North Jersey News Roundup for April 7, 2021

State Sens. Anthony Bucco and Kristin Corrado are pushing Gov. Phil Murphy to ease requirements for reopening adult day care facilities throughout New Jersey. The State Senators contend that Murphy’s coronavirus standards for reopening congregate day programs are inconsistent with other standards, thereby harming thousands of New Jersey residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities who have gone without this source of care for the past year. When questioned about the subject at a press briefing April 5, Murphy said “I know there’s a lot of very rightful concern….our team is reviewing the developmental disability visitation realities, and I know (we are) going to start to consider factoring in vaccination levels as part of that.”

President Joe Biden moved up by two weeks, to April 19, his deadline for states to make every American adult eligible for COVID-19 vaccine. The move comes a day after Gov. Phil Murphy announced New Jersey would move the state’s eligibility for all of its residents to 16 and older to the same date. The New York Times

Nearly half of new coronavirus infections nationwide are in just five states, including New Jersey. A reported 44% of the nation’s new cases were reported from New York, Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania and the Garden State, a situation that is putting pressure on the federal government to consider changing how it distributes vaccines by sending more doses to hot spots.

Rutgers University has been approved by the state as a COVID-19 vaccination site. Once the university gets their supplies, the vaccines will be offered to faculty, staff and students on the Camden, Newark and New Brunswick campuses. News12 New Jersey

At least 24 students tested positive for the coronavirus at Glen Rock High School, prompting the school to shift to remote instruction. According to school officials, 14 students had tested positive since their return from Spring break with an additional 10 students testing positive on April 6. The district will conduct remote instruction for the high school until April 9 which may be extended depending on the number of cases. The Record

North Jersey politicians are on-board for President Joe Biden’s American Jobs Plan to rebuild the roads, bridges and other infrastructure that is badly in need of fixing in the Garden State. Rep. Mikie Sherrill summed up the sentiments of New Jersey Democrats that the $2 trillion infrastructure proposal strikes “at the heart of the problems” the U.S. is facing.  “For the last four years, we have heard talk about infrastructure over and over again,” said Sherrill (D-11). “This plan will create jobs, increase our resilience to climate change, continue the fight against poverty, and finally upgrade our crumbling physical infrastructure.”

Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-11) has $3,606,174 cash-on-hand after raising a whopping $716,946 during the first three months of 2020. The North Jersey congresswoman’s warchest, boosted by a decision to bank money in her 2020 re-election bid, strengthens her expected bid for a third term in next year’s midterm elections. New Jersey Globe

New Jersey’s public contractors dropped their annual giving to the lowest level on record, according to preliminary data released by the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission. Public contractors gave about $7.8 million in 2020, a 16% drop from the $9.3 million donated in 2019 and just $195,181 less than the $8 million they reported giving in 2012, the previous recorded low. Insider NJ

Local opposition is being voiced to the plan to finance redeveloping Penn Station New York by allowing up to 10 new skyscrapers to be built in the surrounding midtown Manhattan neighborhood. Proceeds from the construction would finance the redevelopment of Penn Station, which includes construction of a proposed nine-track addition south of Penn Station to accommodate NJ Transit trains and improvements for the subway stations that service it.

Republican members of the Senate Budget & Appropriations Committee attacked the Murphy Administration’s for what they see as false revenue projections during the coronavirus pandemic. GOP State Senators argument was augmented by a fiscal analyst from the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services on April 6 that estimated tax collections through March are coming in nearly $3.7 billion higher than Gov. Phil Murphy projected when the current budget was approved in September. “The Murphy Administration peddled outrageous claims about the state’s finances over the past year that have proven to be completely false,” said State Sen. Steve Oroho (R-24), the Republican Budget Officer.

The New Jersey Department of Corrections received its first allotment of body cameras for officers to wear at the state’s only women’s prison. The department announced the pilot program is being funded by a $250,000 grant award from the U.S. Department of Justice and will initially launch at Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women, which has come under fire in recent years after allegations of sexual abuse and most recently, an ongoing criminal investigation into a violent attack against a group of inmates.

New Jersey unveiled a trove of data on every use of physical force by officers statewide, an online portal showing every time cops hit, tackled or shot suspects in recent months. Police reported using force on Black people 2,434 times since late last year, a number higher than any other racial group and amounts to more than 44% of all force despite Black residents making up less than a fifth of the total population. Furthermore, cops labeled more than 20% of all reported force encounters as a “potential mental health incident.” NJ Spotlight News

Palisades Park is seeking reimbursement from employees of over $200,000 after a comptroller’s report found that officials were improperly paying for unused sick time. Additionally, the borough had made changes include amending white-collar contracts, issuing gas cards to department heads only, instituting an oversight committee and is waiting for recommendations from a special counsel’s report before taking further action such as if the business administrator will need to reimburse the town for receiving taxpayer dollars to defend himself from a federal investigation of his private business. The Record

And finally…The New Jersey School of Conservation will resume hosting programs and events in May, a year after announcing that it would close as a casualty of the coronavirus pandemic. New Jersey Herald

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