North Jersey News Roundup for Sept. 11, 2020

Rep. Josh Gottheimer is pushing a suite of legislative initiatives to combat terrorists increasingly using social media platforms to deliver their message and using hard-to-trace crypto coins to finance it. Gottheimer’s proposal looks to thwart Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) online arsenal in promoting terror and extremist threats that have continued to evolve since 9/11, noting U.S. State Department-designated FTO’s are increasingly utilizing social media platforms to spread hate, recruit and raise funds for acts of terror with cryptocurrencies.

Electronic intruders disrupted Paterson’s virtual learning classes on the first two days of the school year with threats against teachers, obscenities and pornographic material posted during academic lessons. At least 20 of the city’s 50 schools were affected by the problems, and the superintendent has asked the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office and Passaic County Sheriff’s Office to investigate the situation. The district is looking to identify the hackers and determine whether students were involved. The Record

State Sen. M. Teresa Ruiz (D-29) introduced a pair of bills aimed at making remote learning easier for teachers and parents. One bill would support schools by providing certain rates of financial assistance for the staff’s child care needs, while the second requires the state Department of Education to create a remote instruction facility program that districts could opt into and provide a supervised place for students to learn virtually.

The Tenafly school district is scrambling to fill teaching and staff positions ahead of its planned in-person instruction. The total number of leave requests from teachers and staff has exceeded 81 after 32 initial requests received in early to mid-August that were health-related, with the additional requests received in late August related to the remote instructional programs of staff members’ own children or related family needs. The Record

Chatham High School switched to all-remote learning after one of its students tested positive for COVID-19. The high school reopened to students with a hybrid model that planned to mix in-person learning with virtual learning on alternating days. The Daily Record

Trenton lawmakers in both parties pushed the Murphy administration to do more to bridge the digital divide. The State Senate Budget Committee questioned interim Education Commissioner Kevin Dehmer on exactly how many students still can’t learn from home due to a lack of devices or internet connections, with state Sen. M. Teresa Ruiz (D-29) stating “It is a huge red flag for all of us. We are ultimately engaging in the process of filtering kids toward failure.” NJ Spotlight

Gov. Phil Murphy signed two bills into law to ease the long lines and multiple hour waits at state Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) agencies. The first bill allows the MVC to use old photos of drivers age 65 and up for more than eight years so they can renew their licenses online and establish appointments for seniors and drivers with certain medical conditions who can’t wear a face mask. The second new law gives new state residents 120 days, instead of 60, to register their vehicles and get New Jersey licenses during the COVID-19 health emergency.

Jersey City plans to introduce an ordinance for a civilian complaint review board that would immediately become active if state legislators pass a law giving citizen boards broad powers to investigate and discipline local police departments. The ordinance would give the board subpoena and disciplinary power over the Jersey City Police Department, and would include budget protections to ensure transparent investigations. The Jersey Journal

Juneteenth, the day commemorating the end of slavery in America, is now a state holiday. New Jersey is only the sixth to make it an official state holiday, with state government employees having a paid day off in honor.

A trio of federal judges in the blocked President Donald Trump’s effort to ban undocumented immigrants from being counted in the 2020 Census. The panel of judges in the Southern District of New York found the president’s memo was unlawful and in violation of Congress’s constitutional responsibility to count the whole number of persons in each state and to apportion members of the House of Representatives among the states according to their respective numbers. Trump argued in his July executive action that the Constitution doesn’t detail how to define persons in a jurisdiction for Census-taking purposes and asserts that the president is the ultimate arbiter who gets to be counted. PoliticoNJ

Republicans in the U.S. Senate could not pass a scaled-down, $500 billion coronavirus relief measure, casting doubt Congress will approve another aid package before the November election. Fifty-two out of the 53-member GOP caucus voted in favor of moving forward on the proposal, but were unable to garner any votes from Democrats. It’s unclear whether stalled negotiations between the White House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and and Minority Senate Leader Chuck Schumer will resume. PoliticoNJ

The New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) was awarded $150 million in federal funding. The monies provided by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) was the second consecutive year NJDOT received additional funding of $100 million or more. The funding will be used on projects spanning road improvements to bridge maintenance.

To help make voting easier for Bergen County voters, additional ballot boxes will be installed around the county for people to drop off their ballots. Bergen County election officials will install 18 boxes outside county and local buildings in an effort to make it easier to vote in an unprecedented election. There were about 12,000 ballots placed in six boxes throughout Bergen County for the July primary. News12 New Jersey

And finallyBruce Springsteen released the first single “Letter to You from his album that will go one sale Oct. 23. But for today, a prayer for our fallen brothers and sisters.  

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