New Jersey

New Jersey lawmakers approved a bill Thursday that would dramatically limit which inmates can be kept in solitary confinement and for how long.

It was a win for criminal justice advocates, who said prolonged isolation can have a negative impact on the mental health of inmates.

“Beyond a certain point, isolation actually can become torture,” said Tess Borden, a staff attorney with the New Jersey ACLU. “It has lifelong consequences that follow someone long after they leave jail or prison.”

Rideshare drivers in New Jersey will have to display more identifiers on their vehicles under a new state law named for a woman who was recently killed.

Robbinsville native Samantha Josephson was murdered after mistakenly getting into a car she thought was her Uber in South Carolina. Her alleged killer was later arrested by police.

A new law named in her honor aims to prevent such crimes from occurring in Josephson’s home state.

Flanked by state and federal labor leaders, Gov. Phil Murphy held an event in Trenton on Tuesday to call on lawmakers to include the so-called millionaire’s tax in this year’s budget.

Budget bills passed by state Senate and Assembly committees on Monday did not include the tax hike on earners making more than $1 million.

A New Jersey task force examining the state’s tax break programs said special interests had an outsized role in writing the 2013 law that significantly expanded incentives for companies.

It also found that the Economic Development Authority did not have proper oversight over the program, which has awarded around $11 billion to attract businesses in the state.

The task force convened by Gov. Phil Murphy released its first report Monday night after a New Jersey judge ruled to allow the investigation to continue and the report to be published.

Democratic lawmakers in New Jersey introduced a state budget proposal Monday that does not include a tax hike on millionaires proposed by their fellow Democrat, Gov. Phil Murphy.

Legislative leaders openly rejected the idea in favor of belt-tightening measures. And over the past few weeks, lawmakers in the Democratically-controlled Legislature have released a slow drip of statements claiming they would vote for a budget without the tax increase on the state’s top earners. But they insist their spending plan still invests in Murphy’s priorities.

A compensation fund for New Jersey victims of sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church will begin accepting claims on Saturday.

The first-of-its-kind fund in the Garden State will offer financial settlements to survivors of clergy sex abuse and comes amid an investigation by state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal into possible sexual abuse and cover-ups in the Catholic Church.

New Jersey lawmakers voted Thursday to extend the lives of two controversial tax credit programs that have roiled Trenton in recent months.

The programs, started under former Gov. Chris Christie, have awarded billions of dollars in incentives to companies that agreed to move to or expand in New Jersey, and business insiders testified that allowing the programs to expire on July 1 would risk missing out on future opportunities.

A coalition of environmental groups is calling on the multistate agency that oversees the Delaware River watershed to ban fracking and related activities in the area.

The activists hope it would codify a de facto moratorium that has been in place for nearly a decade that prohibits fracking, the treatment and disposal of fracking waste, and the transfer of water for fracking operations elsewhere.

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal is threatening to sue the Trump administration after the Treasury decided Tuesday to block a potential workaround to a new cap on state and local tax deductions.

New Jersey lawmakers are moving ahead with legislation to make it easier for people with marijuana convictions to expunge their criminal records.

The bill, which was approved by both houses of the state Legislature on Tuesday, now awaits the signature of Gov. Phil Murphy.

What is not on Murphy’s desk is the companion legislation to legalize recreational marijuana, which failed to win enough support among lawmakers and was eventually abandoned by top Democrats in favor of putting the question before voters on the November 2020 election ballot.

A bill that would require more nonprofit groups in New Jersey to publicize their donors is on its way to becoming law, after Gov. Phil Murphy avoided what would have been an embarrassing veto override.

Murphy at first conditionally vetoed the so-called dark money bill, saying he believed it had legal issues. But after top Democrats in the state Legislature threatened to override his veto, Murphy agreed to sign the original bill.

N.J. considers eliminating cap on superintendent pay

Jun 10, 2019

New Jersey lawmakers are considering eliminating a statewide cap on the salaries of superintendents, which would allow school districts to set higher pay and attract new applicants.

Former Gov. Chris Christie instituted the cap in 2011 to lower school district budgets and help drive down property taxes, but some people viewed the cap as a political stunt that did not achieve its stated goal.

For one day this month, New Jersey residents will be able to walk into dozens of participating pharmacies across the state and obtain the overdose-reversing drug naloxone free of charge.

The June 18 event is the latest salvo in the ongoing fight against the opioid crisis in New Jersey, which saw more than 3,100 drug-overdose deaths in 2018.

Overdose-prevention advocates praised the move by Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration, saying the life-saving treatment for opioid overdoses needs to be more widely available.

Screams so loud that sleep became impossible. Old food rotting in cells. Little to no human interaction for months or years on end.

Those are some of the experiences described Thursday by former New Jersey inmates who said they were held in solitary confinement, as state lawmakers considered legislation to clamp down on the practice critics say can have long-term, negative repercussions.

A blistering report by a bipartisan committee of the New Jersey Legislature says the administration of Gov. Phil Murphy “mishandled” an employee’s rape claim and suggested that top officials should be “embarrassed” by their testimony.

The report caps off a legislative investigation that has dogged Murphy’s tenure in office and raised questions about the state’s hiring practices as well as policies for investigating claims of sexual harassment and assault.

There were few surprises in yesterday’s sleepy primary election in New Jersey.

Of the 80 seats in the state General Assembly up for election this year, only about 15 seats had contested primaries, and even fewer were considered competitive.

The most closely-watched primary race turned out as many had expected. Assemblyman Joe Howarth, an incumbent in the 8th District in Burlington County, was defeated in his bid for the nomination after losing the GOP’s support earlier this year.

A New Jersey bill aimed at helping patients is facing criticism from medical professionals who say it could cause delays in care.

The “Patient Protection Act” would place new requirements on New Jersey medical professionals who want to transfer their patients out of state for care.

Under the proposal, medical professionals would have to explain the rationale for transferring their patients, inform patients of other in-state options or certify that there are none, contact their insurance provider, and more.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced Monday his plans to greatly expand the state’s medical marijuana program, citing “overwhelming” demand from patients.

Under Murphy’s plan, the administration would add up to 24 new cultivators, 30 new manufacturers, and 54 new dispensaries.

But shortly after the announcement, the state’s top lawmaker blasted Murphy’s proposal, saying it was conceived without any input from the Legislature.

Hotel workers in New Jersey may soon be equipped with panic buttons to notify security personnel of an emergency.

Under a bill passed unanimously by both houses of the state Legislature, hotels with more than 100 guest rooms would be required to provide the devices to room service and housekeeping staff.

“I sort of tell it like it’s a medical alert device. You wear it around you, and if there’s a problem you push the button,” said Assemblyman John Armato, D-Atlantic, who sponsored the bill. “That will send the signal to your security office and they can get you help.” 

A bill to greatly expand New Jersey’s medical marijuana program cleared the state Senate Thursday. It now heads to the full Assembly for a vote.

The proposal would increase the maximum number of medical marijuana dispensaries, allow patients to buy larger quantities of the drug, and slowly phase out the sales tax on medical cannabis.

Although the bill passed easily, some lawmakers still raised doubts about the state’s medical marijuana program, which has been growing rapidly under Gov. Phil Murphy.

New Jersey has filed a civil lawsuit against several members of the high-profile family behind Purdue Pharma, the company that created the opioid painkiller OxyContin, claiming they deceptively marketed their drugs to turn a profit.

State Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said the eight Sackler family members named in the suit, all of whom sat on the company’s board, downplayed the risks associated with opioids and caused countless patients to become dependent.

Although all 80 seats in the New Jersey General Assembly are up for grabs this year, next week’s primary offers up only a few competitive races and experts expect low voter turnout.

Still, county officials will use the election as an opportunity to test new voting machines with a novel safety feature in New Jersey: a paper trail.

Edwin J. Torres Governor's Office

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy vowed Tuesday to continue combating gun violence after two mass shootings rocked the state capital over the holiday weekend.

A drive-by shooting outside a Trenton bar early Saturday morning injured 10 people. Another shooting on Monday left five injured and a teenage boy dead.

"The summer season is upon us and members of law enforcement and community leaders know that this is where we see a spike in gun violence," Murphy said during a public meeting with state political leaders.

A former New Jersey State Police Academy cadet has filed a federal lawsuit against the state, claiming an instructor sexually harassed her for months.

Identified as S.S. in the lawsuit because it involves a possible sex crime, the woman said the male instructor fixated on her, repeatedly pulling her aside and making romantic advances.

The harassment was so extreme, the lawsuit said, that fellow cadets began referring to her as the instructor’s wife.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed four bills Wednesday aimed at reducing the state’s high rates of maternal and infant mortality, which are among the worst in the nation.

“We can and we will make New Jersey the safest place to give birth in the United States of America,” said first lady Tammy Murphy at the Newark bill signing.

The new laws will block Medicaid from paying for medically unnecessary cesarean section deliveries and increase access to doulas, who help expectant mothers through childbirth.

New Jersey will start issuing federally mandated Real IDs next month, according to the head of the state’s motor vehicle agency.

New Jersey is one of a handful of states that has lagged on issuing the IDs, which will be required for commercial airline travel by October 2020.

“I’m confident that everyone who needs a Real ID, who wants a Real ID, will be able to get that Real ID prior to the October 2020 deadline,” said Sue Fulton, chair and chief administrator of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission.

New Jersey could become the first state in the country to require warning labels on prescription opioid medication that identifies it as an opioid and cautions against the risk of addiction.

The legislation’s sponsor hopes that the latest attempt to stem the state’s ongoing opioid crisis will save lives.

“We have to be aware of what this is. We have to be aware of what this is doing to our country. It is truly an epidemic,” said Assemblyman John Armato, D-Atlantic.

A task force set up by Gov. Phil Murphy poked more holes in the state’s tax break programs Thursday, as it continued to investigate whether the state’s tax incentive regime was misused and questioned witnesses with knowledge of the Economic Development Authority’s inner workings.

“Some have disclosed, in large ways and small, evidence of potential corruption and self-dealing and arguable illegal activity,” said New Jersey Economic Development Authority Task Force special counsel Jim Walden.

Industry groups say New Jersey could be a major beneficiary if President Donald Trump and congressional Democrats move forward on a planned $2 trillion infrastructure deal.

“Of course, the plan would help our state and the skilled union workers who are employed by our members, union contractors that have built the highways, bridges and buildings of New Jersey,” said Jack Kocsis, CEO of the Associated Construction Contractors of New Jersey. “We look forward to having a definite funding plan in place.”

A New Jersey man has filed a lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America over secret records the organization keeps on volunteers credibly accused of sexual abuse.

Richard Halvorson, who said he was abused in Atlantic County in 1982 at age 11 by his Boy Scout leader, hopes to force the release of the organization’s “perversion files.”

“Evil can only exist when people don’t speak up and go against it. It will just flourish if you’re quiet,” Halvorson said.