Morning News Digest: March 14, 2012
By Missy Rebovich
Friends form long lines at Metropolitan Baptist to say goodbye to Congressman Payne
The people of New Jersey came to the Metropolitan Baptist Church in the South Ward today to pay their respects to the late beloved U.S. Rep. Donald Payne (D-10).
The Congressman died last week after battling colon cancer. Yesterday he lay in state at the Essex County Hall of Records, and today, a processional delivered his body to the church. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
Roque won’t run against Sacco in 2013
The stress of living beside powerful North Bergen Mayor Nick Sacco may occasionally produce political wear and tear, but West New York Mayor Felix Roque said he has no plans to run against Sacco in 2013.
In fact, Roque ruled it out.
“I would never do that,” said Roque. “I would never run against Nick Sacco. I don’t have a good relationship with him, and I put that on him, because I think he’s putting politics ahead of people.” (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
Lance kicks off re-election bit in CD7
U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance (R-7) kicked off his 2012 re-election campaign this morning on the steps of the historic Flemington courthouse in his home county of Hunterdon in front of 60 supporters.
“I today announce my candidacy for re-election to the House of Representatives,” said Lance. “First in the state Legislature and more recently in Congress I have served you with ethical integrity, fiscal responsibility and certainly wholeheartedly and to the best of my ability. In this critical election year of 2012 together we must repair and reform our nation so that we might continue to be the shining beacon of hope and opportunity for our citizens and indeed for the entire world.” (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
Christie being pushed to support ‘health exchange’
With the state Legislature expected to approve a bill Thursday creating a “health exchange” — the cornerstone of the federal health care law that will help people shop for cheaper coverage — a group of family, consumer and senior citizen advocates today challenged Gov. Chris Christie to support the effort.
But Christie, a Republican, has not committed to creating a health exchange, and won’t make a decision until the U.S. Supreme Court decides this year whether the Affordable Care Act is constitutional, state Banking and Insurance spokesman Marshall McKnight said. The nation’s highest court will hear arguments on the case in two weeks. (Livio, The Star-Ledger)
Poll: Majority of N.J. voters approve of Obama’s performance
President Obama is becoming more popular in New Jersey.
A Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll released this morning found 51 percent of voters approve of the president’s job performance, while 42 percent disapprove. That’s up from a 46 percent to 45 percent split two months ago. (Friedman, The Star-Ledger)
In 2011, N.J. law department paid $54M to settle lawsuits
The state Department of Law and Public Safety agreed to pay more than $54 million last year to settle lawsuits alleging everything from wrongful imprisonment to negligence by state caseworkers who ignored warnings of child abuse, documents obtained by The Star-Ledger show.
The list of 235 settlements, disclosed under the state’s Open Public Records Act, shows payouts decreased about $12 million from 20
10, the first year of the Christie administration, but remained higher than any other year since 2006. (Baxter, The Star-Ledger)
Where does Sen. Norcross stand on the Rutgers-Camden question?
At a public forum hosted last night at Rutgers-Camden by members of the faculty and administration, state Sen. Donald Norcross (D-Camden) seemed to contradict himself concerning his stand on the proposed separation from the Rutgers system and subsequent merger with Rowan University.
In his prepared remarks, Norcross argued that “we want Rutgers-Camden to control its own destiny” because he’s tired of legislators shortchanging the university’s southern campus in favor of interests up north. (Nuin, NJ Spotlight)
Funding for new charters underscores push to keep standards high
On a day the Christie administration proudly announced it had won a federal grant to help its newest charter schools, top officials were also dealing with the fallout over closing one of its oldest.
Gov. Chris Christie and acting commissioner Chris Cerf announced yesterday that the state had finally won an elusive $14.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to help with the start up of new charter schools and expansion of others. (Mooney, NJ Spotlight)
Decision time: Health insurance exchange act comes up for vote
The legislature is set to vote Thursday on a bill authorizing a health insurance exchange for New Jersey — an online marketplace that will let individuals and small businesses comparison shop for health coverage, as mandated by the federal Affordable Care Act.
The upcoming vote may well be one of the few certainties associated with the (S-1319/A-2171). (Fitzgerald, NJ Spotlight)
With more re-entering work force, N.J. unemployment rate will stay flat
Heightened labor force participation in New Jersey will prevent the unemployment rate from falling below 9 percent barrier until 2014, according to a report by the economics group of Wells Fargo Securities LLC.
Since 2011, the national labor force participation rate has decreased from 66 percent to 63 percent, as long-term unemployed workers stop re-entering the job market and baby boomers regain financial security to retire, according to Alexander Heil, chief economist for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s planning department. (Eder, NJBIZ)
New Jersey in top five most expensive states for renting
New Jersey is the fourth most expensive place in the nation to rent a two bedroom apartment, behind only Hawaii, Washington, D.C., and California, according to a national report released Tuesday by the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
A family must earn an hourly wage of $25.04 in order afford to rent in New Jersey, where more than a third of residents rent a house or apartment. In 2011, New Jersey ranked in the top five and the new status represents an 18 percent increase over a five year period. (Hester, New Jersey Newsroom)
N.J. bar, restaurant managers fear minimum wage hike
Perhaps you’ve heard stories about how servers at your favorite diner or restaurant rely on the money they receive in tips to survive.
Many of us never realized exactly how true those tales may be. The next time you’re busy calculating the 15 percent tip to leave your waiter or waitress, consider this:
The federal minimum wage for tipped workers in New Jersey is currently $2.13 an hour.
But Politicker NJ reported that the New Jersey A
ssembly labor Committee approved a bill on Monday that would raise the minimum hourly wage for tipped employees. (Holt, New Jersey Newsroom)
Trenton restocks toilet paper amid council-mayor spat
Trenton, New Jersey, the capital of the third-wealthiest U.S. state, is restocking toilet tissue without resolving a City Hall feud spurred by spending on paper cups that left police to fend for themselves when nature called.
As the City Council took up the issue yesterday, Trenton officials said they made an emergency purchase to restock public buildings with paper goods. Staff restrooms at police headquarters ran out of tissue, according to a union chief. (Dopp, Bloomberg)
Charter schools association head applauds federal grant
The head of the state Charter Schools Association applauded the announcement that $14.5 million in federal funds will be available to expand the number of charter schools in the state. (Staff, State Street Wire)
Southern N.J. Dems back BPU Verizon order
Southern New Jersey lawmakers today expressed support for the state’s decision to conduct a review of Verizon’s performance in their region.
First District Democrats Sen. Jeff Van Drew, as well as Assembly members Nelson Albano and Matt Milam, backed a decision made Monday by the Board of Public Utilities to analyze why Verizon has not met a commitment to provide broadband service to the entire customer service area, in particular Cumberland County towns of Greenwich and Stow Creek. (Staff, State Street Wire)
Bucco bill would help towns hold on to affordable housing trust funds
Democrats have proposed a few bills lately calling for the creation of more affordable housing, with one sponsored by Sen. Ray Lesniak, (D-20), Elizabeth, being the most discussed at recent committee hearings.
But now, a Republican, Assemblyman Anthony Bucco Jr., (R-25), of Boonton, has introduced a bill-A2717, that would enable towns to keep the funds they have collected in their affordable housing trust funds for four years. He introduced the bill on Thursday. (Hassan, State Street Wire)
From the Back Room
Corfield racks up backing of Middlesex Dems
Middlesex County Democrats tonight voted Marie Corfield to be its candidate in this June’s primary election for the 16th Legislative District.
Corfield, last year’s candidate for Assembly from Raritan Township, is challenging Sue Nemeth of Princeton for the nomination. Middlesex was the first county to hold its nominating convention. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
Braz to lead progressive group
The New Leaders Council has named Justin Braz as director of the organization’s New Jersey Chapter. He succeeds Jackie Cornell-Bechel
li who stepped down to focus on her role as the Obama campaign’s New Jersey state director.
“It’s been an absolute honor to work with Councilman Ron Rice, Assemblyman Troy Singleton, and the rest of our board members to build NLC’s NJ network,” Cornell-Bechelli said in a statement. “We’ve come a long way in the past 2 years, and I look forward to seeing how this organization continues to grow with Justin at the helm.” (Staff, PolitickerNJ)