North Jersey News Roundup for July 23, 2020

Gov. Phil Murphy, for the second time in as many days, attacked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his plan not to offer additional aid to states battling the COVID-19 crisis. “McConnell’s proposed stimulus bill, which refuses to offer any additional support to states, is a slap in the face to every Governor across the country—Republican and Democrat—who have shouldered the responsibility of responding to this pandemic,” said Murphy at his press briefing July 22.

Senate Republicans and the White House reached tentative agreement for more testing funds in the next COVID-19 relief package. The two sides settled on adding $16 billion to the unspent funds to reach $25 billion for testing as well as giving $105 billion to help schools reopen and $15 billion for child care centers to create safe environments for youngsters during the pandemic.

New Jersey has spent less than 3% of the almost $2.4 billion it has received from the federal government to cover general needs created by the COVID-19 pandemic. The state has spent $229 million from the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF), the federal assistance giving states and local governments the most flexibility to use the money to offset impacts from the novel coronavirus, and allocated another $51 million for spending. Gov. Phil Murphy recently said the state still need guidance from the federal government on what it is allowed to spend the money on. NJ Spotlight

At least three dozen families of residents and staff at state-run veterans homes in Paramus and Menlo Park plan to sue the state, alleging residents and workers became sick from the coronavirus due to “gross departures” from nursing home standards and infection control. Thirty of those claims against the Menlo Park administrators and staff claim damages of $5 million each. Five notices to the Paramus facility do not put a dollar amount on damages. The Record

The latest round of COVID-19 testing found less than 1% percent of residents and employees recently tested in New Jersey’s long-term care facilities were infected. When the state Department of Health told facility operators to begin routine testing in late May, 6% of nursing home residents and 3% of staff were positive for the virus.

State Sen. Kristin Corrado (R-40) stated the closure of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) facility in Wayne is a “slight” to drivers who are currently waiting in long lines. “This response is an overreaction by MVC and yet another example of the Murphy Administration being out of touch with the real world,” the state senator said. “There is no justification for locking the doors for more than a week.”

New Jersey will slowly resume jury trials in September, using a hybrid system of remote and in-person jury selection to ensure social distancing. The current plan is to start with a limited number of trials at county courthouses, based on the size of courthouses. Prospective jurors 65 years old or those with underlying medical conditions increasing their exposure to coronavirus would have their jury service deferred. New Jersey Globe

A poll by Fairleigh Dickinson University found New Jersey residents oppose the recent 36% increase in toll fees approved by the New Jersey Turnpike Authority. Of those surveyed, 50% didn’t trust the money would be used to improve the New Jersey Turnpike, Garden State Parkway or make other road repairs. The Daily Record

Preliminary data shows an increase in voter response for the primary in Sussex County. The July 7 election saw approximately 27.5% of registered voters in Sussex County cast a ballot, compared to 13% who voted in the 2019 primary. New Jersey Herald

GOP gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciattarelli is seeking to join the Republican State Committee’s lawsuit against Gov. Phil Murphy’s multi-billion dollar borrowing plan. The case was fast-tracked to the state Supreme Court by Chief Justice Stuart Rabner, who will decide whether Ciattarelli gets to join as a co-plaintiff. PoliticoNJ

Democratic State Committee employees will undergo mandatory harassment and workplace discrimination training and will refer all complaint investigations to an outside firm. The goal of the new Workplace Culture Program is to address the inequality experienced by people of color, women, the LGBTQ community and people with disability. A new advisory panel of prominent party leaders will guide the program, with the hope they will use it as a template for county and municipal committees and campaigns.

North Bergen officials are looking to extend the current rent increase moratorium. The board recently introduced an ordinance that would extend the rent increase moratorium preventing landlords from increasing rent on rent-controlled properties, including charges for parking, pets, or any other fees associated with dwelling units. Hudson Reporter

And finally…Major league baseball starts their 60-game season, with the New York Yankees taking on the defending world champions Washington Nationals.

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