Landmark law to protect N.J.'s poorest communities from pollution signed by Murphy

Posted Sep 18, 2020

New Jerseyans who have long been subjected to heavy burdens of pollution — particularly poor communities of color in Garden State cities — now have new protections.

Gov. Phil Murphy joined U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, and dozens of state lawmakers, local leaders and environmental justice advocates in Newark Friday morning to sign a landmark law aimed at protecting vulnerable communities from future pollution.

The signing ceremony was held at Raymond Brown Park, a place that epitomizes such a community. The small green space is on the side of bustling Route 21, at the edge of the city’s Ironbound neighborhood. The area transitions quickly from residences to heavy industry.

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Audible hires Newark economic development champ to help invest in cities across the globe

Posted Sep 17, 2020

When restaurants in Newark closed to keep the coronavirus at bay, Audible tapped into its mostly unused global travel budget to buy $1 million worth of meals from local eateries and donated them to residents.

“We can’t let these restaurants go down for the rest of time and never come back and all these jobs go away,” said Audible’s founder and executive chairman, Don Katz. “We can’t allow people to be actually without food in a society like ours, in a place like Newark.”

Audible’s Newark Working Kitchens initiative is just one type of program that would fall under its newly-created Global Center for Urban Development. Aisha Glover will leave her position as CEO of the nonprofit Newark Alliance to head the office on Oct. 1 as Audible’s vice president of urban innovation, working to bring programs like the meal drive worldwide.

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Almost all Newark students now have laptops, district says, but tech challenges remain

PATRICK WALL, CHALKBEAT NEWARK | SEPTEMBER 18, 2020

NJ Spotlight News

More than 98% of Newark Public Schools students now have devices for remote learning, an official said this week.

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Nearly every student in the Newark school system now has a device for online learning, a district official said Wednesday — a significant achievement in a city where thousands of students lacked laptops, and funding constraints and shipment delays have complicated efforts to equip students for virtual learning.

More than 98% of the district’s roughly 37,000 students now have access to a laptop or tablet, the official said. That’s a marked improvement from March, when nearly 30% of students needed devices for virtual learning after classrooms closed. In order to get students online, the district has given out more than 16,000 new and used laptops since the spring, according to data obtained through a public records request.

“The Newark Board of Education is very proud of the efforts that they’ve put forward in ensuring that every student has a device and has internet access,” Edwin Mendez, the district’s attendance director, said during an online presentation Wednesday.

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New Jersey leaders reach deal to enact tax hike on millionaires

09/17/2020

Politico

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy speaks during his 2021 budget address at SHI Stadium at Rutgers University, Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020, in Piscataway, NJ.

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More than three years after first promising to raise taxes on New Jersey‘s millionaires — an issue helped sour his relationship with the Legislature and nearly led to a state government shutdown — Gov. Phil Murphy is about to get his wish.

It just took a pandemic that has sickened roughly 200,000 New Jerseyans, killed about 16,000, put more than 1 million out of work — as well as a compromise to send most of the revenue that will be generated from the tax back to residents of more modest means.

“We do not hold any grudge at all at those who have been successful in life, but in this unprecedented time when so many middle-class families and others have sacrificed so much, now is the time to ensure that the wealthiest among us are also called to sacrifice," Murphy said Thursday during a press conference, standing next to Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin and Senate President Steve Sweeney, for years Murphy’s main adversary on the issue.

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Presidential Politics has Huge Implications in CD2’s Van Drew v. Kennedy

By Christine Sloan | September 16, 2020

Insider NJ

President Donald Trump and Representative Jeff Van Drew

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Earlier this year, before the pandemic pushed the nation into a lockdown, thousands of Trump supporters filled the Wildwood Convention Center in South Jersey, many wearing their trademark red hats, others holding signs saying, “Make America Great Again.”

President Donald Trump was in the 2nd Congressional District where he’d once owned casinos, to give Incumbent Congressman Jeff Van Drew a boost in his Republican primary. Van Drew, a long-time Democrat had switched parties becoming a Republican after his 2018 win, pledging his allegiance to Trump.

Up North, across some of New Jersey’s suburban and urban districts, many watched the rally coverage on TV feeling kind of baffled, wondering how Trump could have so many die-hard supporters down in Jersey’s southern corners.

 

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Facing ‘tsunami’ of evictions, renters to get more legal help

JON HURDLE | SEPTEMBER 17, 2020 

NJ Spotlight News

 

Tens of thousands of renters facing the threat of eviction because of a pandemic-related drop in income will have a better chance of getting legal representation and housing counseling after two advocacy groups received grants totaling $2.35 million from the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund.

On Thursday, the fund plans to  announce that the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey will get almost $1.89 million to increase counseling and outreach services to tenants at risk of eviction because of COVID-19. Another nonprofit, Volunteer Lawyers for Justice, will receive $465,000, allowing it to hire four lawyers who will work entirely on eviction issues and train 200 pro bono volunteer lawyers.

Increased legal representation for many low-income renters will allow more of them to be represented in court eviction actions brought by landlords who are already much more likely to have their own lawyers on hand. Many renters are unaware of their rights and are therefore more vulnerable to eviction, advocates say.

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Trump now says he 'up-played' virus threat after having told Woodward he wanted to 'play it down'

BY BRETT SAMUELS 

President Trump on Tuesday claimed that he "up-played" the severity of the coronavirus pandemic, despite telling Bob Woodward in March that he "wanted to always play it down."

The president was asked during an ABC News town hall in Pennsylvania why he minimized COVID-19 when the virus has proved to be particularly lethal for communities of color.

"I didn't downplay it. I actually, in many ways, I up-played it, in terms of action," Trump said. "My action was very strong."

 

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Will N.J. face a state shutdown over new budget? Murphy doesn’t think so.

Posted Sep 15, 2020

It’s crunch time in Trenton, as New Jersey leaders have only 15 days left to negotiate a new, revised state budget — including possible tax hikes and $4 billion in borrowing — before the Sept. 30 deadline.

But Gov. Phil Murphy said Tuesday he expects to meet that deadline and avoid a state government shutdown — which has been a threat each of the last three years because of disagreements over tax increases between the governor and his fellow Democrats who lead the state Legislature.

“The spirit of the conversations have been really good with both chambers, with leadership, with teams,” Murphy told NJ Advance Media during after an unrelated event in South Amboy. “I fully expect we’ll have a budget by Sept. 30. We’d be very disappointed — and I think we all would be — if it were to go beyond that.”

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New tax hike for businesses? NJ unemployment fund may need help

JOHN REITMEYER, BUDGET REPORTER | SEPTEMBER 15, 2020

NJ Spotlight News

Department of Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo testifies before Senate committee Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020.

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Employers across the state could be facing a tax hike next year to make sure the fund that pays out unemployment benefits in New Jersey remains solvent.

A final review of the numbers is still months away, but Department of Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo told lawmakers Tuesday an increase in the assessment the state requires employers contribute toward unemployment benefits is likely looming without federal intervention.

“We are hopeful that there’s going to be (federal) relief for trust funds,” Asaro-Angelo said during a Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee hearing in Trenton.

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Murphy signs bill extending workers comp to essential workers who got coronavirus

Posted Sep 14, 2020

A bill signed by Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday will make it easier for essential workers in New Jersey who contract the coronavirus to qualify for workers' compensation.

The new law, retroactive to March 9, removes a requirement that essential workers who came down with the coronavirus to prove they did so on the job.

As of Monday, N.J. reported 196,968 coronavirus cases.

Typically, in order to receive workers' compensation in New Jersey, an employee must prove they suffered a job-related illness or injury. This new law creates a presumption during the ongoing public health crisis that essential employees' illnesses are related to their work.

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