North Jersey News Roundup for April 6, 2021

New Jersey will open COVID-19 vaccinations eligibility to people 16 and older starting April 19, about two weeks before its previously announced timeline. The state had said all adults would be eligible for the shot by May 1, in line with a goal set by President Joe Biden for universal adult eligibility. “This is the right time to put it into high gear,” said Gov. Phil Murphy at his press briefing on April 5.

New Jersey is changing its travel and quarantine guidelines to reflect new recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The state will no longer require fully vaccinated individuals who travel domestically to self-quarantine after their trip or to get tested before as well as after they travel. Guidance for unvaccinated travelers and international travelers remain unchanged.

Gov. Phil Murphy strongly denied the state is conflating old and new COVID-19 cases in its daily report. “It is a conspiracy theory…which is claiming that, for whatever reason, that we’re making this look worse than it is,” Murphy said, noting the theory that the state was taking cases from the past and moving them forward was rooted in politics rather than science. 

Drug manufacturer Catalent is expanding its U.S. production of the COVID-19 vaccine from Moderna that could ensure the U.S. has ample supply as it ramps up vaccinations. Catalent has reached an agreement with Moderna that will nearly double the vaccine output at the contract manufacturer’s Indiana plant to about 400 vials a minute. New doses will be ready for shipping starting next month and the upgraded plant will be able fill an additional 80 million vials a year. The Wall Street Journal

A new report suggests that hundreds of thousands of New Jersey students may finish out the 2020-21 school year below grade level expectations after a prolonged year of coronavirus-related classroom closures. Conducted by educational advocacy group JerseyCAN, “A Time to Act” reveals that across-the-board students in grades 3-8 lost significant amounts of expected learning in the first half of the current academic year, with Black and Latinx children fell more behind than their peers. Among the suggestions to help students catch up include expanded Summer school offerings and giving parents the option of holding their child back a grade level next Fall.

New Jersey’s legislative budget analysts are forecasting the state will collect roughly $550 million more than Murphy Administration’s projections over the next two fiscal years. According to the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services projections for the current fiscal year ending June 30, New Jersey will take in $44.6 billion, including the $4.3 billion in bond proceeds. The estimate is $428 million higher than Murphy’s February projections, and virtually all of the difference is found in the gross income tax. NJ Spotlight News

President Joe Biden’s pushed back on Republicans’ criticism that his American Jobs Plan allocates only a small fraction of money on “real” infrastructure as spending to address issues like home care, electric vehicles and water pipes should not count. The President noted calling for infrastructure spending that included power lines, internet cables and other programs beyond transportation, Republicans had narrowed their scope to exclude key components of his plan. “It’s kind of interesting that when the Republicans put forward an infrastructure plan, they thought everything from broadband to dealing with other things (qualified),” he said. “Their definition of infrastructure has changed.” The New York Times

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen argued for a global minimum corporate tax rate, seeking international cooperation to fund  the administration’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan. President Joe Biden’s proposal to raise the corporate tax rate to 28% from 21% would push the U.S. from the middle of the pack among major economies to near the top. Additionally, the Biden Administration plan would impose a 21% minimum tax on U.S. companies’ foreign income, remove an export incentive and raise taxes on some foreign companies’ U.S. operations. The Wall Street Journal

North Jersey Democratic lawmakers are blasting a 10-year-strategic plan from the United States Postal Service leadership, saying it is short-sighted and contradictory to the agency’s mission. Released March 23, the 58-page “Delivering for America” plan proposes several changes to help improve overall service, modernize the agency and make it more competitive to ensure long-term survival. Rep. Albio Sires (D-8) said the proposed cuts would result in “harmful delays and the degradation of service for millions across the country.” And Rep Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-9) categorized it as another attempt by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy “to destabilize the Post Office” and “a blueprint (for the agency’s) continued decay and destruction.”

The U.S. Supreme Court called for the U.S. Solicitor General to step into the long-running legal battle by New Jersey to kill the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor. The court sought briefs to hear “the views of the United States,” in a case that argues New Jersey should not be able to walk away from a federally approved interstate compact. The state wants to withdraw from the commission and turn over its policing role to the New Jersey State Police.

Paterson will deploy two-officer teams to conduct walking patrols in high-crime neighborhoods in response to 14 shootings in the city in March. Ten pairs of walking officers will operate between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. in an attempt to address a recent increase in daylight shootings in the city. The Record

Morris County Commissioner Tom Mastrangelo is running to be the GOP’s nominee for Assembly in the 26th Legislative District. Mastrangelo enters a race that already includes incumbents BettyLou DeCroce and Jay Webber as well as former Pompton Lakes Councilman Christian Barranco. Insider NJ

Four members of Morris County’s all-Republican Board of Commissioners endorsed Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce (R-26) for re-election, breaking with the county’s GOP committee. Commission Director Stephen Shaw and Commissioners Doug Cabana, Kathryn DeFillippo and Tayfun Selen backed DeCroce, who has held the seat since her husband, late Assemblyman Alex DeCroce, died in 2012. New Jersey Globe

And finally… New Jerseyans are supporting Morristown’s Glenbrook Brewery after a customer refused to leave a tip because of the establishment’s 90-minute dining limit. New Jersey Herald

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