Morning News Digest: March 8, 2011

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Facing state corruption charges, Spicuzzo resigns chairmanship

In the aftermath of state corruption charges dropped today, Middlesex County Democratic Organization Chairman (and former county sheriff) Joe Spicuzzo will resign his party chairmanship and Vice-Chair Helen Gottlieb will assume the duties of chairperson.  (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)



Reiman running for Middlesex County Democratic chairmanship

Carteret Mayor Dan Reiman wants to be the next chairman of the Middlesex County Democratic Organization.   (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)



Poll: Christie hotter than Obama

Governor Chris Christie is hot.

Not lie-out-on-the-beach hot, but hot enough to beat out President Barack Obama by a half a degree, according to a Quinnipiac University national thermometer poll released today.  (Staff, Asbury Park Press)



Gov. Christie’s poll numbers drop after N.J. budget address

Gov. Chris Christie’s poll numbers have taken a hit since his budget address two weeks ago, according to a Rutgers-Eagleton poll released this morning.  (Friedman, The Star-Ledger)



Senate leader would require more sharing

State Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney said Monday he will push for a law aimed at moving the state’s 566 municipalities into shared-services agreements.  (Method, Asbury Park Press)



New Jersey towns seek voter permission to break Christie property tax cap

At least 12 New Jersey communities want to exceed Governor Chris Christie’s 2 percent cap on property-tax increases, less than three months after it took effect.  (Dopp, Bloomberg)



Sweeney wants concurrent votes on health care, pensions

State Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney said Monday that he will not allow passage of pension and health care reform packages unless both are approved together.  (Method, Courier-Post)|topnews|text|News



N.J. advocates place focus on Medicaid cuts, urge funding restorations at budget hearing

Advocates for the poor and disabled Monday called on lawmakers to restore funding to several critical programs slated to be cut in Gov. Chris Christie’s proposed $29.4 billion budget.  (Renshaw, The Star-Ledger)



Labor attorneys urge Legislature to abandon plan to increase N.J. employees’ contributions to health benefits

Days before the governor’s office and the state’s largest public employees union are scheduled to sit down for the first time, lawmakers are receiving letters warning of dire results that could come from changing employee benefits through law.  (Gibson, The Star-Ledger)



N.J. lawmaker says .1M payout to retiring Atlantic City police, firefighters show need for sick leave caps

Following a report that the Atlantic City government used the $2.2 million in proceeds gained from large scale police and firefighter layoffs to finance payouts of unused sick leave to retiring city employees, Sen. Joe Kyrillos (R- Monmouth) Monday again renewed his call for the Senate to pass comprehensive caps on unused sick leave for public employees.  (Hester, New Jersey Newsroom)



Acting education chief says N.J. to hire independent agency to analyze data on charter schools

Vowing to create “more transparency,” acting Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf today said the state will ask an outside agency to analyze why some charter schools out-perform traditional public schools.  (Rundquist, The Star-Ledger)



Jersey mayors and UEZ officials meet in Jersey City on strategies to counteract governor’s desire to kill program

New Jersey’s urban areas will be set back decades if Gov. Chris Christie has his way and state Urban Enterprise Zones are eliminated, municipal officials said yesterday in Jersey City.  (McDonald, The Jersey Journal)



N.J. bill would require local authorities, boards to maintain websites with budgets, meetings

New Jersey’s many local authorities, boards and commissions would be required to maintain websites with at least basic information about their budgets, meetings and employee rolls, under a new bipartisan bill introduced in Trenton.  (Reitmeyer, The Star-Ledger)



N.J. Assemblyman rejects parents’ plea for more say on kids’ vaccinations

The impassioned debate went on for more than an hour – despite witnesses being limited to only 90 seconds per statement.  (Friedman, The Star-Ledger)



N.J. Assembly Committee approves mandatory 5-year-term for killing a police dog

The Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee Monday approved legislation that would impose a mandatory five-year jail term on anyone convicted of killing a police dog.  (Hester, New Jersey Newsroom)



Assembly panel approves bill hiking fines for cell phone use, texting while driving

Legislation cracking down on the use of cell phones while driving received approval by an Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee Monday.  (Hester, New Jersey Newsroom)



Bayonne Assemblyman O’Donnell’s bill to require heart and lung tests for all newborns before leaving hospital gets unanimous committee backing

Legislation sponsored by a Bayonne assemblyman that would require all New Jersey hospitals to test newborns to make sure their heart and lungs are healthy before releasing them to their parents or guardians took one baby step forward yesterday.  (Hack, The Jersey Journal)



Proposed marijuana regulations attacked

Patients and caregivers who believe New Jersey should rework the state’s plan to regulate medical marijuana spoke up Monday at a state Health Department hearing.  (Mulvihill, The Philadelphia Inquirer)



Secaucus hospital reveals at Trenton hearing on state’s medical pot rules that it’s formed a nonprofit to grow and sell legal marijuana

For nearly two hours yesterday, dozens of patients and their advocates – some through tears, others at the top of their lungs – vented their frustration at restrictions in the state’s proposed rules for New Jersey’s nascent medical marijuana program.  (Livio, The Star-Ledger)



Assembly Committee seeks to stop hydraulic fracturing before it can start

How crucial is relatively cheap natural gas to the state’s economic recovery? 

That question came up repeatedly yesterday, as New Jersey lawmakers took action on a package of bills aimed at halting the practice of hydraulic fracturing, a controversial process that produces natural gas by injecting large volumes of water into wells dug in Marcellus Shale formations.  (Johnson, NJ Spotlight)



Casino Control Commission to lay off another 110 as regulatory body restructures

Another 110 Casino Control Commission employees received layoff notices as the agency shrinks and reinvents itself to adapt to changes in state law that transfer many of its duties to the Division of Gaming Enforcement, CCC officials said Monday.  (Previti, Press of Atlantic City)



Federal complaint targets Woodbridge power plant proposal

A trade association representing regional energy suppliers has filed a complaint with the federal government over a recently enacted New Jersey law that would support construction of gas-powered power plants in Woodbridge and West Deptford.  (Bichao, Gannett)



Tea party steeped in redistricting

After making a raucous national debut and helping to power a grass-roots uprising that swept conservatives into office, tea party activists are now taking on a more sophisticated and decidedly insider-oriented electoral frontier: redistricting.  (Isenstadt, Politico)




From the Back Room



NERO results from Saturday

The following are the results of Saturday’s the Bergen GOP’s Northeast Republican Organization (NERO) convention as the party this year attempts to take down the Freeholder Board’s last two surviving Democrats, David Ganz and Bernadette McPherson.  (Staff, PolitickerNJ)






A “constitutional” map

Now the work begins.  With the appointment of Alan Rosenthal as the 11th member of the New Jersey Apportionment Commission, the work on drawing up a new legislative map commences in earnest.  (Murray, PolitickerNJ)



More legal plunder coming to New Jersey?

State Senator Shirley Turner (D-Mercer) wants to raise the top income tax rate from 8.97 percent to 10.75 percent on incomes above one million dollars.  The senator claims hiking the highest marginal tax rate is necessary to provide tax relief to New Jersey’s homeowners.  She stated, “It’s really about fairness.   (Sabrin, PolitickerNJ)



Social advocates steer clear of Christie

It’s clear that special interests — the lowercase special interests that represent poor and disabled people — got the memo about Governor Christie’s new $29.4 billion budget.  (Stile, The Record)



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  Morning News Digest: March 8, 2011