New Jersey

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal is among the plaintiffs in a multistate lawsuit against the Trump administration over a new immigration rule that advocates say will drive immigrant communities further underground.

The rule expands the definition of a “public charge” to include immigrants using certain public assistance programs, including Medicaid and food stamps. Immigrants deemed a “public charge” have a more difficult time being granted legal status.

Newark officials have begun handing out bottled water at various locations across the city after tests showed high lead levels in the drinking water.

Tests in two of three Newark homes showed elevated lead levels, even though those homes were using water filters, meant to reduce contamination, that were distributed by the city.

“Access to safe drinking water is critically important to our administrations, and we take health risks associated with lead in drinking water very seriously,” Gov. Phil Murphy and Mayor Ras Baraka said in a joint statement this weekend.

Owners who rent their Garden State homes are breathing easier after Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation that exempts them from having to charge renters costly new taxes.

The so-called “Airbnb tax” levied New Jersey’s sales tax and hotel and motel tax on short-term rentals, totaling nearly 12% per transaction.

Homeowners and vacationers said the move would hurt tourism at the Jersey Shore and cause people to spend less in one of the state’s critical economies.

The Philadelphia-based late-night delivery company goPuff said it did not have to disclose multiple federal labor violations to New Jersey officials when it successfully applied for a $39 million tax incentive in July 2018.

In a letter to the state Economic Development Authority last month that was obtained by WHYY, a goPuff attorney said the firm did not consider its 15 federal overtime and minimum-wage violations to be a “legal proceeding” as defined by the application, so the company did not disclose them. (The company’s legal name is goBrands.)

In 2018, New Jersey saw an uptick in the number of reported bias incidents, which occur when victims are targeted for their race, religion, sexual orientation, or other legally protected category.

But what got the particular attention of law enforcement officials was that nearly half of the known perpetrators were minors.

New Jersey hopes a new training program will stem the rising rate of suicides by police officers.

According to state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, the unique stresses of law enforcement make cops more likely to struggle with mental health issues.

“We outfit them with protective clothing. We equip them with guns and vests,” Grewal said at a Tuesday afternoon press conference. “But for too long we’ve ignored a different threat, a threat that claims more and more lives each and every year.”

New Jersey will require certain hospitals to have intervention programs aimed at breaking the cycle of violence for the state’s most at-risk residents, under a package of new laws signed Monday.

Assemblyman Lou Greenwald, D-Camden, said research has shown that the victims of violence are more likely to become victims again or even perpetrators in the future, which is why intervention programs are crucial.

The New Jersey Supreme Court will hear the case of a man who was fired from his job as a funeral director after his employer found out he used medical marijuana to treat his cancer.

It comes not long after Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law an overhaul of the state’s medical-marijuana program that deals in part with employee protections.

A New Jersey task force investigating the state’s tax break program will move forward, after a state judge tossed a lawsuit filed by a South Jersey Democratic power broker.

Businessman George Norcross said the task force was politically motivated by Gov. Phil Murphy and did not give his and other companies the chance to answer for allegations lodged during public task force meetings.

Two new laws in New Jersey will help students compare college costs more easily and protect them from potentially unfair lending practices.

Officials say the laws are meant as safeguards for students across the state who are taking on growing financial burdens to attain advanced degrees.

New Jersey is clamping down on tax break recipients, making sure companies are creating the promised number of jobs before it sends out their yearly credits.

It comes as the administration of Gov. Phil Murphy continues to investigate a program rife with allegations of abuse and self-dealing.

But the added scrutiny has meant the state is slower to send out the annual awards, and industry groups say that is frustrating businesses that have come to rely on the promised incentives.

People seeking jobs in New Jersey will no longer be required to divulge their salary history during the application process.

A new state law signed Thursday also blocks employers from disqualifying applicants based on their past pay.

“Often the question comes before the interview is over: What did you make at your last job?” said Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, who signed the bill while Gov. Phil Murphy was on vacation. “The asking of that question is discriminatory in nature.”

County governments across New Jersey are hoping to overturn a controversial state vote-by-mail law critics say confuses voters and unnecessarily costs taxpayer dollars.

The New Jersey Association of Counties argued before a little-known state board Wednesday that it is unfair to foist costly new requirements on county clerks without appropriating any state funding.

“The vote-by-mail ballots and the vote-by-mail expenses have proven to be very costly for our county clerks in preparing,” said John Donnadio, executive director of the association.

New Jersey’s division of elections will no longer be required to publish long lists of polling places in newspapers ahead of elections.

Instead, under a new law signed by Gov. Phil Murphy, the election notices will explain how residents can contact their municipal or county clerk and direct voters to a website where they can get address-specific polling place information.

Backers say the small change will help ease confusion and modernize the state’s election process.

Two bills introduced in the New Jersey Legislature aim to limit when judges can order physical or psychological exams of sexual assault victims.

It comes amid efforts across the country to clamp down on a practice that sexual-violence prevention advocates say can retraumatize survivors seeking justice.

“No one should ever have to be ordered to go through that trauma all over again,” said Assemblywoman Carol Murphy, D-Burlington, who sponsored the legislation. “We want to make sure that if it’s ordered, it’s at the highest standard that a court has to meet.”

New Jersey has asked the Philadelphia-based delivery company goPuff for more information regarding its successful application for a $39 million state tax incentive.

It comes one week after WBGO reported that goPuff had failed to mention a federal overtime and minimum wage violation when asked on its 2018 application.

New Jersey will tighten its already strict gun laws with a new set of measures aimed at reducing illegal firearms sales and curtailing gun suicides.

They are the latest laws signed by Gov. Phil Murphy, a progressive Democrat who has made gun control one of his top priorities since taking office.

“Even though we have more work to do, we must take great pride in what we are doing today,” Murphy said at a Tuesday press conference. “These new laws will continue to send the message that we take gun safety and the safety of our communities seriously in New Jersey.”

A group of academics and analysts have recommended changes to how New Jersey draws its legislative maps.

The report comes about seven months after top lawmakers in the Democrat-controlled legislature abandoned a plan to rewrite the rules around legislative mapmaking in response to overwhelming opposition.

New Jersey will dramatically limit how its state prisons and county jails use solitary confinement, under a new law signed by Gov. Phil Murphy on Thursday.

The bill will exempt certain “vulnerable” inmates from being kept in isolation and lessen the use of the practice on prisoners for whom solitary confinement is deemed necessary.

“I don’t think it can be overstated how real this is for so many people who’ve been really mentally, emotionally, and spiritually tortured through long-term isolation,” said Rev. Charles Boyer, pastor of Bethel AME Church in Woodbury.

The home delivery service goPuff failed to disclose a federal labor law violation to New Jersey officials when it applied for a $39 million corporate tax break last summer, a warehouse workers union said.

It is the latest example of a company facing scrutiny for its application to the controversial Grow New Jersey tax incentive program, which is currently under investigation by a state task force that found it lacked oversight.

Boosters and critics of New Jersey’s controversial tax incentive program came out to speak Tuesday during a public hearing in Trenton held by the state task force investigating the programs.

Gov. Phil Murphy created the task force to look into a system he said lacked oversight under the previous administration and needs to be overhauled.

Several speakers at Tuesday’s hearing agreed with Murphy’s position, but others said the generous tax incentives have helped lure businesses to some of New Jersey’s most distressed cities that would have otherwise lacked development.

A new report predicts New Jersey will have to shell out billions of dollars by 2040 to protect coastal communities from sea level rise.

The report compiled by the Center for Climate Integrity found that the Garden State will have to spend $25 billion to construct sea walls in areas with public infrastructure that are in danger of chronic flooding.

The price tag for coastal defenses across the contiguous United States will be $400 billion, the group said.

In the latest attempt to battle the state’s ongoing foreclosure crisis, New Jersey will set up a statewide database of all homes under foreclosure.

Gov. Phil Murphy signed a law last week ordering the Department of Community Affairs to create the tracking system so state officials can observe larger trends and target services to those in need.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed what is being called “Jake’s Law” on Tuesday in the latest major overhaul of the state’s medical marijuana program.

Advocates say changes in the law will benefit patients by increasing the availability of medical cannabis and reducing costs.

“This new law is a win for compassion, for leadership, and for the quality of life of every person that it benefits,” said Assemblywoman Joann Downey, D-Monmouth, “but also for every little girl and boy in the hospital right now, wondering when their pain will stop.”

Gov. Phil Murphy said he will let two controversial New Jersey tax break programs expire without signing a bill to extend them while lawmakers and the front office work on a new law that will lay out the rules of future incentives.

It comes after a state task force convened by Murphy to investigate the tax break program found evidence that companies may have lied on their applications and that politically-connected insiders likely helped write the law to benefit their clients.

Legislation floated in New Jersey would allow political candidates and elected officials to use campaign money to pay for child care.

Supporters say too many political hopefuls — most often women — have to decide between hitting the campaign trail or staying at home to look after young kids.

“One of the hurdles to women running for office is having young children at home and being confronted with the multiple demands of caregiving and trying to run for office,” said Kelly Dittmar, a scholar at the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed a $38.7 billion budget Sunday afternoon, averting a government shutdown, but likely prolonging a fight with Democratic leaders in the state Legislature.

Murphy ultimately agreed to the budget lawmakers sent him, even though it excluded his sought-after tax hike on millionaires.

“As fundamental as that disagreement is, it is not reason enough to walk away from this budget,” he said. “It is not a reason to shut down state government.”

Black and Latino leaders in New Jersey say Gov. Phil Murphy and legislative leaders are not doing enough to advance the cause of social justice in the state.

At an event Thursday in Trenton, a coalition of lawmakers and advocates called on the top Democrats to take up or sign several pieces of legislation they said would help black and Latino residents across the Garden State.

After speculation that New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy considered shutting down state government at midnight Sunday to get his way with the new state budget, the Democrat has put those concerns to rest.

“I’ve been saying all options remain on the table. I’ve just taken one option off the table,” Murphy said at a Thursday press conference, announcing that he would sign the budget by the deadline in order to avoid a shutdown.

“I can’t play politics with innocent lives in this state,” he added.

The New Jersey General Assembly will vote Thursday on a measure to mandate sensitivity training for high school coaches, athletic staff, and officials.

Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly, D-Passaic, who is also a high school football coach, said enduring racist behavior as a player prompted him to sponsor the legislation.

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