North Jersey News Roundup for Sept. 28, 2020

New Jersey’s Senate Republicans launched an online petition to investigate the 7,000 deaths reported at the state’s long-term care facilities, including nursing and veterans homes. The petition called upon the public’s support to allow a bipartisan committee with subpoena power to investigate the COVID-19-related deaths at the facilities, arguing Democrats had blocked their prior attempts to investigate the Murphy Administration’s response.

President Donald Trump paid $750 in federal income taxes the year he won the presidency and in his first year in the White House as well as no income taxes at all in 10 of the previous 15 years because he reported losing more money than he made. A review finds President Trump’s finances are under stress, beset by losses and hundreds of millions of dollars in debt coming due that he has personally guaranteed. Additionally, hanging over him is a decade-long audit battle with the Internal Revenue Service over the legitimacy of a $72.9 million tax refund that he claimed, and received, after declaring huge losses. An adverse ruling could cost him more than $100 million. The New York Times

OPINION: The Party of Trump. The modern-day Republican party, the party of Lincoln, is now the party of Donald Trump and will continue to be even after his time in office is over.

New outbreaks of COVID-19 cropping up within Orthodox Jewish communities, raising concerns that the state could be primed for a surge after Yom Kippur events. “Ocean County, and especially Lakewood, [are] clearly our hotspots right now,” Gov. Phil Murphy said Sept. 25. “I don’t want a speck of anybody in this state saying, ‘Hey, see, it’s because of them’ or whatever,“ Murphy said, adding health officials are working aggressively with the community, with the faith leaders, with community leaders to attempt to slow the rate of new cases. PoliticoNJ

Only one student has tested positive for COVID-19 at the two public school districts and three Catholic high schools that reopened with in-person learning in Hudson County since the school year began. Public schools in Secaucus and Hoboken, as well as St. Peter’s Prep, St. Dominic Academy and Hudson Catholic all currently have in-person learning. Neighboring districts, like Jersey City and Bayonne, have committed to remain fully remote until at least November. The Jersey Journal

Using the occasion of New Jersey being approved for a new federal unemployment program, Gov. Phil Murphy pushed yet again for federal aid. “Folks in Congress, please hear us….individuals are running out of gas, the economy is therefore running out of gas,” said Murphy at his press briefing Sept. 25. “This is not complicated. Now is the time to go big. This is the moment to pass a big federal stimulus bill.”

Gov. Phil Murphy plans to sign the nine-month, $32.7 billion budget approved by lawmakers into law without vetoing any of it. It’s an unusual move as Murphy’s recent predecessors have lined-out a few spending items with conditional veto power before signing the budget. The 2021 budget raises about $700 million in taxes and calls for borrowing $4.5 billion to help make up for revenue losses in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

A Sussex County business owner sued Gov. Phil Murphy, claiming the state owes her for losses suffered due to New Jersey’s COVID-19-related shutdown earlier this year. According to the complaint, under the Disaster Control Act used by Murphy to shutdown non-essential businesses in March, the state is required to create a statewide compensation program for any entity affected by the closing.

A federal judge halted the U.S. Postal Service’s move to dismantle mail-sorting machines, remove mailboxes and slice employee overtime in New Jersey and across America. The Trump administration previously said it’s simply trying to reform a deeply-indebted agency with longstanding financial problems but Democrats who filed the lawsuit argued the actions taken by USPS Postmaster General Louis DeJoy was a blatant attempt to interfere with a mid-pandemic election whose results may be decided through the mailbox rather than the ballot box. The Record

New Jersey is promoting messages around the changes to the election process implemented in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The state has launched a website, that includes a link for registering to vote, which can now be done online. More than 200,000 people have registered online since the program went into effect Sept. 4.

There are three referendum questions New Jersey voters are being asked to vote on this year. State voters will decide whether the New Jersey Constitution should be amended to legalize a controlled form of marijuana, whether all veterans disabled during their service should receive a $250 property tax deduction and a 100% property tax exemption and if State Senators and Assembly members can run next year for two-year terms in their existing districts before the new districts are created. The Daily Record

Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver largely confirmed Gov. Phil Murphy will seek re-election to a second term in 2021. Oliver became the highest-ranking Murphy administration official to publicly state the governor’s intentions when she called on Democratic women to use the 2020 election to set the stage for a victory next year in an online meeting sponsored by New Jersey Women for Biden. New Jersey Globe

Montague’s school superintendent declined a federally funded CARES Act program providing free breakfast and lunches to all students regardless of family income through the end of summer. The superintendent told the school board the district would not be opting into the Fall program because the administrative and financial burden is too great. New Jersey Herald

Bayonne officials introduced an ordinance to amend the redevelopment plan for the former Texaco property to allow a film studio to be built on the property. The proposed ordinance would modify the zoning standards for about 70 acres in the southwestern corner of the city to permit a film studio and production facilities as primary use. Hudson Reporter

And finally… How New Jersey’s horseshoe crabs are key to a coronavirus vaccine. New Jersey Herald

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