North Jersey News Roundup for Feb. 8, 2021

OPINION: Washington Begins To Confront QAnon. The House of Representatives vote to remove Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) is a needed first step by our leaders in Washington to confront the extremists’ views of domestic terrorists. Let’s state this clearly: this is not about “cancel culture” or attempting to take away her First Amendment rights. This is about holding her responsible for her long history of promoting anti-semtic conspiracy theories and calls for violence against political leaders of the Democratic party. But this is a campaign that must be confronted by majorities of both parties to hold those in their caucus espousing these abhorrent views accountable.

The second impeachment trial against former President Donald Trump is slated to begin this week. House impeachment managers are expected to rely heavily on videos in making the case that the former President caused the insurrection attempts based on his baseless claims of widespread voter fraud that caused him to lose the election and resulted in domestic terrorists storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. The New York Times

President Joe Biden stated Donald Trump’s “erratic behavior” should prevent him from receiving classified intelligence briefings, a courtesy that historically has been granted to outgoing presidents. “I just think that there is no need for him to have the intelligence briefings,” Biden said. “What value is giving him an intelligence briefing? What impact does he have at all, other than the fact he might slip and say something?”

House Democrats on Feb. 5 voted to adopt a final budget measure, setting off an approximately two-week sprint to draft a coronavirus relief bill. The $1.9 trillion package will be the culmination of 25 committees in both chambers working over the next two weeks to produce a bill expected to include a round of $1,400 stimulus checks, $350 billion in state and local aid and a boost in weekly federal unemployment benefits. PoliticoNJ

The U.S. Senate defeated a Republican effort to keep a possible repeal of the state and local taxes (SALT) $10,000 cap out of the coronavirus relief bill. Senators voted, 51-49, with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) joining all 50 Democrats to defeat an amendment preventing a repeal from being added to the stimulus bill. The amendment was proposed by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) who introduced legislation to eliminate the tax levied only on estates of more than $11 million.

Reps. Tom Malinowski (NJ-7) and Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) are looking for guidance from the federal government to accelerate getting teachers back into the classroom in the Garden State. The congressmen wrote to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) pushing for new protocols to support the safe return to in-person instruction in New Jersey by having states prioritize the vaccination of educators and staff in the same category as first responders. The designation would ensure schools optimize their COVID-19 testing procedures, and a standard set of quarantine guidelines for all states and counties to mitigate confusion.

New Jersey residents who have gone weeks without an unemployment payment because of a snag in the state’s Department of Labor’s system will return to their normal payment cycle a week earlier than anticipated. The 75,000 affected workers were notified this weekend by email that they can return to certifying for benefits and will receive payments directly to their bank account or via a debit card on their regular schedule. The Record

Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law legislation giving restaurant owners a roadmap on outdoor dining for the next two years. The new law establishes the framework for municipalities to allow restaurants, bars, distilleries, and breweries to utilize outdoor spaces or public sidewalks as extensions of their business, many of which were forced by the coronavirus pandemic to adopt outdoor dining to their business model.

New Jersey is expecting to receive nearly 250,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccines this week—including 111,000 set aside for second shots—to help meet the overwhelming demand imbalance making it difficult for residents to find appointments. The state will get 55,575 Pfizer and 80,900 Moderna first doses, as well as 55,575 Pfizer and 56,100 Moderna second doses.

Pfizer expects to nearly cut in half the amount of time it takes to produce a batch of COVID-19 vaccine. Company officials said it expects the time to produce the vaccine will be cut from 110 days to an average of 60 as it makes the process more efficient and production is built out. The Record

At 17%, New Jersey is among the states with the lowest number of people unwilling to be vaccinated in the nation. According to a new report from the COVID States Project, 20 to 23% of adults nationally do not plan to get vaccinated, almost a third want to get the shot as soon as possible, while about 40% plan to wait a while to see how the vaccine affects other people.

Trenton lawmakers extended the deadline to negotiate on two bills to legalize and decriminalize marijuana. Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin announced the delay “in order for the Senate to complete its discussions and conclude negotiations with the Assembly and Governor on revisions to the cannabis legislation,” claiming “significant progress” had been made on discussions between Gov. Phil Murphy and legislators. New Jersey Globe

Federal and state lawmakers are looking for ways to increase broadband access in Warren and Sussex Counties. Rep. Josh Gottheimer recently announced new steps to help make sure federal coronavirus relief investment for broadband support is delivered to both Sussex and Warren Counties, while State Sen. Steve Oroho (R-24) is a cosponsor of bipartisan legislation approved by the State Senate to help pave the way for high-speed broadband internet access to forgotten areas across the state.

Assemblywoman Jean Stanfield (R-8) announced her intentions to impeach the head of the New Jersey prison system after three officers at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility were charged for alleged beatings inmates at the state’s only women’s prison. Stanfield said on Feb. 5 that it would be “dangerous” to keep Corrections Commissioner Marcus Hicks in office. Gov. Phil Murphy has appointed an independent investigator but he’s stood by the commissioner so far, despite a growing bipartisan chorus demanding his ouster including every Democrat in the state Senate recently signing a letter saying Hicks should go.

Two GOP Assemblywomen have expressed interest in being the party’s leader in New Jersey’s lower legislative house. Assemblywomen BettyLou DeCroce (R-26) and Nancy Munoz (R-21) have made it known they are considering running for Republican Leader in the Assembly as current Minority Leader Jon S. Bramnick (R-21) intends to be the party’s nominee for the Senate Seat being vacated by Tom Kean, Jr. New Jersey Herald

Rockaway Township Councilman Tucker Kelley is suing the township and the municipal clerk’s office in an effort to find out whether the town is being overcharged by its lawyers. This suit, which brings the number of open suits against the town filed by Kelley to four, alleges only one lawyer from the firm Iaciofano and Perrone attended a June 23 meeting, yet the Township Council agreed to pay for both. The Daily Record

And finally…Tom Brady was selected as the Super Bowl MVP for a 5th time as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 31-8.

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