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

Assembly Financial Institutions Committee votes to advance the measure.
Phil Gregory

New Jersey lawmakers are considering legislation that would require operators of publicly accessible payment and withdrawal machines to inspect them every day to make sure a skimming device hasn’t been installed on them.

Assemblyman Dan Benson is one of the sponsors of the measure. He says consumers might not be able to tell if an ATM had a skimmer that could be used to steal their personal information and empty their bank account.

College officials testify at NJ legislative hearing
Phil Gregory

New Jersey lawmakers are focusing on hunger among college students.

Carey Wilson directs off-campus living at Rutgers University New Brunswick. She says a food pantry opened there in September to support students who don't have enough money for food.

"We have students who are disconnected from families and therefore lacking the support they need when times are tough.  We have returning adult students who are coming back to school after a layoff and have to support their family. We have students who are choosing between paying for textbooks and paying for food."

ancarlo Tello and Daniela Velez testify at Assembly committee hearing
Phil Gregory

New Jersey lawmakers are examining the impact of President Trump's executive orders to toughen enforcement of immigration laws.

23-year-old Glassboro resident Daniela Velez is an unauthorized immigrant. She came to New Jersey with her family from Venezuela 14 years ago.  She told an Assembly committee the President's executive orders have put her life in turmoil.

Pothole filling machine
NJ Department of Transportation

New Jersey's Department of Transportation says filling potholes is a priority for highway maintenance workers.

You don't have to travel far to find one. New Jersey Department of Transportation spokesman Steve Schapior says constant fluctuations above and below the freezing point this winter have caused multitudes of potholes to erupt on New Jersey roadways.

Advocates want Christie to abandon his 'fairness formula'
Phil Gregory

Governor Christie will deliver his final budget address to the New Jersey legislature next week. Education and civil rights advocates hope it won't include his so-called 'fairness formula'.

Betsy Ginsburg with the Garden State Coalition of Schools hopes Christie abandons his proposal to provide the same amount of per pupil funding to all school districts.

"We believe that it is a misconceived band-aid solution for high suburban property taxes that will trigger a fatal educational hemorrhage in the state's poorest districts."

A Rutgers-Eagleton poll finds that most New Jersey residents are treated by private physicians, but they're open to other options.

3 percent say they go to an urgent care facility for treatment all of the time, while 46 percent do some of the time.

Linda Schwimmer is the President and CEO of the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute. She says urgent care centers are a better alternative than an E-R when your doctor's unavailable.

Spotswood resident Keesha Sanchez testifies at review panel hearing.
Phil Gregory

Patients with illnesses not eligible for New Jersey's medical marijuana program are urging the list of qualifying conditions be expanded.

41-year-old Keesha Sanchez from Spotswood has RSD, a condition that causes severe burning pain in her arms and legs. She'd like to try medical marijuana in hopes of some relief.

"There's days that I wake up and the swelling that are in my feet that I can't walk. My husband has carried me to the bathroom, carried me to bed. I have two children. I've lost the last three years from this progression."

Opponents rally outside the New Jersey Statehouse
Phil Gregory

A few dozen environmental activists rallied in front of New Jersey's Statehouse to oppose construction of a natural gas pipeline though the Pinelands.

The proposed 21-mile pipeline is part of a South Jersey Gas project to convert the B.L. England generating plant from coal and oil to natural gas.

Dave Pringle with New Jersey Clean Water Action says a vote by the Pinelands Commission to approve the project would violate its comprehensive management plan to protect the heavily forested area that's an important natural resource.

Ray Castro is an analyst at New Jersey Policy Perspective
Phil Gregory

Those in New Jersey striving to preserve the Affordable Care Act say it's the political fight of a generation.

Maura Collinsgru leads the New Jersey for Health Care coalition. She says repealing Obamacare without an adequate replacement would threaten every community.

"The loss of federal funds, jobs, and coverage losses will harm not only already struggling families. It will strain the resources of state, county and local governments."

New Jersey Statehouse
Phil Gregory

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is moving ahead with a $300 million dollar renovation of the New Jersey Statehouse.

Christie says the building constructed in 1792 is falling apart and workers have covered some of the windows with plywood.

"Those windows are boarded up now because those windows were judged when they were inspected to be ready to fall out of the building. So, we're boarding them up and the fact is that this is an unsafe building for all of us to be operating in it every day."

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie
Phil Gregory

A New Jersey judge has ruled a criminal case against Governor Christie involving the 2013 lane closures on the George Washington Bridge can go forward.

Municipal court judge Roy McGeady determined there’s probable cause to believe Christie knew the lane restrictions were more than just a routine traffic study.

The complaint filed by former firefighter William Brennan accuses Christie of failing to stop subordinates from purposely creating traffic jams to punish the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee for not endorsing the governor’s reelection campaign.

Christie signs the legislation at the Statehouse
Phil Gregory

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has signed legislation intended to curb the opioid addiction epidemic.

The law limits initial opioid prescriptions to a five-day supply and mandates that state-regulated health insurers cover six-months of inpatient and outpatient addiction treatment.

Christie says he's not sure how much that will cost.

"Because you don't know how many people are going to take advantage of this and utilization is going to drive a lot regarding the costs. But the fact is whatever the cost is of this it's certainly less than 1600 lives a year."

Rosemarie D'Alessandro
Phil Gregory

The New Jersey Assembly has unanimously approved legislation that calls for life imprisonment without parole for the murder of anyone under the age of 18 during commission of a sex crime.

The measure expands what's known as Joan's Law, named for a 7-year-old Hillsdale girl who was sexually assaulted and killed by a neighbor in 1973.

Her mother, Rosemarie D'Alessandro, says the denial of parole eligibility now applies to such crimes involving victims under 14.

A bill advancing in the New Jersey legislature would require water companies to determine how much water is lost because of leaks and breaks in aging pipes every year.

Natural Resources Defense Council attorney Larry Levin told an Assembly committee such audits can guide efforts to control water loss.

"There are 130 million gallons of treated drinking water we estimate lost each day across the state. And of that about 50 million gallons per day valued at $10 million a year are likely to be cost effective for utilities to reduce to solve that loss."

NJ Association of Counties executive director John Donnadio
Phil Gregory

The Council on Local Mandates hears oral arguments tomorrow on a motion by the state of New Jersey to dismiss a challenge of the bail reform law that took effect in January.

The New Jersey Association of Counties claims the law is an unconstitutional unfunded state mandate because counties have had to spend more than $35 million on personnel and improvements to implement it.

In December the council denied the counties' request for a preliminary injunction to stop the law from taking effect.

A New Jersey Assembly committee wants to end a requirement that high school students pass the standardized PARCC test to graduate.

Assemblywoman Mila Jasey says she introduced the measure because she believes regulations adopted by the state Board of Education last year are inconsistent with legislative intent.

"The PARCC exams to my understanding were always meant to assess and inform instruction, not to make decisions about graduation."

Jamie and Christopher Bruesehoff
Phil Gregory

A package of bills advanced by a New Jersey Assembly committee would give transgender residents some protections against discrimination.

The measures help establish a transgender equality task force, provide access to business assistance programs, and prohibit health insurers from denying coverage based on gender identity.

Vernon resident Jamie Bruesehoff has a 10 year-old transgender daughter.

Assemblyman John McKeon
Phil Gregory

An Assembly committee will consider legislation on Monday that would require candidates for President to disclose their federal income tax returns to get on New Jersey's ballot.

Donald Trump refused to release his tax returns during the Presidential campaign.

Assemblyman John McKeon says his bill is intended to make sure that doesn't happen in the future.

"I think it's very important from a transparency perspective for the voters to have that information and if our society norms aren't going to force the issue, then we need to do so as a matter of law."

Sandy-damaged homes.
Phil Gregory

Governor Christie has signed legislation to prevent mortgage foreclosures on homes damaged more than four years ago by Superstorm Sandy.

Amanda Devecka-Rinear directs the New Jersey Organizing Project founded by those affected by Sandy. She's relieved the governor approved the measure.

"I am so incredibly glad that we're going to see some relief for families. I am only sad that this didn't pass even two years ago because I know as many people as it will help there are a number of families for whom this is too late."

Governor's office entrance
Phil Gregory

The primary election in New Jersey's governor's race is four months away.

Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind Poll director Krista Jenkins says most registered voters are unsure who should replace Governor Chris Christie.

“50 percent of Democrats and 52 percent of Republicans say they don’t have a clue with about 1 in 7 in both groups who would prefer someone other than those who have already declared or are at least thinking about throwing their hats into the ring.”

Phil Gregory

Mayors who held their annual meeting with legislative leaders at the New Jersey Statehouse want to know how funding for transportation projects will be distributed.

Fanwood Mayor Coleen Mahr says a case-by-case process is not the way to determine if the state will reimburse a municipality for costs resulting from Governor Christie's shutdown of road projects during last year's impasse on replenishing the Transportation Trust Fund.

Governor Christie has signed legislation requiring New Jersey regulations on elevated lead levels in children's blood to be consistent with federal guidelines.

Ann Vardeman with New Jersey Citizen Action says that's a good move.

"This is what the science has shown is that smaller levels of lead can caused damage in children than what was previously thought. Previous levels that New Jersey had the actionable level was actually long after damage was being caused in children." 

Paying for health care is the primary concern of U-S families, according to a new poll.

Monmouth University Polling Institute director Patrick Murray says health care costs are now creating the most anxiety for 25 percent of Americans surveyed.   

"That's a big jump from the last time we asked just a couple of years ago when health care was one of a number of issues in the top tier. It seems like concerns about paying for costs of health care right now are the things that are really driving the worries that Americans have that keep them up at night."

Lawmakers and advocates say the resolutions are significant.
Phil Gregory

The New Jersey Senate has approved symbolic resolutions condemning President Trump's now-stalled executive orders on immigration.

One resolution opposes building a wall along the southern U.S. border and the ban on the entry of immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries. 

The other measure expresses the legislature's intent that colleges continue to serve as safe zones to protect students and their families from action by immigration agents.

Imam Mustafa El Amin from Newark believes the resolutions will have a significant effect.

Senate Education Committee
Phil Gregory

A New Jersey Senate committee has advanced legislation prohibiting the state Department of Education from limiting what a school district can pay its superintendent.

Senate Education committee chairwoman Teresa Ruiz says a salary cap that took effect in 2011 was intended to save money but has kept school districts from getting the best people.

"I think it's the responsibility of the district if they have funding in their budget to make their decision on hiring someone who is capable and that won't necessarily at some point make less than perhaps a sitting principal."

Congressman Frank LoBiondo
Phil Gregory

Two New Jersey Congressmen are re-introducing bills to legalize sports betting.

Legal challenges by sports leagues have blocked New Jersey from permitting sports wagering.

Congressman Frank LoBiondo says the Supreme Court will soon decide whether to consider the state’s appeal.

“So I think it’s important that the new nominee is confirmed so that if the high court decides that they will consider New Jersey’s case, that is the fastest route to us being able to get to what we want. Otherwise we’ve got to go through the legislative route.”

What’s the most important issue in deciding whom to elect as New Jersey’s next governor?

A Quinnipiac University survey of voters puts taxes at the top of the list.

Pollster Maurice Carroll says that’s their biggest concern for 26 percent of voters.

“There was one year many years ago when believe it or not auto insurance was the main issue, but poll in and poll out finds that New Jerseyans are concerned mostly about taxes.”

Some small business owners in New Jersey are urging Congress not to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Kelly Conklin owns Foley-Waite, a Kenilworth cabinet-making business.

He spends over $10,000 a month for health insurance premiums to cover him and ten employees. If the ACA is repealed, he believes the costs will increase.

Senator Joe Vitale
Phil Gregory

A New Jersey lawmaker wants to require high school students to be screened for the risk of substance abuse.

Senate Health Committee chairman Joe Vitale says his bill would have students in 9th through 12th grades answer questions about drug use as part of their annual health assessments.

           

Senator Jeff Van Drew
Phil Gregory

 

A measure awaiting final legislative approval in the state Senate would require all county governments in New Jersey to have a Code Blue plan in place to shelter homeless residents during severe weather events.

 

Mike Oppegaard is president of the New Jersey Association of Emergency Management Coordinators. He’s concerned about the costs of providing shelter and services if the severe conditions persist for several days. He wants lawmakers to consider state grants to offset that expense.

 

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