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A New Jersey lawmaker has introduced legislation that would require pet groomers to be trained and licensed.

Senator Kip Bateman says his bill is a response to the death of three dogs in the past five months while in the care of groomers.

“Dogs are members of people’s families. They’re loved ones. When you drop it off at a groomer, you suspect that they’re going to be treated well. And there’s been some horrible stories in recent weeks about individuals dropping off their pets only to get a phone call saying come pick up your dog, it’s dead. I mean that’s outrageous.”

Governor Phil Murphy wants New Jersey to rejoin the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

But indications are that won’t happen quickly.

Acting Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Catherine McCabe told

lawmakers the nine other states in RGGI are ready to welcome New Jersey back but it’ll take a while to negotiate the specifics of the agreement.

The Administrative Director of New Jersey courts says the transformation of the cash bail system has eliminated injustices and created a fairer system.

Judge Glenn Grant says bail reforms that took effect last year mean defendants accused of low-risk crimes no longer have to sit in jail because they can’t afford to pay modest amounts of bail and those who pose a significant risk of violence can’t buy their way back onto the streets.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has signed legislation to expand voter registration.

The new law automatically registers eligible residents to vote when they apply for or renew their driver’s license.

Murphy says registering to vote should be simple and seamless.

“We come at this from the point of view that the more people wo are eligible to vote the stronger out Democracy will be and the stronger our communities will be.”

A package of gun control bills continues to advance in the New Jersey legislature.

Six of the bills approved by a Senate Committee have already been passed by the full Assembly.

Senator Joe Cryan says his latest bill would make it a crime to illegally manufacture so-called ‘ghost guns.”

VINCEPARRILLO.COM

Near the Great Falls in the Historic District of Paterson, New Jersey sits the Essex and Phoenix Mills.  An industrial center of buildings that were once meant to harness the cascading water power, now transformed into an area where artists can live and create their work.

Three Tall Women
Michael Bourne for WBGO

Theater critic Michael Bourne reviews the revival of Edward Albee's Three Tall Women on Broadway.

A New Jersey lawmaker wants to ensure that parents are better sports at their children's games.

Assemblyman John Burzichelli says parents can get overly involved in the sporting events their kids are participating in and physically attack the umpire or referee if they don't like a call. He's proposing tougher penalties for such behavior.

A New Jersey lawmaker is proposing cash rebates to get more zero-emission vehicles on the road.

Senate Environment Committee chairman Bob Smith says his bill would have the state provide rebates of $100 million annually for three years for consumers who switch to electric vehicles.

“I don’t say where the money is coming from because I’m not that smart. But I know we should be doing it if we want to get people into EVs. We have to start the discussion and this bill starts that discussion.”

Environment New Jersey director Doug O’Malley says it’s a good concept.

Applying for a driver’s license in New Jersey, or renewing one, would automatically register you to vote if Governor Phil Murphy signs a bill passed by both houses of the legislature.

The measure allows automatic registration to be expanded so it would happen when filing documents with other state agencies.

Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso is among the Republican lawmakers who voted against it, calling it costly and unnecessary.

Seven months before the election, a Monmouth University poll shows incumbent Democrat Bob Menendez with a big advantage over Republican Bob Hugin in the race for a U.S Senate seat from New Jersey.

Poll director Patrick Murray says 53 percent of registered voters say they’d vote for Menendez and 32 percent would choose Hugin.

A New Jersey lawmaker has introduced legislation that would allow cities and towns to seek voter approval for a local tax to fund arts programs and organizations.

Assemblyman Raj Mukherji says the tax would provide a recurring source of revenue for the arts in communities that decide to approve it.

“Take Jersey City in my home district, my hometown, we’ve got live-work spaces for artists, we’ve got zoning, we’ve got galleries. But we’ll never realize our true potential as an arts destination without a dedicated funding source. And this would allow that.”

Three months into his term in office, a Monmouth University poll finds New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy is getting a positive rating from voters.

44 percent of New Jersey residents surveyed approve of the job Murphy is doing while 28 percent disapprove.

Poll director Patrick Murray says that’s a better rating than the previous two governors, Chris Christie and Jon Corzine, had at the same point of their terms.

The state Treasurer tried to convince them, but New Jersey lawmakers are reluctant to go along with the tax increases in Governor Phil Murphy’s state budget plan.

The proposed budget calls for about one-and-a-half billion in tax hikes including a surcharge on income over a million dollars and raising the sales tax back up to 7 percent.

Acting Treasurer Elizabeth Muoio says around $600 million of that would fund new spending.

Ang Santos / WBGO

Shaquille O’Neal already has a high-rise apartment building working in downtown Newark.  The 7-foot 1 retired basketball star calls it ‘Shaq Tower.’

“In 1992, me and my mother were visiting some relatives and my mother said to me, ‘I remember when this city used to be beautiful.  Somebody needs to come by and invest in this city and make it beautiful again.’ She gave me an elbow to the chest like I’m that somebody.”

O’Neal announced he’ll financially back another apartment project at 777 McCarter Highway near 2 Gateway Center.

Former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey says he’s not sure why Governor Murphy’s proposed budget does not include money for the program he runs that helps former inmates get the documents and services they need to become productive citizens.

McGreevey told the Assembly Budget Committee he’s asking for $5 million to maintain and expand the program.

“We’re in the business of healing broken people, building families, and developing community. Some would state that reentry, we can’t afford it. I would say it’s a need not a want. We can’t afford not to do it.”

A bill advancing in the New Jersey legislature would force train companies to be more transparent about the transport of crude oil and hazardous substances.

The measure is intended to help protect communities if there’s a derailment.

New Jersey Sierra Club director Jeff Tittel says Bakken oil that’s carried on trains contains chemicals that could make it explode during an accident. He’s also concerned a spill could endanger nearby water supplies.

Royston Scott / sswmovie.com

In the early 1920’s, Sara Spencer Washington was travelling door to door selling her homemade Apex beauty products.

“Hair pomades, perfumes, pressing oils which led to hot combs and other devices for making yourself look beautiful.”

Apex became more than a line of hair and skin products, explains Royston Scott, who remembers hearing those around him always talking about “The Madame.”

Alexandra Hill / News

The city of Newark celebrated the opening of its new 6th precinct boosting its police presence in the city’s West Ward. The building that will now house the precinct was previously used for special operations. Mayor Ras Baraka says it will now act as a fully functioning precinct, something residents had been asking for, for decades.

Angels in America
Michael Bourne for WBGO

Theater Critic Michael Bourne is thrilled about the latest revival of Angels in America.

Click above to hear his review.

Gelbfish family
Jon Kalish for WBGO

There's a new museum in Brooklyn that looks at the Holocaust through the eyes of Orthodox Jews.

The Amud Aish Memorial Museum is staffed mostly by the children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors.

Click above to hear Jon Kalish's report.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy traveled to the Asbury Park Middle School to sign an executive order that requires the state to keep the public informed about gun crimes.

Murphy says the order requires the state to issue monthly reports on gun crimes including the towns where they happened, the type of gun used, and the offense that was committed.

Ang Santos / WBGO

In 2014, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka received few endorsements from members of his political party.  Fast forward to his re-election campaign this year, almost every high-profile New Jersey democrat is giving Team Baraka their support.  That now includes US Senator Bob Menendez, also seeking another term later this year.

 

More young people in New Jersey might be able to vote in primary elections if a bill advancing in the legislature becomes law.

 

What’s called the ‘New Voter Empowerment Act’ would allow 17-year-olds to vote in a primary election if they’d turn 18 by the general election.

 

New Jersey lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow prison inmates to apply for student financial aid.

Highland Park resident Boris Franklin was in prison for 11 years and is now studying psychology at Rutgers. He started taking college courses while incarcerated and says education transformed a maximum-security prison into an institution of learning.

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities will hold public hearings around the state as it reviews the response of utility companies to recent nor'easters.

A state lawmaker wants to require that power providers be better prepared for future storms.

Senator Shirley Turner says her bill would establish standards for every utility in the state on emergency preparation and restoration of service after a major power outage.

Ang Santos / WBGO

Link London, Link NYC, now Link Newark.  The free Wi-Fi, phone call, device charging kiosks are a quality of life change for residents and visitors says Dan Doctoroff of Intersection, the company that supplies the technology.

“People saving money on their data plans as they go down to the corner and download movies.  While waiting for the bus they download their music.  It’s really saved tens of millions of dollars for people on their data plans,” Doctoroff said.

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka says Link will be placed in every one of the city’s five wards.

As New Jersey lawmakers hold hearings on Governor Murphy’s state budget plan, there are indications they’ll be making some changes in his proposed school funding.

Amy Jablonski is a school board member in Chesterfield. She says the state aid Murphy’s budget provides for that Burlington County school district is a punch to the gut.

Trees are blossoming later than usual this season, and that's given allergy sufferers a break. That respite is about to end.

Dr. Leonard Bielory is an allergy specialist who tracks the pollen count in New Jersey. He says colder than normal weather in March has delayed the release of tree pollen, but it will soon be intense.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy's proposed state budget includes $100 million to combat the opioid epidemic.

Murphy says $56 million would be used for drug prevention, treatment, and recovery programs.

"We know that coordinated approaches that bring together treatment including access to medication assisted treatment and peer-based recovery coaching can be highly effective."

The Governor says $31 million would be used to attack social risk factors that can lead to relapse.

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