NJ Politics Digest: At Long Last, Justices Take Up Sports Betting

Gov. Chris Christie and Senate President Steve Sweeney. John Moore/Getty Images

Gov. Chris Christie says he’s glad he at least started a conversation about Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield and whether the state should tell it how to spend its money. Politicians typically say that kind of stuff right before or after their plans of action go down in defeat.

But with 72 hours before the state reaches its deadline to enact a new budget, there’s still a chance the wily governor could get his way.

Christie did get some good news on another front, as the U.S. Supreme Court said Tuesday it will consider New Jersey’s challenge to a federal ban on sports betting.

Quote of the Day: “Mr. Christie’s raid is a tax and regulatory mugging masked as public charity.” – The Wall Street Journal editorial board.

Christie Dismisses Critics of Horizon Plan, Mum on Vitale’s Bill
Gov. Chris Christie dismissed critics of his plan to restructure the state’s largest health insurer, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield, telling reporters on Tuesday that some of the interest groups protesting the move “are bought and paid for.”
Salvador Rizzo, Observer Read more

Christie projects calm on budget despite impasse over tapping Blue Cross funds
Gov. Christie on Tuesday suggested he was confident the state would pass a budget by its June 30 deadline, even as lawmakers squabble over a controversial proposal to tap reserve funds from the state’s largest health insurance company.
Andrew Seidman, Inquirer Read more

U.S. Supreme Court to Hear NJ Sports Betting Case
The U.S. Supreme Court announced Tuesday that it will hear arguments from New Jersey in favor of legalizing sports betting at racetracks and casinos despite a federal ban that has blocked the state’s efforts for five years.
Christian Hetrick, Observer Read more

NJ Democrats’ $34.7B budget proposal comes with risks
As part of their $34.7 billion spending plan introduced Monday night, Democrats hope to spend some $350 million on top of the budget Gov. Chris Christie proposed in February to give to schools, scholarships and other priorities.
Nicholas Pugliese, The Record Read more

Christie Won’t ‘Light’ Self on Fire Over GOP Health Proposal
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says he’s not going to Washington to “pour gasoline” on himself and “light” himself on fire to register his concern over the Senate GOP’s health care overhaul bill.
Associated Press Read more

Senate Dems call GOP health bill a ‘death sentence’ for addicts as House highlights unity
Two South Jersey House members led a dozen colleagues on Tuesday in highlighting a bipartisan commitment to fight the opioid epidemic, just hours after Sen. Bob Menendez and a handful of fellow Democrats said a Republican bill to overhaul health insurance would be a “death sentence” for addicts.
Herb Jackson, The Record Read more

NJ Officials React to CBO Analysis of Senate Health Bill
The number of people without health coverage would rise by 22 million nationwide through 2026 under a Republican health care overhaul drafted in the U.S. Senate, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
Alyana Alfaro, Observer Read more

Baraka Sued for Retaliation by Former Employee
A former lawyer for the city of Newark claims he was threatened, harassed and ultimately fired by Mayor Ras Baraka and his top aides for refusing to sign off on a multimillion-dollar development deal, according to a federal lawsuit filed Friday.
Christian Hetrick, Observer Read more

Christie tells ‘Dog the Bounty Hunter’ to take a hike
If Duane “Dog” Chapman, who starred in the reality TV show “Dog the Bounty Hunter,” was hoping for a meeting with Gov. Chris Christie when he came to Trenton this week, he was sorely mistaken.
Matt Arco, NJ.com Read more

Bill that would give towns control over jitney buses is OK’d by Assembly
A bill inspired by the death of a Jersey City boy, which would give municipalities more control over jitney bus operators, has been approved by the state Assembly.
The Jersey Journal Read more

Fewer homeless in NJ; big drops in Monmouth, Ocean
An annual count found a nearly 5 percent decrease in the number of homeless people in New Jersey.
NJCounts 2017 found 8,532 homeless men, women and children, in 6,340 households, during an annual count, held this year on Jan. 24. That number reflects a decrease of 409 people, or 4.6 percent, from 2016.
Jean Mikle, Asbury Park Press Read more

Family of Hoboken train crash victim sues NJ Transit
The family of a woman killed at Hoboken Terminal when an NJ Transit train crashed into the station last September has filed a wrongful death suit against the transit agency, charging it neglected to take key precautions that would have prevented the crash, lawyers announced Tuesday.
NJ.com Read more

Appeals court rules against homeowners in dune case
Rebuffing complaining homeowners, a state appellate court has ruled that the state had the right to seize portions of oceanfront land for beach replenishment in Ocean County.
Jean Mikle, Asbury Park Press Read more

Bergen County officers laid off in budget crunch turn in badges
More than two dozen police officers from the county’s Bureau of Police Services turned in their badges Monday afternoon, casualties of a staffing cut by Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino.
Steve Janoski, The Record Read more

Lawyers in Paterson mayor’s case get more time to review evidence
Authorities have compiled almost 70,000 pages in documents and hundreds of hours of video recordings as part of the proposed evidence in the ongoing corruption case against Mayor Joey Torres and three city workers.
Joe Malinconico, Paterson Press Read more

Christie’s Insurance Shakedown
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie made his reputation prosecuting political corruption, but he now sees nothing unseemly about shaking down the state’s largest health insurer to backfill the budget and fund new anti-opioid spending.
Wall Street Journal Read more

EDITORIAL: Budget shortfall math never adds up
Another year, another budget deficit, another raid of the state’s Clean Energy Fund to be used for just about anything besides clean energy.
Daily Record Read more

Opinion: Putting Guadagno’s Long Shot in Perspective
Even at this relatively early stage, the consensus among the political cognoscenti — the media, academics, and that amorphous but ubiquitous brotherhood and sisterhood known as observers — is that the outlook for the Republican gubernatorial and legislative ticket falls somewhere between bleak and disastrous.
Carl Golden, NJSpotlight Read more

Editorial: Restore funding to Planned Parenthood now
To: Members of New Jersey’s Legislature, who will vote Thursday on whether to override Gov. Chris Christie’s veto and restore funding for family planning in the state.
Times of Trenton Read more

NJ Politics Digest: At Long Last, Justices Take Up Sports Betting