NJ Politics Digest: Health Reform—The Yeas, Nays and I Ain’t Tellings

Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, left. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Journalists throughout the state are canvassing GOP lawmakers for their positions on the latest Obamacare replacement bill. Some are talking. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, under pressure from activists in his district and targeted by conservatives in his party for his earlier failure to support action, is keeping mum.

Gov. Chris Christie has weighed in on President Trump’s tax plan and its potential impact on New Jersey property taxes. The governor, who has won himself a spot in the Trump administration leading the fight against opioid addition, is also putting a lot more pressure on Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield in his efforts to get the state’s largest insurer to pony up cash to pay for his addiction treatment plan.

And there’s little good news for state commuters, with repair work planned and the head of NJ Transit warning that transportation woes could hurt the state’s economy. One bright spot: Rail riders won’t have to pay more next year, according to this report.

Quote of the Day: “Medicaid, pre-existing conditions, covering seniors, making sure nobody falls through the cracks — as far as I can tell — have not been addressed. It’s district first. This is a matter of conscience.” – Rep. Frank LoBiondo, on his opposition to the revised GOP health care measure.

NJEA-Backed Group Slams Sweeney With Attack Ads
An outside group funded by New Jersey’s largest teachers union is taking aim at Senate President Stephen Sweeney, the top elected Democrat in state government.
Salvador Rizzo, Observer Read more

Frelinghuysen mum as GOP picks sides on health bill
Three New Jersey Republicans — Reps. Leonard Lance, Frank LoBiondo, and Chris Smith — remained opposed Thursday to the latest Obamacare replacement plan negotiated largely by one of their colleagues, Rep. Tom MacArthur.
Herb Jackson, The Record Read more

Congressman Draws Fire For Healthcare Plan
A New Jersey congressman, Republican Tom MacArthur (NJ-3rd), has emerged as a leader in the national battle to replace the Affordable Care Act, but opponents of the quest insist his plan would increase the cost of commercial insurance, reduce benefits and leave older, sicker patients without coverage.
Lilo Stainton, NJSpotlight Read more

Has revamped Obamacare repeal bill swayed N.J. Republican lawmakers?
Rep. Tom MacArthur’s efforts to amend the House GOP bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act hasn’t won any converts among his fellow New Jersey Republicans.
Jonathan D. Salant, NJ.com Read more

MacArthur to Host Town Hall in Majority-Democratic Town
Rep. Tom MacArthur, who was instrumental in crafting the revised version of House Republicans’ bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, will be holding a town hall meeting in a majority-Democratic town early next month.
JT Aregood, Observer Read more

Obama’s ISIS Adviser May Challenge MacArthur
A national security expert who advised former President Barack Obama and Gen. David Petraeus is exploring a challenge to Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-3) in next year’s race.
Salvador Rizzo, Observer Read more

Court to consider DiVincenzo campaign finance case next month
After months of inaction, the years-old campaign finance case against Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo for allegedly misusing funds could soon be active again.
Matt Friedman, Politico Read more

Christie Concerned About Trump’s Tax Plan
Gov. Chris Christie voiced some concern over a provision of President Trump’s tax plan that would make local property taxes in New Jersey no longer deductible on federal tax returns.
Alyana Alfaro, Observer Read more

Christie has ‘concerns’ new Trump tax plan could ‘hurt’ N.J., but proposed the same one in 2015
Gov. Chris Christie on Thursday said he has “concerns” about a new tax plan from President Donald Trump that would hike the average New Jersey homeowners’ taxes by thousands of dollars because they would no longer be able to deduct their property taxes.
Claude Brodesser-Akner, NJ.com Read more

NJ Transit chief: Delays from Penn Station work could hurt state’s ‘economic vitality’
The head of New Jersey’s commuter railroad said Thursday delays from Amtrak’s planned repair work at Penn Station in New York could cut into the agency’s revenues and even slow the state’s economy, though he said he’s yet to receive a briefing on the plans.
Ryan Hutchins, Politico Read more

Senator grills NJ Transit director over repeated train delays
At a hearing before the Senate budget committee, NJ Transit’s executive director had a bit of good news when he told lawmakers there would be no fare increase for fiscal 2018.
Larry Higgs, NJ.com Read more

Delays ahead: Amtrak speeding up Penn Station repairs
It’s going to get worse before it gets better at New York Penn Station.
The Record Read more

Christie Doubles Down on Horizon Demands
Gov. Chris Christie continued his crusade against Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield, the state’s largest health insurer, proposing new legislation on Thursday that would force more political appointees onto its board and require salary and bonus data for top executives to be posted online.
Alyana Alfaro, Observer Read more

Atlantic offshore drilling: Will it help or hurt NJ?
President Donald Trump is expected to sign an executive order Friday that will open up the Atlantic and Arctic oceans for offshore oil and gas drilling.
Russ Zimmer, Asbury Park Press Read more

Why so few N.J. parents are taking paid family leave
Just 12 percent of New Jersey’s eligible new parents are receiving family leave benefits, according to a new report aimed at boosting enrollment numbers.
Samantha Marcus, NJ.com Read more

Assembly Hears Good News About NJ Prison System
New Jersey Corrections Commissioner Gary Lanigan gave the Assembly Budget Committee some good news yesterday: Crime is down. The prison population is down 20 percent since the start of the Christie administration. The recidivism rate is at 31 percent, down from 48 percent in 2000.
NJTV Read more

Lakewood schools still face teacher layoffs, budget cuts
With a budget deadline less than two weeks away, the struggling school district has yet to reach a hoped-for funding deal with the state to prevent massive layoffs and budget cuts.
Payton Guion, Asbury Park Press Read more

Shore town once notorious for parking restrictions now may ease up
Access to beaches in Mantoloking may be improving as the Shore town, awaiting beach replenishment after being battered by Hurricane Sandy, considers lifting or easing parking restrictions.
MaryAnn Spoto, NJ.com Read more

Deal to turn closed A.C. casino into water park evaporates
A deal to turn the defunct Atlantic Club casino hotel in Atlantic City into a “world class” indoor water park has fallen through, the Atlantic City Press reported.
Amy S. Rosenberg, Inquirer Read more

Bergen county police union slams sheriff in layoffs statement
Policeman’s Benevolent Association Local 49 posted a statement this afternoon to Twitter about Sheriff Michael Saudino and the anticipated layoff of 26 officers and the demotion of 11 others in the force of 75.
Steve Janoski, The Record Read more

Editorial: Instead of tardy notes, give commuters respect
There’s something junior-high-like about getting a tardy notice from your rail carrier to take to your boss. But junior high may be an advanced grade when it comes to NJ Transit’s customer service. The state’s commuter rail agency is trying to take the offensive in the wake of a series of train derailments and service disruptions in or near New York Penn Station.
The Record Read more