North Jersey News Roundup for Sept. 17, 2020

Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law four measures lawmakers believe will improve long-term care facilities that were at the heart of the coronavirus pandemic. The four new laws establishes certain requirements concerning the state’s preparedness and response to infectious disease outbreaks, including the COVID-19 pandemic; the creation of the New Jersey Task Force on Long-Term Care Quality and Safety; minimum wage requirements for certain long-term care facility staff; direct care ratio requirements for nursing homes; a nursing home care rate study; and authorizes temporary rate adjustment for certain nursing facilities with a price tag of approximately $62.3 million.

A deal has been struck to raise taxes on high-income earners in New Jersey along with a middle class tax cut between state lawmakers and Gov. Phil Murphy. Under the plan, the state’s gross income tax rate on income between $1 million and $5 million would increase to 10.75% from 8.97%. In exchange, households with income below $150,000 and with at least one child would receive a $500 rebate check.

A tax on stock trades is off the table as part of a 2021 budget deal. Legislative leaders allegedly agreed there will be no further consideration of a proposal to impose a quarter-of-cent tax on every electronic financial transaction. The decision to drop the transaction tax comes after the New York Stock Exchange was threatening to move its data center out of New Jersey if the tax plan was adopted. New Jersey Globe

New Jersey posted a 2.9% year-over-year growth in August in sales taxes, which actually reflects July spending because of a reporting lag, according to the state’s Treasury Department. The department warned sales tax collections have been propped up by federal stimulus programs, including loans for businesses, checks for taxpayers and a $600 supplement to state unemployment benefits. Total tax collections in August were 5.7% lower than the same month last year and down 14.9% in the first two months of the fiscal year. NJ Spotlight

Matt Platkin, Gov. Phil Murphy’s chief counsel, will leave the administration next month. Platkin, among Murphy’s earliest supporters prior to his gubernatorial campaign, will leave after serving in the role for nearly three years and take a job as partner at the politically-connected firm Lowenstein Sandler LLP.

Sen. Bob Menendez introduced the Russia Bounty Response Act of 2020 in response to reports of bounties for the killing of American or allied troops in Afghanistan. The legislation calls for sanctions to be imposed on any Russian person, government official or entity involved in these actions and requires the Trump administration to respond to the Russian Federation’s reported program that calls for bounties to be paid to Taliban-linked militants for these actions.

Sen. Cory Booker introduces legislation appropriating $100 billion to advance the cleanup of legacy pollution and ensure safe drinking water across the country. The Environmental Justice Legacy Pollution Act would bar the approval of permits for major sources of air pollution—such as refineries or power plants—in communities already affected by it. “In order for communities of color, low-income communities, and indigenous communities to thrive, this legacy of pollution must be eliminated,” Booker said in a statement. “The Environmental Justice Legacy Pollution Cleanup Act will be a big step forward in continuing the fight for true equality and addressing environmental injustices in our country.” PoliticoNJ

President Donald Trump’s campaign wants a federal judge to act soon to prevent New Jersey from counting mail-in ballots starting 10 days before the Nov. 3 election. In a court filing, the campaign additionally asked a U.S. District Court Judge to bar elections officials from accepting mail-in ballots that do not have a postmark for two days after Election Day. News12 New Jersey

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows was receptive to the Problem Solvers Caucus proposal to offer aid to state and local governments. Rep. Josh Gottheimer, a co-chair of the Problem Solvers Caucus, stated spending restrictions were included precisely to address those objections and get Republican lawmakers to support it. “You have to prove the expenditures were COVID-related, which we think meets Meadows’ benchmark,” said Gottheimer.

Assemblyman Christopher DePhillips urged the state’s Board of Public Utilities (BPU) to require regulated utilities to provide power to customers within 48 hours of a reported outage. In a letter to BPU president Joseph Fiordaliso, DePhillips argued power companies should be required to provide generator power to customers following the 48-hour period.

Jersey City’s broke ground on the first-ever, all-encompassing Public Safety Headquarters. The $120-million,11-story building will be the fourth to be built as part of the municipal complex known as Jackson Square. All Jersey City’s Police and Fire operations and leadership personnel will be relocated to the new headquarters as will fire prevention, the special investigations unit, gun permits, records room, traffic programming, and city command. Hudson Reporter

And finally...The Big Ten reversed its decision and will play football starting Oct. 24. The Record

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