Morning News Digest: June 17, 2011

Morning News Digest: Friday, June 17, 2011

By Missy Rebovich

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Senate committee passes pension benefits legislation

After hours of emotional testimony, the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee approved legislation that will sharply increase public employee’s contributions to pension and health benefits.  (Isherwood, PolitickerNJ)



As protesters call out bosses, sources admit ‘there is Norcross-Joe D fatigue’ in Dem caucus

The health benefits and pension reform deal struck by Gov. Chris Christie and Democratic leadership will pass out of the budget committee next Monday by a 7-5 vote, say sources, cut along the same regional and party lines that will be visible in larger dimensions once the bill makes the full floor.  (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)



Amid jeers and arrests, Senate committee passes “collective bargaining” bill

Legislation to increase public employee pension and healthcare contributions was put on the fast track to passage yesterday after a tumultuous public hearing during which union leaders attacked Democratic “bosses” for cutting a deal with Republican Governor Chris Christie and the two top leaders of the New Jersey State AFL-CIO and 23 other union protesters were arrested on disorderly persons charges.  (Magyar, NJ Spotlight)



U.S. Sen. Menendez speaks out against deal to overhaul pension, health benefits for N.J. workers

United States Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) spoke out against a pension and health benefit deal on public workers struck by Republican Gov. Chris Christie and the Democratic leaders of the New Jersey state Senate and Assembly.  (Friedman, The Star-Ledger)



Union leader compares Gov. Christie to Hitler at pension reform protest

In an explosive tirade that fired up some demonstrators and embarrassed others, a national union leader went nuclear on Gov. Chris Christie, calling him a Nazi over and over.  (Rizzo, The Star-Ledger)



Pilot project to launch Christie’s teacher evaluation system

The Christie administration’s vaunted plans to remake teacher evaluation in New Jersey will start with up to nine pilot districts testing various methods next year, with a little money and lots of guidance from the state.  (Mooney, NJ Spotlight)



Gov. Christie to delay implementing N.J.’s medical marijuana law

Gov. Chris Christie last night said he won’t allow medical marijuana for chronically ill patients until the federal government assures him they won’t prosecute anyone for working in the program. It is a new stipulation by the governor, who has been accused of intentionally trying to delay the law.  (Gibson and Livio, The Star-Ledger)



Assembly bill poised to benefit Jersey brewers

Brewers from the banks of the Delaware River to near Raritan Bay are lauding the efforts of one New Jersey legislator to promote sweeping reform of state laws governing the marketing, sale and distribution of small-batch beer.  (Spivey, Gannett)



N.J. moves closer to criminalizing ‘bath salts’

Legislation aimed at criminalizing “bath salts,” synthetic powders that mimic the effects of methamphetamines but also cause users to suffer severe physical and mental side effects, inched one step closer to Gov. Chris Christie’s desk today.  (Queally, The Star-Ledger)



Push to keep NJ in anti-pollution pact progresses

Three bills designed to compel Gov. Chris Christie to keep New Jersey in an anti-pollution pact have been approved by the Assembly Environment Committee.  (The Associated Press)



New Jersey’s jobless rate increases

New Jersey’s economy lost 400 jobs in May, and its unemployment rate rose to 9.4 percent from 9.3 percent, the state reported Thursday, putting the brakes on momentum that had been building for three months.  (Diamond, Gannett)



Health and race: Reforming care in communities of color

The federal healthcare reform law will present enormous opportunities for communities of color, which have long suffered from higher rates of chronic illness and far less access to care. But residents will need to educate themselves about the changes to come and accept a healthy dose of individual responsibility for the measure to be successful.  (Stainton, NJ Spotlight)



Senate rejects ethanol subsidy

The Senate voted Thursday to repeal tax credits for producing ethanol, a vote that budget cutters hope will demonstrate a growing appetite in Congress to end special interest tax breaks to help reduce government borrowing.  (Chebium, Gannett)



SBA federal loans available to New Jerseyans affected by March and April floods

The state government announced on Thursday that low-interest Small Business Administration loans of up to $200,000 are available to Passaic, Essex and Morris county homeowners to repair property damaged in the flooding which took place in mid-march.  (Hester, New Jersey Newsroom)



Jersey City to challenge census figures

New Jersey’s second-largest city is spending $25,000 to hire an outside consultant to help it challenge U.S. Census figures.  (The Associated Press)



Utility files to build refueling stations for natural gas vehicles

New Jersey Natural Gas is wasting no time in trying to help the state develop the infrastructure for compressed natural gas vehicles, a recommendation made in the recently overhauled draft Energy Master Plan (EMP).  (Johnson, NJ Spotlight)



Linden executive named chair of state Chamber of Commerce

The president of a Linden manufacturing company has been named chairman of the New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.

Jeffrey C. Scheininger, who has been active in the state Chamber of Commerce for more than a decade, was named chairman by the board on Wednesday.  (Staff, Gannett)



The politics of announcing in Jersey

POLITICO’s Molly Ball reports that Gov. Chris Christie won’t be among those attending when Jon Huntsman kicks off his 2012 campaign in New Jersey, at Liberty State Park, next week.  (Haberman, Politico)



Evesham Township OKs heliport for Connor, Strong & Buckelew

A controversial proposal to build a heliport at the insurance firm chaired by Democratic leader George E. Norcross III has been approved by the Evesham Township Planning Board.  (Hefler, The Philadelphia Inquirer)



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RGGI bills advance in committee

The Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee released three pieces of legislation today designed to prevent the state from exiting the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.  (Mooney, State Street Wire)



Stink bugs wreaking havoc on agriculture in N.J.

Those pesky stink bugs are causing severe damage to the state’s fruit and farming industry, damaging large supplies of peaches, apples, grapes, blueberries and cherries.  (Hassan, State Street Wire)



Death of Irvington girl, 8, discussed in Assembly committee with Children and Families commissioner

The head of the state’s Department of Children & Families outlined for an Assembly committee today the mistakes apparently made in the case of an 8-year-old Irvington girl who was found dead as a result of neglect and abuse earlier this year.  (Mooney, State Street Wire)



BPU holding hearing into electric generating capacity

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities will hold the first of several legislative-type of hearings today concerning possible problems with new electric generating capacity in the state.  (Staff, State Street Wire)






Public employee unions face a political Waterloo

Bill Perry, a veteran shop steward in the state Department of Labor, sat quietly in his own fold-up chair two hours after Thursday’s smaller-than-expected rally ended. The stage was dismantled. The JumboTron screen that projected the images and invective was wheeled back to storage.  (Stile, The Record)



Billions v. Millions: New 501(c)(4) goes on the air against the NJEA

The school choice movement in New Jersey is going pro.

Better Education for Kids (B4K), a new 501(c)(4), went on the air today with a $1 million Philly and NYC market TV ad campaign to counter the NJEA’s air war against Gov. Chris Christie’s reform agenda.  (Roh, Strictly Politics)

  Morning News Digest: June 17, 2011