Phil Gregory

Statehouse Reporter

Phil has been the Statehouse Reporter in Trenton for both WBGO and WHYY in Philadelphia since 2009.

He’s a long-time reporter in the tri-state area. For 10 years he worked at Bloomberg Radio in New York City where he anchored coverage of several major events including the 9/11 attacks and the 2003 blackout. He also covered business and market news as a reporter from the New York Stock Exchange.

Phil is a native of the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania and started his broadcast career at WAEB in Allentown, PA where he advanced to become News Director. He was an award-winning reporter and anchor at radio stations WPTR, WFLY and WROW in Albany, NY and at WOBM in Toms River, NJ. Phil is a past President of the Empire State Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and has been a broadcast instructor at the New School of Contemporary Radio in Albany and at Monmouth University.

Outside of work he enjoys visiting historical, nature and entertainment sites.

Ways to Connect

A bill advancing in the New Jersey legislature would expand Medicaid coverage to help smokers quit.

Corrine Orlando with the American Heart Association says about 14 percent of Medicaid recipients in New Jersey smoke.

"It remains the one preventable cause of death and the New Jersey Medicaid program spends over a billion dollars a year just treating smoking related illnesses."

Assembly Health Committee chairman Herb Conaway is also a doctor. He says easier access to tobacco cessation services could decrease hospital admissions.

New Jersey lawmakers are considering legislation to ensure the nearly 600,000 residents who do freelance work are treated fairly.

Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker says his bill would require businesses that have a written contract with a freelance worker to compensate them no later than 30 days after they complete the job.

A lawsuit filed by a coalition of civil rights groups in New Jersey seeks to have the courts strike down provisions of state education law.

Retired New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Gary Stein chairs the Coalition for Diverse and Inclusive Schools. He says the lawsuit challenges the segregation of public and charter schools by race, ethnicity, and poverty.

“New Jersey’s public school segregation results from a long standing failure of state educational policy that legally and morally indefensible.”

New Jersey lawmakers are considering legislation that would prevent your internet service provider from sharing your personal information without first getting your written permission.

Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker says it’s a significant issue.

“Not only is our data being sold and used and they’re targeting us for advertisements. But our personal information is used for identity theft so this is a really big thing. This is about our banking. This is about our personal privacy.”

Zwicker says some internet service providers oppose his bill.

New Jersey Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Sheila Oliver told lawmakers the state is making efforts to help families who are still not back home five-and-a-half years after Superstorm Sandy damaged their primary residence.

Oliver, who also serves as New Jersey’s Lt. Governor, says the state has $1.2 billion dollars left of the $4 billion in Sandy recovery aid it got from the federal government.

New Jersey’s Lieutenant Governor says she believes the state’s intervention in Atlantic City is working and the city’s worst days are over.

Sheila Oliver, who also serves as the Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs, says 18-months of state oversight have helped Atlantic City make progress in dealing with its debt, its health and pension obligations, and its ability to attract investment in new development projects.

Oliver says continued stability requires both budget and management discipline.

The Supreme Court ruling that allows all states to have legalized sports betting could help Atlantic City casinos generate additional revenue.

Public finance attorney David Fernandez says sports wagering gives Atlantic City a new opportunity to draw tourists, but it might benefit casino companies more than the city because sports gambling could be made available online. 

“It may not be the boom that they think it’s going to be if the online gambling takes off and becomes an alternative that folks might want to do instead.”

New Jersey legislative leaders and Governor Phil Murphy have until the end of June to reach agreement on a new state budget. A stalemate could risk a potential government shutdown.

Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Tom Coughlin are resisting the governor’s proposed tax increases and free community college.

Democrat Assemblywoman Patricia Egan Jones does not expect there will be a government shutdown.

The employment outlook for graduating college students may be the best in years. 

Carl Van Horn, the director of the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers, says job prospects for new grads have improved because a low unemployment rate means fewer people are applying for available openings.

Legalized sports betting is coming to New Jersey.

The U-S Supreme Court has ruled in New Jersey's favor, striking down a 1992 federal law restricting sports wagering to Nevada and three other states.

Former state Senator Ray Lesniak has been fighting for years to legalize sports betting in New Jersey and he's thrilled with the court’s decision.

This week Delaware became the first state in the nation to ban marriage for anyone under the age of 18. 

New Jersey lawmakers are making another attempt to pass a similar ban.

Assemblyman Reed Gusciora is one of the sponsors of the legislation. He says since 1995 more than 3500 people under the age of 18 did get married in New Jersey.

“There’s probably success stories but I’m sure that there are many that would regret that decision in years to come. We want them to concentrate on school, concentrate on work, and concentrate on their future.”

 

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy promised during his campaign that he would not raid the Affordable Housing Trust Fund like his predecessor did. But his budget plan DOES divert some of the money.

 

Staci Berger, the president and CEO of the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey, is disappointed Murphy’s budget would take $59 million from the Trust Fund for housing-related programs.

 

A bill advanced by the Senate Labor Committee would expand New Jersey’s paid family leave program.

Dena Mottola Jaborska with New Jersey Citizen Action is pleased the legislation would increase the wage replacement rate when workers take family leave.

“Workers who are working at the lower income level will be able to get 90 percent of their salary. And workers who are at the higher earning level will be able to earn the average weekly wage in this state which is about $1200, and that is really what is considered minimally livable in our state.”

18 towns in New Jersey already prohibit smoking on their beaches. A bill advancing in the legislature would ban smoking on all public beaches in the state.

Senate Environment Committee chairman Bob Smith says a statewide ban would prevent beachgoers from being exposed to second-hand smoke and end the litter problem from the tens of thousands of cigarette butts that are left on the beaches every year.

Governor Phil Murphy has signed legislation that allows unauthorized immigrants to apply for state financial aid to attend college.

The legislation will help hundreds of immigrants who grew up in the state and attended high school in New Jersey for at least three years.

Murphy says it’s a matter of fairness.

A Monmouth University poll finds that most Americans are not feeling like they’re reaping the benefits from recent growth in the nation’s economy.

44 percent of those surveyed by Monmouth University say their family has been helped by the economic upturn, while the majority say they’re not benefiting from it.

Poll director Patrick Murray says the middle class aren’t doing as well as the public expected when President Trump took office last year.

The first of the quarterly reports on gun crime statistics that Governor Murphy ordered to be made available to the public has been released.

Murphy says 77 percent of the guns used in crimes in New Jersey in the first quarter of this year came from out of state.

“The most, 83, did not travel far. They crossed the Delaware River from Pennsylvania. Governor Tom Wolf is pushing his legislature and taking them to task for their failure to pass common sense gun safety laws and I applaud his efforts.”

The top Republican in the New Jersey Assembly is calling Governor Phil Murphy’s agenda extreme and scary and believes there will be a budget showdown.

Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick says Murphy’s budget plan that ramps up spending by 8 percent and calls for $1.6 billion in tax increases is dangerous to the vitality of the state.

“He is totally disconnected not only with us as Republicans, I believe he’s totally disconnected with Democrats as well and surely disconnected with the taxpayers.”

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy is appointing Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield vice president Bill Castner as his senior advisor on firearms.

Murphy says Castner will make sure the administration is properly tracking progress in stopping the scourge of gun violence and help identify new innovative partnerships.

“We hope that in having a single point of confluence for all of our gun safety efforts we will be a model for our nation on smart policy and smarter programs.”

A package of bills advancing in the New Jersey legislature would hold companies more accountable when consumers’ personal information gets compromised.

Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee chairman Paul Moriarty says one of the bills would allow a parent or guardian to put a freeze on a child’s credit report...preventing new credit cards being opened in their names.

So far this year there have been 336 wildfires in New Jersey, and the spring fire season isn’t over yet.

State Fire Warden Gregory McLaughlin says the risk of woodlands fires is high now because the hot weather and low humidity causes combustible material on the forest floor to dry out quickly.

“People say it rained yesterday, how can it be a fire day? It’s because the soil in the Pinelands particularly is sandy and doesn’t hold much moisture and because the deciduous trees have not leafed out fully and they’re not providing shade yet.”

Governor Phil Murphy has signed legislation to help New Jersey taxpayers get around federal tax code changes that limit deductions for state and local taxes.

The new law allows towns to create charitable funds that pay for local services and lets residents get credits for up to 90 percent of their donations to reduce their property tax bill.

Murphy says New Jersey joins 33 other states that have allowed credits in exchange for charitable contributions without interference from the Internal Revenue Service.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has until the end of the month to decide whether to sign a controversial bill to subsidize nuclear power plants.  A coalition of environmental, community, and business groups is urging him to conditionally veto it.

Environment New Jersey director Doug O’Malley says the bill on the governor’s desk is wrong headed.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has signed an executive order to find a way to stop employers from mis-classifying workers in an effort to subvert the law and cut costs. 

John Ballantyne is executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters. He says the misclassification of employees occurs when companies call their workers independent contractors.

A new law signed by Governor Phil Murphy requires all employers in New Jersey to provide paid sick days to their workers.

Murphy says New Jersey joins nine other states in providing the guarantee of paid sick leave.

“This is not just about doing what’s right for workers and their families. This is about doing the right the thing for our economy. Anywhere that this has been done has increased productivity and made the economy stronger.”

The law will take effect in October and will benefit more than a million New Jersey workers who don’t have paid sick time.

35,000 New Jersey state employees who had been working without a contract for three years will be getting a raise and some back pay.

A new contract the Communications Workers of American ratified with the Murphy administration calls for a two percent salary increase in August and another two percent raise in July of next year for the workers employed by the executive branch of state government.

It also calls for back pay for performance ‘step increases’ the Christie administration froze in 2015.

Republican Senator Tony Bucco says that could be expensive.

A bill advancing in the New Jersey legislature would create a pilot program to study the cultivation of industrial hemp and allow the licensing of growers and distributors.

Assemblyman Reed Gusciora says hemp could be a viable agricultural crop in the state.

“While hemp may be a cousin of marijuana, it has absolutely no psychotropic value. People use it clothing, in rope, in food, in oils, shampoos.”

Senator Declan O’Scanlon says the restrictions on hemp date from a time when it was misunderstood.

A New Jersey lawmaker wants to raise the minimum age to buy rifles and shotguns in the state from 18 to 21.

Assemblyman Roy Freiman (says his bill would bring the purchase age in line with those for handguns and believes it would prevent gun violence.

“18 and 20-year-olds commit gun homicides as a rate nearly four times as high and adults 21 and older. And you look at the recent gun shootings that we’ve had across America and you look at the teens that have it, are there things that we can do?” 

New Jersey Transit might be seeking additional time to implement the Positive Train Control system that can automatically stop trains and prevent collisions.

NJ Transit executive director Kevin Corbett says a letter from the Federal Railroad Administration expressing concerns about the agency’s progress in implementing PTC by the December 31st deadline also mentioned a potential alternative schedule.

The New Jersey Attorney General’s office is charging three more people with filing fraudulent applications for Superstorm Sandy relief funds.

New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice director Elie Honig says the defendants are accused of obtaining loans and grants from a program designed for people who lost their primary home and it was actually their seasonal residence that suffered Sandy damage.

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