receive retroactive pay once the government is reopened and funds are fully restored and guarantees back pay in the event of future shutdowns, passed the Senate yesterday

·       Cosponsored the Pay Our Coast Guard Act, bipartisan legislation to pay members of the Coast Guard, civilian employees and contractors.  There are hundreds of service members from New Jersey charged with keeping our waters safe that are currently being forced to work without pay

·       Joined 33 Democratic colleagues in urging the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to direct federal agencies to work with contractors to provide back pay to compensate low- and middle-income contractor employees who generally have not received back pay after past shutdowns.

Sen. Menendez has repeatedly called for an end to the Trump Shutdown and pressed Majority Leader McConnell to call a vote on House-passed legislation to reopen the government that has already gained bipartisan approvals in the Senate.

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Democrats Hit the Beach on Day 22 of Federal Shutdown

“Champion of the little guy” here is NJ Senator Bob Menendez enjoying this weekend on the beach in Puerto Rico. Question Senator, did tax dollars pay anything towards your “End the shutdown” junket?

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

San Juan PR, Despite a partial government shutdown with no end in sight, about 30 Democratic members of Congress including NJ Senator Bob Menendez traveled to Puerto Rico to enjoy the weekend  with their families and lobbyists  for a winter retreat where they also planned to see a special performance of the hit Broadway show “Hamilton.”

Those attending the Congressional Hispanic Caucus BOLD PAC gathering in San Juan also planned to meet Saturday with Puerto Rican officials to discuss ongoing cleanup efforts from Hurricane Maria, according to a report.

They were joined by at last count 109 lobbyists and corporate executives who are named in a memo welcoming the guests, which include some from prominent Washington firms, R.J. Reynolds, Facebook, Comcast, Amazon, PhRMA, Microsoft, Intel, Verizon, and of coarse unions like the National Education Association.

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Senate President Steve Sweeney : “NJBIA’s report underscores what we already know. High taxes make New Jersey less affordable

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file photo by Boyd Loving

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Trenton NJ, Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester, Salem, Cumberland) issued the following statement in response to the New Jersey Business and Industry Association’s “Indicators of Innovation” report.

“NJBIA’s report underscores what we already know. High taxes make New Jersey less affordable and our investments in higher education and research and development lags behind comparable states in the region, like Massachusetts and New York.

“We have a responsibility to the people of New Jersey to make our state more affordable, to lower the tax burden on our families and to invest in the next generation of innovators through education and technology. We can’t make the investments we need, however, until we address the long-term fiscal crisis, specifically the high pension and benefit costs that crowd out critical investment. We need to make smart investments, we need to control taxes and we need do it now, if we are going to get New Jersey back on track. If we make the difficult but necessary decisions today, we can make New Jersey a leader for generations to come.”

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State Board of Medical Examiners Temporarily Suspends License of NJGREENMD

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Rutherford NJ, Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and the Division of Consumer Affairs announced today that the State Board of Medical Examiners (“the Board”) has temporarily suspended the license of a physician participating in the State’s Medicinal Marijuana Program (“MMP”) amid allegations he created a multimillion dollar enterprise by indiscriminately authorizing marijuana use for thousands of patients he met in hotel conference centers across the state.

Dr. Anthony Anzalone, 66, who has been a registered participant in the MMP since 2012, must wind down his medical practice within the next 30 days and cease practicing medicine altogether on February 8, under the terms of an Interim Consent Order he entered with the Board on Wednesday. His license will remain temporarily suspended until the allegations against him are resolved.

“State legislatures may relax their laws against marijuana – and many already have – but there are limits to what state law allows, and the public should know that we vigorously enforce those limits to protect public safety and prevent unlawful distribution,” said Attorney General Grewal. “We allege that Dr. Anzalone failed to adhere to even the most fundamental rules of New Jersey’s Medicinal Marijuana Program, a program carefully regulated to meet the public’s need for compassionate treatment alternatives while preventing unlawful marijuana distribution and use. We expect physicians to abide by the rules and regulations of their profession, no matter what kind of medicine they are practicing.”

In a Verified Complaint filed with the Board, the State alleges that Anzalone, who advertises as “NJGreenMD,” engaged in fraud, gross negligence, and professional misconduct by indiscriminately authorizing medicinal marijuana to large groups of people who attended conferences he held in hotels around the state, charging each an initial consultation fee of $350 and subsequently charging each quarterly fees of $100 for continued authorization of the drug.

The State alleges that Anzalone’s marijuana practice was inherently impersonal and detached from any effort to individualize care. At the hotel conferences he held, Anzalone typically discussed medicinal marijuana generally with the group and then relied on his staff, who were not trained in the field of medicine, to register these individuals in the MMP with 90-day supplies of the drug, to instruct the patients on use and storage of the drug, and to obtain the initial consultation fee, typically paid in cash, the state alleges.

In order to expand his patient base and increase his revenues, Dr. Anzalone routinely registered patients who would not qualify for the MMP because they lacked a debilitating condition as defined by regulations, or fabricated debilitating conditions to qualify them, the State alleges.

Since registering for the program, Anzalone has authorized nearly 3,250 patients for medicinal marijuana. He currently has about 2,077 active patients, while most of the physicians registered with the MMP have an average of 45 patients, according to the Verified Complaint.

“We allege that Dr. Anzalone exploited his patients and the MMP for his own gain, completely disregarding the regulations meant to protect patients and promote the efficacious use of medicinal marijuana,” said Paul R. Rodríguez, Acting Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. “By temporarily suspending Dr. Anzalone from practicing medicine, we are making it clear that we will not allow unscrupulous doctors to enrich themselves at the expense of the safety and welfare of their patients and the public.”

The New Jersey Department of Health, which administers the MMP, will provide assistance to patients affected by Anzalone’s temporary suspension.

“The Department of Health’s Medicinal Marijuana Program will assist patients who need help transitioning to a new physician,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Shereef Elnahal. “Patients can search for a participating physician by county on our website or call our customer service unit at 609-292-0424 for assistance in finding physicians.”

The Medicinal Marijuana Program was established under New Jersey’s Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act, a law that offers legal protection to individuals who are seriously ill and require marijuana as an alternative treatment for certain, defined, qualifying conditions.

Under regulations promulgated by the DOH and the Board, physicians are required to register with the DOH to participate in the MMP. Participating physicians must have an active New Jersey medical license issued by the Board of Medical Examiners, an active Controlled Dangerous Substance registration, and a bona fide relationship with participating patients. Participating physicians – there are currently 865 – are authorized to certify patients with certain medical conditions to receive marijuana at one of the six dispensaries permitted by the MMP.

Anzalone, who specializes in Obstetrics and Gynecology, was among the first doctors to register for the MMP program and has since limited his practice to the MMP.

The Enforcement Bureau of the Division of Consumer Affairs opened an investigation into Anzalone and his practice based on a referral from DOH following the MMP’s receipt of numerous consumer complaints against him.

The State alleges that undercover State investigators posing as patients seeking medicinal marijuana, as well as several actual patients who had made complaints about Anzalone, confirmed that the doctor “practices with little regard for patient privacy, and in a manner inconsistent with the bona fide physician-patient relationship requirement,” according to the Verified Complaint.

According to the Verified Complaint, Anzalone failed to comply with MMP regulations in his treatment of four actual patients and two undercover investigators posing as patients by, among other things:

  • providing a certification and written instructions to a patient for the medical use of marijuana with whom he does not maintain a bona fide physician-patient relationship;
  • failing to perform a comprehensive medical history and physical examination of the patient to determine if that patient suffers from a debilitating medical condition qualifying him or her to receive medicinal marijuana;
  • failing to assess the patient’s qualifying condition at least every three months; and
  • failing to keep accurate and complete records pertaining to his medical marijuana treatment.

Under the terms of the Interim Consent Order, Anzalone is prohibited from registering new patients into the MMP or beginning any new treatment in any specialty of medicine, including Obstetrics and Gynecology, during the 30-day wind down period.

During the wind-down, he may provide only one 30-day medicinal marijuana renewal to existing patients who are due for renewals within the wind-down period, and only after he conducts an in-person, private physical examination of the patient to ensure that the medicinal marijuana renewal is medically necessary and appropriate for the patient’s MMP qualifying debilitating condition. He also must create records, according to MMP and Board regulations, documenting these encounters, and including findings that support his decision to renew medicinal marijuana. Anzalone is prohibited from increasing fees for these consultations beyond his customary $100 charge.

During the wind-down period Anzalone also must cooperate with the DOH in transitioning patients who wish to continue MMP care to other MMP registered physicians, including informing his patients that he is temporarily barred from the MMP.

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NFL Prevails in New Jersey Super Bowl Tickets Court Case

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the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Trenton NJ, The New Jersey State Supreme Court today ruled the National Football League did not violate New Jersey’s ticket brokering law when it did not make at least 95 percent of tickets to Super Bowl XLVIII, played at MetLife Stadium in the Meadowlands, available for sale to the general public.

NJBIA filed an amicus brief, supporting the NFL’s position that it did not violate the law that was intended to limit ticket brokers’ ability to hoard tickets. Attorney Jeffrey Jacobson of Kelley Drye & Warren LLP, argued NJBIA’s case.

“The Supreme Court’s unanimous opinion adopted our interpretation of the statute that the NFL gets to decide how to distribute tickets to its own events, and, therefore, was not a ‘person with access’ to tickets prior to their release for public sale,” Jacobson said.

NJBIA was concerned that if New Jersey law requires every event promoter to make 95 percent of tickets to their events available to sell to the general public, as the plaintiff argued, it would be difficult to attract top-tier events to the state.  The Army-Navy game, for example, could not reserve more than 5 percent of tickets for the Army and the Navy; and awards shows could not reserve seats for award nominees.

“We’re pleased with this ruling as the case could have had a detrimental impact on New Jersey’s economy and businesses that would benefit from our state attracting marquee events,” said NJBIA President and CEO Michele Siekerka.

The case centered on Josh Finkelman, who bought tickets to the 2014 Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium through the secondary market, allegedly purchasing two tickets with an $800 face value for $2,000 apiece.

He then sued the NFL arguing that because it only sold 1 percent of tickets to the general public through a lottery – which the plaintiff had not entered – it violated New Jersey’s unique law that prevents someone with access to tickets prior to their release for public sale cannot hold back more than 5 percent of them.

The court ruled, however, that the tickets withheld by the NFL were never intended for public sale, and, therefore, did not violate the 5 percent rule.
Shortly before the oral arguments were heard, the Legislature repealed the 5 percent holdback limit. Nevertheless, the court decision is an important one because it shields businesses from retroactive liability. Had the court found in favor of the plaintiff, potentially every playoff game or other event held in New Jersey during past six years could have been subject to litigation, Jacobson said.

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In 2018 More People Moved Out of New Jersey than Any Other State

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the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, more people moved out of Governor Murphy’s high tax Sanctuary State in 2018 than any other state, according to a new study by United Van Lines . The United Van Lines’ 42nd Annual National Movers Study, which tracks customers’ state-to-state migration patterns over the past year, revealed that more residents moved out of New Jersey than any other state in 2018.

New Jersey residents looking for sanctuary led in outbound migration with (66.8 percent), Connecticut (62 percent) and New York (61.5 percent) were included among the top 10 outbound states for the fourth consecutive year. Midwestern states like Illinois (65.9 percent), Kansas (58.7 percent), Ohio (56.5 percent) and Iowa (55.5 percent) saw high outbound relocation as well.

The National Movers Study also reveals business data of inbound and outbound moves from 2018. In addition to this study, United Van Lines also conducts a survey to find out more about the reasons behind these moves. A leading motivation behind these migration patterns across all regions is a career change, as the survey showed approximately one out of every two people who moved in the past year moved for a new job or company transfer. Other reasons for the high percentage of moves to the Mountain West in 2018 include retirement (28.1 percent), proximity to family (20.8 percent) and lifestyle change (19.4 percent). Compared to all other states, Idaho saw the largest influx of new residents desiring a lifestyle change (25.95 percent), and more people flocked to New Mexico for retirement than any other state (42.74 percent.

New Jersey (66.8 percent), which has ranked in the top 10 for the past 10 years, moved up one spot on the outbound list to No. 1. New additions to the 2018 top outbound list include Iowa (55.5 percent), Montana (55 percent) and Michigan (55 percent).