Biden gets 117 N.J. convention delegates; Sanders at 4

By David Wildstein and Harrison W. LavelleJuly 16 2020

New Jersey Globe

Former Vice President of the United States Joe Biden with supporters at a pre-Wing Ding march from Molly McGowan Park in Clear Lake, Iowa, August 9, 2019.

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Joe Biden won at least 117 delegates in last week’s New Jersey Democratic primary, with Bernie Sanders in line to win four district delegates and six more contests too close to call.

Biden currently leads Sanders statewide by an 85.86% to 13.72% margin, giving the former vice president and presumptive nominee a sweep of New Jersey’s 28 At-Large and 15 Party Leader and Elected Official (PLEO) delegates.

In contests for 84 district delegate seats in 20 delegate districts, Biden has won 74 of the seats.

Sanders needed to win 15% of the vote in a delegate district to claim at least one delegate, and looks to have done so in four of the state’s 20 delegate districts.

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Another Reopening Dilemma for NJ Schools: Students, Teachers Afraid to Come Back

JOHN MOONEY | JULY 16, 2020

NJ Spotlight

There’s no clarity yet on how schools will deal with parents’ uncertainty over whether they want their chiildren to go back to brick-and-mortar school.

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Reopening schools in New Jersey may  be more than a month away, but districts and families are already facing some fundamental first-day questions.

When the doors open, will families have to send their children if the COVID-19 pandemic is still here, as is all but certain? What about teachers? And how will schools deal with decisions by parents and teachers about coming back?

Those are some of the wild cards that districts are contemplating as they develop reopening plans for September, regardless of the form they take.

The quandary is clear. Gov. Phil Murphy has declared that come September schools must be open for in-school instruction, at least to some degree. But it’s up to local districts and communities to decide how they meet that requirement, as long as they follow health and safety rules that include social distancing and wearing face coverings.

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Trump Raises New Objections to Subpoena Seeking His Tax Returns

By William K. Rashbaum and 

THE NEW YORK TIMES

July 15, 2020

President Trump and the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., have been locked in a battle over the tax records for almost a year.Credit...

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Days after the U.S. Supreme Court delivered a defeat to President Trump, clearing the way for the Manhattan district attorney to seek his tax returns, his lawyers on Wednesday renewed their efforts to block or at least narrow access to the records.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers wrote to the federal judge in Manhattan who originally presided over the case, saying they planned to argue that the district attorney’s subpoena seeking eight years of his corporate and personal tax returns was too broad and politically motivated.

The filing came less than a week after the Supreme Court struck down Mr. Trump’s previous argument — that the subpoena was invalid because a sitting president could not be criminally investigated.

In the new filing, Mr. Trump’s lawyers noted that the high court’s decision allowed him to raise other objections: that the subpoena was “motivated by a desire to harass or is conducted in bad faith,” and that it would impede his constitutional duties.

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N.J. can ‘go after’ travelers who violate coronavirus quarantine, Murphy says

Posted Jul 15, 2020

New Jersey, unlike New York, isn’t threatening fines if travelers from states considered coronavirus hotspots don’t comply with a tri-state advisory to quarantine for 14 days.

So what’s to stop some “knucklehead” trekking to New York from flying into Newark Liberty International Airport to avoid getting whacked with a $2,000 penalty?

Gov. Phil Murphy was asked that question Tuesday afternoon during a radio interview. The governor insisted New Jersey’s health commissioner, Judith Persichilli, has the power to impose some sort of punishment — though he didn’t specify what.

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Food Banks Brace for New Surge in Demand if Federal Jobless Money Ends

JON HURDLE | JULY 16, 2020

NJ Spotlight

Many low- and middle-income families have been relying on food banks and other services during the pandemic.

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Reginald Amos visited the St. James Food Pantry in Newark to help feed his family from time to time over the last four years or so, but he’s been going a lot more often since the coronavirus hit.

Amos lost his job as an agency security guard when many businesses shut down in late March, and with no income — and still no payments from his application in March for state jobless benefits — he has become increasingly dependent on food assistance from the pantry, which is operated by the St. James Social Service Corporation.

Needing to feed a wife and three children, aged 11, 4 and 6 months, Amos, 36, has relied on the food provided by St. James, and expects to do so unless or until he gets a call from the security-guard agency to return to work. The pantry has allowed him to put food on his table during a time of deep economic distress, and has provided a full range of groceries, for which he is very grateful. “They gave me a whole box of Italian sausage,” he said.

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$600 weekly jobless benefit will likely lapse before more aid is passed

Congress will likely allow the $600-a-week boost in unemployment benefits to expire at the end of this month if lawmakers follow Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's proposed timeline for the next round of pandemic aid.

When the Senate returns to Washington from recess next Monday, McConnell said he will begin "socializing" the GOP's next rescue package and start the legislative process with Democrats. He said during an event in Corbin, Ky., Monday he expects that a bill will come together "sometime within the next three weeks, beginning next week."

The $600 additional weekly unemployment benefit created under the March CARES Act is set to expire in the weeks “ending on or before July 31.” But because most jobless benefit payments end on Saturdays, economists say the last payment will actually land on the week ending July 25.

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NJ Speeds Ahead with Plan to Borrow up to $9.9 Billion Without Asking Voters

JOHN REITMEYER | JULY 14, 2020 

NJ Spotlight

Gov. Phil Murphy had pressed lawmakers to authorize the borrowing power in order for his administration to address the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

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A revamped version of emergency borrowing legislation that would allow Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration to borrow nearly $10 billion without voter approval easily cleared its first committee hurdle Tuesday.

Members of the Democratic-controlled Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee advanced the measure along party lines in an 8-3 vote after nearly an hour of debate, setting the stage for final approval in both full houses of the Legislature on Thursday.

Murphy, a first-term Democrat, has pressed lawmakers to give him the power to borrow without first going to voters as part of the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and the revenue losses it has triggered. He is expected to act quickly once the measure reaches his desk.

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‘Burn Your Masks’ Message Boggles Crisis-Minded Murphy

By Fred Snowflack | July 13, 2020

Insider NJ

Gov. Phil Murhpy

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No, protestors really weren’t burning masks outside Phil Murphy’s Middletown home over the weekend. But it may have sounded that way.

The governor probably raised many virtual eyeballs at his Monday briefing when he spoke of a “Burn Your Mask” rally outside his Middletown home. Later, he explained that no masks were set aflame although “Burn your Masks” was the name of the rally.

He shrugged it off as something that has happened before during the pandemic.

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Trump’s attack on international students is a new low | Editorial

Posted Jul 13, 2020

Last year, there were 9,000 international students from 130 countries educated on Rutgers’ three campuses.

At Princeton, there were another 2,400 foreign kids, which represents one quarter of that university’s enrollment.

There are about 23,456 foreign students who attend college in New Jersey in 2019, and they do it because our state appeals to young people seeking superior instruction, a welcoming environment, an urbane culture, and, until recently, a good labor market.

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NJ Hospitals Say Insurance Companies Have Denied More than 1,000 Claims for COVID-19 Care

LILO H. STAINTON | JULY 14, 2020 

NJ Spotlight

One hospital also reported nearly 1,500 denials related to coronavirus testing services.

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Hospitals in New Jersey say they are not always being properly paid by health insurance companies for caring for coronavirus patients, despite state and federal requirements that health plans must cover a wide range of costs related to COVID-19 testing.

Thirty acute care facilities reported more than 1,000 claims related to coronavirus patients were denied by various health insurance companies between March and the end of June, according to the New Jersey Hospital Association. In half the cases, the company questioned the medical necessity of the treatment, the association, a trade organization representing the 71 acute care hospitals, nursing homes and other facilities hospitals, said.

One hospital alone also reported nearly 1,500 denials related to testing services, regardless of the requirements these services be covered, the association said. More than half of these denials involved an invalid payment code, the hospital told the association, and others were connected to patients who tested negative for COVID-19.

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