North Jersey News Roundup for Sept. 9, 2020

Four key GOP state senators offered a budget for 2021 they say does not rely on the billions of dollars of borrowing and tax increases proposed by Gov. Phil Murphy. The Senate Republican budget proposal achieves a balanced budget by correcting the governor’s revenue forecast; recapturing New York taxes on New Jersey residents; eliminating new taxes and fees, deficit bonds, and most new/increases on non-COVID spending; adjusting pension prefunding; restoring certain reductions to provide additional assistance to businesses, nonprofits, and government agencies impacted by COVID; and building the state surplus to a responsible level.

State Senate Budget Chair Paul Sarlo instructed the state Treasury Department and nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services (OLS) to reconcile their revenue projections after the two departments were $1.37 billion apart in their tax estimates. Without closing the gap, Sarlo said, lawmakers won’t be able to determine how much the state needs to borrow to help close a multibillion-dollar revenue hole or what revenue raisers to consider. OLS estimates revenues from June 2020 to July 2021 will total $37.7 billion, whereas Treasury’s puts the figure closer to $36.4 billion. PoliticoNJ

The state will let people workout at health facilities located inside hotels, motels, condominiums and work offices. Any health club facility would need to follow the same restrictions in place on gyms, including operating at 25% of indoor capacity, masks or face coverings worn at all times inside the gym, restrictions on indoor group activities to one person for every 200 sq. ft. of space in the room and equipment must be six feet apart.

Gov. Phil Murphy overruled the New Jersey Turnpike Authority’s decision to remove American Flags from Garden State Parkway and Turnpike overpasses. Turnpike Authority officials said displaying flags of any kind violated an administrative rule about advertising banners or flags and were concerned about the proliferation of “all kinds of flags” displayed on overpasses supporting other causes as well as safety and legal concerns. News12 New Jersey

Rep. Mikie Sherrill declared President Donald Trump “is unfit to serve as our Commander in Chief” after a published report found the President has continually disparaged those who served in the military and gave their life fighting for the country. “The President does not share the values of the men and women in uniform or their families,” said Sherrill in a press statement.

New Jersey voters can now register to cast ballots in the November election and track mail-in ballots through a new website. Those visiting the site will need a driver’s license number, state ID number or social security number to register to vote. Some 13,000 people already registered to vote during the site’s soft launch. Using the page, registered voters can already confirm their status and set up an account to track when the county clerks receives the ballot.

Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca halted global trials of its COVID-19 vaccine because of a serious and unexpected adverse reaction in a participant. The news of AstraZeneca pausing its trial came the same day the company and eight other drugmakers made a joint pledge to “stand with science” on coronavirus vaccines, reaffirming that they would not move forward with such products before thoroughly vetting them for safety and efficacy. The New York Times

Rep. Josh Gottheimer convened a meeting to outline challenges and critical steps North Jersey needed for a potential second wave of COVID-19 cases in the 5th District this Fall. The discussion focused on with the start of Fall, measures that have helped combat the spread of the coronavirus—such as outdoor gatherings—will be less feasible. The decline in outdoor activities is coinciding with activities held primarily indoors increasing, including students and staff returning to school, the opening of gyms, and religious holidays gatherings. Those actions coupled with the oncoming flu season could play a role in COVID-19 spikes in the coming months.

Four states were added to the 14-day quarantine list for New Jersey. Delaware, Maryland, Ohio and West Virginia were added to the travel advisory because of rising COVID-19 rates, while two U.S. territories, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, were removed. In all, 35 states and territories are on the quarantine list. The Daily Record

Mahwah’s former mayor filed a federal lawsuit against town officials alleging the town violated his constitutional rights after he received a ticket for displaying an American flag at his local business. Bill Laforet charged current Mahwah Mayor John Roth, along with the township’s planning director, its code enforcement officer, and the municipality with a violation of his rights including free speech and the freedom to display the American flag, calling the summons issued in July a “brazen act of political retribution.” Township officials strongly denied the allegation.

And finallyA preliminary 3.1 magnitude earthquake near Freehold Township was reported by the U.S. Geological Survey this morning.

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