North Jersey News Roundup for Dec. 11, 2020

Eligibility for extended unemployment insurance (UI) benefits was expanded when Gov. Phil Murphy signed new legislation into law. The law will allow those who had been eligible for regular UI benefits prior to exhausting their benefits or those who earned 40 times their unemployment weekly benefits rate to apply for the benefits. The extended UI benefits offer up to an additional 20 weeks of benefits.

An independent U.S. government advisory panel endorsed widespread use of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine Dec. 10, putting the country just one step away from launching a vaccination campaign. In a 17-4 vote with one abstention, the panel concluded the vaccine from Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech appears safe and effective for emergency use in adults and teenagers 16 and older. Shots could begin within days, depending on how quickly the Food and Drug Administration signs off on the expert committee’s recommendation.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield issued a stark warning about the worsening death toll from the coronavirus. “We are in the timeframe now that probably for the next 60 to 90 days we’re going to have more deaths per day than we had at 9/11 or we had at Pearl Harbor,” Redfield said. Approximately 2,900 people died on 9/11 and 2,400 died in the Pearl Harbor attack at the start of World War II. The Hill

Top U.S. Senate Republicans signaled they wouldn’t accept a bipartisan group’s coronavirus stimulus effort to craft a compromise on state and local governments and liability protections during the pandemic. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell conveyed to Democratic leadership staff that the liability ideas being discussed by the bipartisan group fell short of what Republicans felt was necessary. The Wall Street Journal

Another five New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission locations were forced to close due to employees being infected by COVID-19, bringing the total number of locations currently closed to 14. The Wallington, Toms River, Paterson, Cardiff and Bayonne locations each had an employee test positive for the virus and have implemented closures to provide time for the facilities to be cleaned and other employees to quarantine. The Record

The Morris School District reported 93 cases of COVID-19 in the last month, prompting all schools to close until January. Due to an increase of positive cases after Thanksgiving week, the local health department recommended all Morris School District buildings to close until Jan. 4. Additionally, school officials said quarantine restrictions are not being followed by parents and are contributing to an uptick in local cases. The Daily Record

Paterson education officials are extending all-remote instruction at public schools until at least the end of February. Officials believe the earliest the district could resume in-person classes would be in March using a hybrid system with parents given the choice between remote learning and in-person. The Record

Doug Steinhardt, chair of the New Jersey Republican State Committee, announced he is running for governor in 2021. Steinhardt, a resident of Belvidere, will face a primary battle between him and former state Assemblymember Jack Ciattarelli for the GOP nomination to take on Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy.  New Jersey Globe

New Jersey joined 19 other states asking the U.S. Supreme Court to reject an effort to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election by 18 GOP-run states. The states are asking the highest court in the land to oppose the suit brought by Texas and other states that supported President Donald Trump. The states reject allegations by President Trump and his Republican allies the President would have won re-election had it not been for the states expanding absentee balloting due to the coronavirus. State courts have rejected more than four dozen lawsuits challenging the election results.

Project Ready recently shared results from a survey of voters in the Garden State about voting experiences, as well as thoughts on both new and potential voting reform measures. When asked about how New Jersey administered the November election, 56% gave the state a good or excellent rating. But the research shows that this rating was closely tied to party affiliation: 96% of Democrats gave the state a positive rating while 86% of Republicans provided a negative rating.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is objecting to swift passage of the National Defense Authorization Act. Sen. Paul opposes a provision in the bill that he believes hamstring the President’s ability to draw down American troops from Afghanistan. PoliticoNJ

New Jersey lawmakers want to see if the state can save more by consolidating transportation agencies. The consolidation legislation passed by the Senate Transportation Committee calls for a seven-member task force to investigate ways to cut costs by integrating services at the state’s Department of Transportation, New Jersey Turnpike Authority, NJ Transit, the New Jersey Transportation Trust Fund Authority and the South Jersey Transportation Authority. NJ Spotlight News

As the automobile industry continues to make advances with self-driving cars, New Jersey is looking into what policies, laws and regulations it would need to enact in order to safely integrate the technology in the Garden State. A newly-released report from the New Jersey Autonomous Vehicle Task Force has provided what Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean (R-21) says maps “the road ahead” for bringing driverless vehicles to the state in a smart and safe way.

Two offshore wind developers have submitted bids to build wind farms off the New Jersey coast. Ørsted and Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind recently submitted bids to build a 2,300-MW project between 10 to 20 miles off the coast between Atlantic City and Barnegat Light as the Garden State seeking to triple the capacity of electricity generated from the technology. NJ Spotlight News 

Englewood Cliffs councilman Jimmy Song resigned Dec. 5. Mayor Mario Kranjac said it happened “suddenly” but Councilwoman Deborah Tsabari said that it was a long time coming after Song had endured what she called “verbal abuse” led by the mayor. The Record

And finally…Time’s 2020 Person of the Year are President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Time

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.