North Jersey News Roundup for Sept. 18, 2020

Gov. Phil Murphy reached agreement with Democratic legislator leaders to finance a middle class tax rebate by raising the rates on millionaires. 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%, the rate already paid for over $5 million. In exchange, the governor and legislative leaders agreed to an up to $500 rebate for families with incomes under $150,000 per couple—or $75,000 for a single individual—with at least one dependent child. This rebate will be automatically distributed to eligible taxpayers in Summer 2021.

New weekly unemployment claims dipped 14% for the week ending Sept. 12, the lowest in five weeks. About 19,600 new unemployment claims were filed last week—the fewest applications since the 13,822 during the week ending Aug. 8. The total number of New Jersey workers who applied for unemployment benefits since the pandemic hit in mid-March is 1.58 million people, with 1.38 million of those being eligible.

Nearly 600 Jersey City businesses will receive grants worth up to $20,000 through the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Securities (CARES) Act. A total of $9 million worth of aid will be distributed to small business owners struggling through the economic downturn in the city. The Jersey Journal

A federal judge’s ruling against Pennsylvania’s coronavirus restrictions through executive order will not affect New Jersey, said Gov. Phil Murphy. The court found Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s restrictions limiting gathering sizes, keeping certain businesses closed and having people stay home during the pandemic was unconstitutional. “Pennsylvania is a different reality than New Jersey,” Murphy said. “We have our own constitution and our own rules of the road.” The Record

New Jerseyans who don’t properly wear a mask in stores could be fined as much as $500 for violating Gov. Phil Murphy’s executive orders declaring a coronavirus public health emergency, under a bill passed by an Assembly committee. “Our state simply cannot allow people to continue to flout the rules in public spaces,” said Assemblyman Joe Danielsen (D-17), one of the bill’s primary sponsors. “By ignoring mask mandates and strolling into a store without one, these individuals are willfully putting lives at risk.” 

New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli reiterated her concerns about the transmission of COVID-19 among the state’s younger population as case numbers continue to climb. Persichilli noted the percent positivity has increased “substantially” among youth in the Garden State since the middle of August. The percent positivity among 14-to-18-year-olds has risen to 7% from 3% in the last month. In the 19-to-24-year-old cohort, the positivity is up to 7.1% from 2.7% in the same time span.

Police unions told a New Jersey court a plan to name cops who were disciplined for serious violations would arbitrarily hurt officers’ privacy while doing little to educate the public. The unions argued because an officer was punished does not necessarily mean they used excessive force or racially profiled someone. The hearing stems from police unions suing to block the state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal’s police reform plan to name officers who received “major discipline.”

Nevada-based New Frontier Armory LLC will no longer advertise, offer for sale, or sell large capacity ammunition magazines within the Garden State, according to Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and the Division of Consumer Affairs. Grewal said the company settled a civil lawsuit with the state and will pay $50,000 fine. The suit was filed in 2019 after the company sold LCMs twice online to undercover state investigators, with one instance following a cease-and-desist order from Grewal’s office.

Road widening will not necessarily be the option in the more congested northern sections of the Garden State Parkway or New Jersey Turnpike, according to the state’s Transportation Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti. “We’re looking at the median to figure out if it could be an ultra-light rail, almost monorail-type system as a means to move people through congested areas, such as 139 to 151 on the Parkway,” said Gutierrez-Scaccetti when questioned about New Jersey Turnpike Authority’s 10-year $24 billion capital plan.

The U.S. Department of Education is investigating Princeton University for lapses in its nondiscriminatory practices. The investigation comes after President Christopher L. Eisgruber sent a letter to the school’s population about its ongoing efforts to combat systemic racism Sept. 2. The Department of Education cites the letter as evidence of Princeton’s “admitted racism” and is concerned that the school’s assurances of nondiscrimination “may have been false” and that the school violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Record

Two North Jersey school districts combined to receive nearly $800,000 in federal grants to improve safety measures. The Teaneck School District was awarded $500,000 and the Bogota School District $277,000 to improve security measures and keep students and teachers safe. The grant was administered through the Justice Department’s School Violence Prevention Program, which was enacted by Congress in the wake of the Parkland school shooting in 2018.

Assemblyman Brian Bergen (R-25) is introducing legislation prohibiting paid municipal jobs going to local elected officials in the same municipality. New Jersey eliminated dual officeholder more than a decade ago but there is no prohibition against a mayor serving as his or her own administrator. New Jersey Globe

Hoboken released guidelines for restaurants and other small businesses looking to stay outside or continue outdoor dining as the temperatures begin to drop. The guidelines include the type of heating systems that can be used, snow removal procedures, noise regulations, and rules for seasonal structures and canopies. The city recently extended outdoor dining last month through 2021. News12 New Jersey

And finally…The Historic Krueger-Scott Mansion in Newark is slated to become artisan housing.

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