New Jersey

New Jersey lawmakers are considering a bill to expand participation in a program that provides breakfast to public school students in their classrooms.

The measure would require schools where 70 percent of more of students are eligible for free or reduced-price meals to have a ‘breakfast-after-the-bell’ program.

Senator Shirley Turner says that would help ensure kids have enough food.

A bill to provide subsidies for nuclear plants and renewable power incentives is scheduled for a vote in the New Jersey Senate on Monday. It's not clear whether it has enough support to pass. 

Senator Bob Smith is one of the bill's primary sponsors, but he's not sure if he'll vote for it.

"I think the bill is still a work in progress. So, like any bill you want to wait until you see what is in the final bill. The bill started out tremendously with really good stuff. I'm really concerned about the solar portion at this moment."

The governors of New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and Rhode Island are forming a regional 'States for Gun Safety' coalition.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy says more than 80 percent of the gun crimes in New Jersey are committed with guns from out of state.   He says the four states already have tough gun laws but believes they can be stronger.

“We’re working with the legislature to enact a whole series of steps, but it has to accept the reality that getting engaged with other like-minded states and hopefully beyond, we can mitigate this awful scourge.”

You don't have to travel very far to find potholes on New Jersey roadways.

New Jersey Department of Transportation spokeswoman Judy Drucker says it's shaping up to be one of the worst pothole seasons in years. State crews tackled nearly 35,000 of them last month.

"We've had frequent snow storms very early this winter. We had heavy rains, severe swings in the temperature, so it's been pretty rough on our roads. We've begin our statewide annual pothole campaign this year specifically because of that."

The first bill New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed since taking office restores nearly seven-and-a-half million dollars to Planned Parenthood and other women's health facilities.

"Today we are saying in a clear voice that New Jersey will once again stand for the right things. New Jersey will once again stand up for women's health. New Jersey will once again stand strong in support of Planned Parenthood and for reproductive rights." 

A week after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, Governor Phil Murphy says his administration is making school safety a top priority in New Jersey.

Homeland Security Director Jared Maples says the state must strengthen prevention efforts to protect students.

The federal Affordable Care Act provision imposing a tax penalty on those without health insurance expires at the end of the year. Some New Jersey lawmakers want to state to replace it with a mandate of its own.

Senator Joe Vitale says his bill would help the state's insurance marketplace remain vibrant.

A bill passed by the New Jersey Assembly would create a confidential registry of newborns diagnosed with sickle cell trait.

Assemblyman Herb Conaway says many people with sickle cell disease are not getting standard treatments for that condition.

“The hope is that by establishing the registry and having the Department of Health get in touch with those who have trait or who have sickle cell disease itself with messages about the kind of treatments they receive, we can empower patients to advance their own health with their physicians.”

Manufacturing companies in New Jersey are asking state lawmakers for some changes to help them compete. And they're asking the legislature not to enact some measures they say they can't afford. 

Jim Minadeo is president of Zero Surge in Frenchtown, which makes electronic safety and surge protection devices. He says manufactures are having trouble finding the skilled labor they need for their workforce.

Advocates are proposing an action plan to eliminate childhood lead poisoning in New Jersey in ten years.

Ruth Ann Norton is president of the Green and Healthy Homes Initiative. She says more prevention efforts are needed so children don’t suffer learning disabilities and organ damage from lead poisoning.

“Kids poisoned by lead are seven times more likely to drop out of school. They will earn about a million dollars less over their lifetime. They will also face higher risk of hypertension, cardiac arrest, and early death.”

A New Jersey Assembly committee has passed a package of bills aimed at preventing students from becoming a victim of sexual misconduct.

The legislation would require school districts to provide instruction on sexual abuse awareness, the meaning of consent for sexual activity, and the consequences of distributing sexually explicit images through electronic means.

Sussex County resident Allison Pereira says when she was a high school sophomore, a topless photo she sent to her ex-boyfriend went viral on the internet.

A New Jersey Assembly committee has advanced legislation for a pilot program in selected school districts on how to identify and respond to child trafficking.

The International Labor Organization estimates 1.2 million children worldwide are forced into work or sexually exploited.

Nathanial Hirschman is with Project Stay Gold, a student organization working to raise awareness on human trafficking. He says teachers, administrators, and students need to learn about the dangers.

A New Jersey lawmaker wants to speed the timetable for getting all of the state’s electricity from renewable energy sources.

Assemblyman Tim Eustace says his bill would require 100 percent of the electric power sold in the state to be from clean energy sources by the year 2035.

“This bill had originally been 2050. But as we see technology change and European countries have already reached these goals, there’s no reason why we can’t reach for the same goals.”

New Jersey Sierra Club director Jeff Tittel says that could be hard to do.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy says his administration will reverse the Christie administration’s regulations that make it easier to get a permit to carry a concealed handgun.

“New Jersey cannot and must not become part of the race to the bottom that we’re seeing across the country. There are already too many guns on our streets and simply adding more into the equation will not make us or our communities any safer.”

New Jersey lawmakers want to stop teachers who’ve abused children from moving unnoticed from one school district to another.

A bill advancing in the legislature would require public and private schools to disclose whether there were allegations of abuse or sexual misconduct against teachers they fired.

Liza Kirschenbaum with Court Appointed Special Advocates of New Jersey says on the rare occasions when a school employee has been involved in sexual misconduct with a student, it should be disclosed to other schools that might potentially hire that person.

A cost-control measure imposed by former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie might be going away.

Melanie Schultz with the New Jersey Association of School Administrators says the cap on school superintendents’ salaries makes it difficult to retain top talent.

“We have lost many superintendents to neighboring states. It also is very important that communities’ elected boards of education or appointed boards of education have the right to decide on the compensation for their chief school administrator”

 

The flu is now widespread in throughout the United States. The CDC says every state except Hawaii is seeing a high number of cases. In New Jersey it’s causing a drop in blood donations.

 

Alana Mauger is the communications manager for the American Red Cross Penn-Jersey Blood Services Region.

 

She says you can’t donate blood if you have the flu or a cold.

 

A measure to restore state funding for family planning services is making its way through the New Jersey legislature.

The Senate Health Committee voted to advance the bill that would provide nearly seven-and-a-half-million dollars in grants for family planning and women’s health clinics.

Former Governor Chris Christie eliminated the funding in 2010 and vetoed efforts by lawmakers to restore it.

In 2011, then Governor Christie pulled New Jersey out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and vetoed three attempts by the legislature to rejoin it.

Lawmakers expect Governor Phil Murphy will be receptive to their latest effort to get back in.

Supporters and opponents for a measure that would require the state to be part of RGGI testified at a Senate Environment Committee hearing.

Environment New Jersey director Doug O’Malley says the RGGI program improves air quality and reduces pollution that contributes to climate change.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy is tightening the rules on the disclosure of gifts he can receive from personal friends

Murphy signed an executive order that makes a change in the governor’s code of conduct.

“The most meaningful tweak and this is one that I think is important is a very bright line distinction between preexisting relationships and folks that we’ve met in a political context.”

Murphy says if he were friends with someone at least three years before his inauguration, he would not have to disclose gifts they gave him. 

New Jersey now has the nation's first Sikh Attorney General.

There was no opposition when the New Jersey Senate voted to confirm former Bergen County Prosecutor Gurbir Grewal as the state's top law enforcement officer.

Judiciary committee chairman Nick Scutari says he's confident Grewal is the right person for the job.

In his inauguration speech, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy vowed to take the state in a new direction.

Murphy promises a stronger and fairer New Jersey that creates better jobs and provides higher wages, funds public schools and delivers on the promise of property tax relief.

Murphy says he’ll put his ideals into his first state budget in a few weeks, but believes there’s no need to wait for that to alter the state’s trajectory.

Just hours after being inaugurated, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed his first executive order. It promotes equal pay for women.  

Murphy says the order prohibits any effort by a state agency to ask a job applicant about their wage history.

“Here and now we begin the process of bulldozing the roadblocks that have kept women from being paid fairly, that have kept many women of color from fulfilling their dreams of entering the middle class and that have allowed our wage gap to persist.”

The schools superintendent in Asbury Park is Governor-elect Phil Murphy’s choice to be New Jersey’s next Education Commissioner.

Murphy says Lamont Repollet is an educational leader who’s focused on students.

“What Dr. Repollet has accomplished is nothing short of a turnaround. Literacy rates are up. Test scores are up. Attendance is up. Confidence and morale among staff are up.”

Repollet says the long-term success of the state relies on the ability to provide children with access to quality education.

New Jersey doesn't mandate training on preventing sexual harassment for state lawmakers and their staff and some legislative leaders want that to change.

Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin say it’s time to update the state’s policy that was enacted nine years ago.

Weinberg says the Me-Too movement shows women don't have to put up with sexual harassment.

Governor Christie and some of New Jersey’s federal lawmakers want the entire Atlantic Coast excluded from the Trump Administration’s plan to expand offshore oil and gas drilling.

The Interior Department granted a request from Florida officials to exempt that state from offshore drilling because it could devastate its tourism industry and coastal economy.

U.S. Senator Bob Menendez believes New Jersey should also be exempt.

Governor-elect Phil Murphy might not be getting speedy approval from the New jersey legislature for some of his priorities.
 
Murphy wants to impose a tax surcharge on millionaires and use the money to increase funding for public schools.
 
Senate President Steve Sweeney says state lawmakers won’t rush to do that.  He’s forming a panel of economists and tax experts to study the impact of federal tax changes that limit the deductions for state and local taxes and consider possible tax reforms.
 

It's cold now, but New Jersey state climatologist Dave Robinson says this has been the 6th warmest year on record in the Garden State.

“We had a warmer February than March, which was really quite remarkable. February was record warm and March was a bit below average. April was the warmest on record. September was the 10th warmest on record and October was the 2nd warmest on record. And those records go back to 1895."

Robinson explains why it was so warm.

When New Jersey's minimum wage goes up on January 1st, some workers who make more than that might also get a raise.

Brandon McKoy with New Jersey Policy Perspective says the 16-cents-an hour increase will directly affect 91,000 workers who now earn less than the new $8.60 minimum.

He says another 209,000 employees are also likely to make more.

"They currently make between $8.60 and about $8.76 an hour and they're going to basically see an increase in their pay as employers adjust the pay scales upward to reflect the new minimum wage."

New Jersey lawmakers are expected to consider legislation in the new year to legalize recreational marijuana in the Garden State.

One shore town doesn't want marijuana sales within its borders.

The Point Pleasant Beach council has passed an ordinance that bans marijuana dispensaries.

Mayor Stephen Reid says they would not be a good fit for his community.

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