North Jersey News Roundup for March 2, 2021

During the month of March, New Jersey will twice expand the list for those eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine—headlined by teachers—despite the state continuing to face significant supply/demand imbalances. Among those eligible to receive the vaccine on March 15 include teachers, childcare providers, transportation workers, NJ Transit workers, and New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission staffers. On March 29, the list expands again to include hospitality workers, farmers, foodservice workers, and shipping services workers.

CVS and Rite Aid pharmacies will receive 22,500 doses of the newly approved Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine this week to boost New Jersey’s efforts to vaccinate its population. The doses will be in addition to 70,000 doses shipment the state will receive this week from the company, Gov. Phil Murphy said March 1. The CVS and Rite Aid vaccines come as part of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program. The Record

Those with appointments for the coronavirus vaccination at one of New Jersey’s six mega-sites should not show up hours early over fears that the location may run out of shots, stated Gov. Phil Murphy. “Simply put: If you have an appointment, you have a vaccine,” Murphy said March 1. “There is no need for anyone to be arriving at a mega-site hours before their appointment and waiting in line. We ask everyone to arrive 15 minutes prior to their appointed time.” State officials also noted vaccinations are not given at mega-sites without an appointment.

The Hudson County Vaccine Distribution Center in Kearny is prioritizing people who are 75 years old and older this week, part of a statewide effort to vaccinate the most vulnerable and at-risk populations. The county’s vaccine appointment portal will only permit appointment times for the 75+ population this week, with more than 300 residents over the age of 75 have already registered to be vaccinated on March 1—30 of whom are over 90 years old. Hudson Reporter

The race to be the GOP nominee for the State Senate in the 39th Legislative District took another twist over the weekend as both Assemblymembers in the district are now running against each other for a seat in the higher chamber. Assemblyman Robert Auth (R-39) entered the race to be named as the replacement for the rest of his term and be the party’s nominee this November. His candidacy was immediately endorsed by Carole Cardinale, the widow of State Sen. Gerald Cardinale. Auth will now take on fellow Assemblymember Holly Schepisi to be the party’s nominee, who declared her candidacy for the position earlier this year.

Alexandra Soriano-Taveras, a Democratic Assembly candidate in the 37th Legislative District, apologized for comments about boycotting Jewish businesses in Teaneck. While Soriano-Taveras said her words were taken out of context, her position on the ticket with Assemblyman Gordon Johnson is now in question after Johnson stated “I am not happy that she chose those words, period. I am looking for coordination and guidance, but the selection process is not done by me, so I am looking to see how (the Bergen County Democratic Committee is) going to handle this situation.” New Jersey Globe

The state Legislature has sent Gov. Phil Murphy seven bills to protect the rights of victims of sexual assault in New Jersey and reexamine how police and the courts in the state handle cases of sexual assault, rape and sexual harassment. Bills in the package would ensure sexual assault victims get copies of police reports, notification when prosecutors are filing charges against their assailants and the chance to weigh in on plea deals, as well as build a restorative justice pilot program for victims of sexual assault who decline to pursue criminal prosecution. Another bill would require local police departments to appoint a sexual violence liaison to serve as an “in-house expert on how to conduct sexual violence cases.” The Daily Record

A criminal justice bill ending mandatory minimum sentences for certain crimes in New Jersey, including non-violent drug offenses, awaits Gov. Phil Murphy’s signature after being passed by the Assembly. The bill is the major reform recommended by the state’s Criminal Sentencing and Disposition Commission, which Murphy convened in 2018 due to New Jersey having the worst disparity in the country for rates of incarceration between Black and White offenders. Murphy has raised concerns about the bill due to an amendment making the legislation apply to official misconduct charges, which is used to prosecute politicians, police officers and other public workers. PoliticoNJ

New Jersey voters would be able to cast their ballots in person up to 10 days before an election under an early voting bill passed by the Assembly. Voters would be able to vote early in time for the November gubernatorial and legislative elections. In that general election, voters would have two weekends and five weekdays to vote. The bill now goes to the Senate. New Jersey Globe

U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer is urging the U.S. State Department to label the Proud Boys and other violent extremist groups involved in storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 as domestic terrorists. In a Feb. 23 letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Gottheimer, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, wrote that such a designation would provide the tools needed to prosecute, financially counter and defeat these groups. “Federal prosecutors have already warned that Proud Boys members could plan further attacks on the federal government,” the North Jersey lawmaker stated. “Now, it’s time to make sure these groups that threaten the security of our communities and nation are specially designated as the terrorist groups that they are.”

Federal Judge Esther Salas is back at work more than seven months after a gunman killed her 20-year-old son and gravely injured her husband at her home. The investigation of the attack targeting Judge Salas, by disgruntled men’s rights lawyer Roy Den Hollander, revealed Hollander killed another lawyer in California just days before the ambush at the Salas home and was targeting U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor. NJ Spotlight News

Police and firefighters in New Jersey could retire after 20 years, regardless of their age, and collect a pension under a bill headed to Gov. Phil Murphy’s desk. The bill removes a requirement that full-time police officers and firefighters enrolled in the Police and Fireman’s Retirement System be at least 55 years old before they can collect a 50% pension after 20 years. The retirement option, however, is only available for two years after it becomes law. New Jersey Herald

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJDEA) is awarding $14 million in grants to 27 organizations through its Sustain & Serve NJ program. The program provides grants of $100,000 to $2 million to organizations such as homeless shelters, soup kitchens, hospitals, foundations and food pantries. Those organizations will use the NJEDA grants to make bulk purchases of meals from local restaurants. Those meals will be distributed for free to those in need, including homebound seniors, first responders and those going hungry. 

Paterson education officials are planning to implement more than $12 million worth of catch-up programs in an attempt to make up for the learning that students lost during the pandemic school shutdown. The package includes $3.9 million for summer classes, $3 million for reading specialists, $2.2 million for a Saturday program, $1.5 million for after-school instruction and $652,000 for high school tutors. The Record

And finally…The New Jersey Devils welcome fans back into the stands tonight.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.