Morning News Digest: March 16, 2011

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Christie underscores his need for a GOP legislature

It didn’t take long for this town hall hovering at the edge of election time to turn full-blooded and publicly political.  (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)



Tea Party congressional candidates slog on a long campaign trail

It’s hard to miss the outstretched, campaign-mode hands of Tea Party candidates who lost in last year’s elections but didn’t get dented enough – or dented at all, depending on your perspective – to go underground.  (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)



Former Sheriff Spicuzzo pleads not guilty

Attorneys for Joseph Spicuzzo said they are waiting to see some of the evidence against their client — the former Middlesex County sheriff — who pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges of bribery and a pattern of official misconduct during an initial appearance in state Superior Court, Freehold.  (Racz, Gannett)|head



Christie has town hall meeting in Woodbridge, warns Democrats to approve reforms

Gov. Chris Christie ratcheted up his rhetoric against state Democrats on Tuesday by calling on his latest town hall audience to boot the opposing party in order to pass the pension and health benefit reforms he favors.  (Bichao, Asbury Park Press)



“Hot and sexy” question draws laughs at Christie town hall meeting

Personal and political worlds collided at Gov. Christie’s town hall meeting Tuesday when a microphone was handed to former Gov. Jim McGreevey’s father.  (Katz, The Philadelphia Inquirer)



At budget hearing, pleas for more funds

Representatives from dozens of community service agencies and business interests came before a state Senate panel Tuesday in a Garden State re-enactment of “Oliver Twist.”  (Roh, Courier-Post)



Study: Christie’s pension reforms fall short

An actuarial report on Gov. Chris Christie’s pension reform proposal shows that funds for both teachers and state workers will dip precipitously if there are no changes to the system.  (Method, Gannett)|head



Christie refuses to negotiate health care cost increase with N.J. public unions

Representatives for Gov. Chris Christie have told the state’s largest union that the administration’s plan to sharply increase health care costs for public employees was not negotiable, union leaders said Tuesday.  (Gibson, Gloucester County Times)



Bill targets gap in efforts to prevent suicide by GIs

Rep. Rush D. Holt and Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg, both D-N.J., have reintroduced the Sgt. Coleman S. Bean Reserve Component Suicide Prevention Act, legislation to help close a critical gap in suicide prevention.  (Racz, Gannett)



Christie says Special Olympics’ nationals in 2014 a chance for New Jersey to show off

Cherry Hill resident Jason Selin has two passions in his life: rooting for the Philadelphia Eagles and participating in the Special Olympics.  (Weinberg, Press of Atlantic City)



Christie names four to dyslexia task force inspired by Ocean City girl

Gov. Chris Christie on Tuesday named four of his five appointees to the new state Reading Disabilities Task Force, bringing a project inspired by an Ocean City girl one step closer to reality.  (D’Amico, Press of Atlantic City)



N.J. schools’ insurance company offers lifetime health care benefits to eligible retirees

New Jersey school insurance premiums are helping a private employer pay its retirees $500 a month for lifetime health care — even as public teachers confront layoffs and increasing pressure to reduce salaries and benefits.  (Young, The Star-Ledger)



School projects selection in doubt

A three-hour hearing on school construction in poor New Jersey communities failed to satisfy Democratic members of a state Assembly committee trying to determine how 10 projects were picked this year over 100 others that were reviewed.  (The Associated Press)



Hearing sheds little light on how schools get on the SDA short list

The Assembly’s education committee yesterday held a hearing to try to clarify how the Christie administration chose the school construction projects it will advance in the next year.  (Mooney, NJ Spotlight)



N.J. opposes new rule allowing 60-year storage of spent nuclear fuel

New Jersey is saying no to a new rule that would allow nuclear power plants to store radioactive spent fuel on site up to 60 years beyond the useful life of the plant.  (Bauers, The Philadelphia Inquirer)



New Jersey assemblymen to introduce bill to close loophole in Walsh Act

Voters in certain New Jersey municipalities could have a greater say in local government borrowing under a bill being proposed by Assemblymen John Amodeo and Vince Polistina.  (Fletcher, Press of Atlantic City)



Port Authority Chairman David Samson discusses future of the agency

David Samson, a former New Jersey attorney general and head of Governor Christie’s transition team, has been tapped to lead the Port Authority.  (Boburg, The Record)



For county school superintendents, room at the top

Gov. Chris Christie’s move at the end of 2010 to replace a third of New Jersey’s executive county school superintendents shook up how the state oversees local districts.  (Mooney, NJ Spotlight)



NJSIAA: Ticker law cost us $500,000

Athletic directors from throughout the state learned Tuesday that the association that oversees high school sports in New Jersey has more than $500,000 less to work with today then it did at the same time last year.  (Schutta, The Record)



From the Back Room



Murray calls it for Dems

In his new column, Monmouth University pollster Patrick Murray calls this year’s redistricting process for the Democrats.  (Isherwood, PolitickerNJ)






The “De Minimis” Map

The Legislative Apportionment Commission has decided on a Democratic map.   The 11th member, Alan Rosenthal, made it all but official at his first public appearance with the commission last week.  (Murray, PolitickerNJ)



Lawmakers themselves have little impact on budget process

This time of year the hallowed halls of the State House and town meetings all over are packed with people who want to influence the budget process. Fat chance. Even lawmakers themselves have little impact.  (Ingle, Courier-Post)



For patients seeking pot, no relief soon

It has been more than a year since the New Jersey Legislature voted to permit medical use of marijuana for debilitating pain. On Jon Corzine’s final day as governor in January of last year, he signed the bill into law.  (Ahearn, The Record)



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Morning News Digest: March 16, 2011