North Jersey News Roundup for Dec. 28, 2020

OPINION: Two Bills Show Big Bipartisan Deals Can Get Done. Congress was finally able to pass a $900 billion coronavirus stimulus bill that includes $600 direct payments to individuals and families, enhanced unemployment benefits, small business aid, and funding for distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. Concurrently, state lawmakers were able to get a $14 billion corporate tax break bill that backers say will spur growth in the Garden State. The passing of these two huge bill items proves when a common purpose can be found, legislative initiatives benefiting the nation can be passed.

President Donald Trump signed into law a major coronavirus stimulus package along with an annual spending bill, avoiding a government shutdown. The President has railed against the $900 billion coronavirus relief bill and a $1.4 trillion government funding bill since Congress approved it, demanding $2,000 checks and cutting out foreign aid. President Trump said he will insist on reductions in spending in parts of the bill, though Congress does not have to go along. PoliticoNJ

People traveling to Newark Liberty International Airport via United Airlines on flights originating from the United Kingdom will soon be required to test negative for the coronavirus within 72 hours before departure as fears continue over a mutated strain that has been spreading in the European country. “As we continue to experience a second wave of COVID-19 cases, it’s critical that we take any and all precautions to mitigate the potential for further transmission,” said Gov. Phil Murphy. “While New Jersey continues to strongly discourage all non-essential travel at this time, if unavoidable, international travelers should adhere to CDC guidance for pre- and post-flight testing and the recommended self-quarantine period.”

The next phase of COVID-19 vaccination shots began in the Garden State Dec. 28 with residents and staffers at long-term care facilities starting to receive their shots. New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said 55,000 doses of the vaccine have been reserved for the federal pharmacy partnership for skilled nursing facilities and expects to provide 112,000 first doses of Pfizer for vaccination of nursing home staff and residents over the next month.

A class-action lawsuit against Teterboro-based Infinity Diagnostics Labs alleges the company fraudulently sold COVID-19 tests, accusing the company of advertising $75 “rapid” COVID tests that were actually antibody tests with no capacity to detect the virus. The kits were distributed out of an Infinity location in Ventnor City, a storefront shuttered while being investigated by the FBI, but not before the alleged scammed potentially thousands of people, according to the complaint.  The Record

NJ Transit’s Positive Train Control (PTC) system has met its end-of-year implementation deadline and has now been certified by the Federal Railroad Administration. Using Global Positioning System technology, Wi-Fi and high band radio transmission, PTC is capable of automatically controlling train speeds and movements, thereby reducing the risk of accidents due to human error, derailments caused by excessive speed, unauthorized train movements in work zones and movement of trains through switches left in the wrong position.

Population estimates that will determine Congressional redistricting show New Jersey’s number of House seats will remain unchanged. The new population estimates suggest that 10 states are likely to lose one congressional seat each: Alabama, California, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and West Virginia. Texas is expected to gain three seats, Florida is expected to pick up two and five states—Arizona, Colorado, Montana, North Carolina and Oregon—will add one each. The Wall Street Journal

Two certified winners of a disputed election for Rochelle Park township committee will not take office in January 2021 after a Superior Court Judge ruled that the merits of a challenge to the Nov. 3 election justify delaying the swearing-in ceremonies. After losing by five votes to Democrats Linda Boniface and Michael Warren, Republican Perrin Mosca has alleged that 15 votes were cast illegally by individuals who were not residents of Roselle Park at the time, 11 votes were improperly disqualified and 34 ballots cast from an assisted living facility in Rochelle Park that were delivered to a drop box are being challenged for exceeding the legal limit of three per messenger. New Jersey Globe

President Donald Trump’s veto of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) funding bill drew a strong rebuke from Rep. Mikie Sherrill. “The President’s eleventh hour veto of one of the most widely supported bills in Congress shows how little regard he has for our troops, for Congress, and for the work it takes to govern our great nation,” said Sherril in a press statement Dec. 23, noting the bill provides pay raises for troops, removes Confederate base names, and strengthens the Defense Department’s ability to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

Newark police busted an speakeasy being run in a warehouse, making it the second one broken up by cops in the state in December. Police broke the party at a warehouse located at Libella Court, where 200 people were eating, drinking alcohol and participating in illegal gambling, in violation of current coronavirus regulations against large indoor gatherings.

East Newark would receive a five-acre waterfront park at no cost to its taxpayers under a proposal released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The proposal is associated with the extensive Diamond Alkali Superfund site in Newark, which includes the 17.4 miles of the Passaic River from its confluence with the Newark Bay to Dundee Dam; the Newark Bay; the Arthur Kill and the Kill Van Kull; and tidal portions of the Hackensack River. The preliminary park design includes pathways and an elevated walkway along the river, as well as converting industrial land into restored forest, pollinator gardens, native grasslands and wetlands. The Jersey Journal

And finally…Workers install 192 crystals on Times Square New Year’s ball. News12 News Jersey

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