North Jersey News Roundup for Jan. 6, 2021

Gov. Phil Murphy criticized both local and national Republicans ahead of their planned challenge of the Electoral College formal announcement in Congress on Jan. 6. “The words I will use—shameful, dangerous, undemocratic and unpatriotic display—(describe) a number of Congressional Republicans who are openly and unabashedly working to undermine our constitutional norms,” said Murphy at a press briefing Jan. 4.

Democrats inched closer to taking control of the Senate, winning one of the two Georgia seats up for grabs in a pair of runoff elections while the second contest remained too close to call. The Rev. Raphael Warnock defeated Sen. Kelly Loeffler, a Republican, to become the first Black senator in Georgia history , while Sen. David Perdue and his Democratic challenger, Jon Ossoff, were neck-and-neck, with thousands of votes in mostly Democratic-leaning areas still to be counted. The New York Times

Some Republicans on Jan. 6 are planning to follow through with their challenge to the ratification of President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College win. All 50 states and the District of Columbia certified their results, but scores of Republicans in the House and 13 in the Senate are expected to object to counting in at least three states’ tallies: Arizona, Georgia and Pennsylvania. The Wall Street Journal

Gov. Phil Murphy vetoed a bill allowing restaurants, bars and breweries struggling amid the coronavirus pandemic to extend their footprints and serve patrons in parking lots, yards, patios, decks and public sidewalks. In vetoing the legislation, the governor said it “circumvents existing licensing and regulation processes critical to protecting the public’s health and safety,” including shifting enforcement and oversight from state Alcohol Beverage Control fully to local governments, forcing municipalities to approve any applicant that submits proper documentation and overriding the ability to limit hours of operation. New Jersey Herald

State officials are asking only healthcare workers to use a new portal to pre-register for the COVID-19 vaccine after launching Jan. 5 when many users received an error message when they tried to sign on due to high volume. The New Jersey Vaccine Scheduling System remains open to anyone who wants to get on waiting lists for the vaccines, but the state’s Health Department advised the general population to wait before signing up once users started reporting problems.

As frontline healthcare workers begin to receive their second COVID-19 vaccine shot, state officials gave an update on the vaccination program in New Jersey. As of Jan. 4, a total of 101,417 of those as defined by the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) as being in the Phase 1A population have received their first dose, which include frontline medical workers and residents and staff at long-term care facilities.

The Trump administration is accelerating a plan to begin offering coronavirus shots in pharmacies after federal officials faced criticism for the slow pace of immunizations. Within the next two weeks, the federal government’s vaccine accelerator program estimates 3,000 to 6,000 pharmacies could begin administering COVID-19 shots. Additionally, officials are encouraging states to move beyond frontline healthcare workers to other priority groups, such as non-essential workers or older adults, if they have vaccines going unused on shelves. PoliticoNJ

The delay of New Jersey’s legislative redistricting is almost certain after a federal deputy attorney general said less-discrete data used to apportion House seats wouldn’t be available at the earliest Feb. 9. Under a constitutional amendment voters approved in November 2020, the state won’t redraw legislative district lines until 2023 if the state doesn’t receive census data by Feb. 15, a date that now appears certain. New Jersey Globe

Rep. Josh Gottheimer was joined by Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) in unveiling new bipartisan legislation designed to combat online terrorism. The Online Terrorism Prevention Act will require regular disclosures when designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations utilize social media platforms, and will arm regulators with financial and criminal penalties for social media companies that fail to eliminate terrorists utilizing their networks.

An audit in Dover revealed financial reporting errors, payroll discrepancies and issues with being able to fund tax appeals. In a report delivered to the town, issues highlighted include oversight of the nearly $5 million sale of a library painting as well as discovering the town’s current reserve for tax appeals cannot fund the more than $22 million in cumulative taxes being appealed. The Daily Record

Hudson County Democratic Organization Chair Amy DeGise is joining Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop’s slate of City Council candidates for the 2021 municipal election. DeGise, the daughter of Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise, will seek one of three at-large seats on the nine-person City Council as part of Team Fulop. The Jersey Journal

Bridget Anne Kelly is considering a run on the Republican ticket for Bergen County Clerk in 2021. Kelly, whose conviction in Bridgegate was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2020, said she will decide in the coming weeks if she will mount a campaign against current county clerk, Democrat John Hogan. The Record 

Gov. Phil Murphy’s re-election campaign has hired a New Jersey human resources firm to help foster an inclusive workplace culture and hold sexual harassment training after Murphy’s first campaign faced allegations of having a toxic work environment, especially for women. The South Orange firm Culturupt will implement a program that includes mandatory sexual harassment and implicit bias trainings for campaign staff members and consultants, create a code of conduct for the campaign, develop ways to investigate and resolve workplace issues, and set up a system to discipline and terminate employees and consultants.

NJ Transit is five graduates away from a full roster as the agency added 17 locomotive engineers to its ranks Jan. 5. The ideal number of locomotive engineers on the roster is between 390 and 400; with the new graduates, the agency has 385. The Daily Record

Hudson Regional Hospital terminated CarePoint Health’s lease as operator of Bayonne Medical Center through a notification served on Dec. 31, 2020. At the same time, CarePoint announced it signed a letter of intent to sell the operations of Hoboken University Medical Center and Christ Hospital to KPC Global Management, LLC, a healthcare management company out of California. Hudson Reporter

Englewood Cliffs appointed a new acting borough administrator who is a former council president the borough recently agreed to pay nearly $400,000 to settle a lawsuit. Carrol McMorrow has sued the borough numerous times and most recently settled a lawsuit filed against the borough and former Police Chief Michael Cioffi after she alleged Cioffi violated her civil rights for political purposes. The Record

And finally…Gov. Phil Murphy will deliver the 2021 State of the State Address on Jan. 12 virtual due to the coronavirus pandemic. Insider NJ

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