Trenton drama ends with Coughlin criticizing GOP, State Police

By MATT FRIEDMAN 12/02/2021

Politico

New Jersey Assemblymember Brian Bergen, left, stands with fellow GOP Assemblymember Erik Peterson, right, who speaks and gestures toward New Jersey State troopers blocking GOP lawmakers from entering the Assembly chamber one Dec. 2.

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TRENTON — A chaotic scene unfolded in the Assembly on Thursday as Republican members who refused to comply with a new vaccine-or-test mandate staged a sit-in in the Assembly chambers, delaying the start of the first lame-duck voting session by two-and-a-half hours before Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin relented, gaveled it in and gave an angry speech.

“The only thing that was asked of the legislators here today to do was to show that they weren’t infected, to care about their colleagues and the people in the chamber,” Coughlin (D-Middlesex) said. ”I’m outraged. ... Twenty-eight members of the minority caucus could not be bothered to exhibit the decency or humanity, all to have a couple minutes on the TV news.”

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Newark mayor: Court system must do a better job of monitoring teens after their arrest | Opinion

Published: Dec. 02, 2021

By Mayor Ras J. Baraka

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka says instead of ordering troubled kids home after their arrest the county courts and juvenile monitoring system need to recognize that resources exist in the city to help these students and begin to order these young people into these programs.
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The discussion over juvenile crime and justice needs to be started with hopefulness because to do otherwise does a disservice to the young people of this city and the city itself.

In 2020, our high schools were first in a national study of 50 cities that measured the number of students who exceeded expectations based on socioeconomic and racial statistics.

This year, four Newark High Schools won the national Great Schools College Gold Award, for continuously preparing students for successful university careers.

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N.J. Republicans go to court to block new COVID vaccine rules at Statehouse

Published: Dec. 01, 2021

Top Republicans in both the state Senate and Assembly went to court Wednesday seeking to block a new policy that requires all people — including lawmakers — to show either proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or a negative coronavirus test to enter the New Jersey Statehouse in Trenton.

State Sen. Steven Oroho and Assemblyman John DiMaio, who will lead their chambers’ Republican caucuses in the next legislative session, filed a lawsuit in State Superior Court against the State Capitol Joint Management Commission — the little-known state commission that approved the policy in October as New Jersey continues to deal with the pandemic that has killed more than 28,300 residents.

Republicans, the minority party in both houses of the state Legislature, say the policy — which took effect Wednesday — is an “unprecedented overreach by a state agency” and violates the rights and powers granted by the state Constitution to both the public and lawmakers, according to the filing.

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National Black Political Convention to Come to Newark This Spring, 50 Years After Groundbreaking Gathering

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NJ to restart graduation test, but what’s a passing mark?

JOHN MOONEY, EDUCATION WRITER | DECEMBER 2, 2021

NJ Spotlight News

A high school graduate waves after receiving her diploma.

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After a two-year hiatus for the COVID pandemic, New Jersey will be restarting its controversial high school graduation test this spring, going back to a language arts and math test that’s given in 11th grade.

But nothing is ever easy about starting a new test, as evidenced by the State Board of Education’s lively — if not unfamiliar — discussion Wednesday on exactly how rigorous the test should be.

Before the board was a proposal from the administration of Gov. Phil Murphy for setting a passing or “cut score” for the new test — called the New Jersey Graduation Proficiency Assessment (NJGPA) — that will be given to high school juniors this spring, starting in March, and be one of the measures for graduation a year later.

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Republican boycott over Statehouse covid safety rules is not what voters asked for | Editorial

Published: Nov. 30, 2021

Republicans in our state Assembly are threatening to boycott this week’s voting session if anyone in their 28-member caucus refuses to follow the COVID vaccine or test rule at the Statehouse, and is denied entry.

Yes, after winning new power with added seats coming in January, their first move was this: Refusing to do their jobs for the people who just elected them. Amazing.

With a rapid-result test option available for those who aren’t vaxed, it’s not clear what their problem is. The Legislature will even allow lawmakers to vote remotely by phone. So what’s the reasoning behind this?

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Newark School of Fashion & Design Students Take Top Honors in Fashion Competition

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With little public detail, NJ approves latest pandemic-relief spending

JOHN REITMEYER, BUDGET/FINANCE WRITER | DECEMBER 1, 2021 

NJ Spotlight News

New Jersey State House, Trenton

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The latest plan for spending some of New Jersey’s remaining federal pandemic aid allocates more funding for hospitals and eviction-prevention efforts while also underwriting several other initiatives, including land preservation and redevelopment programs.

Funding is also set aside for community center projects in Montclair and Pennsauken, according to a proposal that was approved by a special legislative budget panel on Tuesday.

A memo detailing the overall $262 million spending plan was first sent to lawmakers by Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration last week, just before the Thanksgiving holiday. And it took majority Democrats less than 30 minutes to give their final approval on Tuesday, with one key lawmaker suggesting many of the line items came directly from the Legislature.

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Omicron ‘will land in our laps,’ Murphy says

LILO H. STAINTON, HEALTH CARE WRITER | NOVEMBER 30, 2021 

NJ Spotlight News

The World Health Organization officially declared a new coronavirus variant in southern Africa “of concern,” naming it omicron.

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As omicron crept closer to the U.S. — with new travel bans announced Monday — New Jersey officials were preparing to deal with the latest COVID-19 variant here and urged residents to continue the familiar pandemic precautions, especially getting vaccinated.

“The reality is that as our region is a hub of international travel and commerce, we must be ready now in anticipation of this variant hitting us,” Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday at his weekly pandemic media briefing. “It is inevitable this new variant will land in our laps.”

Murphy said he was scheduled to talk to the White House on Monday evening about infection control precautions at Newark International Airport, an easy vector for global disease. Federal officials restricted flights from South Africa — which first identified the omicron variant last week — and other African nations in the region to reduce the potential for spread in this country. The new strain has been found in half a dozen European nations and in a Canadian case on Monday.

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GOP lawmakers who defy new COVID rules for N.J. Statehouse access could be shut out, top cop says

Published: Nov. 29, 2021

The head of the State Police said Monday people trying to enter the Statehouse who refuse to show proof of being vaccinated against COVID-19 or a negative coronavirus test will likely be denied access to the building under a new rule that goes into effect on Wednesday.

And that could include lawmakers.

The statement from Acting State Police Superintendent Col. Patrick Callahan came after Republican lawmakers cried foul over the rule they argue is unconstitutional. Some lawmakers have said they will refuse to abide by the rule when they arrive in Trenton on Thursday for voting sessions.

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