North Jersey News Roundup for Aug. 14, 2020

The New Jersey Supreme Court, in a unanimous ruling, found the Murphy Administration nearly $10 billion borrowing plan is constitutional. Gov. Phil Murphy said the ruling allows the state to move forward to not only borrow the funds needed to protect vital jobs and programs In New Jersey critical to the ongoing response to the coronavirus pandemic, but the state’s economic recovery. The first-term Democratic governor said borrowing was needed due to the “inaction and indifference” in Washington.

Gov. Phil Murphy is expected to order a general election conducted almost entirely through vote-by-mail ballots (VBM) later today. Nearly 6.2 million voters would automatically receive VBM ballots for the November general election, with limited in-person polling locations available for voters requiring special assistance or for the casting of provisional ballots. Murphy is expected to expand the number of secure ballot drop box locations for the general election and continue to extend the number of days for ballots postmarked by Election Day to arrive at county election offices and be counted. New Jersey Globe

President Donald Trump made clear he opposes Democratic demands for additional funding for both the United States Post Office and election security measures because of his opposition to mail-in voting. “They need that money in order to have the post office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots,” the President said in an interview, referring to Democratic demands. “If they don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting because they’re not equipped to have it.” The New York Times

Morris County Board of Chosen Freeholders unanimously passed a resolution rejecting a mail-in voting system for the November Election and to consider safe COVID-19 options for in-person voting instead. The resolution states that predominate use of mail-in ballots during the recent primaries caused concerns for voter fraud and resulted in significant delays in the counting of ballots among other concerns. The freeholders suggest the state should consider going back to in-person machine voting, adding alternative ballot locations including outdoors, and authoring “multiple days” for voting to take place. The Daily Record

Rep. Josh Gottheimer admonished GOP senators who treat New Jersey as a “piggy bank” but are balking at helping the Garden State as it attempts to recover from the COVID-19 crisis. Gottheimer comments came during a zoom conference Aug. 12 focusing on grants the Congressional 5th district has received since he was elected in 2016, a return 108% of federal tax dollars to the district. “Jersey has been treated like the Moocher States’ piggy bank—by paying everyone else’s tab for their roads, bridges, and first responders, while our taxes keep going up,” said the congressman. “It’s a joke and it’s why we are fighting so hard for these grants and resources, to help even the playing field here.”

Joe Biden called for a national mandate requiring Americans to wear masks in order to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Biden said every American should wear a mask while outside for at least the next three months and that all governors should mandate mask wearing. “It’s not about your rights, it’s about your responsibilities as an American,” stated Biden. The New York Times

The state Department of Health (DOH) released its coronavirus guidelines for schools, breaking down counties into six regions and using a color coding system for risk level. Every week, the DOH will provide information to each of the regions and categorize risk with a color coding system: Green represents low risk, yellow is moderate, orange is high, and red is very high. If or when regions reach the red, schools are recommended go to full remote learning. The category a region falls in will be based on the number of cases, positivity percentage and syndromic surveillance in the past week. News12 New Jersey

New Jersey state officials recently unveiled steps for nursing homes and long-term care facilities to safely reopen to visitors and resume normal activities. The standards—which are based on guidance from the state health department and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—include weekly testing for staff, mandates for resident testing, updated outbreak plans, a thorough communication strategy during an emergency with residents and their families, increased infection control measures, detailed cleaning procedures and requirements for stockpiling personal protective equipment.

Nearly two-thirds of women said they have experienced harassment working in New Jersey politics, from unwanted touching to sexually suggestive comments to sexual assault, according to a survey released by New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault. The “Survey on Misogyny & Sexual Misconduct in New Jersey Politics” found nearly two-thirds of respondents said they had witnessed misconduct, as the most common reports of harassment came from elected officials. The Record

Another 13,822 New Jersey workers filed new unemployment claims last week as the number of first-time claims continues to trend downward, according to the state Labor Department. New claims for the week ending Aug. 8 represent the lowest weekly total since the coronavirus pandemic hit the state five months ago, putting nearly 1.5 million people out of work. Nationally, another 963,000 workers submitted new claims — the first time new claims have fallen below 1 million since March.

Twin beams of light representing the World Trade Center towers won’t be beamed into the sky during this year’s memorial of the 9/11 terror attacks in New York City because of concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. The National September 11 Memorial & Museum said organizers were concerned about the health risks to workers who would set up the display and are planning an alternative display that will include spires and facades of buildings in Manhattan being illuminated in blue. 

Hoboken and Jersey City announced Lyft/Citi Bike will be the bike share provider for the two cities. Members of the Hoboken-Jersey City Bike Share Program can rent Citi Bikes in New York at no additional cost. Previously, Jersey City used Citi Bike while Hoboken used Hudson Bike Share meaning residents who moved between the two cities couldn’t easily commute; neither had the other’s docking stations.

And finally…David Blaine will attempt his first live stunt in nearly a decade in New Jersey later this month. News12 New Jersey

One comment

  1. Re: Morris Freeholders constriction on voting

    First item on my political agenda: elect Biden/Harris. Second item: vote these Freeholders out. Their excuses for excluding mail-in ballots are flimsy and politically biased. Why are they afraid of a honest and open election?

    I am lucky that I have the physical and financial capability of voting anywhere despite any obstacles. Many of my fellow citizens aren’t so lucky, but as equal citizens in the eyes of the law, every citizen deserves equal and fair access to vote. Anything less is un-American.

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