Murphy veto of cannabis bills increasingly likely as impasse on legalization continues

01/26/2021

Politico

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy listens during his daily news conference. 

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With a Feb. 8 deadline looming, New Jersey lawmakers and Gov. Phil Murphy aren’t anywhere close to a final agreement to legalize cannabis after two previous deals fell through.

Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin don’t want Murphy to veto legalization and decriminalization bills that have been sitting on his desk since mid-December.

But if the Assembly holds a quorum as scheduled on Feb. 8, Murphy will be forced to either sign the legislation, let it become law without his signature or veto it. The latter option is almost certainly the one he’ll take.

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Bridget Kelly returns to public life with run for Bergen clerk

By Nikita BiryukovJanuary 25 2021

New Jersey Globe

Bridget Anne Kelly.

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Bridget Kelly, the former Christie aide who sent the infamous “time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee” email that energized the Bridgegate hearings, is making a return to public life with a run for Bergen County clerk.

Kelly, 48, enters into the race with a slew of disadvantages.

Though the U.S. Supreme Court vacated her conviction last May and those of others caught in the scandal, it did so because no money changed hands, as required for federal-program and wire fraud charges on which Kelly and others were convicted

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NJ Transit is making over network of local bus routes and needs your ideas

Posted Jan 25, 2021

NJ Transit launched its redesign of 38 bus routes that radiate from Newark to destinations as far away as Somerville, Hackensack and Parsippany, starting with an online survey and the beginning of meetings with community members.

For those who don’t have access to computers or the internet, NJ Transit will directly reach out to community and faith-based groups in the greater Newark area with the support of the city to better understand their members needs, said Jim Smith, an agency spokesman.

NJ Transit also plans to work with educational institutions, businesses and community leaders to help identify needs for the bus network and the best way to connect with their constituents, he said.

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Internationally known sculptor honors nurses with ice carvings during N.J. downtown event

Posted Jan 25, 2021

Roger Wing sculpts in wood, stone, bronze, ice, sand and sometimes snow. He lives in Philadelphia, but since he started carving ice in 1997 he’s been in competitions around the globe, most recently in Beijing, China, last year where he took home medals in three of the four events he competed in — a bronze, a silver and a gold.

Saturday, he was in New Jersey during the Haddonfield Winterfest Sidewalk Sale, to use his well-honed skills to honor front line workers of the COVID-19 pandemic, turning two 300-pound blocks of ice into two separate sculptures, the first one honoring nurses.

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For NJ schools, state funding for 2021-22 comes with ‘a lot of unknowns’

JOHN MOONEY, EDUCATION WRITER | JANUARY 26, 2021

NJ Spotlight News

Sept. 25, 2020 at Red Bank Middle School

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With everything else going on, New Jersey’s public schools are also about to enter a most-unusual budget season for the next school year, with a range of questions looming, both familiar and not.

A fundamental question facing them like never before, of course, is what will schooling even look like whenever New Jersey comes out of the pandemic.

But as local districts draft their budgets for 2021-2022, more familiar questions are arising over what share the state will bear of both existing costs and extraordinary ones.

So far, there have been few clear signals either way, as Gov. Phil Murphy starts finalizing his state budget to be presented a month away, on Feb. 23.

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How Biden’s first executive orders will impact NJ residents

COLLEEN O'DEA, SENIOR WRITER | JANUARY 25, 2021

NJ Spotlight News

Jan. 20, 2021: President Joe Biden midway through signing many executive orders in the Oval Office of the White House.

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Protections for immigrants, more help for the state and for people reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic, and a full U.S. census count of all residents are just some of the provisions of executive orders President Joe Biden signed during his first days in office that will impact New Jersey.

In his first 48 hours in office last week, Biden signed some 30 orders, many undoing changes made by President Donald Trump. Most of Biden’s moves last week have the potential for helping at least some in New Jersey, even if in only small ways, while others will have a direct and meaningful impact on residents’ lives.

On Friday, Biden signed an order implementing a number of financial assistance measures to help those struggling through the pandemic. Among its provisions, the order asks the U.S. Department of Agriculture to expand and extend benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which about 791,000 New Jerseyans receive, and requests the Treasury Department to speed stimulus payments to those who have not yet received them.

The president also issued an order that extends the pause on federal student loan payments without interest accruing through Sept. 30 for the hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyans with outstanding loan debt.

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N.J.’s COVID vaccine appointment call center goes live Monday

Posted Jan 24, 2021

A toll-free phone line will go live Monday to help people who who don’t have a computer make an appointment for a coronavirus vaccine.

The call center’s number, 855-568-0545, says in a Sunday recording that live agents will be taking calls starting the week of Jan. 25.

North Jersey.com reported the call center was launching Monday at 8 a.m., staffed with 250 agents.

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With Hunger Rising, Newark Soup Kitchen Persists in Face of Budget Shortfall

Brother Paul Miller (left) Chef Ron Jacob (center) and board director Melissa Hillier (right) in the serving area of the Franciscan Charities kitchen. They serve guests outdoors now due to COVID-19.

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NEWARK, NJ — On any given Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday afternoon, the volunteer staff of Franciscan Charities can be found greeting their “friends,” or the individuals who rely on them for meals, outside the basement of St. Anne’s Catholic Church on South 6th Street. 

One of the few soup kitchens still operating in Newark, the organization has established itself as a mainstay since it was established by Brother Paul Miller in 2004. Now, with so many in Newark falling on hard times due to COVID-19, Franciscan Charities is going full steam ahead despite its own financial obstacles. 

“In March, [my staff] called me and said we were going to have to close. I said, ‘I don’t care if I have to put peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the back of my car. We’re not closing.,” Miller told TAPinto Newark. 

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Gov. Murphy: ‘We built a vaccine infrastructure that can handle this job. We need the doses’

LILO H. STAINTON, HEALTH CARE WRITER | JANUARY 25, 2021 

NJ Spotlight News

Jan. 8, 2021: Health care workers prepare to give COVID-19 vaccinations at the Morris County vaccination site in Rockaway.

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A confusing, disconnected sign-up system for the COVID-19 vaccine. Appointments that vanish in an instant. Anxiety and confusion over the process and timeline at nursing homes.

Gov. Phil Murphy insists he hears these concerns and understands the public frustration with the current pace of New Jersey’s immunization program. The problem is the federal government, Murphy said again last week, which failed to supply enough doses to the state or expedite the vaccine rollout in long-term care facilities.

“We completely get it, we completely understand the anxiety of so many residents who are waiting to be vaccinated,” Murphy said during a regular media briefing Friday. “But I cannot be any clearer — we built a vaccine infrastructure that can handle this job. We need the doses.”

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New Jersey confirms first 2 cases of new Covid strain originally found in U.K.

01/22/2021

Politico

New Jersey has recorded more than 584,000 Covid cases since March and nearly 21,000 confirmed or suspected coronavirus-related deaths. 

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New Jersey health officials on Friday confirmed the state’s first two cases of the new and more contagious variant of the coronavirus that was first reported in the United Kingdom.

“Today, we are reporting that two confirmed, Covid-19 variant cases involving the B.1.1.7, or the U.K. variant, have been identified in New Jersey,” Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said during Gov. Phil Murphy’s regular press briefing in Trenton.

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