Morning News Digest: June 16, 2011

Morning News Digest: Thursday, June 16, 2011

By Missy Rebovich

Try State Street Wire, Follow PolitickerNJ on Twitter and Facebook. Text “PNJ” to 89800 to receive alerts



Christie, legislative leaders announce agreement on pension and health benefit reform

In a joint statement with Gov. Chris Christie, Republican and Democratic leadership from both houses of the legislature said Wednesday they have reached an agreement on pension and health benefit reform and will work to see it enacted no later than June 30.  (Isherwood, PolitickerNJ)



Under NJEA attack, Norcross enlists Florio, Booker to defend his education reform initiatives

With a cast of formidable personas ready to call teachers’ union attack ads nothing but a proxy fight against education reform, South Jersey power broker and insurance broker George Norcross stood to defend his name today.  (Carroll, PolitickerNJ)



NJEA at war with Dems

Gov. Chris Christie and New Jersey’s top lawmakers announced an agreement on pension and benefits reform late Wednesday, hours after the New Jersey Education Association launched a scathing attack on the plan and in the process declared war on the Democratic Party it has long supported.  (Method, Gannett)



Collective bargaining a casualty of the Christie-Sweeney deal

Governor Chris Christie was the big winner last night when he and the state’s top Democratic and Republican legislative leaders announced they had reached agreement on legislation that would require teachers, police, firefighters and other government employees to pay more toward their pensions and healthcare.  (Magyar, NJ Spotlight)



Public workers to protest benefits bill in NJ

Public worker unions are planning a show of strength as the New Jersey Legislature considers a bill to take employee health benefits off the bargaining table.  (Delli Santi, The Associated Press)



Panel appointed to redraw congressional districts

The 12 members of a panel that will redraw New Jersey’s congressional districts were appointed Wednesday.

The Republican delegation includes Michael DuHaime, the chief political strategist behind Gov. Chris Christie’s 2009 gubernatorial campaign. The Democrats will be led by former Assembly Speaker Joe Roberts Jr.  (Symons, Gannett)



Gov. Christie touts efforts to make N.J. more business-friendly

Gov. Chris Christie addressed a packed room full of business leaders from around the state tonight, highlighting the accomplishments of his administration.

Christie said his focus has been on making New Jersey more affordable by driving down taxes and getting the state’s finances in order.  (Gibson, The Star-Ledger)



For some N.J. seniors, Social Security can’t stave off the rising tax tide

Ruthann Wohlforth scrapes by on $8,500 a year, living modestly in the 70-year-old home her father built in Ocean View, keeping meticulous notes on every last dollar she spends.  (Rizzo, The Star-Ledger)



New school reform group comes to the table very well funded

With education reform at center stage in New Jersey politics, a new political action organization is expected to launch today with a $1 million media campaign addressing teacher quality.  (Mooney, NJ Spotlight)



Audit: Halfway houses overpaid

New Jersey’s Corrections Department does not adequately monitor state-funded halfway houses, according to a new audit by the state comptroller.  (DeFalco, The Associated Press)



N.J. lawmaker pushes for passage of gay marriage legislation

With the drive to legalize gay marriage in New York gaining, a New Jersey lawmaker says it’s time to pick up the conversation here.

“They’re talking about it in New York,” said Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, D-Mercer, the state’s only openly gay lawmaker, who introduced a bill Monday to legalize same-sex marriage. “Why aren’t we talking about it in New Jersey?”  (Friedman, The Star-Ledger)



Assembly panels to consider bills to toughen child abuse reporting, oppose end of greenhouse gas initiative

Assembly committees on Thursday will consider legislation to reform state child abuse reporting investigations, reaffirm New Jersey’s support for participation in a regional effort to cut greenhouse gases, move on a strategy to confront chronic health conditions that help drive up state health costs and protect teen-agers and children from heart problems at youth sporting events.  (Hester, New Jersey Newsroom)



Gov. Christie makes 9 appointments to state’s Hispanic advisory committee

Gov. Chris Christie has approved nine appointments to the Center for Hispanic Policy, Research and Development’s (CHPRD) Advisory Committee, his office announced Wednesday.  (Hester, New Jersey Newsroom)



Racial, ethnic divides linger in New Jersey, report shows

Concern about racial and ethnic discrimination in New Jersey has declined since the mid-1990s, but large differences in views linger, according to a new Monmouth University report.  (Bates, Gannett)



GOP bill would allow private companies to run Northeast Corridor

Amtrak would lose ownership of the Northeast Corridor and private companies could compete to offer high-speed rail service on the heavily traveled route, under a measure House Republicans discussed Wednesday.  (Chebium, Gannett)



New drug-abuse epidemic frustrating N.J.

Crooked doctors, rogue Internet sites, and deceitful smartphone applications are stymieing attempts to fight a deadly drug-abuse epidemic in New Jersey, according to a state investigation released Wednesday.  (Lederman, The Associated Press)



Latest from State Street Wire

(Click here to request a free trial)



Daily State House Schedule



4 Hudson County Dems rip proposed pension/health benefits reform

Four Hudson County Assembly members came out today strongly against the proposed health care/pension benefits reform.

Joan Quigley (D-32), Vincent Prieto (D-32), Jason O’Donnell (D-31) and Charles Mainor (D-31) cited a strong belief in workers’ collective bargaining rights in opposing the measure.  (Staff, State Street Wire)



BPU says natural gas customers to see rate cuts up to 9.5%

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities today announced that New Jersey’s natural gas customers will receive rate reductions of up to 9.5%, largely due to lower wholesale natural gas prices and stability in the marketplace. The natural gas rate reductions for the State’s four gas utility companies range from 7% up to 9.5%, the BPU said in a release.  (Staff, State Street Wire)



N.J. League of Municipalities favors pension and health benefit reform; Diaz, Hawkins to testify Thursday

The N.J. League of Municipalities and two prominent mayors on its legislative review board will testify Thursday in favor of the pension and benefit reform backed by leaders of the legislative and executive branches.  (Carroll, State Street Wire)



Lautenberg opposes privatization of Northeast Corridor rail

U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) slammed a House Republican plan today to privatize the Northeast Corridor and dismantle the federally funded Amtrak.  (Staff, State Street Wire)



From the Back Room



Pallone hits lottery

U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, (D-6) not only successfully defended his seat last year, but the Democratic Congressman also won $25,000 in the lottery.  (Isherwood, PolitickerNJ)



Hudson, Passaic and Union Dems want health benefits separated from pensions

The Democratic Party chair people from three counties – Union, Hudson and Passaic – tonight released statements saying their party delegations opposed pension and health benefits as currently put forward by state Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver and want health benefits and pension reform considered in separate bills.  (Staff, PolitickerNJ)






Is there a ‘Norcross Clause’ in health care proposal?

Republicans are casting a wary eye toward a little noticed part of the health benefits bill introduced by Senate President Steve Sweeney. The Star-Ledger reports the benefits would be paid only for out-of-state care “when there is no in-state health care provider reasonably available to treat the particular condition based on an expedited determination by the carrier and the commission or plan administrator, in consultation with the Department of Health and Senior Services.”  (Ingle, Politics Patrol)


Morning News Digest: June 16, 2011