North Jersey News Roundup for Dec. 10, 2020

Gov. Phil Murphy laid out two separate models—a worst and moderate scenario—of how many coronavirus cases New Jersey will face in the months ahead from the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) and the governor’s Office of Innovation at his press briefing Dec. 9. The moderate cases scenario, which officials think is more likely as New Jerseyans have overwhelmingly abided by the executive orders put in place as well followed health protocols, predicates a peak of over 9,000 cases in the state.

New Jersey could receive its first shipment of the COVID-19 doses by the beginning of next week. “The exact amount of doses delivered to New Jersey is still not confirmed,” state Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli. Gov. Phil Murphy has said up to 460,000 doses of coronavirus vaccines could be headed to New Jersey this month and into early January.

Dozens of states, including New Jersey, accused Facebook of squashing competition to form a monopoly. The federal lawsuit argues Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp should be broken apart because Facebook bought the two potential competitors illegally. The lawsuit partnered with conservative states, such as Texas and Mississippi, as well as a separate complaint filed by the Federal Trade Commission. The Wall Street Journal

Reps. Mikie Sherrill and Josh Gottheimer were part of the majority who voted to approve the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The NDAA, which sets policy on a wide range of areas for the Pentagon, is expected to pass the Senate and head to President Donald Trump’s desk. The President has threatened to veto this year’s measure because of a provision to remove the names of Confederate generals from military bases as well as not repealing Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act protecting technology companies like Google, Twitter and Facebook from liability for what appears on their platforms.

The U.S. Justice Department is investigating the tax affairs of President-elect Joe Biden’s son Hunter. The investigation, being led by the U.S. attorney’s office in Delaware, was opened in late 2018 and has included inquiries into potential criminal violations of tax and money laundering laws. The New York Times

Eighty six towns in New Jersey have sought approval to issue emergency bonds to cover budgetary shortfalls related to the coronavirus pandemic from the state’s Local Finance Board. The first two municipalities to win approval from the board for COVID-related revenue shortfalls are Weehawken, which will issue $3.5 million in bonds, and New Brunswick. The Record

NJ Transit’s board of directors approved an agreement with the Federal Transit Administration to replace the Portal North Bridge. The agreement sets the stage for a $766.5 million federal grant toward the $1.8 billion project to replace the 110-year old moveable bridge over the Hackensack River in Kearny.

COVID-19’s impact on public transportation is evidenced by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s 2021 operating budget. The budget includes a 15% cut to the operating budget and major reductions on capital spending. The proposed 2021 Budget consists of $3.3 billion for operating expenses, $2.4 billion for capital expenditures, and $1.6 billion for debt service and other expenses. This proposed budget is $1.3 billion lower compared to the 2020 budget.

Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-21) will not seek the Republican nomination for governor in 2021. Bramnick, a moderate Republican who has faced blowback within the GOP for criticizing President Donald Trump’s rhetoric, plans to seek reelection for his Assembly seat or the State Senate if Tom Kean Jr. doesn’t seek reelection. PoliticoNJ

More than three-quarters of New Jersey Republicans think Donald Trump won the 2020 presidential election, according to a new Change Research poll commissioned by Project Ready. Republicans, by a 77%-11% margin, believe President  Trump won, while 99% of Democrats said Joe Biden won. Independents called Biden the winner by a 49%-28% margin. New Jersey Globe

Holding the phone in your hand while at a red light could cost you the same fine as texting while driving under a new bill sponsored by State Sen. Richard Codey (D-27). Drivers would face a fine of $200 to $400 for a first offense, and $400 to $600 for a second offense. A third violation would result in an $800 fine and license suspension for up to three months. The bill was unanimously approved by the Senate Transportation Committee.

A North Jersey police officer was identified as the victim of a deadly hunting incident. Jason Franco, a Hamburg police officer and Montague volunteer firefighter, was deer hunting with a group of family members in Wantage when a member of his party accidentally fired a weapon and struck the off-duty officer. New Jersey Herald

Englewood residents are being encouraged to comment about the New Jersey Department of Transportation’s (NJDOT) upcoming Jones Road project. The project itself is a bridge replacement on Jones Road spanning Route 4 deemed to be  “functionally obsolete” by the NJDOT due to it being in “poor condition of the deck and substructure, as well as inadequate vertical and lateral under-clearances.” The Record 

Montague’s school board claims High Point Regional High School’s officials interfered with its efforts to end their 2013 send-receive agreement in violation of a 2018 settlement, according to a recently filed lawsuit. The lawsuit follows Montague’s filing of a still-pending petition with the state Department of Education seeking to dissolve the seven-year-old relationship with High Point Regional in Wantage, so it could resume sending its students in grades 9-12 to Port Jervis High School in New York. New Jersey Herald

And finally…A happy Hanukkah to those starting the festival of lights tonight.  New Jersey Herald

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