Morning News Digest: July 10, 2012


Morning News Digest: July 10, 2012

By Missy Rebovich

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Whelan frustrated medical marijuana program slow to start

A state senator who was one of the prime sponsors of New Jersey’s medical marijuana program said today it’s been frustrating that the program has been slow to get traction.

Sen. Jim Whelan (D-2), Atlantic City, made the statement during a “Twitter Town Hall,” the first town hall of its kind for Senate Democrats. Whelan was prompted to discuss the topic by a New Jersey resident who inquired about the status of the program.

“I have to say the administration has not been as cooperative and as diligent to get this done as they should have been. This is a medical issue,” Whelan said.  (Arco, PolitickerNJ)



Democrats say Christie lacks the bipartisanship he touted at Brookings discussion

Senate Democrats issued a statement today taking exception with Gov. Chris Christie’s remarks of his ability to work with lawmakers in a bipartisan manner.

Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-37), Teaneck, called the governor a hypocrite, saying Christie’s speech at the Brookings Institution was off mark.

“When the governor goes before right-wing audiences he talks like a right-winger and when he goes to a centrist organization like Brookings he acts like a centrist,” Weinberg said in a statement.  (Arco, PolitickerNJ)



At Brookings, Christie continues assault on Democrats for lack of immediate tax relief, touts bipartisan gains

Gov. Chris Christie wasted little time today in calling out the state’s Democrat Legislature on its failure to pass immediate tax credit relief.

The governor, speaking at the Brookings Institution in Washington D.C., touted signing off on his third balanced budget, but criticized lawmakers for not giving residents immediate tax relief.

“We’re going to have to a fight about this over the summer and I’m looking forward to it,” Christie said, adding New Jersey residents must have a sense of humor for electing him and keeping a Democrat Legislature.  (Arco, PolitickerNJ)



Chris Christie: ‘Principled compromise’ is a part of leadership

“Leadership is about nuance.”

Those words were uttered on Monday by none other than Chris Christie, the New Jersey governor and national GOP darling often caricatured for his hard-charging, unapologetic style.

In an address at the Brookings Institution in Washington, Christie touted his record during his two-and-a-half years as governor — and at one point described a vision of leadership grounded in what he termed “principled compromise.”  (Sonmez, The Washington Post)



Christie and Obama paint their foes as obstructionists on tax cuts

It is “disturbing,” Governor Christie told a Washington think tank Monday, claiming that Trenton Democrats are holding up a tax cut they support just to deny him the right to brag about the “Jersey Comeback” at the Republican National Convention.

“I offered my hand in compromise to the Democrats on tax cuts, and that hand was slapped back,” Christie said.

A short time later, President Obama was in the East Room of the White House accusing Republicans of holding the middle class and the economy hostage for not passing a bill to prevent looming tax increases on the middle class.

“We all say we agree that we should extend the tax cuts for 98 percent of the American people,” Obama said. “Let’s agree to do what we agree on, right?”  (Jackson, The Record)



Christie blasts Washington-style obstructionism

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Monday joined former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in lambasting the politics of obstructionism in Washington. In a speech to the Brookings Institution, the Republican vice presidential contender recalled his budget-cutting, pension-reforming battles — and ultimately, compromises — with the New Jersey Legislature.

“I would not ask anybody to compromise their principles. There’s too much of that in politics today to begin with. But I also have to get everyone to acknowledge you’re not going to get everything you want. And once you get acknowledgement on both sides of that equation, you can find and force compromise as an executive,” Christie said, adding that a good leader has to be able to “walk and chew gum at the same time.”

He contrasted what he described as his successful working relationship with a Democratic legislature with the “failed leadership by both parties” in Washington, which he said has created the “illusion” that nothing can get done at the federal level.  (Kaplan, National Journal)



Gov. Chris Christie: ‘Obamacare’ Medicaid penalty ‘extortion’

In a policy speech today at the Brookings Institution, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) said he was pleased that the Supreme Court ended the “extortion” of states under the “Obamacare” Medicaid penalty, saying that it was still extortion “even when done by the president of the United States.”

Responding to a question, Christie said, “First of all, I was glad that the Supreme Court ruled that extortion is still illegal in America — and that’s a relief because Obamacare on Medicaid to the states was extortion.”

“It essentially said, ‘You expand your program to where we tell you, and if you don’t, we’re taking the rest of your money away.’ Well, that’s extortion,” Christie said.   (McDuffee, The Washington Post)



Christie delays decisions on health-care law

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said he is still deciding whether his state will implement two provisions of the national health-care law championed by President Barack Obama.

Christie said plans to make up his mind on authorizing state-run exchanges where people can buy health insurance and an expansion of Medicaid by the beginning of 2013. But his wait-and-see approach already separates him from some other prominent Republican governors, including Rick Perry of Texas and Rick Scott of Florida, who have already declared their intention to turn down new federal funds that would help insure more people under Medicaid.

Governors gained the flexibility late last month when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a provision in the health-care law that would have stripped states of all their federal Medicaid funding if they didn’t agree to the expansion. Instead, the court ruled that the federal government could only deny states new funding.  (Grossman, The Wall Street Journal)



Christie lectures D.C. audience on getting things done, jersey-style

With seven weeks to go before the National Republican Convention in Tampa, Fla., Gov. Christie traveled to the nation’s capital Monday to school a rapt audience at the Brookings Institution on how things get done Jersey-style.

Christie, 49, a Republican, touted his accomplishments and called gridlock “an excuse of failed leadership.”

Washington politicians could find inspiration in New Jersey’s recent agreements overhauling public pensions and benefits, capping tax increases, and retooling teacher tenure rules, he told about 100 fellows and other academics at the nonprofit research and policy institute.

“I want people to know that government can work for them, but they need leaders who are willing to take risks,” Christie said. “We shouldn’t just use the party doctrine and don’t stray. We should be telling people how we think and how we feel.”  (Farrell, The Philadelphia Inquirer)



Guiliani, Christie headline events for Romney

What a difference a couple weeks makes.

After some Republicans grumbled that GOP presidential Mitt Romney was moving too slowly in Virginia, the campaign has made moves that just may ease complaints.

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani will campaign for Romney in Virginia this week.

Next week, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will travel to the region — likely the District — on behalf of the former Massachusetts governor.

Romney recently opened a dozen new offices in the state and recruited volunteers at nearly 30 events on July Fourth. Read our full story from Sunday. (Kumar, The Washington Post)



Christie’s extreme rhetoric masks moderate position on ACA

Gov. Chris Christie yesterday denounced the original Medicaid requirements in President Obama’s healthcare law as “extortion,” but once again staked out a more moderate position than most other GOP governors by refusing to rule out participation in the two of the law’s most controversial programs.

Christie grabbed national headlines with Monday’s “extortion” remark, made at the Brookings Institution, a liberal-leaning think tank in Washington, D.C. But it is his continued openness to an optional federally funded expansion of New Jersey’s Medicaid rolls and to participation in the online healthcare exchanges expected to sell coverage to the uninsured that is most significant for New Jerseyans.  (Magyar, NJ Spotlight)



3 N.J. senators ask court to probe alleged pressuring in nomination

Three Democratic state senators have asked New Jersey’s top judge to investigate a Republican senator who allegedly tried to pressure judges to lobby a lawmaker.

State Sen. Richard Codey said Republican State Sen. Kevin O’Toole asked Essex County Assignment Judge Patricia Costello to approach two other judges in the county who were up for renomination. Codey says they were told their judicial careers would be over unless they persuaded Sen. Nia Gill to support the Essex County judicial nomination of former Attorney General Paula Dow.

O’Toole did not immediately return a call Monday. A legislative aide said he was with clients. The Newark Star-Ledger, which first reported the allegations, said he denied them.

Codey, Gill, and Sen. Ronald Rice, all Democrats representing Essex County, signed the letter last month to state Supreme Court Justice Stuart Rabner.  (Mulvihill, Associated Press)



N.J. lawmaker seeks to have sex offenders idenitify themselves on social networking sites

Facebook users would know if “friends” of theirs — or of their children — were convicted sex offenders under a measure put forward today by state Sen. Christopher “Kip” Bateman.

While some social networking websites, including Facebook, ban sex offenders, Bateman (R-Somerset) wants to clamp down even more by making them disclose their convictions as part of their profiles or face a possible prison sentence and a steep fine.

The bill essentially applies Megan’s Law, which requires convicted sex offenders to register and for authorities to notify neighbors, to an online world nearly impossible to envision when it was enacted in 1994.  (Friedman, The Star-Ledger)



Guadagno unveils effort to court overseas business

To attract more businesses abroad to trade, invest and locate in New Jersey, the Chris Christie administration today announced the launch of the Office of International Business Development and Protocol, part of New Jersey’s Business Action Center.

“We spent a lot of time keeping what we have, making sure the other states wooing you away from New Jersey know we’re going to fight for you to stay,” acting Gov. Kim Guadagno said to employees and executives at Evonik Degussa Corp.’s new Parsippany office. “The next story is overseas. … We don’t want to always beat New York, Connecticut and Pennsylvania for jobs, because that’s just moving the beans around the table. We want to create new jobs … and to do that, we created this office.”  (Eder, NJBIZ)



N.J. Supreme Court sets specific rules for judges erasing criminal records

The state Supreme Court Monday set specific rules for when judges can erase a person’s criminal record, stressing it’s up to the offender to prove it would be in the public’s best interest.

The ruling, which ordered a second look at the case of an Atlantic County man seeking to have his record expunged, is the first to clarify a law that has been on the books for two years.

“It’s potentially very important,” said Melville Miller, executive director of Legal Services of New Jersey, one of three groups that supported Ronald Kollman Jr. of Somers Point. “Its message is: take care here, lives hang in the balance.”  (Spoto, The Star-Ledger)



State-subsidized power plants draw fire from new coalition

In May, three state-subsidized power plants cleared an auction overseen by the independent operator of the regional grid, guaranteeing the units will be called on to deliver electricity to homes and businesses in coming years.

A coalition representing power generators, transmission owners, and others is urging PJM Interconnection to make sure that never happens again.

In a letter to PJM Interconnection, COMPETE is asking the operator of the nation’s largest power grid to take steps to prevent subsidized generation from clearing –energy industry jargon for being called on to produce power to keep the lights on.  (Johnson, NJ Spotlight)



NJ’s fist online charters could just be days away

As New Jersey awaits a decision on its first online charter schools, the operator of three of those proposed schools isn’t taking any chances.

Officials of K12 Inc., the nation’s largest online education firm, are in Newark this week continuing to wrap up the details for the three schools it would manage, one an entirely online venture from kindergarten through 12th grade and two others that blend online and in-person instructions for high school students.

The three have each won preliminary approval from the state. Now, they’re waiting for a decision this week on the final charters needed to open in the fall.   (Mooney, NJ Spotlight)



In $4.9B deal, WellPoint acquires NJ Medicaid, CHIP managing company

Looking to expand its Medicaid footprint, Indianapolis-based WellPoint Inc. announced Monday it had reached an agreement to acquire Amerigroup Corp. for nearly $4.9 billion.

The deal will bring WellPoint’s state-sponsored beneficiaries to more than 4.5 million, including New Jersey Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program and Supplemental Security Income recipients. Amerigroup’s New Jersey office, in the Iselin section of Woodbridge, has been managing these programs for the state since 1996, according to the company’s website.  (Caliendo, NJBIZ)$49B-deal-WellPoint-acquires-NJ-Medicaid-CHIP-managing-company-



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Tax cut fever

Tax policy was the overarching issue in the past budget season.

The debate seemed to revolve equally about how much to cut, and which tax to cut.

It all started in February. Since then, Gov. Chris Christie has signed a $31.7 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2013, after vetoing more than $315 million worth of Democratic-supported initiatives.  (Hassan, State Street Wire)



From the Back Room 



Attorney: Bencivengo will plead no guilty if arraigned Thursday

Embattled Hamilton Mayor John Bencivengo is expected to plead not guilty at his arraignment tentatively scheduled for Thursday, according to Bencivengo’s attorney.

The mayor is scheduled to appear in federal court Thursday before Judge Anne Thompson, according to U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesman Matthew Reilly. Bencivengo is charged with soliciting $12,400 to help an insurance company retain a contract with the school district.  (Arco, PolitickerNJ)






Chris Christie doesn’t want to be vice president

According to The Post, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is very close to choosing his running mate. The article has the usual roll call of vice presidential possibilities. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio), Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.). But one person mentioned among the notables doesn’t stand a snowball’s chances on a steaming East Coast sidewalk. His name is Chris Christie.

New Jersey’s Christie is the blunt-talking governor of a blue state with a 57 percent approval rating. He has a penchant for bluster and bullying that I’ve experienced firsthand. This would make him the perfect fit for the vice presidential nominee’s campaign role: attack dog. Yet two incidents in the last 10 days show that Christie might be too much for the mild-mannered, in-total-control Romney to handle.   (Capehart, The Washington Post)



Is Romney gutsy enough to pick Chris Christie?

Here is a fact causing Republicans to wonder why Mitt Romney isn’t the runaway favorite in his campaign to unseat Barack Obama: No U.S. president since Franklin Roosevelt has won re-election when the unemployment rate was more than 7.4 percent.

So why isn’t Romney the clear favorite? Because Obama remains more popular personally than one would otherwise expect. Because the Obama campaign has been more effective at sowing doubt about Romney’s record as a wealthy capitalist than the Romney campaign anticipated, which is evidence to some that Romney’s campaign isn’t overstaffed with brilliant strategists. And because Romney himself has the unfortunate tendency to come off as both artificial and superficial.   (Goldberg, Bloomberg)



Chris Christie: What you see is…yup, what we got

Americans love to build up people in the public eye and then watch those same people stumble and fall. Plenty of public figures know this. Just ask John Edwards or Gary Hart or Sarah Palin or Dan Quayle. The height of the pedestal and the time on it for each person may vary, but the laws of physics generally apply: What goes up must come down.

In some cases, say Richard Nixon or Bill Clinton, the person may be able to bounce back to a certain degree. In others, the overwhelming image we are left with is Rielle or Monkey Business or seeing Russia from Alaska or potato (no E).

One of those still enjoying his place on the pedestal is Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey. At a time when Americans were craving political leaders who spoke plainly, without hyperbole and without too much of a media-consultant makeover, Christie took office in 2010 and tackled things like teacher tenure and a costly tunnel from New Jersey to Manhattan.  (Baranauckas, The Washington Post)



The Jersey tax war

“Democrats are allergic to tax cuts,” says New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie who dropped by the Journal last week to discuss, among other things, his plan to slash taxes for Garden Staters. The proposal is floundering in the state legislature, and Mr. Christie blames politics.

The Republican stirred up a storm in January when he proposed an across-the-board 10% income tax cut. The very suggestion of reducing rather than raising taxes seemed to confound many Democrats. According to the governor, Democrats raised 118 taxes or fees in the eight years prior to his election. What’s more, public unions complained that a 10% rate cut would disproportionately benefit top earners. They instead wanted to revive the state’s millionaires tax.   (Finley, The Wall Street Journal)


  Morning News Digest: July 10, 2012