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A bill advancing in the New Jersey legislature would ensure that union representatives have greater access to the public employees they represent.

What's called the Workplace Democracy Enhancement Act would allow unions to hold meetings during lunch and other breaks during the workday to look into issues and grievances.

Eric Richard with the state AFL-CIO says it would also mean that union representatives could meet with newly-hired employees without docking their pay.

At Home At The Zoo
Michael Bourne for WBGO

Theater critic Michael Bourne reviews the revival of Edward Albee's At Home At The Zoo.

Oliver Street School
Filomena Mastrolia for WBGO News

Oliver Street Elementary is among a handful of schools in and around Newark that is performing musicals based on Disney cartoon movies, funded by a 100-thousand dollar Disney grant to NJPAC.

Earlier this week, Oliver Street School Music Teacher Ashley DeWitt was directing students as they prepare for next week’s performance of Aladdin.

New Jersey Assembly's Labor Committee will take up a bill Monday that would require employers to provide equal pay to all workers for substantially similar work.        

Elaine Zundl with the Center for Women and Work at Rutgers University says a gender pay gap follows women throughout their lives.

On this edition of Newark Today Mayor Ras Baraka is joined by Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose, Aisha Glover President of the Newark Community Economic Development Corporation, Kenyatta Stewart Corporation Counsel for the City of Newark, and special guest Robert Gregory Interim Superintendent of Newark Public Schools, to talk recent developments in the city's push to establish a Civilian Complaint Review Board, crime and public safety, economic development, and local control of Newark Public Schools. 

New Jersey's Attorney General is backing legislation to overhaul the state's decentralized medical examiner system.

The legislation transfers oversight of the medical examiner system from the Attorney General's office and creates an independent Office of Chief State Medical Examiner within the New Jersey Health Department.

Senate Health Committee chairman Joe Vitale says the key factor of the transfer is that it will ensure the independence the person in that new position.

A tax credit program to encourage the movie, TV, and digital media industry to produce their shows in New Jersey could be restored and expanded.

Former Governor Chris Christie was skeptical about the program's economic benefits when he suspended it in 2010 and it expired in 2015.

Lawmakers are considering a replacement measure that would provide tax credits of $75 million a year for film productions and $10 million for digital media content.

Newark Today with Mayor Ras Baraka and host Michael Hill of NJTV
Alexandra Hill / News

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka is preparing to deliver his state of the city address next week, and Newark Today has your preview of this year’s annual address. 

Used car dealers would have to tell a potential buyer about any safety recall that a previous owner ignored if a bill advancing in New Jersey's legislature becomes law.

Assemblyman Paul Moriarty says his bill would require dealers to gather information from the car manufacturer or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to check for any recalls

and notify a potential purchaser before a sale is finalized.

Bill Daughtry / WBGO

  Over five-hundred Union High School students walk out of the building and line up shoulder to shoulder on a football field.  Dozens of parents are on the bleachers supporting their kids.  Regina Edwards of Union says she gave her daughter a choice to participate. 

“But she had to explain to me why she wanted to do it.  If she couldn’t come up with a good reason, I was not going to allow her to do it,” Edwards said.  “I didn’t want her to do it just to follow the others.  She was able to state her case and I allowed her to do it.”

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is out with its annual rankings of the health of New Jersey Counties.

Based on an analysis of more than 30 factors including housing, education, and jobs, the foundation rates Morris as the state’s healthiest county and Cumberland as the least healthy.

This year’s report puts new emphasis on the impact of race.

Toni Lewis is the foundation’s community coach. She says African-Americans have worse health outcomes than the lowest-ranked county.

New jersey Governor Phil Murphy’s first budget plan is a major departure from the eight years of proposals made by his predecessor.

Democrat Murphy is calling for a millionaires’ tax, something Republican Chris Christie repeatedly rejected.

“The irrefutable fact is that we have a thousand more millionaires today than we did at our pre-recession peak, and I’m sure none of them are here for the low taxes. They are here because we can offer an unmatched quality of life.”

New Jersey lawmakers are making another effort to get legislation enacted that would require all public schools be equipped with a panic alarm that would be directly linked to law enforcement authorities.

The silent alarm would be activated during a shooting or other school emergency.  Former Governor Chris Christie vetoed similar legislation three times in the past five years.

Now that the state has a new governor, Assemblyman Ralph Caputo is hoping the outcome will be different.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy will unveil his first state budget plan in a speech to a joint session of the legislature tomorrow.

Republican lawmakers are urging Murphy to reverse his campaign promise and not propose a tax surcharge on millionaires.

Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean says increasing taxes would send a bad message to individuals and corporations.

“Any changes that Governor Murphy makes should focus on property tax relief. Any new investments or extra revenues should focus on property tax relief.”

animoto.com

Anybody with a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any number of social media sites have mindlessly scrolled the feed.  Sometimes a post with a picture or video catches your attention. 

“The macro trend we’re seeing is video is the way people prefer these days to consume information,” says Jason Hsiao,  a former TV production professional, and a co-founder of Animoto.

“[It's] an online tool that allows you to create professional looking videos very simply.”

Hsiao says corporations caught on to the social media video trend quickly.

Whitney Museum
Whitney Museum for WBGO News

An ongoing exhibition at the Whitney Museum in Manhattan is giving new meaning to the word “protest”. 

WBGO’s Molly Fichter takes us on a tour of the exhibition that has prompted many visitors to pause and reflect on the various forms of protest.

The Whitney Museum is located at 99 Gansevoort Street in Manhattan.

Governor Murphy’s nominee to be New Jersey’s Health Commissioner spend most of his confirmation hearing answering questions about the state’s marijuana policies.

 

Shereef Elnahal told lamakers than when a 60-day review ordered by the governor is completed, suggestions will be made to improve the state’s medical marijuana program. 

 

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy is directing the Board of Public Utilities to investigate the power companies’ response to the recent winter storms that knocked out electricity to hundreds of thousands of customers.

“We’re going to examine what went wrong and whether the improvements to protect and strengthen our grid devised post Sandy have been implemented.  We will look to see if all preparedness measures were taken before last Friday knowing a major event was coming. My gut tells me they were not, and if they’ve not been, that is entirely inexcusable.”

If New Jersey legalizes recreational marijuana, a state lawmaker wants to have a measure providing new opportunities for some residents and communities ready to go.

Assemblywoman Annette Quijano says if the state allows possession and use of marijuana, it should clear the records of all those previously convicted of marijuana possession.

The New Jersey legislature is looking at establishing a Main Street Economic Growth Program.

Assemblyman Dan Benson says his bill is intended to encourage business development in small towns.

A week before New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy proposes his first state budget, the leader of the state Senate has unveiled a plan to raise taxes to provide more money for education.

Senate President Steve Sweeney wants to impose a tax surcharge on corporations that make more than a million dollars in profits in New Jersey.

He says that would raise about $657 million and be just a portion of the money those companies will save from changes in the federal tax code.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has declared a state of emergency because of an approaching storm that could bring heavy, wet snow and the potential for damaging winds.

Murphy says the Department of Transportation has 2500 pieces of snow fighting equipment at its disposal to make major highways passable.

“Whether it’s plows spreaders and loaders which can be deployed across the state. The Department has about 207,000 tons of salt available which is 78 percent of its capacity and it’s also at 82 percent of its capacity for liquid calcium.”

caunj.org

Community Access Unlimited was founded over 35 years ago through a one-year grant to take people out of developmental institutions and put them into the community, says CAU Assistant Executive Director of Business Development Joanne Oppelt. 

“Whatever they needed.  Supported housing, supported employment, getting people jobs, recreational trips, and advocacy trips in terms of speaking up for the rights of people with disabilities.  There are a lot of civil rights issues involved for people with disabilities who are not perceived as being equal to people with disabilities.”

Russ Solomon, the founder of the enormously influential and widely beloved Tower Records chain, has died at age 92.

His son, Michael Solomon, told the Sacramento Bee on Monday that his father died of an apparent heart attack on Sunday evening while watching the Oscar awards ceremony and enjoying a glass of whiskey.

A bipartisan group of New Jersey Senators is drafting legislation to counter some of the negative consequences of federal tax code changes.

Senator Tony Bucco says the measure would allow small businesses registered as

S corporations, LLC’s, and other partnerships to pay their state taxes as a corporate entity so their owners and partners could deduct the full amount of the tax on their federal returns.

New Jersey could become the first state to require a warning sticker on opioid prescription bottles.

Assemblyman John Armato says his bill would require a red sticker on the cap of a prescription bottle warning that the medication is an opioid and could cause addiction and overdose.

“One of the reasons is that there’s so many different pain medications out there. I have had people come to me and say thank god my son is not on an opiate. So what is he taking?  He’s taking Percocet. Well that is an opiate. “

Alexandra Hill / News

Thousands of young men from the city of Newark descended on the Prudential center earlier this week for the pathways to success summit. Mayor Ras Baraka in partnership with the my brothers keeper initiative and prudential hosted the summit that provided mentorship opportunities, social services, on the spot hiring but the real goal of the summit was to change the paths of the city’s most disenfranchised and underserved demographic, young black men.

“A lot of us young black males we don’t have a lot of things to look up to.”

David Greenspan
Doug Doyle for WBGO

Veteran writer and actor David Greenspan, the winner of five Obie Awards, brings his adaptation of Thornton Wilder 's The Bridge of San Luis Rey to Two River Theater through March 18th.  This production is directed by Ken Rus Schmoll.

This literary masterpiece which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1928 deals with the nature of love.

David Greenspan also stars in the new production as the narrator and  portrays the character Uncle Pio.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the flu season may have peaked, it’s still making a lot of people sick in New Jersey.

State epidemiologist Dr. Tina Tan says there are high levels of flu illness throughout New Jersey, but there are some positive signs.

“We are starting to see that some of our areas that we’re measuring are starting to decrease such as emergency department admissions and emergency department visits that are associated with influenza-like illness.”

Dr. Tan says influenza type B cases are increasing in the state.

Get ready for a variety of potential weather woes from a storm arriving soon.

New Jersey state climatologist Dave Robinson says the nor’easter could dump one to three inches of rain and cause problems in flood-prone areas.

“We just had the third wettest February on record, records going back to 1895. So, the ground is saturated. The rivers are running high. There’s just not a lot of room to put water into those rivers before they would leave their channels and flow into the flood plains surrounding them.”   

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