North Jersey News Roundup for June 7, 2021

The Public Health Emergency caused by the coronavirus for the last 15 months is winding down after legislation passed along partisan lines in the State Senate and Assembly was signed into law June 4. “Today’s lifting of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency is a clear and decisive step on the path toward normalcy,” said Murphy in a press statement. “The past 15 months have been a challenge, and I thank every New Jerseyan who stayed home, masked up, took precautions to keep this virus in check, and got vaccinated for allowing us to get to this point.” Among the orders still in place are moratorium on evictions and utility shut-offs as well as current rules on masks, which are still mandated in schools, Summer camps and on public transportation.

Eight of the nine senior managers who earned too much to qualify for COVID-19-related hazard pay at New Jersey’s state-run veterans nursing homes received it anyway. Nursing-home managers procured the payments after being repeatedly told that they were ineligible as the federal stimulus funds were meant for lower-level state employees who worked in dangerous conditions dealing directly with coronavirus patients, not for administrators if they were simply performing their normal functions during the pandemic or those with salaries above a certain threshold. The Wall Street Journal

The State Senate passed the $235 million in grants, aiming to help businesses suffering from the coronavirus pandemic, through six bills. The legislation allocates $120 million to microbusinesses, $50 million for small businesses and nonprofits, $30 million to restaurants, $25 million for new start-up businesses and $10 million for childcare centers. Another $10 million will go to the Sustain and Serve NJ program which helps purchase meals from restaurants to soup kitchens and nonprofits. The bills passed the Assembly in May, and now head to Gov. Phil Murphy, who said he’d sign the package.

As federal aid under the American Rescue Plan becomes available to New Jersey, GOP lawmakers want a say in deciding where the monies will be allocated. For State Sen. Anthony Bucco (R-25), the modernization of the state’s unemployment and motor vehicle computers systems must be at the front of the line. “The people of New Jersey suffered during the pandemic because our computer systems are woefully antiquated,” said Bucco. “The technology infrastructure that processes unemployment claims and New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission transactions proved to be inflexible and overwhelmed when people needed it to work.”

Opinion: Making Your Voice Heard June 8. Primary Day is actually Election Day this year in three contested races in North Jersey. The truth is in races for the 26th, 37th and 39th legislative districts, the winners will most likely go on to win in November. That is why it is so important for Republicans and Democrats eligible to vote in this election—which is a whole other matter for another day—to get to the polls. So whatever party you have aligned with, get out and vote. In three North Jersey races, your vote is more influential than it will be in November.

New Jerseyans have returned 175,668 vote-by-mail ballots for Tuesday’s primary election—26.3% of the 667,709 ballots mailed by county election officials across the state. Democrats are narrowly outpacing Republicans on ballots that were recorded as return as of June 4, by a 32.8% to 31.6% margin. New Jersey Globe

New Jersey Republicans will hit the polls on June 8 to select one of four candidates to face off against incumbent Gov. Phil Murphy, who is running unopposed, in the November General Election. Jack Ciattarelli, Hirsh Singh, Phil Rizzo and Brian Levine are battling it out to be the GOP nominee this Fall.

Facebook said it will suspend former President Donald Trump’s accounts for two years following its finding that he stoked violence ahead of the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection. While the company will still apply this “newsworthiness” exemption to certain posts it deems to be in the public interest even if they violate Facebook rules, it will no longer treat material posted by politicians any differently from that posted by other users. In addition, Facebook said it will make public whenever it does apply the exemption to a post.

Several thousand supporters attended the Bergen County Unite for Israel Parade in Tenafly June 6. The event drew nearly 5,000 at Sagamore Park according to organizers as a broad swath of participants from around the tri-state area gathered in a show of support for the 73-year-old state of Israel amid a recent rise of antisemitism around the world. The Record 

A Palestine teach-in and rally in Clifton was held June 6. The New Jersey Peace Action organization passed out flyers with links and phone numbers urging supporters to call or email their representatives in Congress to support and co-sponsor the Palestinian Children and Families Act and the Resolution of Disapproval on the Arms Sale to Israel. The Record

Gov. Phil Murphy appointed Laurie R. Doran as Acting Director of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness (NJOHSP). Doran joined NJOHSP in April 2018 as Director of the Intelligence and Operations Division, after retiring from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) with more than 32 years of service. At the CIA, she served as a Senior Manager and Operations Officer in the Directorate of Operations. Insider NJ

A bill to help New Jersey lakes affected by harmful algae and other environmental issues in recent years passed the State Senate unanimously. The proposed “supplemental appropriation” of $10 million for recreation and conservation purposes on lakes in New Jersey’s Highlands and Pinelands regions would be used for lakes that were closed for large portions of the past two Summers because of harmful algal blooms (HABs). The Daily Record

Two Assemblymen from the 40th district are joining the ranks of the chamber’s GOP leadership. Assemblyman Chris DePhillips will replace State Sen. Holly Schepisi (R-39) as deputy leader and Kevin Rooney will become deputy Republican whip. New Jersey Globe

A parents’ group in Nutley is looking to recall the Board of Education president. The group, comprising more than 250 parents, filed a letter of intent with the Essex County Clerk’s Office to recall school board President Charles Kucinski due to being unhappy with the district’s efforts to return their elementary-aged students back to school full time. The Record

Representatives from two Sussex County school districts have asked Gov. Phil Murphy to reconsider his decision to continue requiring masks in schools despite lifting the mandate in most other public setting. Lafayette Township School and the Hopatcong School District outlined their consternation over the latest health protocols in separate letters to the governor, questioning why students in their K-12 grades should still have to wear masks in the Fall after Murphy lifted the indoor mask mandate May 28. New Jersey Herald

Hoboken Police Capt. Daniel LoBue has been appointed the city’s acting police chief, effective July 1. LoBue will replace current Police Chief Ken Ferrante, whose retirement is official on July 1. LoBue, who has been with the department for 33 years, is the police department’s senior ranking officer. The Jersey Journal

And finally…Paris and Jersey City will team up for a new museum. Hudson Reporter

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