His election loss stunned Democrats. Now he might run for governor.

TRENTON, N.J. — New Jersey Senate president Steve Sweeney was near the peak of his power before a virtually-unknown Republican, Ed Durr, left tire tracks across his political career.

The loss was stunning. But Sweeney won’t go quietly.

He’s pushing big bills in his final days in office. He’s planning to open a think tank. And, privately, he’s telling power players that he will run for governor in 2025.

“I won't be a senator,” Sweeney said in an interview. “But that doesn't mean I can't have a voice.”

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Newark’s Proof of Vaccination Requirement Goes Into Effect Today. What Residents Need to Know

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Healthcare Workers Feel the Lash of Letting COVID Rip

By Bob Hennelly | January 9, 2022

Insider NJ

Donald Trump may have lost the election, but his laissez-faire worldview that believes commerce takes precedence over protecting workers’ health in the midst of a global pandemic has carried the day.

From the White House to City Hall, elected officials of both political parties are terrified of the American people’s anger if they impose a mask mandate again, even as Omicron infections surge and deaths creep up from their low points just months ago.

Consider the major drop in flu cases from the fall of 2020 through the end of January in 2021 when we were wearing masks. According to the CDC, it logged 1,316 flu cases during that period, compared to 130,000 cases over the year before.

Even as our hospitals are overwhelmed, the messaging is that the latest variant from South Africa is far less lethal than its predecessor and is likely to dissipate as fast as it spiked.

Why shut down a perfectly good economy to stop the spread of a virus, especially if the people most likely to die are the unvaccinated? They made their choice. After all, this world view mistakenly believes what we have now is a “pandemic of the unvaccinated.”

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N.J.’s federal stimulus funds will have few strings attached, Biden administration says

Published: Jan. 09, 2022

There will be few strings attached to the $10.2 billion in federal funding New Jersey and its localities are getting under President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus spending bill.

That’s a marked difference to the $1.8 billion the state received in 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic began ravaging the U.S. economy. The rules issued then, which severely limited limited how that money could be spent, led Gov. Phil Murphy to threaten to “fight this to the death.”

This time around, the final rule issued by the U.S. Treasury Department under Biden allows states and localities to use the federal dollars for programs and services designed to respond to the pandemic, replace tax revenues lost when officials shut down businesses to avoid spreading COVID-19, provide premium pay to essential workers or replace salaries lost to pay cuts or furloughs, expand high-speed internet, invest in water and sewer projects, and expand housing, child care, schools and hospitals.

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Emotional Booker says he’s ‘never been more worried’ about democracy as he prods Senate on voting rights

Published: Jan. 08, 2022

Ahead of a planned vote next week to protect voting rights, U.S. Sen. Cory Booker marked the first anniversary of the Jan. 6 insurrection by pushing his colleagues to act.

Booker said that the Capitol riot by Donald Trump supporters, which included a Confederate flag, was part of a larger effort to stop Blacks and other minorities from voting.

And he said he was concerned because Republican-controlled state legislatures, responding to Trump’s false claim that the election was stolen, have rolled back voting rights, such as limiting early balloting or making it illegal to offer food or water to someone waiting on line to vote.

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N.J. Assembly to require negative COVID tests after Republicans protested vaccine policy

Published: Jan. 07, 2022

All members and staffers of the New Jersey Assembly will now be required to show a recent negative COVID-19 test result, regardless of their vaccination status, to attend the final two days of the current legislative session next week in Trenton, the chamber‘s leader announced Friday.

The move comes after a group of Republican members of the Democratic-controlled Assembly upended and prolonged two voting days last month with dramatic protests of the Statehouse’s vaccine policy, which requires all people to present either proof of vaccination or a recent negative test to enter the building.

The new plan is an apparent attempt to avoid another showdown as lawmakers gather Monday and Tuesday to end the state’s two-year legislative session.

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The next coup will not be televised | Editorial

Published: Jan. 06, 2022

Americans have been conditioned to see coups as violent takeovers featuring tanks and soldiers, who seize buildings and kidnap opponents and take marching orders from men wearing berets and Ray-Bans.

More recently, the most vivid image is a horde of disaffected white men charging a cathedral and pummeling cops with metal poles, all in service of a psychotic bully who sold them a lie about a stolen election.

But as we mark the first anniversary of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, it’s the next coup that we ignore at our peril.

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Families of Veterans Who Died of Covid Win $53 Million Legal Settlement

Madeline and Charles Costantino were among the 101 residents of a state-run nursing home for former soldiers who died as the coronavirus swept through the New Jersey facility. Credit...
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It was among the country’s deadliest coronavirus outbreaks: One in every three residents of a New Jersey nursing home for frail military veterans died as the virus raced unchecked through the state-run facility.

The 101 residents who died in the first eight months of the pandemic included both of Regina Costantino Discenza’s parents, who had been living at the complex, Menlo Park Veterans Memorial Home in Edison, N.J., for about two years when the virus began ravaging long-term care centers throughout the Northeast.

Three days after her father died, her mother tested positive for the virus.

“It was a horror show,” said Ms. Discenza, who inscribed the headstone at her parents’ grave with the words “2020 pandemic victims.”

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Murphy’s extended pandemic powers will cover far more than masks

LILO H. STAINTON, HEALTH CARE WRITER | JANUARY 6, 2022

NJ Spotlight News

Nov. 28, 2021: Gov. Phil Murphy received COVID-19 booster shot at Monmouth Medical Center.

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When Gov. Phil Murphy announced plans Monday to extend certain pandemic-related state orders to help guard against the latest COVID-19 spike, the public conversation focused largely on how it would mean three months more of face-masking at schools and child-care centers.

But the extension request — which the New Jersey Legislature is expected to approve Monday — would apply to far more than just those controversial mask mandates.

Murphy is asking lawmakers to grant 90-day extensions for nearly 120 government actions, including executive orders from his office and administrative orders, directives and waivers from roughly a dozen state agencies. Senate President Steve Sweeney, who leads the Democratic majority, said the request is under review and Republican leaders have urged caution, fearing a return to the lockdowns that accompanied the early pandemic.

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New Jersey Supreme Court asks Wallace to elaborate on redistricting decision

 Politico

01/04/2022

John Wallace Jr. addresses the media after the announcement that he has been nominated to the State Supreme Court of New Jersey in Princeton, N.J. on Saturday, April 12, 2003.

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The New Jersey Supreme Court, in the wake of a Republican challenge, has asked for a more thorough explanation from congressional redistricting tiebreaker John Wallace Jr. as to why he selected the Democrats’ map.

Wallace, a former state Supreme Court justice and registered Democrat, sided with Democratic redistricting commissioners on Dec. 22, saying he ultimately went with their map “simply because in the last redistricting map, it was drawn by the Republicans.”

Wallace said the Democratic and Republican proposals both met constitutional standards, complied with the Voting Rights Act and took most of his priorities into account, like making districts as compact as possible. The only advantage the Democrats’ map had, he said, was “partisan fairness.” However, Wallace said he didn’t base his decision on that factor.

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