New Jersey's 26th Legislative District

Senator Joe Pennacchio

  • Sen. Joe Pennacchio watches as Gov. Chris Christie signs his legislation at the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey headquarters in Trenton, N.J. on Jan. 4. (Full Story)

  • Sen. Joe Pennacchio (R-26) speaking at a New Jersey State House press conference on S-2026, the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” on December 5, 2016. (Full Story)

  • Sen. Joe Pennacchio received the “Alex DeCroce Public Leadership Award” at the Morris County Chamber of Commerce’s 2015 Annual Economic Outlook Luncheon. (Full Story)

  • Sen. Joe Pennachcio joined Republican colleagues and state business leaders representing thousands of employers at a State House press conference on June 22, 2015 to oppose job-killing income and business tax increases proposed by Democrats. (Facebook)

  • Sen. Joe Pennacchio (right) presented the Morris County Distinguished Service WWII Medal to John Tullio (center), pictured with Fred Fucetola (left). (Facebook)

  • Sen. Joe Pennacchio speaking as a panelist with The African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey at The State of Black New Jersey Conference on April 16, 2015. Also pictured are Asw. BettyLou DeCroce and Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean. (Facebook)

  • Senator Joe Pennacchio (R-26) discussing bi-state DRPA reform legislation during a press conference with Pennsylvania officials in front of the Ben Franklin Bridge in Camden, NJ on April 24, 2014. (Press Release)

  • Senator Joe Pennacchio took the oath of office during the reorganization meeting of the 2014-2015 New Jersey Senate on January 14, 2014 to represent the people of the 26th Legislative District. (Facebook)

  • Senator Joe Pennacchio (R-26) addresses a speaker during a Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee public hearing on the fiscal year 2014 State Budget on Tuesday, March 5, 2013. (Patti Sapone/The Star-Ledger)

  • Maritza B. Byrne was confirmed by the New Jersey Senate to be a Judge of the Superior Court on February 7, 2013. Byrne joined Senator Joe Pennacchio (R-26) on the floor of the Senate for her confirmation vote.

Senator Joe Pennacchio

Pennacchio on Murphy’s Snowmess: Governor, Don’t Blame Meteorologists – You Own This One

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Senator Joe Pennacchio (R-Morris, Essex, Passaic) released the following statement on Governor Murphy’s administration’s response to yesterday’s winter storm:

Sen. Joe Pennacchio said that Gov. Murphy should stop blaming meteorologists and take full responsibility for the Nov. 15 winter storm that put thousands of New Jerseyans in harm’s way. (SenateNJ.com)

“People have the right to expect their roads to be salted and plowed. This storm was not a surprise, but the State’s epic failed response was,” Senator Pennacchio said. “New Jersey citizens’ lives were profoundly disrupted. Families were separated for hours. First responders were stifled and put at risk.”

“Governor, don’t blame it on the meteorologists, or the poor guy driving the salt or plow truck. You own this one,” Pennacchio said.

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Senator Joe Pennacchio

Pennacchio & Turner Bill Creates Pathway to Justice for Wrongfully Convicted

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Exonerated Prisoners & Advocates Show Support for “The New Jersey Innocence Study and Review Commission”

The Senate Judiciary Committee has passed bipartisan legislation sponsored by Senator Joe Pennacchio and Senator Shirley Turner to create a commission that would develop reforms and aid those who have been wrongfully convicted in New Jersey. At the Oct. 29th hearing, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Nick Scutari announced that he has agreed to co-sponsor the bill.

From left: Exoneree Anthony Ways, Sen. Joe Pennacchio, Exoneree Jean Dorval, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Nick Scutari, Exoneree Rodney Roberts, and advocate Lesley Risinger. All were present for the Oct. 29 committee passage of S-406, which will bring justice to the wrongfully convicted. (SenateNJ.com)

Senators Pennacchio and Turner introduced S-406 more than a year ago, following  reports of wrongful conviction cases in New Jersey.

Following Senator Pennacchio’s October 2017 press conference calling for action on the bill, Attorney General Grewal announced a similar effort. Pennacchio noted that there is still a need for legislation.

“We cannot permanently address the crisis of wrongful conviction in New Jersey without codifying an innocence commission into law. If the Legislature doesn’t act, the next administration could easily discontinue Attorney General Grewal’s noble work,”  Senator Pennacchio (R-26) said. “We have heard from a number of exonerees, like AJ Nash, who told us that if this pathway to justice had existed, he would not have spent years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.

Rodney Roberts languished in prison for 17 years. AJ Nash was there for 10. This is a travesty of the highest magnitude. Policy changes like bail reform are meaningless, if we aren’t solving the systemic issues that allow innocent people to stay locked up,” Pennacchio added. “Our search for justice should know no bounds.”

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Senator Joe Pennacchio

Pennacchio: Disappointed to See Paterson BOE Fly to Vegas on Taxpayers’ Dime

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Senator Joe Pennacchio (R-26) questioned the Paterson Board of Education’s decision to use taxpayer dollars to fly to a conference in Las Vegas, calling the trip a “colossal waste” of  public funds.

Sen. Joe Pennacchio questioned the Paterson Board of Education’s decision to use taxpayer dollars to fly to a conference in Las Vegas, calling the trip a colossal waste of  public funds. (WikiCommons)

“We constantly hear reports of overcrowded classrooms, crumbling infrastructure, scare resources, and layoffs at Paterson Schools. How could any public servant justify spending thousands on a trip to Vegas, when the children they are supposed to be fighting for don’t even have their own textbooks? Surely, there are better ways to spend that money. This is an outrageous misuse of taxpayer dollars and every parent who hears about this should be furious,” Pennacchio said.

“I have one thing to say to these Board of Education members: grow a conscience, respect the people you represent, and cancel this trip immediately. $5,000 is a lot of money and your district can’t afford to spend it on a lavish vacation, no matter the alleged ‘educational value’ of this so-called conference. If it is that important, pay for it yourself.”

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Senator Joe Pennacchio

Pennacchio Urges Eligible Residents to Take Part in Senior Freeze Property Tax Relief Program

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Deadline to Apply is October 31, 2018

In light of the affordability struggles many homeowners are currently facing in New Jersey, Senator Joe Pennacchio is strongly encouraging all eligible residents to apply for the Senior Freeze Property Tax Relief Program, before the October 31, 2018 deadline.

Senator Joe Pennacchio urged eligible New Jersey residents to apply for the Senior Freeze Program Property Tax Relief Program before the October 31, 2018 deadline. (SenateNJ.com)

Pennacchio noted that more than 140,000 seniors currently use the Senior Freeze property tax relief program in New Jersey.

“Our seniors have paid more than their fair share of taxes,” Pennacchio (R-26) said. “Retirees in New Jersey who are living on a fixed income often struggle to make ends meet. The Senior Freeze Program places $204.4 million back in the pockets of New Jersey residents, ensuring these homeowners can stay with their families in the state they call home.”

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Senator Joe Pennacchio

Pennacchio Renews Call for Mandated Government Transparency

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Senator Urges Legislative Action Following News of Murphy Administration’s Failure to Produce Regular Fiscal Reports

In response to reports that Governor Phil Murphy’s administration has failed to produce monthly performance updates to taxpayers, Senator Joe Pennacchio (R-26) is calling for the passage of his “Transparency in Government Act,” legislation that would hold school boards, State and local agencies, and government authorities accountable to all New Jersey residents, by preventing abusive spending of public funds.

In response to reports that Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration has failed to produce monthly performance updates to taxpayers, Sen. Joe Pennacchio is calling for the passage of his bill to prevent the abusive spending of public funds. (Pixabay)

“Transparency is an essential public instrument that holds government officials accountable for how they spend taxpayer dollars,” Pennacchio said. “Governor Murphy’s latest lapse in fiscal responsibility exposes the urgent need for a comprehensive website that shows if public money is being spent wisely. Additionally, the creation of a transparency committee places public interest at the forefront. I have been advocating for this bill for many years now. I hope that my colleagues in the Legislature will finally be able to work together to deliver honest government throughout the Garden State. ”

In the category of transparency, New Jersey received a C- for from the Public Interest Research Groups (US PIRG.) US PIRG grades each State’s ability to offer accessible government spending data and information to the public.

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Senator Joe Pennacchio

Pennacchio Blasts Rutgers for Forcing Students & Taxpayers to Pay for Golden Parachutes

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Senator Joe Pennacchio blasted Rutgers University for forcing students and New Jersey taxpayers to pick up the tab for more than $11.5 million in settlements, buyouts and golden parachutes for elite employees at the State-funded university. The discovery of the payouts was reported by NJ.com on August 3, 2018.

Sen. Joe Pennacchio blasts Rutgers for forcing students and taxpayers to pick up the tab for more than $11.5 million in payouts to elite employees. (SenateNJ.com)

“The cost of higher education is skyrocketing in New Jersey and it’s no secret why. It is unconscionable that a State-funded university would have the gall to raise tuition, and then turn right back around and give away millions of dollars to elite employees. These golden parachutes are an outrageous misuse of funds. Rutgers owes students and taxpayers an explanation. After all, they pay their salary,” Senator Pennacchio (R-26) said.

“Our goal is to ensure that students who go to high school in New Jersey, can continue their education at a great in-State college, get great career training, and continue to live and work in the state they call home. How can we expect them to do that if our flagship university refuses to do anything to make higher education more affordable?

“Talk to any college student on campus – they do not want their tuition dollars spent on multi-million dollar payouts to coaches and administrators who make enough money as it is. This fiscally-irresponsible practice must come to an end.”

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Senator Joe Pennacchio

Pennacchio Highlights Dangers of Sex Tourism in Dominican Republic

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Introduces New Legislation Urging NJ Residents Not to Travel to DR

Due to an increase in human trafficking violations in the Dominican Republic (DR,) Senator Joe Pennacchio (R-26) has introduced a Senate Resolution that would urge New Jersey residents to immediately cease travel to the Dominican Republic, unless the country takes action to combat the epidemic of sex tourism within the nation’s borders.

Sen. Joe Pennacchio has introduced a resolution that would urge NJ residents to cease travel to the Dominican Republic, unless the country takes action to combat the epidemic of sex tourism within the nation’s borders. (SenateNJ.com)

“Human trafficking is modern-day enslavement in which innocent people, particularly young children, are abducted, sold, and forced into the heartbreaking sex-trade and forced labor industry,” Pennacchio said. “The Dominican Republic’s beautiful beaches and mountains cannot cover-up the fact that it’s also the world’s most dangerous tourist destination for at-risk children. Ending human trafficking is not a partisan issue. This is about human rights.”

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Senator Joe Pennacchio

Pennacchio Bill Expands VA Benefits to Thousands of NJ National Guard Members

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The New Jersey Senate has passed legislation sponsored by Senator Joe Pennacchio (R-26) that would allow New Jersey National Guard members who have been issued a NGB-22 form to access certain veterans’ benefits. An NGB-22 is a type of discharge form issued to National Guard members in New Jersey after they have served the country.

Sen. Joe Pennacchio’s legislation would expand VA benefits to thousands of New Jersey National Guard members. (WikiCommons)

“All veterans, regardless of where they have served our country, must be able to access the benefits they have earned,” Pennacchio said. “Right now, National Guard members are at a disadvantage. Many of these heroes are never issued the accepted DD-214 form. By expanding eligibility requirements to include the discharge forms they receive, we will ensure that the members of New Jersey’s National Guard can access the resources and tools they need to live and thrive at home.”

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Senator Joe Pennacchio

Pennacchio Calls for State Audit of Wasteful Tax Incentive Programs

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Says Garden State Film Tax Credit is a ‘Gross Misuse of Funds’ & Urges Action to Protect NJ Taxpayers from Unnecessary Spending

Senator Joe Pennacchio (R-26) today announced that he has sent a letter requesting that the State Auditor conduct a full evaluation of the Garden State Film Tax Credit, to determine if it is in fact a worthwhile investment of New Jersey’s scarce financial resources.

Sen. Joe Pennacchio sent a letter to the State Auditor requesting a full evaluation of the Garden State Film Tax Credit to determine if it is in fact a worthwhile investment. He also announced plans to introduce legislation to evaluate these types of tax incentive programs. (SenateNJ.com)

In the letter, Pennacchio notes that the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services has determined that New Jersey could lose $425 million in revenue as a result of the program in question – money that could and should be spent on critically-needed services, instead of catering to special interest groups that only stand to make a temporary investment in the State of New Jersey, and its people.

The Senator also noted that he plans to introduce legislation that would require the State Auditor to conduct further evaluation of these types of tax incentives and related programs.

Click here for a PDF of the letter.

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Senator Joe Pennacchio
Senator Tom Kean

PSA: New State Ombudsman for People With Disabilities Meets Critical NJ Need

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A vulnerable population that has been left behind in recent years now has a new lifeline in New Jersey, thanks to the appointment of Paul Aronsohn, the new Ombudsman for Individuals with Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities and Their Families.

People with disabilities, and their families, now have a lifeline in New Jersey in the form of NJ’s new Ombudsman, Paul Aronsohn, who serves as a resource for those in need of support. He can be reached at 609-649-1734 or paul.aronsohn@treas.nj.gov.  (SenateNJ.com)

Aronsohn’s appointment, as established by recently-enacted legislation, is essential to ensuring people with disabilities can access the services they need without delay, filling a critical statewide need.

“It is hard to imagine the pain of watching a loved one go without the resources they need to live a happy and healthy life. For years, far too many New Jersey families were deprived of the support and services they need. When a conflict with a state agency arose, there were very few people who could help them find an efficient and expedient resolution. Now we have a solution to that problem,” Senator Joe Pennacchio, who recently met with the newly appointed Ombudsman, said.

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