Citing ‘abortion,’ Trump trashes birth control, cancer screenings for poor women | Editorial

Posted March 5, 2019

California and 20 other Democratic-led states announced they were challenging the Trump administration’s effort to set up obstacles for women seeking abortions, including barring taxpayer-funded family planning clinics from referring patients to abortion providers.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said Monday that the state filed its own federal lawsuit in San Francisco that aims to block a new family planning rule from the U.S. Health and Human Services Department. Opponents of the rule say it would shift millions of dollars from Planned Parenthood to faith-based family planning organizations.

Twenty states and Washington, D.C., said they would sue separately Tuesday. The states are: Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin.

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FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR IN GOVERNOR’S BUDGET ADDRESS TOMORROW

JOHN REITMEYER | MARCH 4, 2019

NJ Spotlight

Gov. Phil Murphy

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Gov. Phil Murphy will put forward his budget proposal for fiscal year 2020 tomorrow during a joint session of the state Assembly and Senate in Trenton, marking his second time to give lawmakers a fiscal-year spending proposal. Last year, there was almost a government shutdown as Murphy, a Democrat, had trouble convincing fellow Democrats who control the Legislature to enact a series of new policies ranging from new taxes to increased aid for community-college students.

Here are five key issues to watch for in his budget address:

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Wanted: Real oversight of Joe D’s cruel jail for immigrants | Editorial

Posted Mar 1, 2019

Joe DiVincenzo really blew it. Turns out that while the Essex County political boss was hosting lavish retreats in Puerto Rico, he was even scrimping on moldy bread for immigrants, in the jail he runs in Newark.

And lying about it. Days after his jail flunked a surprise July inspection by the feds for serving nasty spoiled food, harvesting colonies of mold in living areas and hushing up security breaches like a gun left in a bathroom, “Joe D” called us to say everything was great.

The immigrants that his county’s being paid millions by the Trump administration to jail are treated quite well. He even put his deputy on the phone, to claim his jail is “by far the best correctional facility in the state of New Jersey and in the United States of America.”

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A man was dumping massive piles of trash under a N.J. highway, A.G. says. Now he faces years in prison.

Posted Feb 28, 2019

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal speaks to a reporter at the site of an alleged illegal dumping operation underneath the I-78 and Route 22 overpass in Newark, NJ on February 28, 2019. 

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It was a million-dollar mess, and now it could send a man to prison for half of a decade.

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced Thursday the indictment of Abdullah Bryant, a 40-year-old Newark man who allegedly spent more than a year illegally dumping huge amounts of solid waste underneath highways in the city.

Bryant allegedly collected, transported and dumped more than 100 cubic yards of solid waste at a site owned by the New Jersey Department of Transportation underneath the I-78 and Route 22 overpasses between Frelinghuysen Avenue and the Northeast Corridor Rail Line in Newark’s East Ward.

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NEW JERSEY’S GRASSROOTS REFORM GROUPS COALESCE INTO LOOSE COALITION

COLLEEN O'DEA | MARCH 1, 2019

NJ Spotlight

Analilia Mejia

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Grassroot groups formed in response to the 2016 presidential election. Others came together to try to flip House seats, or to advocate for issues they thought would be imperiled by Trump and to get the word out about what is going on. And some are also working to get rid of Trump. But here's the bottom line: They're still at it, demanding change in New Jersey to deliver what they believe would be a more representative and just democracy.

The groups have loosely organized as the Coalition to Restore Democracy, and they are calling for what may sound like simple reforms. These include a call for making proposed legislation available to the public at least 72 hours before any committee hearing or vote; a set of uniform ethics and public records rules across all branches of government; and an end to the awarding of the “party line” that gives candidates anointed by Democratic and Republican leaders an edge in primary elections.

As hundreds of legislators, lobbyists, and business executives gathered in Newark Thursday morning to board a special train for the state Chamber of Commerce’s annual Walk to Washington, about a dozen activists protested for the need for reform. Those who crowded on the train schmoozed, then attended receptions and a dinner with Gov. Phil Murphy and the state’s congressional representatives. The train will bring everyone back on Friday.

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STATE MOVES TO MAKE SURE PRIVATE-SECTOR EMPLOYEES SAVE FOR RETIREMENT

JOHN REITMEYER | FEBRUARY 28, 2019

NJ Spotlight

New Jersey may soon become the latest state to provide private-sector workers with a way to save money for retirement when their employers don’t offer such benefits.

A bill that lawmakers sent to Gov. Phil Murphy earlier this week would set up a state-sanctioned retirement-savings fund that would work like an IRA for most private-sector workers.

The state — which has a dubious record when it comes to managing its public-employee retirement funds — wouldn’t be responsible for providing matching dollars or directly handling investments on behalf of the workers. Instead, the bill would establish the parameters for a private firm to manage the savings accounts. It would also mandate an automatic payroll deduction that companies with at least 25 employees would have to furnish to their workers if they don’t already offer a retirement-savings benefit.

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REPORT: NOT FUNDING GATEWAY NOW COULD SPELL BIG PROBLEMS FOR REGION

OHN REITMEYER | FEBRUARY 27, 2019

NJ Spotlight

From gridlocked highways to slashed home values, a new report from the Regional Plan Association paints an ugly picture of what New Jersey and the rest of the region could look like if a major Hudson River rail-tunnel project remains unfunded.

Mass-transit advocates have long warned that conditions inside the existing, 108-year-old Hudson River tunnel that connects New Jersey with New York are deteriorating, but they’ve largely focused on how emergency repairs would cause disruptions that could significantly impact the lives of some 200,000 commuters.

The new report from the RPA — a think tank that backs plans to build a brand-new rail tunnel — adds to that grim portrait by showing in stark detail how just a partial shutdown of the existing tunnel could impact everyone in the New Jersey-New York region, including those who never get on a train.

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CRITICIZING INACTION ON LEAD IN NEW JERSEY SCHOOLS’ DRINKING WATER SUPPLIES

TOM JOHNSON | FEBRUARY 27, 2019

NJ Spotlight

Despite lead in drinking water supplies having been detected in hundreds of New Jersey’s public school buildings, advocates say there appears to be no rush to figure out how to divvy up $100 million in new money among districts eager to fix the problem.

The advocates are pushing the state to more aggressively come up with plans for how to spend dollars from a bond issue voters approved last November that was geared to replacing lead service lines in schools throughout the state — or fix the problem through less costly alternatives.

The state Department of Education came under repeated criticism from advocates yesterday at an NJ Spotlight Roundtable in Hamilton on Achieving Lead-Free School Water in New Jersey. They questioned why all school districts were not required to do lead testing at their facilities, to report testing results to the department, and to communicate that information to the public.

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MURPHY URGED TO WORK WITH LAWMAKERS ON EMERGENCY HOUSING AID AS CLOCK TICKS

COLLEEN O'DEA | FEBRUARY 26, 2019

NJ Spotlight

On the heels of a postponed attempt to override a gubernatorial veto of a bill seeking to expand emergency housing aid to needy New Jerseyans, 150 advocates sent a letter to Gov. Phil Murphy urging him to work with lawmakers to provide for that aid and to quickly sign another bill to help the state’s homeless.

The letter, signed by individuals representing a diverse group of organizations ranging from the Anti-Poverty Network of New Jersey to the Urban League of Essex County, asks Murphy to consider allowing the extension of housing assistance that was embodied in S-1965 but capping its total cost. Murphy vetoed the bill last month, citing the potential cost of the program.

“We urge you to consider other solutions, like a new bill that limits the cost of the program to $20 million, that would protect these residents while limiting the impact on the budget,” the letter states. “Advocates do not anticipate that the cost of the legislation will come close to that figure. This is an issue critical to NJ’s most vulnerable residents and we hope you will resolve this issue without delay.”

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As Trump throws up barriers, NJ lawmakers claw for Gateway funds | Editorial

Updated Feb 25, 2019

New Jersey’s congressional delegation took a significant step toward dealing with an authentic national emergency last week.

Spoiler alert: It had nothing to do with walling off the marauding hordes of Honduran tots in Pampers at the Southern border.

Actually, this action demonstrated why it was critical to elect a new Congress to write the spending bills and transportation bills as we inch toward a funding solution for the Gateway Project.

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