North Jersey News Roundup for Nov. 10, 2020

Gov. Phil Murphy announced new restrictions on dining and youth sports in New Jersey. No seating will be allowed in bar areas, closing times for indoor dining will now be at 10 p.m. and all indoor interstate organized sports up to the high school level are not allowed under new restrictions announced by state officials. “We are taking surgical steps. We are acting with more precision-based actions,” Murphy said. “The last thing I want to do is shut our economy back down. Thankfully, we’re not at that point.”

New Jersey officials predict thousands of new cases of the coronavirus will be reported daily as the state is being hit by a second wave of the pandemic. “I think our reality is that we will have between 2-and-3,000 cases a day going forward,” state Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said. Additionally, there are likely even more cases that are not being reported since the results of recently deployed rapid tests are not currently included in the daily figures.

U.S. health officials allowed emergency use of the first antibody drug to help the immune system fight COVID-19, similar to a treatment President Donald Trump received after contracting the virus. The Food and Drug Administration cleared the experimental drug from Eli Lilly for people 12 and older with mild or moderate COVID-19 not requiring hospitalization. It’s a one-time treatment given through an IV. The therapy is still undergoing additional testing to establish its safety and effectiveness. News12 New Jersey

President Donald Trump’s campaign accused Pennsylvania officials of running a “two-tiered” voting system—in-person and mail—that violates the U.S. Constitution. The lawsuit alleges the state’s mail voting system was fatally flawed by mismanagement and improper changes or interpretations of election laws, which enabled votes to be cast and counted with virtually no oversight as well as Trump campaign observers were blocked from the access needed to detect and challenge inadequate verification of voters’ identities and other alleged improprieties. The federal complaint offered little evidence to back its claims. The Record

Attorney General William Barr authorized federal prosecutors to pursue “substantial allegations” of voting and vote-tabulation irregularities before the 2020 presidential election is certified. In a memo to U.S. attorneys, Barr said investigations “may be conducted if there are clear and apparently-credible allegations of irregularities that, if true, could potentially impact the outcome of a federal election in an individual State.” The memo allows prosecutors to circumvent longstanding Justice Department policy instructing officials not to open investigations into election-related criminal behavior until after the election is complete and the results are certified. The Wall Street Journal

Rep. Josh Gottheimer believes Democrats can use his success in the district as a blueprint moving forward. The Congressman noted winning issues for Democrats resonating with families include environmental matters such as clean air and water, COVID relief, infrastructure investment and fighting to lower taxes—especially the reinstatement of the state and local tax (SALT) deduction. “On our side, we are not interested in socialism, or any talk of socialism. My colleagues have made it pretty clear that those words should not be uttered in the halls of the Democratic caucus. I think that it is critically important,” said Gottheimer.

New Jersey lawmakers may put an additional tax on legal weed and dedicate revenue to social service programs after a hearing about a bill enacting a legalization amendment passed by voters. The Senate Judiciary and Assembly Oversight committees advanced the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, & Marketplace Modernization Act, a 216-page bill that lays the foundation of what legal weed in New Jersey would actually look like. Additionally, the Judiciary Committee cleared a bill to decriminalize marijuana which would stop an estimated 32,000 marijuana possession arrests per year. The Record

The ink is blurred on the envelopes of about one-in-five ballots in Morris County, preventing scanners from reading bar codes and creating delays in the counting of votes. The blurry ink has forced election workers to manually enter bar code numbers for each voter into the Statewide Voter Registration System, a problem affecting around 56,000 ballots in the county that cannot be scanned. New Jersey Globe

Republicans have overtaken one race they were behind in and closed the gap on another in two special election contests in New Jersey’s 25th legislative district. As of 10:30 a.m. Nov. 9, incumbent State Sen. Anthony M. Bucco (R-25) surged past Democratic challenger Rupande Mehta to take a 1,582 vote lead in the 25th. Conversely, in the race for the unexpired Assembly term created by Bucco going to the Senate, Darcy Draeger leads Assemblywoman Aura Dunn (R-25) by 694 votes.

New Jersey lawmakers made the first move to amend the state constitution to allow sports betting on major college games. A resolution was unanimously approved by the state Senate Budget Committee, marking the first of many steps to get the resolution proposed by State Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-36) a potential 2021 ballot question.

Gov. Phil Murphy reiterated he will not be leaving the state for a position in President-elect Joe Biden’s administration. “I have my dream job,” the governor said. “I’m not going anywhere, period.” New Jersey Globe

More than two million masks will be distributed to schools statewide to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The 2.4 million masks, provided by the federal Department of Health and Human Services, will be made available to students, teachers and other staff members at more than 800 public, charter and private schools as well as renaissance school projects and approved schools for students with disabilities.

Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation to create a program adopting paratransit best practices across the Garden State. Under the new law, NJ Transit will be required that all paratransit services it manages, administers, or provides through its operating budget comply with routing, scheduling, and dispatch software that is compatible with other paratransit providers. Additionally, travel authority is required to identify regular and recurring trips under the Access Link program and to develop a system where other paratransit operators can complete those trips if they meet applicable standards.

The New Jersey Chamber of Commerce called off the annual “Chamber Train” trip to Washington D.C., one of the most high-profile traditions on the state’s political calendar. Chamber officials said the annual “Walk to Washington,” during which hundreds of politicians, business leaders and lobbyists travel to the capital by rail, is untenable amid the pandemic.

And finally…New York City’s holidays will be less jolly as the coronavirus pandemic has pared down plans for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and Rockefeller Center’s Christmas tree. The Wall Street Journal

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