North Jersey News Roundup for Jan. 13, 2021

Gov. Phil Murphy delivered a virtual State of the State on Jan. 12, featuring a mix of administration accomplishments over the last three years as well as goals left undone as he prepares to campaign for a second term this year. “Although wounded deeply, we enter 2021 tougher than ever, wiser than before, and ready to move forward together,” said Murphy, who delivered the taped address from an empty Patriots Theater at the Trenton War Memorial. “Everything, together, shows the promise of the new, post-COVID day that is just beginning to dawn. It’s a day we will enter not fearing what’s next, but knowing where we’re heading. And that direction is forward.”

Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-37) pressed Gov. Phil Murphy to back a bill making coronavirus pandemic documents subject to disclosure under the Open Public Records Act after he made overtures to transparency in his State of the State address. “New Jerseyans have come together and made tremendous sacrifices to keep themselves and their families safe,” Weinberg said. “It is in times like these that the public’s right to know is most essential and in need of protection.” New Jersey Globe

Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin’s office has asked Democratic Assembly members to close their district offices until at least Jan. 20, a directive that comes in the wake of Jan. 6’s insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and ahead of planned protests in state capitals across the country. Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick said he was aware of the message and that his office would be in touch with his own members. PoliticoNJ

The House of Representatives began impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump after formally calling on Vice President Mike Pence to use the 25th Amendment. The Vice President rejected the request earlier, saying he didn’t believe the action was “in the best interest of our nation.” Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), the third ranking GOP member in the House, backed the call for President Trump to be impeached, while numerous reports indicated Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is open to the removal of the President before he leaves office Jan. 20. The New York Times

President Donald Trump blamed Democratic Congressional foes for “tremendous anger” in the country and the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol by his supporters after he urged them on their way. The President, in his first remarks to reporters since last week’s attack, took no responsibility for the deadly mob invasion of the building, defending his fiery rally remarks to a protest crowd last week as “totally appropriate,” and showed no remorse for the following attack. The Wall Street Journal

Sen. Bob Menendez is calling on President Donald Trump to leave office on his own. “For the good of the country, President Trump should step aside,” Menendez said on Jan. 12. “There must be accountability for those who incite an armed, violent insurrection on the U.S. Capitol that leaves five people dead and endangers the lives of members of Congress, their staffs and the Vice President,” Menendez said. “Such action cannot go unpunished and we must make clear that there will be consequences for anyone actively working to subvert our democracy in the future.’’ 

An Illinois man has been charged by federal authorities with threatening to commit violence to two New Jersey political figures as well as at the upcoming presidential inauguration. The man allegedly closed a voicemail to the unnamed New Jersey lawmaker by saying he would “like to put one in,” according to the complaint, while former Gov. Chris Christie confirmed he was the target of the threat as well. The Daily Record

State officials reiterated cost is not a concern when it comes to New Jerseyans receiving the COVID-19 vaccine as the overall death total passed 20,000 on Jan. 12. Pursuant to the CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Program Provider Agreement, all providers must vaccinate individuals regardless of whether they have health insurance coverage or what type of coverage they have, and are prohibited from charging vaccine recipients.

The Trump administration will no longer hold back second doses of coronavirus shots and is asking states to start vaccinating older adults and people with high-risk medical conditions in an effort to accelerate vaccinations. Operation Warp Speed, the government’s vaccine accelerator, is changing how it allocates scarce doses of COVID-19 vaccines as well. Rather than provide doses to states based on their adult population, federal officials will soon send weekly shipments based on the size of a state’s 65-and-over population and how quickly they are administering shots. PoliticoNJ

The New Jersey State Senate passed a new bill to help restaurants after Gov. Phil Murphy vetoed a previous effort. The bill would update regulations to allow businesses to utilize covered and uncovered patios and decks, yards, walkways, parking lots and public sidewalks for both food and alcohol consumption. “(Businesses) need to know that they are permitted to operate outdoors for the next two years so that they can invest in purchasing fixtures such as tents and umbrellas necessary for outdoor dining,” said State Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-36).

The State Assembly passed a bill requiring diversity and inclusion be taught in grades kindergarten through 12 in New Jersey public schools beginning next school year. The bill, now headed to the governor, would update the New Jersey Student Learning Standards to promote “economic diversity, equity, inclusion, tolerance, and belonging in connection with gender and sexual orientation, race and ethnicity, disabilities, and religious tolerance.”

Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop is aiming to raise the maximum salary the city’s top administrators can receive to match the money offered by other cities. Under the legislation, which amends a 2019 ordinance on salary increases, the current Newark salaries would be the benchmark for Jersey City maximum salaries for key jobs, with the potential raises costing Jersey City an additional $240,000 a year.  The Jersey Journal

In a reversal, the Montague Board of Education appears on the verge of withdrawing a lawsuit against High Point Regional High School filed by previous board members more than a year ago in an effort to end their send-receive relationship. The move would eliminate any chance of a resumption of Montague’s send-receive relationship with the Port Jervis School District of New York, where it formerly sent students for grades 7-12. New Jersey Herald

The Hudson County Commissioners are looking to limit how long members of the public can speak during their meetings. The commissioners will introduce an ordinance to cut down the amount of time the public can speak about issues that do not appear on the meeting agenda to three minutes from the current five. The Jersey Journal

And finally…New Jersey ranks in top 10 best states to raise a family. News12 News Jersey

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