North Jersey News Roundup for April 8, 2021

Races in several North Jersey legislative districts, including those in the 26, 31, 37 and 39, will have incumbents on the primary ballot running against the pick of the party. One of the most intriguing races is over who will be the GOP nominee in the 26th district, an area comprised of towns from three counties—Essex, Morris and Passaic—and where incumbent Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce is being challenged by the team of Assemblyman Jay Webber and former Pompton Lakes Councilman Christian Barranco as well as Morris County Commissioner Thomas Mastrangelo.

Gov. Phil Murphy pushed back against criticism that his administration acted prematurely in borrowing $4 billion to plug a projected budget hole last Fall, arguing the pandemic and political turmoil at the time left the prospect of federal aid tremendously uncertain. “We make the decisions at the time we make them based on the best information we have,” stated Murphy. “I haven’t heard so much Monday morning quarterbacking since Howard Cosell retired.” New Jersey Globe

More spectators will be allowed to attend indoor high school and youth sporting events amid the coronavirus pandemic after New Jersey loosened restrictions April 7. The state removed a 150 person limit on indoor sporting events for “necessary people” at the practices and games effective immediately. Athletes, coaches, referees, as well as up to two parents per athlete under the age of 21 are now considered necessary. All venues are still barred from exceeding 35% of the room’s total capacity.

Gov. Phil Murphy announced he will be getting his COVID-19 vaccine this week on the same day the state has reached 40% of its initial goal to get 4.7 million residents fully vaccinated by June 30. The governor and his wife Tammy scheduled their appointment for April 9 at the Atlantic City mega site run by AtlantiCare. “Tammy and I both went online—more Tammy than myself—and made our appointments to be vaccinated,” said Murphy at his daily press briefing April 7. “I am looking forward to that visit in a big way.”

New Jersey grocery stores and other retail businesses can resume offering self-service food stations like buffets and salad bars. Gov. Phil Murphy’s executive order takes effect immediately and applies to retail shops like convenience stores and bodegas, but maintains the restriction for restaurants and casinos.

Standardized testing for the majority of New Jersey students will be delayed until the Fall. The U.S. Department of Education approved New Jersey’s plan for statewide testing for the next school year using the new “Start Strong” exams, a streamlined version of the annual New Jersey Student Learning Assessments, were piloted with about 90,000 students last autumn in an optional testing window for schools to gauge learning loss during the coronavirus pandemic. NJ Spotlight News

Legislation was put on Gov. Phil Murphy’s desk to bolster the state’s personal protective equipment (PPE) stockpiles as hospitalization projected to rise in the fourth wave of coronavirus infections. The legislative mandate would require a process for the state to assess and approve PPE, and create two stockpiles. Under the bill, the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management would be given the ability to make a PPE stockpile available to the state and its political subdivision, public and nonpublic schools, state hospitals, and state nursing homes without a fee. Additionally, each stockpile would be filled to a capacity determined state agency’s with at least one third of the capacity would be filled until capacity was met.

New Jersey has agreed to pay almost $21 million to several women who said they were sexually abused while incarcerated at New Jersey’s only women’s prison and to other former inmates. The settlement would provide more than 20 women who said they were sexually abused in recent years with about $9.8 million and improve conditions at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility by enforcing officers’ use of body cameras.

President Joe Biden will unveil a series of executive actions aimed at addressing gun violence on April 8. The President will nominate David Chipman, a former federal agent and adviser at the gun control group Giffords, to be director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Additionally, the Justice Department will issue a series of new rules including reining in ghost guns within 30 days and tightening regulations on pistol-stabilizing braces within 60 days, pushing for red flag legislation allowing for individuals to petition a court to allow the police to confiscate weapons from a person deemed to be a danger to themselves or others, and begin to provide more data on firearms trafficking. The Wall Street Journal

Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez ordered an immediate internal affairs investigation into money that was recently discovered missing at the county prosecutor’s office. The investigation centers on various denominations of cash recovered from several separate cases that were recovered from the scenes and was being temporarily held for safekeeping. Suarez has ordered a full audit of other cases and a review of the procedures for the safekeeping of cash and property in addition to the investigation. Hudson Reporter

The estimated cost of the Hinchliffe Stadium reconstruction project has climbed by more than 20% in the last two years to $94 million. Paterson officials said some of the increased expense stemmed from changes in the sizes of the apartment building and parking garage included in the project, specifically the apartment tower has gone from five stories to six, with 10 additional apartments and the addition of two stories and 45 spaces to parking garage plans. The Record

Hoboken will purchase property from the Academy Bus for $11 million to expand the Southwest Resiliency Park into the adjacent one-acre block across Harrison Street. The deal allows Academy Bus to build 25 more residential units than previously allowed on a neighboring property because of the settlement. The Jersey Journal

And finally…The New York Mets have their home opener today. News12 New Jersey

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