North Jersey News Roundup for Jan. 5, 2021

New Jersey has joined a U.S. Supreme Court battle determining whether remote workers who are no longer commuting into the office can have their income taxed by other states. The brief urges the Supreme Court to take up a case filed in which New Hampshire filed a federal suit over Massachusetts taxing the income of workers who are working at home instead of in the neighboring state. “This case has a major impact for our state’s bottom line, especially during a pandemic, when unprecedented numbers of employees have been working from home,” said Grewal, adding that taxing New Jersey telecommuters “is unfair and unconstitutional.”

The Murphy administration and legislative leaders are close to resolving disputes holding up New Jersey’s plans to legalize marijuana for adult use and decriminalize possession. The Senate and Assembly have scheduled voting sessions for Jan. 11 for lawmakers to pass a “clean-up” bill that clarifies the penalties for underage possession of cannabis and marijuana. Soon thereafter, Gov. Phil Murphy would sign a legalization bill, a decriminalization bill and the bill resolving the issues relating to underage possession as the governor wants there to be civil penalties for those under the age of 21 who are caught with the drug. PoliticoNJ

The state Attorney General’s Office has convened a grand jury that is investigating the actions of state-run veterans homes surrounding their response to the coronavirus for possible criminal charges. A subpoena and letter dated Oct. 23, 2020, from the office’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit demand that a records custodian from the New Jersey Veterans Home at Paramus supply a litany of documents to investigators and possibly appear before a state grand jury to give testimony. The subpoena asks for documents from October 2019 through October 2020 covering more than 40 topics, including infection control, staffing, independent inspections and audits, and COVID-related information. The Record

State officials have begun to offer a truer picture of how many cases of the coronavirus are in New Jersey. Starting Jan. 4, the state started publishing the cumulative and daily cases they are terming “probable cases” from rapid test results on its COVID-19 dashboard. “Confirmed cases” are individuals with a positive PCR test for COVID-19, while the new “probable cases” category are individuals with a positive antigen test for COVID-19 but no positive, confirmatory PCR test. On its first day the state reported the new data, the cumulative number of coronavirus cases from both tests in New Jersey reached 528,198.

The current total statewide number of people to receive at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine is 101,417. State Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said the total vaccinations are likely higher as a result of reporting delays from the sites, particularly at psychiatric facilities, on the shots being delivered. New Jersey was awarded approximately 400,000 vaccines in December 2020. Of that, approximately 120,000 doses have been reserved for long-term care facilities and 280,000 doses have been allocated to hospitals and community sites for frontline healthcare workers.

The New Jersey Department of Health is looking to recruit retired physicians, nurses, pharmacists and others whose training enables them to immunize patients with the COVID-19 vaccine. Those who want to help in administering the vaccine are urged to sign up to volunteer through their county branch of the New Jersey Medical Reserve Corps, a 5,000-member group that can serve as a backstop during a public health crisis. NJ Spotlight News

Paterson is cutting back on their “on demand” coronavirus testing program due to lack of funding. Officials are reducing the free service from six days per week to two as the federal CARES Act funding the city was using to provide the testing expired on Dec. 30, 2020. The Record

Morris County is scaling back its free at-home coronavirus testing program due to residents and workers hoarding the saliva-test kits. County officials will phase out at-home tests for all but homebound, symptomatic residents and direct more funding and resources to the in-person COVID testing program recently launched at County College of Morris. The Daily Record

Sen. Bob Menendez secured $230 million for the “Rebuild By Design” flood resiliency project in Hoboken. Menendez, who is chair of the Superstorm Sandy Task Force, was able to secure a one-year extension of Sandy-related Community Development Block Grant Disaster Relief funds allocated for the projects, which was set to expire Sept. 30, 2022. Now, the project has until Sept. 30, 2023 before the spectre of forfeited funds would appear again.

Gov. Phil Murphy has raised more than $3.5 million for his re-election campaign, already qualifying for the maximum amount of public financing for the Democratic primary campaign after just three months of fundraising. By raising $3.5 million, Murphy will receive about $4.6 million in matching funds. In exchange, he must agree to limit his primary campaign expenditures to $7.3 million, a condition the governor has agreed to. New Jersey Globe

The Jersey City Council capped the fees that third-party food delivery apps like Grubhub and UberEats charge local restaurants during the coronavirus pandemic. An ordinance was adopted preventing restaurants from being charged more than 15% per order when using the food delivery apps. Eateries with their own delivery staff will see charges limited to 5% per order. The Jersey Journal

And finally…New Jersey begins using retrofitted shipping containers as coronavirus testing sites. News12 New Jersey

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