North Jersey News Roundup for Sept. 22, 2020

Democratic lawmakers introduced a $32.7 billion, nine-month state budget proposal that increases taxes on millionaires and corporations, boosts the state’s surplus to more than $2.5 billion and calls for $4.5 billion in borrowing to help close a revenue shortfall. The spending plan restores a number of programs, including funding for school-based mental health services and subsidies paid to New Jersey’s hospitals for providing care to the uninsured. Among the items eliminated from Gov. Phil Murphy proposed budget are taxes on cigarettes, boat purchases and limo ride, an increase in gun fees, the “baby bond” initiative and $311 million increase in school aid. PoliticoNJ

On the day that the state passed 200,000 coronavirus cases, health officials in New Jersey do not believe the recent increase in cases are an indication that a second wave has begun in the state. “I do not yet see a second wave,” said New Jersey Department of Health Communicable Disease Service Medical Director Dr. Edward Lifshitz, who cited an increase in such data such as new hospitalizations, new cases, visits to emergency rooms increasing and daily positivity rate would indicate a second COVID-19 wave has started in New Jersey.

All Sparta High School athletics and activities are suspended for 14 days due to three COVID-19 cases on the football and girls soccer teams. School officials do not have information as to whether any of the three students were symptomatic or asymptomatic. The individuals who were affected or have been in direct contact with those who tested positive are being contacted by the school athletic department and the state Department of Health. New Jersey Herald

Nine Paterson School District students were suspended for disrupting multiple virtual classrooms they were not enrolled in during the first week of at-home instruction. The students were able to enter the remote classes using links shared with them by their peers and interrupted lessons, including by sharing pornographic material and making threats to teachers. In some cases, police reports were filed and the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office was alerted. The Record

New Jersey will enact stringent environmental justice legislation to allow the state to reject permits for projects that could have a detrimental impact on already “overburdened” communities. Under the bill signed into law Sept. 18 by Gov. Phil Murphy, New Jersey became the first state in the country to require mandatory permit denials if an analysis determines a new facility will have a disproportionately negative effect on communities where nearly half of households are defined as low income or minority.

Drivers age 65 and up will have special hours starting Sept. 22 at Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) agencies designated as vehicle centers. MVC officials will offer special hours from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays for customers age 65 and over and those who are medically unable to wear a mask. No individual appointments are necessary as eligible customers should arrive at the agency no earlier than 2 p.m. so that they can be ticketed for service and not have to stand in line to be served.

A network problem crippled the state’s Motor Vehicle Commission agency computers Sept. 21. The problem, reported at 9 a.m., left agencies unable to process transactions for drivers lined up at the state’s 39 agencies until 1 p.m. except at its Edison location. Gov. Phil Murphy said a vendor software caused the problem, which did not affect transactions on the MVC website. News12 New Jersey

The owner of a Warren County drag racing track was cited for violating coronavirus-related regulations after authorities found at least 1,000 people gathered at the strip. Island Dragway, a 50-year-old destination, states on its website that the facility follows coronavirus directives, including operating at 50% capacity.

Rep. Mikie Sherrill applauded passage of the Election Technology Research Act by the House of Representatives, arguing the bipartisan bill was passed at a time when it is desperately needed. “The security and sanctity of our elections is at the very core of our democracy,” said Sherrill. The bill would allow the National Institutes of Standards and Technology and the National Science Foundation to investigate the security of U.S. voting systems, and how modernization efforts could take place.

Public housing tenants in Hudson County struggling to pay their rents because of coronavirus financial strains have received a $8 million grant from the federal government. The county and five of its municipalities will share in CARES Act funding through the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant program. The funding is specifically earmarked for local housing authorities to provide temporary financial assistance to meet rental obligations for up to six months. The Jersey Journal

Jersey City is doubling down on its investment in its Via transportation service, putting more vehicles on the streets to meet rising demand for the ride-sharing program. The city will increase the estimated two-year cost for the service—which provides rides in vans and cars for as low as $2—hiking the city’s investment to $6.6 million from $3.8 million. The added funding will allow the city to add nine vehicles to its current fleet of 17.

And finally…A self-taught baker in Fair Lawn is helping entrepreneurs all over the world to open bagel shops. The New York Times

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