Morning News Digest: January 20, 2012
By Missy Rebovich
In LD16 GOP special convention, Simon defeats Spadea, who will fight on in primary
In a no-surprise move, 16th Legislative District Republicans tonight backed Readington Committeewoman Donna Simon to fill a vacant assembly seat in what was just the first round of what Democrats hope will be a proper Republican bloodbath.
Simon drubbed Bill Spadea of Princeton, 155 to 52 votes to become the assemblywoman-designate. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
Rothman: I’m running in my home district
U.S Rep. Steve Rothman has a message for critics who say he should have taken one for the team when his town was carved out of the 9th District and run against U.S. Rep. Scott Garrett in the newly configured 5th District: The 9th is his district and has been for the past 15 years.
“I’m running for reelection in my home district,” Rothman said in a recent interview with PolitickerNJ. “It’s the district I was born in and have lived in nearly my whole life.” (Isherwood, PolitickerNJ)
Pennacchio and Webber endorse Betty Lou DeCroce
Betty Lou DeCroce announced today that she had earned the endorsements of Sen. Joe Pennacchio and Assemblyman Jay Webber in her bid to fill the Assembly vacancy in the 26th Legislative District at a multi-county Republican County Committee Convention to be held next week. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
Gov. Christie to meet with Portuguese ambassador in Newark
Gov. Chris Christie is scheduled to meet with the Portuguese ambassador to the U.S. today in Newark.
Organizers say Christie will meet Ambassador Nuno Brito in the Portuguese neighborhood called The Ironbound. (Associated Press)
Christie takes his school reform message to Irvington church
Education reform is one of Gov. Chris Christie’s favorite topics, but the time and place of this talk — and his exchange with a feisty great-aunt — set this “town hall” meeting apart.
Two days after he again put school reform among his legislative priorities in his State of the State address, Christie brought the subject to Irvington’s Christian Love Church. (Mooney, NJ Spotlight)
Christie: Romney may be reserved, but he doesn’t lack passion or intensity
Gov. Chris Christie ended the day the way he started it — buoying Mitt Romney’s campaign.
In an interview with Sean Hannity tonight on Fox, Christie explained why voters haven’t seen overly emotional performances from the former Massachusetts governor. (Portnoy, The Star-Ledger)
Christie signs bill allowing marriage by proxy for armed service members
Legislation permitting active duty military service members to be married or enter into a civil union by proxy has been signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie.
Marriage by proxy allows an attorney to “stand in” for a service member and complete the legal necessities of marriage or civil union, thereby conferring tax treatment, health benefits, and power of attorney to a service member’s partner while he or she is serving in armed conflict or war. (Hester, New Jersey Newsroom)
Christie vetoes licensing bill for single-room surgeries
A bill that would have placed single-room surgical practices under the same Department of Health licensing and inspection system as ambulatory surgery centers with two or more operating rooms has been pocket-vetoed by Gov. Chris Christie.
According to the Department of Health, because the bill exempted the single-room surgeries from a tax levied on ambulatory surgery centers, it conflicted with a federal rule that to qualify for federal matching funds from Medicaid, states must have uniform policies for taxing healthcare providers. (Fitzgerald, NJ Spotlight)
Poll confirms N.J. majority in support of gay marriage
A majority of New Jersey voters supports allowing gay couples to get married in the state, according to poll results released Thursday by Quinnipiac University.
Fifty-two percent of registered voters surveyed said they would support a law that would allow same-sex couples to get married, and 42 percent were opposed. (Symons, Gannett)
In quest to unseat Menendez, N.J. Sen. Joseph Kyrillos faces long odds
The 2012 race for U.S. Senate began taking shape Thursday with the first major Republican candidate declaring his intention to take on Robert Menendez, the incumbent Democrat, in November.
State Sen. Joseph Kyrillos, a longtime Republican legislator from Monmouth County and close friend of Gov. Chris Christie, said Thursday he was running for the Senate because “Washington is failing us” and Menendez “is seeking re-election to deliver more of the same.” (Friedman, The Star-Ledger)
Menendez: Corporations must disclose political acts
Sen. Robert Menendez on Thursday urged the Obama administration to require publicly traded companies to disclose their political activities to shareholders.
Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, said he drafted a letter to the SEC signed by 15 Democratic senators — including Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J. — pushing for additional disclosures by such companies. (Chebium, Gannett)
Andrews, mayors, discuss issues
Hearing the concerns of South Jersey towns and getting action for them in Washington was the order of the day for a roundtable discussion between South Jersey mayors and Congressman Rob Andrews.
The longtime legislator from Haddon Heights, who represents the 1st District in the House of Representatives, gave insights to issues facing municipalities ranging from transportation projects to economic development. (Murray, Gannett)
Assembly Speaker Oliver calls for state attorney general to probe N.J. sports agency
A top legislative leader asked the state Attorney General Thursday to investigate the payment of $3.4 million in rebates that secretly went to promoters in an effort to bring more events to the Meadowlands.
Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-Essex), who called for the probe, said the Legislature may also hold hearings. (Sherman and McGlone)
Bill targets bias in transplant decisions
State Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney said Thursday he’ll introduce a bill that would prevent hospitals from discriminating against developmentally disabled people who need organ transplants.
His action came after a South Jersey family allegedly was told their 3-year-old daughter would not be eligible for a kidney transplant at a Philadelphia hospital because of her disability. (Walsh, Gannett)
Study finds economic benefits in NJ’s paid family leave
Parents who take a paid leave from work to care for a newborn or adopted child are more likely to stay employed, to see their wages increase and to avoid becoming dependent on public assistance, according to a new study from the Center for Women and Work at Rutgers University. (Fitzgerald, NJ Spotlight)
Utilities offer to swap open land for power project OK
The utilities seeking to build a high-voltage power line through three units of the national park system yesterday offered to buy up thousands of acres of open space and spend at least $30 million to offset the harm the transmission line would do in the Delaware Water Gap and New Jersey Highlands. (Johnson, NJ Spotlight)
Education Dept. rejects ELC repair complains; Diegnan plans hearing
The state says a non-profit agency is off-base in its call for an investigation into the status of certain repairs at some urban schools.
Meanwhile, one lawmaker said he will pursue the matter further.
The Education Department rejected claims made today by the Education Law Center that necessary repairs are not being done at some of the state’s urban schools. (Mooney, State Street Wire)
Democrats’ bill takes aim at hidden debit card fees
A bill intended to cut through the “maze of hidden fees that have cropped up in the growing and lucrative prepaid debit card industry” was submitted in the Assembly this week.
The legislation, A2144, would regulate prepaid debit accounts by limiting the fees that may be charged in connection with the accounts and requiring financial institutions holding prepaid debit accounts to disclose certain information to consumers. (Carroll, State Street Wire)
Sweeney on unemployment: ‘comeback’ overstated, middle class still reeling
State Sen. President Steve Sweeney, (D-3), West Deptford, issued remarks today regarding state unemployment statistics, which showed New Jersey well behind the national average. The state’s unemployment rate is 9 percent, a reduction of only 0.1 percent compared to the reduction nationwide of 0.5 percent. (Carroll, State Street Wire)
From the Back Room
Former Roselle Park Committeewoman Schaffer has died
Marguerite J. (Peggy O’Neill) Schaffer of Roselle Park and Bradley Beach died surrounded by her children and grandchildren, after a brief illness.
Mother to the current Somerset County Chairman Peg Schaffer, engaged until the end of her 91 years, “Mom” was active in Democratic politics serving as a Committeewoman in Roselle Park for nearly 60 years. She was a member of the Borough’s Board of Health, Roselle Golf Club, St. Joseph’s Rosary Society and the Clio Club of Roselle Park. Her service to the Clio Club gave her great joy in selecting and awarding scholarships to deserving high school students. (Staff, PolitickerNJ)
Same-sex marriage law before Judiciary next week
Wasting no time, the Senate Democrats will have S1, the marriage equality bill, front and center Tuesday when the Senate Judiciary convenes.
When Democratic leaders unveiled plans for the same-sex marriage law last week, they said they would give it priority. (Staff, PolitickerNJ)
The New Jersey Comeback took seven days
The goodwill lasted seven days. Last week, an emotional Governor Christie delivered a eulogy for Assemblyman Alex DeCroce. The Republican Assembly leader had died suddenly the night before in the State House. Christie delivered a moving tribute. Heartfelt. Real. Honest. (Doblin, The Record)
Christie tax cut proposal not surprising, but paying for it might be
We should have seen it coming.
The buildup to Governor Christie’s State of the State was relatively quiet. The legislature was focused on finishing up its lame duck session, and the Governor was talking about education reform and sick pay leave over and over again. For a man who has repeatedly kept his opponents on their heels with an aggressive agenda, he needed something new. (Dworkin for NJTV)
The GOP and its great divide
Two TV broadcasts, two prominent Republicans, two very different tones and messages. Comparing a few minutes of video broadcast this week tells us a lot about Chris Christie going into the second half of his term as governor and reminds us, all too well, of what we already knew about Newt Gingrich. (Lowry, The Record)