New Jersey

Historic preservation advocates say a decision by New Jersey's highest court will make it difficult for churches to get the money they need to renovate their architecturally-significant structures.

The state Supreme Court has ruled that the Religious Aid Clause of New Jersey's constitution prohibits using taxpayer funds to repair and restore churches.

Courtenay Mercer, the director of Preservation New Jersey, says churches often appear on the group's annual list of the 10 most endangered historical places in the state.

As New Jersey awaits a ruling from the United States Supreme Court on whether sports betting will be allowed in the state, a bill introduced in the legislature would set some regulations for that wagering.

Assemblyman John Burzichelli says the bill has some rudimentary points on the operation and licensing of sports wagering activities and will be expanded depending on what the Supreme Court decides.

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.”

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.

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.

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.

 

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.

 

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.

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.

passaicfilms.com

The short film Passaic is a flashback to gritty times in northern New Jersey.  It’s centerpiece, two murders that resulted in what would be the longest murder trial in state history at the time.  There's still unanswered questions.  The case remains unsolved.  

“To this day people that are involved in the case know that the truth never came out,” said Michael Klausner, writer and producer of the film Passaic. 

Hearings on Governor Phil Murphy's state budget plan are underway.

Even some of his fellow Democrats have reservations about the $1.6 billion in tax increases he's recommending.

Assembly Budget Committee chairwoman Eliana Pintor-Marin says lawmakers will examine the potential impact of the tax increases.

"They all are concerning. We're going to take a careful look at exactly what those are and how much money they do produce and what type of families we're raising those taxes on."

After ordering a 60-day review of New Jersey’s medical marijuana program, Governor Phil Murphy is making changes to expand it dramatically.

Murphy says bureaucratic conditions have stifled the eight-year-old program's ability to help.

"The days of making residents jump through hoops are coming to an end. We will have a medical marijuana program that is compassionate, that is progressive, and that at long last meets the needs of patients."

New Jersey is joining a multi-state lawsuit against the federal government to block the inclusion of a proposed citizenship question in the 2020 census.

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal says asking people if they’re U.S. citizens will discourage immigrants to participate in the census.

Amol Sinha the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, says that would have negative consequences.

A package of bills approved by the New Jersey Assembly would make the state’s tough gun laws even tougher.

The bill that passed with the most opposition would make it more difficult to get a permit to carry a concealed handgun. Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi was among the lawmakers who voted against it, saying the restrictions would make it almost impossible to get a carry permit.

“As somebody who was a crime victim if I had a serious threat, if my life was in danger, if my daughter’s life was in danger, I want to be able to protect myself.”

New Jersey lawmakers are considering legislation that would make it easier to register to vote.

Senator Joe Vitale says his bill would automatically put residents on voter registration rolls when they apply for or renew their driver's license.

He says that would eliminate the need to fill out a form to register with the local Board of Elections.

This month’s string of  four nor’easters have taken a bite out of some New Jersey beaches.

New Jersey's Department of Environmental Protection says 55 of the 66 beaches it surveyed had minor erosion while 10 had moderate erosion.

Jon Miller is a professor of coastal engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology. He says the storms pulled a lot of sand off the beach and into the ocean.

New Jersey lawmakers are considering a bill that would require inmates be offered an injection of a drug used to treat opioid addiction before they’re released from prison.

Assembly Health Committee chairman Herb Conaway says a single dose of Vivitrol can block the effects of heroin for a month and could help prevent deadly overdoses.

He says people who are incarcerated often have drug addictions that haven’t been treated before they’re released.

New Jersey lawmakers are looking at legislation to expand the state’s medical marijuana program.

Assemblyman Reed Gusciora says his bill would allow an additional 12 medical marijuana dispensaries in New Jersey.

“Currently the state allows six. Only five are open. Many patients say they don’t have ready access to the dispensaries. It would also be a way of creating competition and lowering the cost of the product itself.”

More forms of the drug including edibles and oils would be allowed at the dispensaries.

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