Murphy may allow public health emergency to sunset next month

By Nikita BiryukovMay 14 2021

New Jersey Globe

Senate President Steve Sweeney, left, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, center, and Gov. Phil Murphy

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Gov. Phil Murphy will allow the state’s public health emergency to lapse next month if legislation providing his administration with unspecified powers to continue managing the pandemic reaches his desk before mid-June.

“Our Administration is working closely with Senate President Sweeney and Speaker Coughlin on legislation that will allow the public health emergency to expire, but ensure that we have the necessary tools and flexibility to continue the fight against the pandemic, including the vaccination efforts that are our highest priority,” he said Friday. “By working together, we are confident that we can move to the next phase of our recovery effort.”

Allowing the emergency declaration to lapse would deprive Murphy of executive powers he’s used broadly to respond to the pandemic since the state reported its first case of COVID-19 last March.

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Mayor Baraka: Some infrastructure challenges can be resolved by cities and counties | Opinion

Posted May 14, 2021

By Ras J. Baraka

Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka says city and county governments need to get creative and collaborative in solving their infrastructure challenges for the next generation. The cities and counties able to do so will make a much-needed dent in infrastructure improvement, while also creating economic opportunity for all residents. Above, workers replace water lines in Newark. 
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When it comes to generation-defining infrastructure programs, cities and counties can find the strength to implement real solutions to the governance challenges of our day by working together.

From our roads and bridges to our public utilities, to our schools, much of America’s infrastructure is crumbling. In its most recent report, The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) graded the country’s infrastructure as a C-, estimating that more than $6 trillion in improvements is needed over the next decade.

As we know in Newark, the latest American Water Works Association survey estimates that more than 6 million existing water pipes in the U.S. are lead service lines that connect municipal water supplies to homes and create an ongoing risk for lead to enter the drinking water of 15-22 million people.

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The feds are offering to help pay for an internet connection. Here’s who qualifies.

Posted May 14, 2021

The coronavirus pandemic forced schools and workplaces online. Now the federal government — which has grant programs for small businesses, restaurants and more — is going to help low-income households pay to get online.

Applications are now being accepted for the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, which provides a discount of up to $50 a month or an internet connection or the needed equipment. There’s also a one-time discount of up to $100 to help pay for a laptop, desktop or tablet.

The program was part of the $2.3 trillion coronavirus stimulus and government spending legislation approved in December that also included direct payments of $600 to most Americans.

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Former Gov. Whitman among 150 Republicans ready to ditch GOP for new political party over the ‘big lie’

Posted May 13, 2021

Former Gov. Christie Todd Whitman’s family farm in Hunterdon County, known as Pontefract, has been an epicenter of Republican politics for generations.

It’s where Whitman’s father lived as he headed the New Jersey Republican State Committee and became one its biggest benefactors. It’s where her mother served stints as president of the New Jersey Federation of Republican Women and vice chairwoman of the Republican National Committee.

It’s where Whitman planned her campaign to become New Jersey’s first female governor and where her daughter discussed her own unsuccessful campaigns for Congress and borough council.

But, on Thursday, sitting in her stately home in Tewksbury filled with GOP memorabilia, Whitman said it might be time to kill the Republican Party.

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With shots widely available, who’s not getting the vaccine?

LILO H. STAINTON, HEALTH CARE WRITER | MAY 14, 2021 

NJ Spotlight News

Young men — particularly Hispanic — are a key target of New Jersey’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign, along with Black residents and teenagers. Immunization rates are lowest among these segments of the population, according to state officials, even though some of these groups are at high risk for infection.

Gov. Phil Murphy and state health commissioner Judy Persichilli highlighted these demographics Wednesday as part of an update on New Jersey’s progress toward immunizing at least 4.7 million people against COVID-19 by July. Some 7.8 million doses have been administered through the state’s program and more than 3.7 million individuals are now fully vaccinated, state figures show.

“We continually look at the equity statistics,” Persichilli said. Black and Hispanic residents remain underrepresented when it comes to COVID-19 immunizations, she said, explaining that it is particularly crucial for the state to reach that “broad demographic” in its ongoing vaccination campaign, recently dubbed Operation Jersey Summer.

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Key federal approval for Gateway Tunnel - delayed for 3 years - is coming soon

Posted May 12, 2021

After waiting three years for it, a coveted federal approval that would allow engineering to start on the long awaited Gateway Tunnels under the Hudson River is expected to be issued in two weeks.

The “Record of Decision” approval of the Environmental Impact Statement and planned route for the two new rail tunnels between New Jersey and New York is expected from the U.S. Department of Transportation on May 28, said Balpreet Grewal-Virk, Gateway Development Commission Co-Chairwoman.

“We’re moving in the right direction. I’m referring to the USDOT approving the EIS so we complete the environmental process,” she said. “The ROD will potentially allow us to move forward on multiple things, including property acquisition and other early project work.”

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Newark Renters Can Apply for Financial Assistance Through This County Program

NEWARK, NJ — Renters and landlords in Newark financially burdened by the COVID-19 pandemic will be able to apply for aid through Essex County's Emergency Rental Assistance program, starting Thursday. 

Nearly $15 million is available to be awarded to applicants who need help paying rent or utility bills. An online portal will open on Thursday here to apply. Awards will be granted on a first come, first served basis, according to county officials. 

“Our Emergency Rental Assistance Program will help eligible residents and families catch up on their rent or utility arrears or pay their rent and/or utility bills prospectively," Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo said. "This ultimately will prevent individuals and families from getting evicted from their housing and becoming homeless."

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Landlords must tell tenants about lead in their water under new N.J. law

Posted May 11, 2021

Landlords across the Garden State are now required to tell tenants when their drinking water has high lead levels, thanks to a new law signed Tuesday by Gov. Phil Murphy.

Under the law, public water systems have 10 calendar days to notify their customers after a lead action level exceedance is confirmed. If a landlord receives such a notice, they then have three business days to notify their tenants of the issue.

The new law aims to improve public awareness of drinking water problems, particularly in communities with high rental rates. In Newark, where high-profile lead issues spurred leaders into action, 78% of city residents rent their homes.

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Essex County, Newark Authorities Address Use of Force Policy During Town Hall Meeting

Essex County Prosecutor Theodore Stephens
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NEWARK, NJ — After New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal last year announced the first revision to the statewide “Use of Force Policy” in two decades, Essex County authorities are now highlighting the new policy revisions with local police. 

The Essex County Prosecutor's Office, joined by local authorities including Newark Public Safety Director Brian O’Hara, hosted a virtual Town Hall event on Tuesday to discuss Use of Force Policy in the immediate area. The virtual town hall came amid “a string of troubling incidents nationwide” officials said, but also invited the public an opportunity to learn more about when use of force is appropriate and how it should be used. 

“I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that over the past few years, no aspect of law enforcement has been spotlighted as much as use of force,” Essex County Prosecutor Theodore Stephens said during the meeting. 

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Some Newarkers will get $500 a month - no strings attached - in pilot income program

Posted May 10, 2021

Newark families and individuals will begin receiving cash payments worth $500 a month with no restrictions on how they spend the money, under a guaranteed income trial program addressing housing insecurity, Mayor Ras Baraka announced on Monday.

The so-called Newark Movement for Economic Equity program will begin paying an initial group of 30 recipients as soon as this week, followed by another 370 households this fall, for a total of 400 participants in the two-year program, which is being paid for through private contributions from foundations and individuals.

Newark’s is one of 22 programs being launched by a nationwide coalition known as Mayors for a Guaranteed Income, which also includes Mayor André Sayegh of Paterson, who in March announced a similar program for his city.

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