North Jersey News Roundup for Aug. 25, 2020

New Jersey education officials have sent 389 reopening plans back to school districts for revisions while 251 have been deemed complete and given approval. Currently, 180 school districts have applied to begin the school year with all-remote learning while 59 districts plan to fully reopen with the rest of New Jersey’s districts moving forward with a hybrid mix of in-person and remote learning. The governor said 436 of the plans the state received show schools will use a hybrid model of both in-person and remote learning.

Eleven students were suspended from on-campus housing by Montclair State University for COVID-19 rule violations this weekend due to students gathering in large groups to party without masks and social distancing. A text from school officials to students warned any student who violates the safety protocols will be immediately suspended from housing—and possibly for the remainder of the year—and referred to the Director of Student Conduct for disciplinary action as well as immediately de-registered from any courses or programs that have an on-campus component. The Record

Sen. Cory Booker recently introduced the College Athletes Book of Rights designed to advance justice and opportunity. The legislative package would allow athletes to market their name, image and likeness, both individually and as a group.

Revenue raisers are expected to be targeted at millionaires, smokers, and gun owners under a revised, nine-month state budget proposal by Gov. Phil Murphy. The new plan includes the so-called millionaires tax increasing from 8.97% to 10.75% on gross income between $1 and $5 million, an increase of $1.65 in taxes on each pack of cigarettes sold, an increase of $48 on the fee people must pay to buy a handgun permit and an increase of $95 on the fee for every firearms identification card. Meanwhile, Murphy will seek to borrow $4 billion.

Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, recent tax payments are on track with expectations set by the state Department of Treasury. The state collected $34.9 billion in major revenue sources in July, a decrease of less than 0.6% compared to last year. Additionally, New Jersey collected $3.36 billion in gross income taxes in July and $589.8 million in corporation business taxes collections, both still below its $3.6 billion target for July.

The State Senate Judiciary Committee voted 11-0 to make Fabiana Pierre-Louis a state Supreme Court justice. Pierre-Louis was nominated to replace Justice Walter Timpone, who reaches the mandatory retirement age of 70 in November. Timpone and Pierre-Louis are both Democrats, meaning the court will likely continue to have three Democrats, three Republicans and one independent.

President Donald Trump and his political allies mounted a fierce defense of his political record on the first night of the Republican convention, while unleashing a barrage of attacks on Joe Biden and the Democratic Party. The President appeared before delegates in Charlotte, NC, after they conducted a roll-call vote to formally nominate him for a second term. The president promoted the economy while blistering Biden, former President Barack Obama and North Carolina’s governor, a Democrat who Trump claimed had sabotaged the Republican convention for political purposes. The New York Times

Former Rep. Dick Zimmer, a three-term Republican New Jersey congressman, endorsed Joe Biden for president. The GOP’s candidate for U.S. Senate in 1996 and 2008, Zimmer was one of 27 ex-GOP Senators and House members that announced their support for Biden against President Donald Trump on the first day of the 2020 Republican National Convention. New Jersey Globe

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy told lawmakers he warned allies of President Donald Trump that the President’s repeated attacks on mail-in ballots are “not helpful,” but denied that recent changes at the Postal Service are linked to the November elections. DeJoy disputed published reports that he has eliminated overtime for postal workers and said a Postal Service document outlining overtime restrictions was written by a mid-level manager. DeJoy pledged to  expand use of overtime, extra truck trips and other measures in the weeks before the election to ensure on-time delivery of ballots. News12 New Jersey

Sussex County Freeholders asked that public utilities be ordered to create and adhere to emergency plans to handle widespread outages such as those following Tropical Storm Isaias. The freeholders wrote that “the response that many of our residents have to endure for the days following these storms cannot be acceptable. There have to be accountability from utility companies who must ensure that plans are put in place to prevent these mass power outages from occurring again.” New Jersey Herald

And finallyThe Statue of Liberty Museum and Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration opened their doors under phase one of the National Park Service reopening plan. News12 New Jersey

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