Morning News Digest: August 16, 2012
By Missy Rebovich
Christie touts modest rise in revenue for July
Governor Christie is promoting modest economic growth in New Jersey for the month of July as he prepares to take his message of a “New Jersey Comeback” onto the national stage in Florida later this month.
The governor’s press office late Wednesday released some information about tax collections, suggesting the state took in 3 percent more revenue in July 2012 than it did in July 2011.
The release showed income and business tax revenue was up in July 2012 compared to July 2011, but sales tax collections were off. The figures for other state revenue sources, such as casino and real estate tax collections, were withheld.
“Here’s what we know about July revenue collections: It’s up,” the press release says. (Reitmeyer, The Record)
State Senate to vote Monday on ending statute of limitations on civil sex abuse claims
The state Senate on Monday is scheduled to vote on a bill that would lift the statute of limitations on civil sexual abuse claims.
Under current law, victims have a maximum of two years to file suit from the point when they realize the abuse has damaged them. The bill (S1651) would allow them unlimited time, and make institutions — including those in the nonprofit, religious and charity sectors — liable if they knew an employee was engaging in abuse and did nothing to stop it.
“It’s important to victims of child sex rape that they are provided with access to the courtroom in civil matters against those individuals or institutions who are culpable in their abuse,” said the bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Joseph Vitale (D-Middlesex). (Friedman, The Star-Ledger)
NJ Democrats oppose voter ID laws
Democrats in New Jersey want to make sure the state does not enact strict new voter ID laws that they say could lead to suppression at the polls.
Assembly members John McKeon and Mila Jasey are holding a press conference in Essex County on Thursday to speak against the laws already enacted in 33 states that require voters to produce identification before voting.
A judge this week refused to block a Pennsylvania law requiring voters to show photo ID at the ballot box while the case is being appealed. (Associated Press)
50 N.J. patients registering for medical marijuana
Advocates for medical marijuana say they are not surprised by a slow start for the registry of patients eligible to access the drug legally in the state.
The state Department of Health said Wednesday that since the registry opened on Aug. 9, 21 patients have begun the process of signing up for permission to use the drug, which is otherwise illegal.
Under New Jersey’s procedures, a patient can submit an application only after a physician has declared he or she meets the qualifications. The state says 50 patients have been declared eligible by doctors so far.
Earlier Wednesday, the health department said 18 people had applied and 44 had been identified by doctors as eligible. (Associated Press)
Feelings on quality of life in N.J. dip since spring
New Jersey residents’ feelings about the quality of life in their home state have dipped since spring, but an overwhelming majority still feel it’s a good or excellent place to live.
A Monmouth University poll released today found that 17 percent feel New Jersey is an excellent place to live, while 52 percent think it’s good. In April, the poll found 20 percent rated quality of life as excellent while 50 percent called it good — the highest since 2003. Today’s rating is the second highest since then.
Overall, the poll found the state’s “quality of life index” — an average of residents’ responses to five questions on how they feel about the state, their hometowns, the environment, schools and safety — decreased slightly. With the best possible rating at plus-100 and the worst at minus-100, New Jerseyans rated their state a plus-27 — down from plus-31 in April but still above February’s plus-25 rating. (Friedman, The Star-Ledger)
NJ’s older pedestrians getting killed at high rate
Pedestrian fatality rates have been dropping in New Jersey, but a new analysis reveals the Garden State’s older pedestrian fatality rates are higher than the national average.
The Tri-State Transportation Campaign report shows older pedestrians are far more likely to be killed while walking New Jersey’s streets than those under 60.
Janna Chernetz, New Jersey advocate for the Campaign explains, “While fatality rates dropped for all pedestrians, those walking and biking still remain vulnerable. From 2008 through 2010, 436 pedestrians lost their lives on New Jersey streets.” (McArdle, New Jersey 101.5)
Angry over raise proposed for DRPA executive, five New Jersey board members boycott meeting
Upset by a proposed $35,000 raise for a recently hired executive, five South Jersey board members of the bistate Delaware River Port Authority boycotted Wednesday’s monthly board meeting, forcing its cancellation and delaying the replacement of Gov. Corbett as chairman.
The board members stayed away in protest of a raise proposed for the agency’s inspector general, Thomas Raftery III. The DRPA finance committee on Monday recommended that Raftery get an increase to $165,000 from his current $130,000 to reflect an expansion of his duties.
Raftery was hired as the agency’s first inspector general in January to serve as its financial and ethical watchdog. The finance committee said Raftery would now be responsible for conducting internal and external audits, as well as rooting out waste, fraud, and abuse at the agency. (Nussbaum, The Philadelphia Inquirer)
Entrepreneur group drops age requirement to broaden experiences for members
The Entrepreneurs’ Organization is an international group of business owners who share their knowledge and experience with their peers — hence the decision to change its name from “Young Entrepreneurs’ Organization” two years ago, and abolish the rule that new members had to be under age 50 when they joined.
Carl Gould, a business coach based in Riverdale, became president of the 80-member New Jersey chapter July 1, and hopes to add 14 new members this year. Once a month, EO members meet in small groups called forums, in which entrepreneurs share their business successes and their challenges. That focus on peer-to-peer learning prompted the 25-year old organization to lift the age restriction, Gould said. (Fitzgerald, NJBIZ)
Govs engage globally for jobs locally
Governors and state legislators from Augusta, Maine, to Phoenix, Ariz., to Bismarck, N.D., and beyond have been working hard to create business tax climates in their states that can compete in the global economy. Their task has been complicated because state officials must combat the headwinds of a White House whose federal policies make states less competitive compared to foreign competitors.
State policymakers are competing not just against other states, but other countries, many of which have far friendlier tax and regulatory regimes, not to mention the major advantage of a bilingual or multilingual workforce. Economically savvy state officials have been busy crafting reforms that can make their states competitive in spite of federal policies that hold them back. (Norquist and Gleason, Politico)
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