Some Surprises as Republicans Pick Up Assembly Seats, Plus Senate Seat in South

COLLEEN O'DEA | NOVEMBER 6, 2019

NJ Spotlight

Assembly Republican leader Jon Bramnick, with running mate Nancy Munoz and Senate Republican leader Tom Kean, declares victory.

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Democrats appear to have lost at least three and as many as five seats in the New Jersey Legislature, including the only Senate race on the ballot. And they did not flip any of the three districts they were targeting in this year’s election, which took place yesterday.

With 100% of districts reporting, Republicans captured the Senate seat in the southernmost 1st District, as well as both Assembly seats there. They also held a smaller lead in the neighboring 2nd, a split district with a Republican senator that includes Atlantic City. That race, however, had not been called with fewer than 800 votes separating the second and third place finishers and mail-in and provisional ballots apparently uncounted as of midnight. Final results there may not be available for several days.

Democrats were also unable to flip seats in three districts they had been targeting, although they did keep control of the Assembly seats in two others considered competitive.

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600K N.J. residents would lose health insurance if Trump wins suit to kill Obamacare

Posted Nov 04, 2019

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s latest effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act would leave 595,000 more New Jerseyans without health insurance, a new report by a progressive group shows.

It would also take away tax credits from 181,000 residents who use them to buy coverage, and cost the state $2.7 billion in federal funds.

The winners? The wealthy and corporations who now pay special taxes to help fund the ACA. Those based in New Jersey would save $1.7 billion on, according to a study released Monday by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a progressive research group.

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Toxic ‘Forever Chemicals’ Found in More Than 500 New Jersey Water Systems …

JON HURDLE | NOVEMBER 5, 2019 

NJ Spotlight

 

The number of New Jersey water systems where toxic PFAS chemicals were found surged by more than 11 times over the past year, largely because of a new requirement that utilities report one of the chemicals that is now regulated by the state, according to data released by an environmental nonprofit on Tuesday.

The Environmental Working Group said there were 517 water systems, most of them small, where some of the chemicals were found in tap water or untreated ground water. Of the total, 470 were not reported the last time EWG gathered the data in February and March of this year.

At that point, only 47 systems reported having found PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) chemicals. Since then, more systems have been reporting the presence of PFNA (perfluorononanoic acid), the first of the chemicals to be subject to an enforceable state limit.

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First, the Tuna Fish ‘Badge of Shame.’ Next, Banned From the Prom?

By Tracey Tully and 

THE NEW YORK TIMES

Nov. 1, 2019

Caroline Torres, right, and Lamar Robinson prepare after-school meals at the Community Food Bank of New Jersey.

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A suburban New Jersey school system has wrestled for months with a problem common in other districts: an accumulating pile of student lunch debt.

The policy in Cherry Hill already limited students who owed more than $20 to a tuna sandwich meal.

Over the summer, the school board considered amending that policy and denying lunch to students who were more than $20 in debt, provoking a fierce backlash.

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Trump officials congratulate selves for uninsured kids | Editorial

Posted Nov 03, 2019

President Trump promised “phenomenal health care” and “insurance for everybody,” but what we have today, despite the strong economy, are more kids without coverage.

And as when he abandoned our Kurdish allies to slaughter in Syria, “a big success,” or called his response to the hurricane that killed 3,000 in Puerto Rico “one of the best jobs that's ever been done,” you could show a little appreciation.

This is all because of the improving economy, is the message from his top officials. People got jobs and insurance through their employers, so their families are dropping off the rolls of insurance programs for the poor, like Medicaid.

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Trump and Impeachment Cast a Shadow Over New Jersey’s Elections

By 

THE NEW YORK TIMES

Nov. 1, 2019

Bob Andrzejczak, a Democratic state senator, is running in a Republican-leaning district.

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In a legislative district in southern New Jersey, where Trump bumper stickers are nearly as common as American flags, the polarizing national battle over impeachment is playing out in real time.

A Democrat trying to hold on to his seat in the state’s sole Senate contest on Tuesday was pressed into saying that he would not rule out voting for President Trump, and that he certainly would not support two of his own party’s front-runners, Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.

His Republican opponent rebuffs criticism from the Democratic incumbent with the hashtag #fakenews.

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Congress may ride to the rescue to save $75M in transit funds for N.J. commuters

Posted Oct 31, 2019

WASHINGTON — New Jersey could lose $75 million in federal transit funds, and Congress is working to try to prevent that.

Both the House and Senate transportation spending bills for the current fiscal year would forestall the reductions, but Congress still needs to reconcile the two versions and send final legislation to President Donald Trump for his signature.

Lawmakers needed to act because federal gasoline tax collections, which fund the transit account, are falling below projected levels, requiring automatic cuts in spending unless Congress acts. Congress also has sent money to the account that funds highway construction for the same reason.

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Really, Rutgers? This again? Softball debacle latest example of failing athletes | Politi

Updated Oct 31, 2019

Put aside the jaw-dropping nugget of a Big Ten athletic director calling a reporter inquiring about abuse allegations on one of his teams “f---ing scum,” just for a moment. I know this isn’t easy, and if the university isn’t soon reviewing this conduct unbecoming of Patrick Hobbs’ high-profile leadership position, we’ll have another only-at-Rutgers moment to throw on the pile.

But let’s separate the ugly quote from the intent. Hobbs is not only responding to allegations of what amounts to intimidation and bullying with more intimidation and bullying. He is blaming the messenger, too. That should be stunning given the seriousness of what seven softball players have told NJ Advance Media about the toxic climate within that program, but this being Rutgers, it is standard operating procedure.

Take a quick stroll through this athletic department’s scandal-littered history:

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Could Newark’s Lead Problems Affect Investment, Development in Resurgent City?

MARK J. BONAMO | NOVEMBER 1, 2019 

NJ Spotlight

Downtown Newark has been transformed since the completion of NJPAC in 1997.

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The New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark was full of fiery rhetoric when Mayor Ras Baraka took the stage at a public town hall meeting earlier this month to address the city’s lead water crisis.

The mayor had come under fire for the city’s handling of the crisis, and Baraka was on the defensive not just about his reputation but also about Newark’s.

“Don’t tell people ‘don’t invest in the city.’ Don’t tell businesses to leave the city,” Baraka said to the crowd. “Stop telling people our water is poisonous. . . Leave my damn city alone.”

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N.J. is sinking, oceans are rising, hurricanes are stronger and it’s only getting worse

Updated Oct 29, 2019

Tuesday marks seven years since Hurricane Sandy made its unprecedented landfall in New Jersey.

The devastating effects are well documented: 39 people dead and more than $30 billion in damage. Unprecedented flooding throughout the state. Millions of people without power for days. Major roadways rendered impassable for even longer.

And climate change likely made it all worse.

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