North Jersey News Roundup for Sept. 24, 2020

As both houses of the New Jersey legislature prepare to cast their votes on a $32.7 billion, nine-month 2021 budget Sept. 24, Gov. Phil Murphy believes it is one that best helps the state now and in the future. “All-in-all, I am proud of the budget that we have agreed upon,” said Murphy at a press briefing Sept. 23. “This budget lives up to our most-important objective: preparing our state for a stronger, fairer, more resilient future.”

President Donald Trump declined an opportunity to endorse a peaceful transfer of power after the November election, renewing his warnings about extensive voting fraud before saying there would be no power transfer at all. Asked whether he would commit to leaving the White House, President Trump responded, “We’re going to have to see what happens. You know that I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots, and the ballots are a disaster…Get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very peaceful — there won’t be a transfer, frankly. There will be a continuation.” The New York Times

Rep. Bill Pascrell was named to chair the House Ways and Means oversight subcommittee, giving him the power to hold hearings and subpoena witnesses to investigate the Trump administration. Pascrell, who takes the chair previously occupied by the late Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), said that he will “focus with ferocity on holding the criminal Trump regime accountable. Exposing the public and private corruption left in the wake of the Trump government will take all the labor of cleaning up after the circus leaves town. I’m eager to grab a shovel and get to work.”

Two Jersey City Council members with competing plans for Civilian Complaint Review Boards (CCRB) are pulling their ordinances to work toward a compromise before the next council meeting in October. While both ordinances call for the creation of a CCRB with the power to investigate and discipline members of the Jersey City Police Department, they differ when it comes to budget restrictions, how their members are selected, and investigative procedures. The Jersey Journal

Gov. Phil Murphy said the state will need to see “a sustained lack of outbreaks” before raising capacity limits on indoor dining and gyms. Murphy said he didn’t have a specific answer for when capacity limits will increase, but hoped “it’s sooner than later.”

State Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said the pandemic’s impact on mental health cannot be ignored. She defined “Pandemic Fatigue” as a general sense of weariness and exhaustion from dealing with what feels like a never-ending battle. Additionally, state health officials have observed a year-over-year increase in suspected drug-related deaths, something they believe is tied to the pandemic.

A pilot contact tracing app to combat the spread of COVID-19 across the state is being tested on college campuses. The app being tested at Montclair State University, Passaic County Community College and Stockton University communicates through Bluetooth on mobile devices, detecting and logging anonymous codes with devices with the app that are in close contact within 6 feet of a user for 10 minute or longer. NJ Spotlight

High Point Regional High School will reopen for in-person classes Sept. 24 following a student’s positive test for COVID-19, its first of the new school year. The school was closed Sept. 23 as classes were held remotely while school facilities were cleaned and disinfected. New Jersey Herald

Two Mahwah schools are dealing with the fallout of a pair of positive coronavirus tests. Ramapo Ridge Middle School made the switch to all virtual learning through at least Oct. 6 after a staff member tested positive for the virus, while Mahwah High School had a separate positive test, which forced them into a distanced learning format for two days. News12 New Jersey

Bayonne public schools will remain virtual until Nov. 4, which coincides with the end of the 1st marking period. The school district reevaluates each month to determine if public schools should shift to hybrid instruction, which includes both virtual and in-person classes. Officials said when the data shows students can return to classrooms safely, the district will implement a hybrid learning plan. Hudson Reporter

A policy measure designed to curb the use of single-use carryout receptacles across New Jersey advanced from the Assembly Appropriations Committee. The bill would prohibit the use of single-use plastic carryout bags, single-use plastic straws, single-use paper carryout bags, and polystyrene foam foodservice products. Fines ranging from a warning for the first offense to $5,000 for third of subsequent offenses.

National Voter Registration Day brought in 33,268 new voters or updated voter registrations in New Jersey, bringing the total of online registrations to 170,221 since the system went live on Sept. 4. About 56% of the newly-registered voters used their driver’s license and 44% opted to give their social security numbers. The deadline to register to vote for the November general election is Oct. 13. New Jersey Globe

Robert Menendez Jr. has been meeting with Jersey City community leaders and organizers in what some view as an exploration of a potential run for Jersey City mayor next Fall. Menendez, the son of Sen. Bob Menendez, declined to confirm or deny that he is considering a run, while former Jersey City councilman Chris Gadsden said Menendez had “expressed interest” in a 2021 run against  incumbent Steve Fulop. The Jersey Journal

Town officials took the first step to approve a financial agreement for Morristown’s largest development project in 30 years. The mayor and council voted to move forward with a 30-year tax break for M Station project redevelopers Scotto Properties and SJP Properties. M Station is expected to generate over $1 million for the town annually—4½ times more than the current revenue—with minimum payments increasing over 30 years. In addition, the project will contribute $2.5 million to the town’s affordable housing trust fund. The Daily Record

And finally…Sopranos prequel, ‘The Many Saints of Newark,’ recently filmed additional scenes at Holsten’s in Bloomfield. The Record

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