I don’t envy state Sen. Declan O’Scanlon’s staffers right now. At least not the one who has to answer the phone at his office.
O’Scanlon (R-Monmouth) yesterday became a yes vote on the bill to eliminate the student religious exemption for vaccines, after its sponsors agreed to amend it so that private and religious schools could still admit unvaccinated students. That makes him the 21st vote to put the bill over the line when it’s up on Monday, assuming the count holds over the weekend.
If you’ve spent any time in Trenton over the last few weeks, you’ve probably seen the anti-vaxxers out in full force. And while they’re coughing at their opposition in religious terms, you could also hear some of them calling vaccines “poison” and the like.
Based on the scene in the Senate gallery and the social media response, it doesn’t seem like the amendments to the bill are acceptable to that crowd. And I’m sure O’Scanlon’s office will hear about it.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “You can see me outside. You ain’t got to wait to 2021. You ain’t got to wait to 2021. All that tough guy shit ain’t gonna work here. Good, OK. I’ll be outside in the back in 15 minutes.” — Jersey City Councilman Jermaine Robinson on Tuesday night to constituents angry about the proposal to change the board of education from elected to appointed. (Jersey City artist Amy Wilson of Menendez patch fame has already merchandised this).
DAYS MURPHY HAS SPENT OUT OF STATE SINCE BECOMING DGA CHAIR: 11
WHERE’S MURPHY?: No public schedule
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Legislative aide Catherine Suarez. Saturday for LiUNA’s Francisco Maldonado-Ramirez, former Caldwell councilman Jeff Curley
‘LIFE IS UNFAIR’ — “Murphy says tally of his days out of N.J. is ‘ridiculous and profoundly unfair’,” by NJ Advance Media’s Brent Johnson: “ NJ Advance Media published the report Saturday, noting that the tally includes short trips to New York City and Pennsylvania, as well as state business trips to Washington, D.C., Chicago, California, and India. It also included 38 days of vacation to foreign countries. But Murphy said during his call-in radio show that `the math was ridiculous.’ He said that included a number of days where ‘I landed in New Jersey at like 7:01 a.m., 6:53 a.m., took a shower, went to work, and worked 10 or 12 hours.’ ‘When I go to Washington, I don’t go to sight-see,’ the Democratic governor added during the show on WBGO in Newark. ‘Frankly, I thought it was ridiculous and profoundly unfair.’”
OPRA — “Body-cam video of fatal shooting by police must be made public, court rules,” by NJ Advance Media’s Matt Gray: “Police body camera video from a shooting by officers of a man armed with a knife in Bloomfield in 2017 must be released under the state’s Open Public Records Act, appellate court judges ruled Thursday. Release of the footage showing the encounter between Bloomfield police and Leroy Frank was previous denied on the grounds that it was a criminal investigatory record exempt under OPRA. The appeals court reversed the earlier ruling, finding that the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office failed to make its case that the footage should be withheld.”
FIN IS FIN — “Murphy signs law banning shark fins in New Jersey starting in 2021,” by The Record’s Dustin Racioppi: “Shark fins will be banned in New Jersey next year under a law signed Thursday by Gov. Phil Murphy. The new law is designed to end the shark fin trade, which kills about 72 million sharks a year, primarily for soup, according to the Humane Society International. Shark fin soup is a delicacy in Asia, but the method of making it poses a threat to the fish.”
BAG BAN — Deal reached to phase out plastic, paper bags after 2 years, by POLITICO’s Samantha Maldonado: Single-use paper and plastic bags would both be phased out after two years, under an agreement lawmakers have reached in an effort to pass sweeping legislation that would limit the use of single-use plastics in New Jersey. The bill would ban plastic and paper bags, as well as polystyrene food containers, and limit the availability of plastic straws. Under the agreement, plastic and paper bags would be phased out simultaneously in an extended time frame. “It was a compromise,” said Senate President Steve Sweeney. “Sen. Smith, everyone who worked on the bill did a good job compromising on it.” The full Senate will take up the bill on Monday, the final day of the legislative session.
EDUCATION — Depression screening bill headed for full floor votes, but concerns remain by POLITICO’s Carly Sitrin: A bill requiring public schools to annually screen students in grades seven through 12 for depression made progress through the Statehouse on Thursday, but is still causing concern among some in the education community. The bill, NJ S2835 (18R), sponsored by state Sens. Troy Singleton (D-Burlington) and Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex) would direct the state Department of Education to choose a valid depression screening tool for schools to administer to students every school year or upon their initial enrollment. It was approved by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee on Thursday with nine yes votes, three no’s and one abstention. It will be up for final votes in both houses on Monday.
BUT THAT WAS A WHOLE WEEK AGO — Murphy vetoes ‘mid-year’ spending bills — a week after signing another, by POLITICO’s Ryan Hutchins: “Murphy rejected a bill, NJ S2167 (18R), that would have diverted $500,000 from the state’s Maritime Industry Fund and deposited the money into a new fund to support the management and preservation of Greenwood Lake — a seven-mile lake that stretches from Passaic County to Orange County, N.Y. The funding comes from vessel registration fees. The governor also vetoed a measure, NJ S3509 (18R), that would have increased the annual dedication of revenues to the state’s wine promotion account run out of the Department of Agriculture. The change would have reduced general fund revenue by an estimated $252,000 … Murphy’s vetoes came just a week after he signed a bill appropriating $9.5 million for support for family planning providers that lost funding after the Trump administration set new anti-abortion guidelines.”
TRANSPORTATION — NJ Transit logjam clearing as Murphy nominates Bob Gordon to board, by Ryan: The logjam over nominations to the board of NJ Transit appears to be clearing, with Gov. Phil Murphy on Thursday naming former state Sen. Bob Gordon to one seat and a key lawmaker promising action on at least two other nominees before the legislative term ends next week. Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg said she expects the Senate to confirm Gordon and two other nominees on Monday.
VBM — Bill to restore vote-by-mail law is quickly advancing, by POLITICO’s Matt Friedman: State lawmakers are moving quickly to renew the expansion of New Jersey’s vote-by-mail program after it was invalidated by an obscure government agency in November — and the group that challenged the law is on board with the fix. On Thursday, the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee and the Assembly Appropriations Committee both voted to approve a bill, NJ S4315 (18R), that would appropriate an extra $3 million to reimburse counties and local governments for the expense of designing, printing and sending hundreds of thousands of vote-by-mail ballots in 2018 and 2019, bringing the total to $5 million.
—Mulshine: “New Jersey lawmakers should sack that ban on bags”
LIKE PUNCHING A CADAVER — “Booker: Impeachment trial could be ‘big blow’ to my campaign,” by The AP’s Julie Pace: “U.S. Sen. Cory Booker said a looming impeachment trial and other pressing issues in Washington could deal a ‘big, big blow’ to his Democratic presidential campaign by keeping him away from Iowa in the final weeks before the Feb. 3 caucuses … The challenge for Booker is particularly acute, given that he has struggled to break into the top tier of candidates and needs a strong showing in Iowa to keep his campaign going. ‘It’s going to be a challenging four weeks in the caucus for us,’ Booker said in an interview on The Associated Press’ ‘Ground Game’ podcast. ‘If we can’t raise more money in this final stretch, we won’t be able to do the things that other campaigns with more money can do to show presence.’”
VAN WHO? — “Fitzherbert endorsed by NJ Right to Life PAC for Van Drew challenge,” by The Press of Atlantic City’s Michelle Brunetti Post: “New Jersey Right to Life PAC has endorsed Brian T. Fitzherbert, who is seeking the Republican nomination for Congress in New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District, his campaign said Thursday. Fitzherbert, 30, of Egg Harbor Township, announced the endorsement a day after U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew, R-2nd, whom he is challenging, signed a petition to force a House vote on the Born Alive Infant Protection Act. Van Drew said he remains pro-choice but has never supported late-term abortion.”
GOTT IS GONNA HEIMER — “House votes to limit Trump’s ability to wage war with Iran after Soleimani killing,” by USA Today’s Nicholas Wu and Christal Hayes: “The vote broke down largely along partisan lines, garnering overwhelming support from Democrats, but three Republicans backed it and eight Democrats voted against it. Josh Gottheimer joined Reps. Anthony Brindisi and Max Rose of New York, Joe Cunningham of South Carolina, Kendra Horn of Oklahoma, Ben McAdams of Utah and Stephanie Murphy of Florida as the the eight Democrats who opposed it.”
AC — “Proposal to change Atlantic City government still possible despite initial rejection,” by The Press of Atlantic City’s David Danzis: “Opponents of the proposal to change the city’s form of government who were celebrating Wednesday’s rejection of the submitted petition by the Clerk’s Office may want to temper their excitement, because the effort is far from over. Atlantic City Residents for Good Government, the political action committee behind the petition, has just under three weeks to rectify the reasons for the rejection and has vowed to continue fighting. After submitting more than 3,000 signatures in December that were supportive of changing the city’s government to a council-manager format, a majority of the petitions were rejected for a variety of reasons, including invalid names from unregistered voters and questions about the standing of a specific notary.”
GIVE ME LIBERTY STATE PARK OR GIVE ME A PLAYGROUND FOR THE ULTRA-RICH — “Golf club for the 1 percent wants to seize a migratory bird habitat,” by The New York Times’ Tracey Tulley: “The two worlds are now clashing as never before in a showdown over the Jersey City golf course’s push to expand into nearly 22 acres of public parkland. The outcropping of land, known as Caven Point, is a migratory bird habitat where spotted sandpipers and American oystercatchers nest near elevated walkways that allow visitors to wander, from March to October, through tall reeds and onto the sandy beach. The other half of the year the wildlife is considered too fragile to permit access. But it is there that Liberty National officials say they hope to build three new holes, bringing more of the 18-hole course closer to the water’s telegenic edge and helping it draw high-profile PGA Tour events that supporters say spin off economic benefits for the state.”
ONLY UNTIL SUDHAN THOMAS, IF CONVICTED, GETS OUT OF PRISON — “Jersey City mayor says appointed school board would be temporary,” by The Jersey Journal’s Joshua Rosario: “The morning after dozens of people spoke out against converting Jersey City’s elected school board into an appointed body, Mayor Steve Fulop said the potential change would only be temporary. By a 7-1 vote, the City Council approved a resolution Wednesday night to add a public question to the November ballot that will ask voters whether the board should continue to be elected by the public or be appointed by the mayor with council approval. If the measure passes, Fulop said Thursday his plan is to work with the council to set clear criteria for the appointed board and establish a timeline for when the city will return to an elected board. He did not say how long an appointed board would remain in place.”
GLOBAL WARMING — “Climate change: 2019 was 10th warmest year on record for New Jersey,” by The Record’s Scott Fallon: “New Jersey saw its 10th warmest year on record in 2019, echoing a global trend that has seen sea levels rise and extreme weather events become more common, according to a report released Wednesday. In a year with severe algae blooms on its biggest lakes and an early start to mosquito season, 2019’s record temperatures came as little surprise to David Robinson, the state climatologist, who wrote the report. ‘We’re seeing the results of a warming planet in every corner of this state,’ said Robinson, a Rutgers professor. ‘It’s no random chance that New Jersey has seen so many warm years in the last few decades.’”
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