News

A bill advancing in the New Jersey Assembly would require new school buses in the state to be equipped with lap and shoulder safety belts.

Current New Jersey law requires school buses to have lap-only belts.

Assemblywoman Yvonne Lopez says including a shoulder strap would improve student safety.

New Jersey legislative leaders are pressing ahead with their own state budget plan even after Governor Phil Murphy said he’d veto it.

Murphy says the budget Democratic leaders are advancing is based on gimmicks.

“I will not sign any budget based on numbers that I do not believe are sound and sustainable. And as we have reviewed the legislature’s proposals, I do not believe theirs are.”  

Senate President Steve Sweeney says lawmakers have been open to compromise and won’t be bullied into doing what the governor wants.

 

The leader of the New Jersey Senate says a new state budget will be approved by lawmakers before the June 30thdeadline.

Senate President Steve Sweeney says legislative leaders are prepared to pass their own version of a budget plan next week.

“Our plan is we’re hoping to do a budget on Tuesday and vote on Thursday. That’s our goal. No one wants to shut the state government now. I can tell you that right now.”

Lead that gets into drinking water from old water pipes can cause serious health problems.

New Jersey lawmakers are considering legislation that would help assess the extent of that hazard.

A bill advanced by an Assembly committee would require public water systems to submit a list of lead service lines in their distribution system to the Department of Environmental Protection.

Chris Sturm with New Jersey Future says that’s an important step.

Mildred Antenor
David Tallacksen for WBGO

Earlier this month, a high school student in California was not allowed to talk about her sexual assault when addressing her classmates at graduation. The incident has prompted outrage across the country. WBGO commentator Mildred Antenor gives us her thoughts.

Mildred Antenor is an author and professor at Seton Hall University.

caunj.org

Community Access Unlimited provides support services for individuals with special needs.  Organization Assistant Executive Director Joanne Oppelt says the CAU Community Players program gives everyone involved a fun opportunity to work together.

Legalized sports betting is now underway in New Jersey.

Governor Phil Murphy made the first wager at Monmouth Park in Oceanport.

“I’m betting $20 on Germany to win the World Cup and $20 on the Devils to win Lord Stanley’s Cup. Let’s go.”

Several state lawmakers then joined hundreds of sports fans in placing their wagers.

Spring Lake resident Peter Kizenko was one of them.

“I’ve been looking forward to it for years. When you win now you don’t have to worry about people disappearing to get your money. Always a good thing.”

Anne Donovan
nj.com

Not only was Anne Donovan a legendary and pioneering figure in women's basketball, she was also one of the kindest and thoughtful people I have ever met. 

Donovan, a native of Ridgewood, New Jersey who dominated play at Paramus Catholic High school, won Olympic gold as a player and as a coach for the United States.  

Donovan died Wednesday of heart failure.  She was 56.

Reg Burkett / Getty Images

Nearly 1,000 artifacts connected to the life of Count Basie life will eventually be available to view at the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers Newark.


New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy says he’s optimistic an agreement on a new state budget can be reached by the June 30th deadline even though he and lawmakers disagree on how to pay for it.

Murphy says he’s in deep discussions with legislative leaders and they’re committed to delivering a budget on time.

“I think the discussions have been constructive and they continue to be. They’re farther along on the investment side. But that doesn’t mean that the discussions on the revenue side are not constructive even though they may not be as farther along.”

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy is making New Jersey’s strict gun laws even tougher. He’s signed a package of six new gun bills into law.

Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg has been trying for years to get new gun safety laws enacted. She was among the lawmakers who joined Murphy at the signing ceremony.

“Really one of the most Important pieces of legislation in this package is that legislation that allows people who know someone is going to do harm to themselves or others, have a path to remove firearms from that person.”

New Jersey lawmakers are considering legislation that would require pharmaceutical company sales representatives to be licensed by the State Board of Medical Examiners.

As a condition of getting a license, the drug reps would have to complete training on ethics and alternatives to opioids for managing and treating pain.

Angie Gochenaur with the Biotechnology Innovation Organization says the legislation could prevent valuable interactions between health care professionals and manufacturers.

The Consumer Affairs Committee in the New Jersey Assembly has approved a measure that would ban the sale of candy that was intentionally infused with harmful chemicals in the manufacturing process.

Assemblyman Gary Schaer says some candy and their wrappers that were made in Central and South America have harmful levels of lead, mercury, and cadmium.

New Jersey is considering barring stores from discriminating against customers who want to pay with cash.

Assemblyman Paul Moriarty says his bill would require cash to be accepted for any retail transaction conducted in-person in New Jersey.

“There have been credit card companies and some food chains that have said we want to go cashless. And I believe that this marginalizes people that are poor, people that don’t have access to credit, and also young people that have not established credit yet.”

 

Governor Phil Murphy has signed legislation that allows sports betting at New Jersey casinos and racetracks.

 

Murphy did not have a public ceremony to sign the bill. In a written statement, he said he’s thrilled to sign it because it means Atlantic City casino and racetracks throughout the state can attract new business and new fans.  He said it’s the right move for New Jersey and will strengthen the economy.

 

Ang Santos / WBGO

The Regional Plan Association (RPA) proposes a thirty to forty year long, $50 billion overhaul of Newark Airport.  The plan includes a third runway and a transportation hub connecting PATH train service.  

Hamilton Education Program
Doug Doyle for WBGO

Living history at its best.  On October 2015, Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda; Hamilton producer Jeffrey Seller, the Gilder Lehrman Institute, The Rockefeller Foundation and the New York City Department of Education announced an educational partnership that will provide 20,000 NYC Title I public school students with the opportunity to see Hamilton on Broadway,

NBC Universal

This Sunday, more than a million spectators will turn out for the annual National Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York City. This year the celebration of culture and history will take on profound meaning in the wake of hurricane Maria which devastated the island. Puerto Rican Television Journalist Julio 'Gaby' Acevedo is this year's parade Ambassador, Acevedo has been covering the crisis in Puerto Rico for WNBC and Telemundo 47, since the hurricane hit back in September of last year.

A day after the New Jersey legislature unanimously approved a bill to legalize sports betting, Governor Phil Murphy says he won’t be rushed into signing it.

Murphy says he’s giving the bill the same level of review as all other legislation that reaches his desk.

Senator Declan O’Scanlon can’t understand the delay.

The New Jersey Senate has passed a bill that would ban nondisclosure agreements that conceal the details of sexual harassment in the workplace.

Phyllis Salowe-Kaye, the executive director of New Jersey Citizen, says confidentiality agreements keep abusive behaviors secret.

“This bill will right this wrong and ensure that no employer can take retaliatory action against a worker who refuses to sign a confidentiality agreement or speaks out about discriminatory practices.”

Attorney Nancy Erika Smith represents employees in workplace sexual harassment lawsuits.

Incumbent U.S. Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey won his primary election contest Tuesday but his little-known opponent Lisa McCormick  got a surprising 39 percent of the vote from Democrats.

Political analysts say despite his poor performance, Menendez is likely to win reelection in November. 

Seton Hall public affairs professor Matthew Hale believes much of the vote for Menendez’ challenger was a protest because of his recent corruption trial that resulted in a hung jury and the charges were dropped.

New Jersey lawmakers are considering a bill that would expunge the criminal records for previous low-level marijuana offenses if the state legalizes or decriminalizes recreational marijuana use.

Assemblywoman Annette Quijano says a marijuana charge has a detrimental effect on an individual’s opportunity to access higher education, gainful employment, and housing support.

A bill passed by legislative committees in both houses of the New Jersey legislature would ban smoking at public beaches and parks.

Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo says many towns in New Jersey have already enacted such a ban.

“To make it a uniform code or state law I think it’s time has come.  I certainly think that we know the ill effects of smoking, particularly second-hand smoke. The litter part is another problem.”

Mark Anton with the New Jersey Vapor Rights Coalition opposes including vaping products in the ban.

A bill to set the regulations for sports betting in New Jersey is advancing in the legislature and could be ready for the governor’s signature as early as Thursday. 

Bryan Seeley, the head of investigations for Major League Baseball, urged lawmakers to add provisions to the legislation that would enable sports leagues to get information from casinos to help detect possible corruption.

“Part of my job is to protect the fans of baseball in this state and I need tools to do that.”

But he got a chilly response from Assembly Gaming Committee chairman Ralph Caputo.

Incumbent democratic US Senator Bob Menendez is seeking a third term in office.  He’s a former mayor of Union City, turned congressman, now senator.  Menendez says he’s always fought for New Jersey families.

Ang Santos / WBGO

Toys R Us employees are getting ready to move on from their jobs, all stores are expected to close by June 30th. 33-year employee Cheryl Claude of South River, New Jersey has never worked anywhere else.

“I spent every holiday, leaving my kids home for the holidays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthdays, everything to be at work and give my one-hundred percent to get nothing is incredible.”

Other Toys R Us workers like Shkeanah Best are left with concerns.

Paradise Blue
Michael Bourne for WBGO

Theater critic Michael Bourne goes off Broadway to review Paradise Blue, directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson.

Click above to hear Michael's review of the new jazz play.

Barbara Kukla
Doug Doyle for WBGO

Barbara Kukla has written seven books about the people of Newark including the latest, Newark Women: From Suffragettes to the Statehouse.

Before her retirment from newspaper writing in 2004, Kukla spent 43 years as a journalist, most of the that at The Star-Ledger, where she first served as a general assingment reporter and Sunday city editor.

Many of her books have been focused on the jazz scene in Newark.

Lauren Pritchard
Cassie Galasetti for WBGO News

Songbird premiered Off-Broadway in 2015 to much critical acclaim, earning a New York Times Critic's Pick. 

Now the musical, written by Michael Kimmel along with music and lyrics by Lauren Pritchard, is gearing up for its run at Two River Theater in Red Bank.

Pritchard, who starred as Ilse in the original cast of Spring Awakening on Broadway in 2006 and performs now as LOLO, sat down recently with WBGO's News Director Doug Doyle to talk about Songbird and her career. 

Ang Santos / WBGO

Of the hundreds of thousands of American student-athletes that hope to break into professional sports, about one-percent make a living out of it.  

“Out of all of the people in here, how many do you think will actually make it to the pros?” asked a student from West Side High School. 

New York Giants safety Michael Thomas told students it starts with a strong work ethic on the field and in the classroom.

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