New Jersey

Legislation signed by Governor Phil Murphy creates the New Jersey Commission on Science, Innovation, and Technology.

Murphy says the 17-member-panel replaces a science and technology commission that was defunded in 2010.

“We’re getting back to our core mission of making New Jersey the home for cutting edge research and innovation that improves and saves lives, creates good jobs, and changes our world for the better.”

Michael Johnson, the CEO of biotechology company Visikol in Whitehouse Station, is excited about the new commission.

A bill signed into law by Governor Murphy expands the use of public-private partnerships to develop essential projects and grow the state’s economy.

Senate President Steve Sweeney says those partnerships helped colleges get private capital to build new facilities, and the bill he sponsored will give the state, county, and local governments more flexibility to advance critical infrastructure projects.

Flooding near Greenbriar senior community in Brick,NJ on Monday
Brick Police Department

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has signed an executive order declaring a state of emergency in Bergen, Essex, Passaic, Monmouth and Ocean counties.

Murphy says the order allows the state to focus resources into communities most affected by recent flash flooding.

“The state is continuing to coordinate with county and local officials as well as volunteer organizations to meet the immediate needs of residents driven from their homes for shelter and emergency food and water.”

Flooding in Neptune, New Jersey
Neptune Office of Emergency Management

High amounts of rain in a short amount of time are posing problems for motorists in many parts of the region.

New Jersey state climatologist Dave Robinson says torrential downpours have led to localized flash flooding in all parts of the state over the last month.

“There are parts of Passaic and Morris County that have had 15 inches of rain in the last 28 days. Now to put that in perspective a four-week period anytime during the summer should average about four to four and a half inches of rain in New Jersey.”

A panel of economists and tax experts put together by the leader of the New Jersey Senate is recommending a variety of governmental changes to make the state more affordable.

The task force is suggesting new state and local public employees be shifted from the current defined benefit pension plan to a 401k-type plan and that all government workers get a less-expensive health care plan.

A new poll finds that New jersey residents are divided over the benefits of fluoridated water.

Fairleigh Dickinson political science professor Dan Cassino says half of New Jersey's residents believe fluoride in drinking water is a good thing while 34 percent are not convinced.

Cassino says Just 15 percent of Garden State residents receive fluoridated water because most municipal water systems in New Jersey serve multiple communities and any of them can prevent fluoride from being added to the water.

In its annual review of state policies to prevent cancer and improve access to treatment, the American Cancer Society is giving New Jersey mixed reviews.

Marc Kaplan with the Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network gives the state good marks for enacting smoke-free laws and increased access to Medicaid.

“A lot of people that are suffering with cancer are in the disadvantaged area, so Medicaid is getting them the care that they deserve and that they need. While state appropriations for breast and cervical cancer screening, we are doing very well with that.”

NJ Department of Agriculture

Pennsylvania has been battling an invasive insect for the past four years. The Spotted Lanternfly has spread to New Jersey and a quarantine is now in effect in Warren, Hunterdon, and Mercer counties.

Joe Zoltowski with the New Jersey Department of Agriculture says the Spotted Lanternfly is a threat to the state’s agriculture industry because it sucks the sap out of plants and secrets a sugary substance that causes a harmful mold to grow. 

A New Jersey bill to ban guns made from 3-D printers may become law before the end of the year.

Senator Richard Codey says the guns that can be created on a home printer bypass laws that require a background check.

“We want to not only ban the guns themselves, but even the plans. If you send the information to how to make these guns, that would be illegal. This is a different world we live in, and we got to react to it.”

New Jersey’s top law enforcement officer says a federal judge’s decision to temporarily block a Texas company from posting codes online that enable people to make guns with a 3-D printer is a big win for public safety.

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal says if the state finds other websites that offer those gun blueprints, he’ll take them down.

The Murphy administration is taking legal action to seek damages for pollution that affected properties and natural resources in New Jersey.

Six separate lawsuits have been filed to get compensation for the harm pollution caused to groundwater and wetlands and recover the state’s costs for environmental cleanups.

Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Catherine McCabe says all residents deserve to have the environment they live in protected so they can have healthy and productive lives.

A New Jersey lawmaker has introduced legislation that would require speed limits on major highways to be set at the speed at which 85 percent of drivers are traveling.

Senator Declan O’Scanlon says an artificially low speed limit increases the difference in speeds between the vast majority of drivers and those who adhere to the posted limit.

New Jersey’s 19 community colleges can apply to be part of a pilot program allowing students who earn less than $45,000 and take six or more credits to attend classes without paying tuition or fees.

Not every community college can offer free tuition because only $20 million for the program was included in the state budget.

Higher Education Secretary Zakiya Smith Ellis says several factors will be considered when selecting the colleges for the pilot program.

Some New Jersey lawmakers say a Texas company’s online directions for making a gun with a 3-D printer is a recipe for disaster.

U-S Senator Bob Menendez says it’s outrageous that design files for those weapons are being made public.

“At a time in which we have seen mass murders with traditional weapons I don’t know why I would give someone the wherewithal to have a weapon that actually would be untraceable and largely undetectable.”

New Jersey's Senate unanimously passed a measure to correct an oversight in a gun law Governor Murphy signed last month.

That law limits the ammunition capacity in gun magazines to ten rounds.

But most guns used by police have 12-to-17 round magazines.

Senator Loretta Weinberg says the bill approved by the Senate clarifies that police officers can carry their service weapons with up to 17 rounds of ammo when they’re off duty.

Following several accidents involving school buses, a New Jersey Senate Committee has advanced a package of bus safety measure.

Senate Transportation Committee chairman Patrick Diegnan says one measure requires school bus drivers 70 and older to submit proof of physical and mental fitness annually. Those over 75 would have to do so every six months. He initially proposed banning drivers over 75.

New Jersey's Senate is set to vote tomorrow on a proposed constitutional amendment that would change a key part of the state's budget-making process.

The governor's power to certify state revenues would be turned over to a three-member panel.

Senate President Steve Sweeney needs three-fifths of the legislature to support the measure to get it on the November ballot.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy is launching two initiatives to spur the growth of high-tech companies in the state.

Murphy says the state Economic Development Authority will award $500,000 in grants to help innovative startups pay their rent at collaborative workspaces if the workspace commits to paying half the amount of the subsidy.

“An early-stage startup could enjoy the innovative ecosystem of a collaborative workspace including flexibility, networking, idea sharing, and mentorships for up to 18 months at only half the cost.”

The top Republican in New Jersey's Assembly wants to amend the state constitution to require that voting districts don’t favor a political party by more than 10 percent.

Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick says the lack of competitive districts leaves too many voters without a meaningful choice.

New Jersey will be modifying its school funding formula for the first time in ten years.

Governor Phil Murphy has signed a law that adjusts state aid to public schools over seven years by reducing assistance to districts with declining student enrollment and providing more money to those with booming populations and large numbers of high-need students.

“We are making an historic reinvestment in our public schools and in our future. By fiscal year 2025 every district will receive the appropriate level of aid under the school funding formula.”

New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney says he’s hoping lawmakers will pass legislation by the end of the summer to legalize recreational marijuana use for adults.

Sweeney says he’s working with Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin on bills they can advance that would expand New Jersey’s medical marijuana program and make recreational pot use legal.

He says the medical bill will be tied to the recreational use measure and won’t move forward without it.

A non-profit organization cautions New Jersey officials not to rely on revenue from sports betting and the possible legalization of recreational pot to solve the state’s long-term budget problems.

New Jersey officials expect sports betting to bring in $13 million this fiscal year. Legalizing recreational marijuana could mean $300 million a year.

Mary Murphy with the Pew Charitable Trusts says other states that have legalized pot have seen an increase in revenues, but they are volatile.  

mosquito
NJ Department of Environmental Protection

No human cases of West Nile virus have been reported in New Jersey so far this year, but it’s been detected in mosquitoes in more than half of the counties in the state.

Scott Crans is the administrator of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s office of mosquito control coordination. He says the hot, dry weather is holding down the number of mosquitoes in many parts of the state, but a continued lack of rainfall could lead to the spread of West Nile virus.

Phil Gregory / WBGO

Restructuring New Jersey’s school funding formula has been a longtime plan for Senate President Steve Sweeney.  His plan increases the total amount of state aid to schools, but also changes the amount of aid districts receive.  

“Trying to find a solution to end the unfairness going on in this state.  Actually, the injustice where you have two classes of kids; the haves and the have nots,” Sweeney said.

After the recent contentious fight over New Jersey’s new state budget, Governor Phil Murphy is now hoping to work with New Jersey legislative leaders to get approval of some of his top priorities by the end of the year.

Murphy says gradually boosting New Jersey’s $8.60 an hour minimum wage to $15 is one of things he wants lawmakers to pass.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has not decided yet whether he’ll sign a bill that would impose a 5-cent fee on plastic and paper shopping bags.

Murphy says he’s still considering the measure that would raise an estimated $23 million

for lead abatement programs.

“There was a sense because we didn’t include it in the budget that we had come out negatively on it. We didn’t include it in the budget because we felt like we had not had the time to assess it and really analyze it.”

Governor Phil Murphy says New Jersey is taking steps to phase out controversial  PARCC standardized testing.

Murphy says beginning in the upcoming school year the New Jersey Education Department will reduce the length of the tests in all grades by 25 percent.

“The Department will also ask the New Jersey State Board of Education to simplify and reduce the assessments necessary for high school graduation from six assessments to two, retaining only Algebra 1 and English Language Arts 10 as the two assessments.”

Democratic legislative leaders plan to meet with New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy again on Friday in an effort to reach a deal to get a new state budget enacted by the midnight Saturday deadline.

Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin did not indicate how much progress was made at a more than two hour negotiating session with the Governor on Thursday.

“All I can say is we had a good meeting and we’re looking forward to getting back at it.”

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy is reviewing a new proposal from Democratic legislative leaders hoping to end the impasse over enacting a new state budget.

Senate President Steve Sweeney says lawmakers are offering to extend a corporate business tax surcharge from two years to four, expand the sales tax to untaxed short-term rental properties, and increase the realty transfer tax on the sale of property worth more than a million dollars.

New Jersey lawmakers are considering a measure that would constitutionally dedicate $14 million a year from the sales tax on paint to cleaning up lead hazards in homes.
 
More than $50 million dollars has been diverted for other uses since the lead abatement program fund was created in 2004.
 
Senator Ron Rice says it’s sad the money isn't going to help prevent potential health problems for kids.
 

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