Morning News Digest: June 19, 2012
By Missy Rebovich
Source: McCann to endorse Yudin in Bergen chariman’s race
Bergen County Sheriff’s Office counsel John McCann is poised to endorsed Bub Yudin in the fierce Bergen County Republican Organization chairman’s contest, a source tells PolitickerNJ.com.
McCann last Thursday evening lost a three-way contest for the chairman’s seat, leaving sitting Chairman Yudin to contend with Franklin Lakes businessman Anthony Rottino in this Thursday’s Hackensack faceoff. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
Higher Ed. Merger cost would be largely offset with one-time savings, Senate memo tells lawmakers
Estimates for the cost of the state’s proposed higher education restructuring are approximately $40 million, but would be offset by several large one-time savings, according to a memo from the Senate staffers circulated to legislators this morning.
Among the larger cost savings would be a refunding of $600 million of the existing University of Medicine and Dentistry debt. Since Rutgers’ credit rating of Aa3/AA, which determines the cost to borrow money, is better than that of UMDNJ, the combined university could save as much as $40 million by restructuring the debt, according to the memo, which cites Department of Treasury figures. (Isherwood, PolitickerNJ)
Rutgers-Eagleton Poll: 80% of New Jerseyans support Prez’s DREAM Act provisions
As President Barack Obama moves to implement parts of the DREAM Act by executive order, bypassing the need for congressional approval, today’s Rutgers-Eagleton Poll finds that 80 percent of New Jerseyans support the provisions of the proposed law.
The DREAM Act would prevent young undocumented immigrants from being deported if they met certain requirements regarding age, criminal background and education or military service. (Staff, PolitickerNJ)
Mitt Romney to hold fundraiser in Woodbridge next week
Mitt Romney next week will make a second major fundraising sweep through New Jersey since December when Gov. Chris Christie helped the presumptive GOP presidential nominee raise $1.3 million.
The June 26 reception at the Renaissance Woodbridge Hilton will be followed two days later by a dinner with Romney in the New York Pierre Hotel penthouse home of Martin and Barbara Zweig, as first reported by Politico. (Portnoy, The Star-Ledger)
Christie calls for “step up” in inspections at halfway houses; legislator calls for hearings
Governor Christie called for an immediate “step up” of inspections at privately run halfway houses after news reports detailed a high number of escapes and a proliferation of drug use, sex assaults and gang activities at locations managed by a company with deep ties to the governor.
Monday’s announcement came as an Assembly panel agreed to expand a state program for non-violent drug offenders that would send them to privately run treatment centers instead of prisons, a measure Christie has championed. (Hayes, Fletcher and Reitmeyer, The Record)
Senate panel advances NJ university merger bill
A far-reaching plan to reconfigure Rutgers, Rowan and the University of Medicine and Dentistry is being rushed to the Senate floor for a vote on Thursday, having been sped through two legislative panels in less than a week and despite lingering questions about its costs.
The measure emerged from the Senate Budget Committee by a 12-0 vote with one abstention late Monday after a day of behind-the-scenes negotiations on the ambitious plan, which would impact higher education in Camden, New Brunswick and Newark. (Delli Santi, Associated Press)
Education restructuring bill clears committee, but what will it cost?
Even though the legislation still lacks a serious cost estimate, a powerful New Jersey Senate committee yesterday approved the controversial higher education bill that would restructure Rutgers University, the University of Medicine and Dentistry of NJ, and Rowan University. The legislation included 16 amendments, many designed to appease Essex County representatives.
But the amendments, one of which would delay the merger for a year — until July 1, 2013 — did nothing to appease Sen. Ronald Rice (D-Essex). Nor did it pacify those at Rutgers, who had no say in drafting the revisions to the New Jersey Medical and Health Sciences Education Restructuring Act and continue to oppose the merger of the Camden campus with Rowan University. (O’Dea, NJ Spotlight)
Labor unions to endorse university merger bill
Labor leaders representing 30,000 workers from all the unions that would be affected by a far-reaching plan to overhaul higher education in New Jersey are endorsing a proposal to realign Rutgers, Rowan and the University of Medicine and Dentistry.
Union negotiator Jean Pierce told The Associated Press labor is “98 percent” satisfied with changes to a university merger bill that add collective bargaining and job protections and help ensure University Hospital in Newark remains viable. Concerns remain about the authority a new governing board would have over Rowan and Rutgers-Camden, and long-term funding for University Hospital, the state’s biggest charity care provider. (Delli Santi, Associated Press)
New Jersey bill on dismissing tenured teachers advances
A New Jersey Senate panel advanced changes to tenure laws that would make it easier for administrators to fire ineffective public-school teachers.
The measure, sponsored by Senator Teresa Ruiz, a Democrat from Newark who heads the Senate Education Committee, was approved unanimously today by the chamber’s budget panel. Governor Chris Christie, a 49-year-old Republican, has pushed for similar changes since last year.
“We have been supportive of Senator Ruiz’s efforts on tenure reform and will await the final bill,” Michael Drewniak, a Christie spokesman, said by e-mail. (Dopp, Bloomberg)
Two years in the making, Ruiz tenure bill inches closer to law
Teacher tenure reform took a big step toward passage in the Legislature yesterday, as advocates across the spectrum lined up behind a Senate bill that some predicted could replace New Jersey’s century-old tenure law within the week.
It was a regular love-fest before the Senate budget committee for the bill crafted by state Sen. Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex), the Senate’s education chairman, who has been working on the proposal for the better part of two years. (Mooney, NJ Spotlight)
Senate Dems agree to raise transportation borrowing limit to help Gov. Christie close revenue gap
Senate Democrats on the budget committee crossed party lines today to raise the borrowing limit for transportation projects, a move that would help Gov. Chris Christie close a revenue gap by further straining a fund that can’t cover its yearly debt payments.
The bill, sponsored by Sens. James Holzapfel and Robert Singer (both R-Ocean), would allow the state to bond $260 million more than Christie planned for the Transportation Trust Fund, which pays for new road infrastructure and maintenance. (Rizzo, The Star-Ledger)
NJ panel approves mandatory drug treatment bill
A measure that would change the way New Jersey’s criminal justice system deals with nonviolent drug offenders moved out of committee Monday and now heads to the Assembly.
The Assembly Appropriations Committee approved on a 9-0 vote a measure mandating that nonviolent, drug-dependent offenders who would benefit from treatment be sentenced to the state’s drug court program rather than prison.
It phases in the statewide program over a five-year period, beginning with at least three counties in the first year. Participation in drug court is currently voluntary. (Duffelmeyer, Associated Press)
Internet gambling bill clears latest legal hurdle, on track for approval in N.J.
Internet gambling is on track for approval in New Jersey after a legislative committee today gave it the green light.
The bill (A2578) was released by the Assembly Budget and Appropriations Committee this afternoon, clearing the way for a full vote by the Assembly.
Supporters say internet gambling will help boost revenues for Atlantic City’s casinos, which have suffered from repeated declines as gambling expands in neighboring Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware and Maryland. Opponents, including Assemblyman Ralph Caputo (D-Essex) want gambling to be offered in other parts of the state, not just confined to Atlantic City. He also advocates having racetracks such as the Meadowlands and Monmouth Park to host internet gaming rooms. (Spoto, The Star-Ledger)
N.J. Senate committee approves tanning salon ban on teens 15 and under
The Senate health committee approved a bill today that would ban kids 15 and younger from using tanning salons, in a move that appeased salons owners who warned that a competing Assembly version prohibiting all minors would put them out of business.
The amended bill bans kids 15 and younger from using tanning salons, which would raise the age a year from the current law. Parents would have to participate in the initial consultation before the sessions begin, and be present for any tanning session purchases, according to the bill sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen) and Sen. Robert Singer (R-Ocean). (Livio, The Star-Ledger)
Voters may decide fate of record $750M bond referendum for college construction projects
New Jersey voters in November will be asked to approve a $750 million bond referendum for expansions and upgrades at the state’s colleges under a bill that was approved today by the Senate Budget Committee.
Despite being the largest bond referendum in the state’s history, two leading Democrats on the panel said it should be bigger. (Renshaw, the Star-Ledger)
N.J. lawmakers delay action on bill on judges’ pensions
Waiting for action from the state Supreme Court, lawmakers tonight delayed action on a measure that would have let voters decide whether New Jersey’s judges and justices should have to pay more into their pension and health benefits plan.
Consideration of SCR110 by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee would have been the first step in a legislative attempt to circumvent a Supreme Court ruling that could say judges and justices don’t have to contribute more to those plans. (Spoto, The Star-Ledger)
NJ Senate panel OKs relaxed ban on teen tanning
A New Jersey Senate panel approved legislation Monday that relaxes a proposed ban on the use of indoor tanning salons by teenagers that the Assembly approved last month.
The Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee voted 7-3 for the bill, an amended version of the ban on indoor tanning the Assembly approved for anyone under 18. (Duffelmeyer, Associated Press)
Reworked bill would apply same standards to single-room surgeries and ASCs
State Sen. Joseph F. Vitale (D-Middlesex) is reworking his bill to bring single-room surgeries in doctors’ offices up to the same standards as multiroom ambulatory surgery centers. His original measure, which was pocket-vetoed by Gov. Chris Christie in the final legislative session, proposed that the state Health Department license and inspect one-room surgeries, just as it does with ASCs, but the department objected that the provision to exempt single-room surgeries from the state tax on ASCs ran afoul of federal regulations. (Fitzgerald, NJ Spotlight)
N.J. Senate panel considers bill to potentially restrict development along Palisades Cliffs
The state Senate Environment and Energy Committee on Monday had its second reading of a bill that could restrict development along the Palisades Cliffs, affecting projects throughout Bergen and Hudson counties.
Senate Bill 2016, known as the Save the Hudson River Palisades Act, would prohibit anyone from cutting into the slope or cliff base except in certain public projects or developments involving gas,
In cases of exemptions, the Palisades Interstate Park Commission would be consulted before development could start. (Tat, The Reccord)
PSE&G gets green light on major transmission upgrade
Public Service Electric & Gas yesterday won regulatory approval to upgrade its transmission system, a project that could cost up to $390 million and cut through 15 municipalities in Morris, Essex, Union, Somerset, and Middlesex counties.
The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities unanimously approved the project, the latest in a series of transmission upgrades planned by the state’s largest electric utility in a program that will lay out $3.5 billion in capital expenditures over the next several years. (Johnson, NJ Spotlight)
Pilot will deploy refueling stations for compressed natural gas
In a step that reflects a goal of the state Energy Master Plan, regulatory officials yesterday approved a pilot program to allow a utility to spend up to $10 million to build compressed natural gas (CNG) refueling stations in its service territory.
The state Board of Public Utilities approved the one-year pilot proposed by New Jersey Natural Gas to build between five and seven CNG refueling stations at companies that plan to convert a portion of their fleets to run on the fuel, as well as provide opportunities for the public to fill up their natural gas vehicles. (Johnson, NJ Spotlight)
Survey: Companies will shun third parties for in-house expertise on mobile front
While United States companies of all sizes plan to more than double their investment in mobile projects over the next year, funds they would usually allocate to third-party digital marketing agencies will instead be diverted to in-house marketing departments, according to a mobile business survey released today by Jersey City-based Antenna Software. (Eder, NJBIZ)
Forest harvest bill moves forward
A bill that would set up a state-run forest harvest program was released by the Senate Budget Committee this evening.
It cleared 8-0. (Mooney, State Street Wire)
Farmland assessment bill advances
A bill to revise the Farmland Assessment Act to address the problem of so-called non-farmers taking advantage of the act was released by the Senate Budget Committee.
S589 is designed to benefit “true” farmers and help preserve agriculture. (Mooney, State Street Wire)
Bill to restore $7.4M in family planning funds released
The Senate Budget Committee released several bills, including one to restore $7.4 million in funding for family planning services.
S788: This bill provides $7.45 million for family planning services and requires extending Medicaid coverage to persons with incomes up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level. (Mooney, State Street Wire)
Election 2012: Romney elected President and Biden elected Vice President? A real possibility
As a result of recent polling in Iowa, I have changed the status of the Hawkeye State in my projections from “likely Obama” to “toss-up.” This change in the Electoral College math sets up a real possibility that President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will each win 269 electoral votes, one short of the 270 needed for election. (Steinberg for PolitickerNJ)
Rutgers-Camden medical school situation is personal, as well as political
Add yet another factor to the emotional politics behind the drive to strip Rutgers University of control over its Camden campus, politics described by one state senator as “the beginning of a new civil war”: The personal. The rejection that the powerful Norcross family of South Jersey felt at the refusal of the university’s president to take over the new Cooper Medical School in Camden. (Braun, The Star-Ledger)