North Jersey News Roundup for July 27, 2020

OPINION: The vote-by-mail primary held July 7 in New Jersey increased the number of people who voted. But the process was far from a success. Now is the time for New Jersey to settle these issues so come this fall, voters have confidence their ballots will be counted in a timely manner if they are cast at a mailbox or a polling station.

The decision by Gov. Phil Murphy to delay the reopening of indoor dining caught some health data and infection control specialists off guard at the New Jersey Department of Health, even if they agreed with the decision. At least three of Murphy’s biggest decisions in the reopening process—the pause on indoor dining, requiring face masks outdoors and plans to allow an online schooling option—were made with little or no consultation with the public health experts. The Record

New Jersey is seeking to increase testing capacity and availability in the state as turnaround time continues to climb for coronavirus tests. New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli announced a request for proposal to fund hospital laboratories that will increase COVID-19 testing capacity and availability in the state. The total funding for this initiative is $94 million.

U.S. Senate Republicans are to release their proposal for the next coronavirus relief bills. The $1 trillion bill features another round of direct $1,200 payments to many Americans, $100 billion in aid to schools and universities, and additional money for coronavirus testing. State and local governments would get no additional aid, though the Republican proposal will grant them more flexibility in using existing federal assistance. The Wall Street Journal

State education officials announced further guidelines for the new school year, making it clear that all families will have the option of keeping their children home this fall. The supplementary guidelines state all children will be eligible for remote learning regardless of their risk for contracting the coronavirus. Districts have to make this option available for special-needs students as well.

The Paterson teachers’ union president wants to hold off reopening school buildings until at least January due to the coronavirus pandemic. The president of the Paterson Education Association prefers all-remote learning to the hybrid model as he believes opening schools in September will result in recurring shutdowns when students and staffers test positive for the coronavirus.

Several measures proposed by North Jersey lawmakers were included in a $740.5 billion defense policy bill approved by both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. A measure to combat foreign terrorist organizations from spreading extremist propaganda on social media was among the 10 measures Rep. Josh Gottheimer inserted in the House bill, while Sen. Bob Menendez includes one providing Congressional oversight of U.S. talks with Taliban officials and Afghanistan’s peace process. 

A proposed New Jersey law would bar former prosecutors from running for any elective office until three years after they’ve left those jobs. State Sen. Richard Codey’s bill would require the attorney general, the first assistant attorney general, all county prosecutors, assistant prosecutors and the four members of the State Commission of Investigation to wait at least three years until they’ve resigned to run for office. PoliticoNJ

New Jersey is suing to stop President Donald Trump’s plan to not count undocumented immigrants in the process that decides how many representatives each state sends to Congress. “The President’s plainly illegal action not only dehumanizes members of our community but also seeks to punish states like New Jersey with larger immigrant populations,” state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said.

The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission has added more online transactions. Residents can now go online to register renewals for historic vehicles, government vehicles and vehicles used by blind and disabled veterans. The move comes as the department tries to reduce the number of in-person required visits to centers during the pandemic. News12 New Jersey

The entire Rutgers football program is in quarantine and all in-person team activities are on pause after six new cases of the coronavirus were confirmed. The team returned to campus about six weeks ago. The Daily Record

New Jersey is seeking public input on a proposed $95 million project to improve traffic flow in Morris County by creating a junction between a heavily congested portion of Route 15 and Interstate 80. Commuters traveling on I-80 east wanting to connect to Route 15 south into Wharton—the main access to the Rockaway Townsquare Mall—will exit off a newly constructed ramp, according to the NJ DOT’s plans. New Jersey Herald

And finally…The great Regis Philbin passed away a month shy of turning 89. The New York Times

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