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

Ortley Beach
NJ Department of Environmental Protection

A $128 million dollar beach protection project along 14 miles of New Jersey coastline will begin after the Memorial Day holiday.

State Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin says extending the beach farther out into the ocean will begin in Ortley Beach because water is lapping up against homes on that narrow section of shoreline.

"So any storm we have, any nor'easter we have, clearly those homes are in danger. We've had to help get them put more sand on that beach on a constant basis just to provide some basic protection over the last few years."

Gasoline prices are about four cents a gallon higher than a week ago, but you might not be seeing much more of an increase.

Tom Kloza is the global head of energy analysis at the Oil Price Information Service in Wall, New Jersey.

He predicts crude oil prices won’t be going up, and that should keep gas prices about where they are now for most of the summer, about $2.40 a gallon.

A bill awaiting final passage in the New Jersey Senate would require home health care aides to be paid $18 an hour.

The measure follows cuts in the reimbursement rate for personal care services funded through Medicaid managed care organizations.

Kearny resident Victor Muniz was injured in 2008 when a tree branch hit his head during a storm. He says home health care helped him with basic tasks and he's been able to graduate from college, get a job, and get married.

A bill introduced in New Jersey's Legislature would establish a system to track and analyze EMS crews' response to medical emergencies.

Assembly Health Committee chairman Herb Conaway is a doctor. He says the tracking system could help identify what procedures improve patient outcomes in emergency situations.

New Jersey officials say the beaches are in good shape for the start of the summer season and the ocean water quality is excellent. 

But President Trump's proposed budget would eliminate federal funds for the program that tests the water at more than 200 bay and ocean beaches in the state.

New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin says the state has all the money it needs to do that testing this year.

President Trump's budget proposal to increase premiums to preserve the federal flood insurance program is meeting with plenty of criticism in New Jersey.

Belmar Mayor Matt Doherty says a sharp increase in flood insurance premiums would be a mistake.

Governor Chris Christie says an agreement between Amtrak and New Jersey Transit will limit disruptions for commuters this summer as aging tracks and equipment are replaced at New York's Penn Station.

Christie says only the Morris and Essex Line's Midtown Direct train service will be affected by the work that will be done over an eight-week period from July through Labor Day.

"For three-quarters of the New Jersey Transit customers travel patterns will not be modified in any way including the Trenton to New York Northeast Corridor Line."

Advocates are praising Assembly Speaker Vinnie Prieto's plans to improve New Jersey's paid family leave program.

Prieto's bill would increase the maximum family leave from six weeks to 12, raise the current $633 cap on weekly benefits to as much as $932, and expand the family members who qualify for paid leave to include siblings, grandparents, and parents-in-law.

Eric Richard with the New Jersey AFL-CIO says the current paid family leave law does not provide job protection for workers at firms with fewer than 50 employees.

Drug users desperate to kick the habit are now turning to some New Jersey police departments for help.

Brick Township police chief James Riccio says about 150 drug users showed up at police stations in Brick and Manchester Township since the Heroin Addiction Response program was launched in January

Governor Christie insists his proposed $300 million renovation of the New Jersey Statehouse is going to happen.

Several lawmakers concerned about the expense have filed a lawsuit to block the work. They say only the repairs needed to ensure the safety of the building should be done.

Christie says it won’t be scaled back while he’s the governor.

The New Jersey Assembly has passed a bill intended to strengthen protections against employment discrimination.

Assemblywoman Joann Downey says it would prohibit employers from asking job applicants about their employment history.

“There’s only one reason for that and that’s to be able to pay a person less if they can. If a job is worth something, it’s worth something to each and every person who comes in, especially a woman.”

Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt says the measure is another opportunity to take down a barrier toward equal pay.

New Jersey might ban the use of smokeless tobacco on school grounds.

Legislation to prohibit the use of that product in any area of a public school building has been advanced by the Assembly Education Committee.

Frank Belluscio with the New Jersey School Boards Association says the bill is in the interest of students’ health and safety.

“In many cases, young people just might not be aware. They’re not inhaling smoke and they might feel that chewing tobacco is like chewing bubble gum when in fact it does run the risk of both oral and throat cancer.”

Creating a false public alarm in New Jersey could mean decades behind bars if a bill advanced by an Assembly committee becomes law.

Assemblyman Gordon Johnson says his bill is a response to the string of bomb threats aimed at Jewish Community Centers, temples, and schools earlier this year.

'It's something that we as elected officials cannot accept and must do something in response. We can't allow anyone to be targeted because of their faith."

A bill advanced by a New Jersey Assembly committee would allow people convicted of driving with a suspended license to perform community services instead of going to jail.

Current law allows for a jail sentence up to 180 days.

Assembly Judiciary Committee chairman John McKeon says the intention is to make sure the penalty is appropriate.

Three lawmakers have filed a lawsuit to block the Christie administration's renovation of the New Jersey Statehouse.

Republican Senators Kip Bateman and Mike Doherty and Democrat Ray Lesniak claim the administration initiated the project without legislative or voter approval.

Bateman says that's just wrong.

A New Jersey lawmaker says legalizing recreational marijuana use in the state would create thousands of jobs and generate millions of dollars in tax revenue.

Senator Nick Scutari in introducing legislation that would legalize possessing up to an ounce of marijuana for those 21 and older and set strict regulations for production and sales.

He says it would not permit home growing, so regulators could focus on the facilities that would be licensed to produce and sell it.

The New Jersey Senate's Environment Committee will hold a hearing Monday on a plan to phase out the diversion of money intended for energy efficiency and renewable energy programs.

The so-called societal benefits charge on electric and natural gas bills is supposed to be used for those programs, but over seven years New Jersey Sierra Club director Jeff Tittel says about $1.5 billion of that money has funneled into the state budget for other uses.

The Christie administration is providing more details about a plan to turn over New Jersey's lottery to the public employee retirement system.

State Treasurer Ford Scudder says a steady stream of revenue from the lottery would generate about $37 billion in pension funding over the next 30 years and reduce the general fund obligation to the system.

More patients might become eligible for New Jersey's medical marijuana program.

The state Medicinal Marijuana Review panel has voted to recommend that chronic pain related to muscular skeletal disorders, migraines, chronic fatigue syndrome, anxiety, Tourette's syndrome, and irritable bowel syndrome be added to the qualifying conditions for the program.

Roseanne Scotti, the state director of the Drug Policy Alliance, is thrilled with the decision.

A New Jersey Congresswoman is re-introducing legislation calling for more stringent federal review of proposed pipeline projects.

Democrat Bonnie Watson Coleman says the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is rubber stamping pipeline projects with little regard for the public or the environment.

She says her proposed Safer Pipelines Act would assess regional needs for additional pipeline capacity and the environmental impact of proposed projects.

New Jersey's Supreme Court is clarifying some of the ground rules of the state's new bail system that took effect in January.

The state's highest has ruled the defense should have access to documents and reports prosecutors rely on when seeking to hold violent defendants without bail until trial.

Alexander Shalom, the senior staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey says the decision sends a strong message that detention hearings need to be meaningful, adversarial proceedings.

New Jersey plans something new to prevent delays at Motor Vehicle Commission offices.

The commission's chief administrator Ray Martinez says two mobile agencies will be available by the summer to be sent where needed in the state.

"We can bring those mobile agencies to do actual transactions. In situations where an office is down for some reason we can bring them in to augment processing or senior citizens locations or things like that."

Martinez says wait times have gotten shorter since last summer when computer problems resulted in long lines.

New Jersey Transit is making efforts to minimize lost revenue from uncollected fares.

The conductors' union says the agency might have lost more than $5 million in fares last year because more than 240,000 tickets weren't collected on overcrowded trains.

New Jersey Transit executive director Steven Santoro questions that amount  because about 80 percent of commuters buy pre-paid monthly passes.

"So the $5 million is probably a very high number but I'll say that it's greater than zero. So there are a couple of things that we are doing to get it closer to zero."

S

tockton University will host the first of the New Jersey gubernatorial primary debates this evening.  The Republicans meet at 6:30 and the Democrats begin at 8. 

Monmouth University Polling Institute director Patrick Murray expects very few people will be tuning into the debates and believes they won't have much impact for the candidates.

"What helps them is whether they've got organizational support to get their voters out to the polls on primary day and in many ways that has absolutely nothing to do with their policy positions or what they do in a debate."

Stockton University will host the first of the New Jersey gubernatorial primary debates this evening.  The Republicans meet at 6:30 and the Democrats begin at 8. 

Monmouth University Polling Institute director Patrick Murray expects very few people will be tuning into the debates and believes they won't have much impact for the candidates.

"What helps them is whether they've got organizational support to get their voters out to the polls on primary day and in many ways that has absolutely nothing to do with their policy positions or what they do in a debate."

New Jersey lawmakers are considering legislation that would permit anyone 16 and older to buy and possess sparklers.

Eric Turner represents the United States Fireworks Safety Commission. He believes the measure is a safe way for New Jersey residents to have a 4th of July display in their own backyards.

"A sparkler burns about the same temperature as a blue tip kitchen match. If you touch a lit sparkler to your hand, it will burn. But to the best of our knowledge there has never been a death in the United States attributed to these products."

A study ordered by Governor Christie and New Jersey lawmakers has determined the state should not force middle and high schools to have later start times.

The study group says research suggests sleep deprivation endangers students’ academic performance and well-being, but there are impediments to delaying the start of school times.

Frank Belluscio is deputy executive director of the New Jersey School Boards Association.

New Jersey lawmakers grilled the head of Amtrak about recent disruptions in rail service and the planned acceleration of projects to replace some tracks.

Senator Bob Gordon questioned Amtrak CEO Wick Moorman on how the work will affect commuters.

"How many tracks are going to be shut down? What does that mean in terms of commuter delays?"

"We can't answer your question until we have gone over that plan with New Jersey Transit and Long Island Railroad and what they would prefer to see in order to minimize the impact to their passengers.”

New Jersey commuters can expect more delays into the summer as Amtrak closes and repairs tracks that lead to New York's Penn Station.

Instead of replacing the aging infrastructure over several years, Amtrak officials plan to work on a series of projects through June of 2018.

Senator Tony Bucco says disruptions from the track work are a big inconvenience for thousands of New Jersey commuters.

Governor Christie has been insisting that marijuana is a gateway to other drug use. Now, his opposition to legalizing recreational marijuana in New Jersey is focusing on the revenue it might generate.

Speaking at an event in Toms River where he highlighted his efforts to combat opioid addiction, Christie said some are moving at breakneck speed to legalize marijuana in the state because they believe it will bring in about $100 million of tax revenue.

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