Top Republican’s law firm says it will ‘discredit’ sexual assault accusers. Murphy calls it ‘disgusting.’

Updated Oct 11, 2019

The highestState Assemblyman Jon Bramnick, R-Union, is pictured at the Statehouse in Trenton earlier this year.

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The highest-ranking Republican in the New Jersey Assembly faced backlash Thursday after it came to light his law firm promises to help clients who say they’re wrongly accused of sexual assault by seeking to “discredit” their accusers.

The vow comes in a section titled “Sexual Assault on the website of Scotch Plains firm Bramnick, Rodriguez, Grabas, Arnold & Mangan — where Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick is a partner.

In a pitch to potential clients, the firm says it understands people accuse others of such crimes “because of hurt feelings, or in anger over breaking up or even confusion over what actually happened.”

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Newark’s $120M Lead-Line Upgrade Won’t Mean Fiscal Woes for Brick City

JOHN REITMEYER | OCTOBER 10, 2019

NJ Spotlight

Replacing lead service lines in Newark, September 2019

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Newark’s plan to spend $120 million replacing lead service lines in response to a drinking-water crisis should not have a significant impact on the city’s improving fiscal health, a major Wall Street credit-rating firm said yesterday.

A notice issued by Moody’s Investors Service highlighted $155 million in new lease payments the city will receive from the Port Authority and a recently enacted federal law that could free up even more dollars to help Newark pay off bonds that are being used to fund the project to replace the service lines.

“The new revenue sources available to pay for the debt will help avoid a roadblock in Newark’s financial progress, with finances having steadily improved since 2014,” the Moody’s report said.

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High lead levels found in water at 7 Newark schools, spurring calls for transparency

This story was originally published by Chalkbeat, a nonprofit news organization covering public education.

NJ.com

Elevated levels of lead were found in the water at seven out of 29 Newark schools where tests were conducted since August 2018, according to newly revealed district data.

The district shut off the water sources with high lead levels soon after the samples were analyzed, according to the data, which Chalkbeat obtained through a public records request.

However, the district did not post the test results on its website, as required by state rules.

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State’s Hybrid Health Insurance Exchange Ready to Launch

LILO H. STAINTON | OCTOBER 9, 2019 

NJ Spotlight

Certified marketplace navigator Pamela Gray of Camden’s Center for Family Services

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The Trump administration has given New Jersey officials formal approval to create a hybrid federal-state health insurance exchange for the hundreds of thousands of individual market consumers expected to seek coverage for next year — and it is scheduled to open for business in less than a month.

The hybrid model is a first step in the state’s multiyear process to assert greater control over this system; under the plan, New Jersey will take full charge of the exchange and launch its own website in order to sell policies for 2021.

For the 2020 plans — on sale from Nov. 1 through Dec. 15 — the Trump administration’s approval gives the Garden State greater control over the enrollment process and plan design; the state has already committed to spend more than twice what it did last year on public outreach and sign-up assistance. But consumers will still need to purchase products through the federal healthcare.gov website and depend on officials in Washington, D.C. to approve their application.

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A congressional candidate makes an argument for Medicare for All

Posted Oct 08, 2019

By Zina Spezakis

 

Medicare for All is as much an economic issue as it is a moral one. While pharmaceutical and health insurance companies reap ever increasing tens of billions of dollars of profits year after year, Americans have seen their health insurance premiums rise consistently over the past two decades.

The Affordable Care Act made real progress on expanding health insurance coverage, but we have much more work to do. 27.5 million Americans were uninsured in 2018, up nearly 2 million from the year before. Each year, 530,000 families file for healthcare-related bankruptcy, accounting for two-thirds of all bankruptcies filed, unchanged from before the ACA.

People are dying because they ration or cannot afford medicine. This isn’t just the uninsured. Health insurance companies refuse to cover the full cost of care, leaving ordinary Americans to make choices no one should have to make. Should I pay for insulin or the rent? Can I delay the start of my cancer medications due to cost?

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GOP’s new defense: Collusion is not so bad after all | Moran

Posted Oct 08, 2019

As the case against President Trump grows stronger by the day, some of his staunchest defenders are rallying around a new argument:

Yes, they concede, he asked Ukraine to dig for dirt on a political opponent, and yes, that was clearly wrong. But it wasn’t that wrong.

“The key question with Trump’s Ukraine call…is whether the president’s actions, advisable or not, rise to the level of an impeachable offense,” writes Tucker Carlson of Fox News in the Daily Caller. “It’s hard to argue they do.”

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Low Budget Reserves Make NJ Vulnerable if Economic Headwinds Kick Up

JOHN REITMEYER | OCTOBER 8, 2019

NJ Spotlight

Analysts are watching for signs of choppy seas ahead for the economy.

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New Jersey and many other states have been able to boost budget reserves during the long recovery from the Great Recession. But that doesn’t mean state budgets aren’t vulnerable to the next economic downturn — and perhaps New Jersey’s more than most because of its still relatively scant budget reserves.

A new analysis from The Pew Charitable Trusts raises several concerns for states as they get ready to face the next possible recession, including how a major downturn could impact already volatile revenue sources like the income tax, which is a major source of funding for New Jersey’s budget.

Meanwhile, a recent report by Fitch Ratings, a Wall Street credit-rating firm, suggested states could begin to lose out on federal funding if a recession triggers belt-tightening by the federal government. By contrast, New Jersey received millions in aid from the federal government in the aftermath of the 2007-2009 Great Recession, initially helping it avoid major cuts to things like K-12 school aid.

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N.J. black leaders patronized by Murphy officials, top African-American Democrat says

Posted Oct 07, 2019

New Jersey’s leading black state lawmaker sent a sharply worded letter to Gov. Phil Murphy last week saying the Democrat’s administration and other top state officials patronize black leaders and haven’t done enough to address their concerns.

State Sen. Ronald Rice, a fellow Democrat, wrote that the state’s black elected officials, as well as civil rights and faith leaders, “continue to be taken for granted in a manner not dissimilar to the way black voters and brown and black people in general, are often dismissed on a daily basis.”

Murphy said Monday he “vehemently” disagrees with Rice’s letter, which was first reported by NJ Globe.

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Don’t like the tax deduction cap? A simple solution | Editorial

Posted Oct 07, 2019

Having the highest property taxes in the nation is bad. But credit where it’s due: President Trump has made it worse.

To help pay for his trillions of dollars in tax cuts that overwhelmingly benefitted the wealthy, he targeted a tax break primarily used by the middle class in New Jersey.

Trump capped the write-off for state and local taxes, known as SALT, to $10,000. Many people pay more than that, especially in high-tax blue states like ours. Now they can’t deduct it from their federal returns.

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NJ in New Regional Effort to Cap Vehicle Emissions

TOM JOHNSON | OCTOBER 7, 2019 

NJ Spotlight

The proposal is for a cap on emissions from the transportation sector

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In what could amount to the most significant regional effort yet to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, 12 states have issued a draft policy framework to create a cap-and-trade program to reduce global warming pollution from vehicles.

The proposal, developed by the Transportation & Climate Initiative (TCI), is modeled somewhat after the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a cap-and-trade program that for the past decade has helped clamp down on carbon pollution from power plants.

This draft framework, while sparse in details, proposes to put a cap on emissions from the transportation sector by requiring state fuel suppliers to buy allowances, which would be auctioned off for the right to emit carbon.

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