North Jersey News Roundup for Oct. 23, 2020

A day after abruptly leaving an event to self-quarantine, Gov. Phil Murphy provided a more detailed timeline of the events leading up to two staffers testing positive for COVID-19. Murphy described the interaction in a Hoboken bar on Oct. 17 as “not really (being) right up against this person. It was at most 15 minutes and we were outdoors. Having said all that, we’re taking the steps we are taking out of an abundance of caution.” The governor hopes to resume some sort of public schedule early next week.

President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden delivered divergent closing arguments to the country in the final Presidential Debate Oct. 22, offering opposite prognoses for the coronavirus pandemic and airing differences on subjects from rescuing the economy and bolstering the healthcare system to fighting climate change and reshaping the immigration policy. The two candidates took opposing stances on the pandemic, with President Trump promising that the disease was “going away” while Biden called for much more aggressive federal action for the “dark winter” ahead. The New York Times

Students who were receiving in-person onsite instruction at Hoboken’s Wallace Elementary School will move to remote instruction until Nov. 9 after two individuals at the school tested positive for COVID-19. The district has been operating on a hybrid education model since reopening this Fall.

Just a week after Clifton public schools reopened for in-person classes, two schools have reverted to remote instruction because of COVID-19 cases. School officials informed the families of children attending Christopher Columbus Middle School and School 5 the decision to go all remote at the two schools starting Oct. 26 with in-person classes resuming Oct. 29. The Record

Attorney General Gurbir Grewal recently issued guidance to county prosecutors, sheriffs and police chiefs emphasizing rules regarding activity at polling locations leading up to the Nov. 3 election. Grewal’s directive comes in the wake of President Donald Trump urging his supporters to go to polling sites and “watch very carefully.” Grewal said his goal is to help law enforcement “remain fully informed about the upcoming election, so that we can work together to avoid the problems and challenges faced elsewhere.”

A federal judge tossed the Trump campaign’s lawsuit against New Jersey’s primarily mail-in election, ruling that most of its arguments were speculative and that the campaign failed to show how it would be harmed. The lawsuit was filed in August by the Trump campaign, the Republican State Committee and Republican National Committee on the grounds Gov. Phil Murphy bypassed the state Legislature through the executive order. The Legislature later passed a bill that Murphy signed, writing the executive order into law. PoliticoNJ

New Jersey officials can begin counting general election votes Oct. 24. While counties can start counting ballots early for the first time ever, officials risk criminal prosecution if they release running tallies or reveal any count results. NJ Spotlight News

The proposed tax on online financial transactions is being scaled back as it faces pushback from Republicans and representatives of the business sector in New Jersey. Assemblyman John McKeon (D-27), a sponsor of the bill, opened the Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee remote public hearing on the bill Oct. 19 by amending the original proposal to just two years, geared now more to addressing the financial hardships the state has undergone due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee approved a bill requiring the state treasurer to make a report to the Legislature on the status of out-of-state taxation. The report would include what can be done to keep income taxes paid by New Jersey residents who used to commute to New York but are now working from home during the pandemic.

A new bill would require the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (NJMVC) to create a virtual check-in pilot program that would allow drivers to make appointments at NJMVC offices online. The program would allow drivers to reserve a spot in line through the agency’s website, allowing those who register to move up in the queue without being physically present and check in remotely from the parking lot or an in-person kiosk. News12 New Jersey

GOP state lawmakers called it “unbelievable” that Gov. Phil Murphy recently vetoed a bill to help restaurants recoup money lost during the pandemic-related shutdown. Murphy said he vetoed the bill because $35 million in new CARES Act funding has been set aside to help restaurants and bars struggling due to the outbreak. “I don’t think Gov. Murphy truly understands the dire situation that’s facing New Jersey’s restaurant industry,” commented State Sen. Anthony Bucco (R-25), one of the bill’s sponsors.

Two Verona officials received settlements for spending years being paid less because of their gender. Township Clerk Jennifer Kiernan and Municipal Court Clerk Erika Varela alleged that they were paid considerably less than male department heads received. They have agreed to settlements giving them back pay and raises in a combined package that will cost an insurance fund representing Verona about $500,000. New Jersey Globe

The Jersey City Council adopted an ordinance requiring developers of residential projects receiving variances to set aside 20% of their total units for affordable housing. Under the adopted ordinance, developers are required to set aside 5% of units in their buildings for affordable housing, forgoing the remaining requirement if they build affordable units elsewhere in the city, make payments to the city’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund, and/or offer a community giveback, like a school or recreation center. The Jersey Journal

Twelve alleged Crips street gang members were arrested and more than 21,000 single-dose packets of heroin seized in a massive drug bust in Paterson’s 4th Ward. Authorities allege the gang was selling about 50,000 wax folds of heroin and a kilo of crack cocaine per week, including drugs they alleged caused eight fatal overdoses. The Record

And finally…Bruce Springsteen’s new album, Letters to You, is out today. The Daily Record

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