North Jersey News Roundup for Aug. 28, 2020

New Jersey state officials reluctantly submitted an application to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for Lost Wages Supplemental Assistance (LWA), the program President Donald Trump enacted to provide unemployment benefits after the U.S. Senate could not reach a deal. LWA allows for temporary supplemental financial support to those whose jobs or wages have been adversely affected by COVID-19. LWA provides up to $300 per week to eligible individuals, in addition to the weekly benefit amount they receive from other unemployment compensation programs.

President Trump accepted the Republican Party’s nomination for a second term on Aug. 27, casting the election as a crusade against left-wing ideology and violent social disorder. “Your vote will decide whether we protect law-abiding Americans, or whether we give free rein to violent anarchists, agitators and criminals who threaten our citizens,” Mr. Trump said, standing on a stage in front of the White House. “And this election will decide whether we will defend the American way of life, or whether we allow a radical movement to completely dismantle and destroy it. That won’t happen.” The New York Times

The governors of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York stated they will not follow new, more restrictive coronavirus testing guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) denounced as insufficient by many public health experts.  In a joint statement, the governors said “This 180-degree reversal of COVID-19 testing guidelines is reckless, and not based on science and has the potential to do long-term damage to the (CDC’s) reputation. This abrupt and ill-informed shift threatens the robust testing regimes our states have worked tirelessly to stand up with our federal partners.” Philadelphia Inquirer

The State Senate voted 39-0 to confirm Fabiana Pierre-Louis to become the newest member of New Jersey’s Supreme Court. The 39-year-old Pierre-Louis, who will become the third Black person to serve on the court and the first in a decade, now needs only to be sworn in before officially joining the bench. New Jersey Herald

The state Legislature voted unanimously to spend $30 million to reimburse New Jersey restaurants that lost money when Gov. Phil Murphy pulled the plug on the planned reopening of indoor dining this summer. The bill would provide $30 million in loans or grants to restaurants harmed by the rescinded reopening, funded by the state’s federal CARES Act aid.

State lawmakers passed a package of bills to help New Jersey prepare for a hybrid but largely mail-in election this November during the coronavirus pandemic. The bills passed would increase the number of ballot drop boxes that county boards of elections must install in each of New Jersey’s 21 counties, require election officials to accept ballots postmarked by Election Day for up to six days after the election and prohibit mail-in ballots from being rejected because of missing or insufficient glue. PoliticoNJ

New Jersey is part of a coalition that filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to assure recent service cutbacks do not hamper voting efforts. The lawsuit claims that USPS is violating the Elections Clause of the U.S. Constitution by interfering with the states’ authority to set rules for the election.

Both houses of the State Legislature passed a bill seeking to promote environmental justice by ensuring that low-income communities of color are not burdened with unfair shares of pollution. The measure requires the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to consider how projects seeking state permits for facilities such as power plants, incinerators and landfills would affect environmental and public health in already overburdened communities. The Daily Record

State Legislatures passed a raft of bills focused on long-term care facilities. Legislation passed by the Senate and Assembly would increase the minimum wage by $3 an hour for staff directly interacting with residents, create a long-term task force to study and propose reforms, and makes a one-time payment of $62.3 million in state funds to help nursing facilities pay for COVID-19-related costs such as infection control and protective gear. The Record

Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order extending the public-health emergency in New Jersey because of the coronavirus pandemic by another 30 days. This is the sixth time Murphy has extended the emergency, which gives him the power to take executive action to combat COVID-19’s spread and extends all of Murphy’s executive orders still in place.

Reaction to Gov. Phil Murphy’s proposed budget fell along partisan lines in North Jersey. GOP lawmakers questioned the amount of spending and borrowing, while fellow Democrats praised the funding of needed programs in the state. State Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-36) welcomed the governor’s proposal fully aware of the severe economic challenges confronting New Jersey and sensitive to the tight timetable to get the work done, while State Sen. Kristin Corrado (R-40) declared the budget offered takes New Jersey in the wrong direction.

And finally…Record Store Day will be held over on three separate days in August, September and October. New Jersey Herald

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