Morning Digest: Dec. 4, 2012

Latest from State Street Wire

Minimum-wage bill again clears Assembly

TRENTON – After months of debate New Jersey lawmakers have voted to send a proposal to Gov. Chris Christie’s desk that would raise the state’s minimum wage.

Assembly lawmakers voted 44-31-1 Monday along party lines to release a proposal that would increase the state’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50 and link future increases to annual cost of living increases. The bill cleared the Senate floor last week and is now on its way to the governor, who has cast much doubt over putting his signature on anything that calls for automatic increases. Arco, State Street Wire


Passed in Assembly: Port Authority minutes bill, preservation funds, more

TRENTON – A bill addressing concerns about the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey passed in the Assembly today.

A2166 requires the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to transmit the minutes of its meetings to the Legislatures of New York and New Jersey for review and approval.  Either Legislature may disapprove the minutes within 10 business days of receipt of the transmission. It passed 44-31. State Street Wire


Moonachie, Little Ferry mayors seek help to rebuild

EAST RUTHERFORD – The mayors of Moonachie and Little Ferry, two working-class and blue-collar towns in Bergen County, suffered extensive damage from superstorm Sandy, saying many municipal properties, schools, and emergency vehicles were damaged.

They are calling on FEMA to provide more funding in order to relieve taxpayers of bigger financial burdens, which they told a  Senate Budget Committee are already being incurred in the rebuilding Hassan, State Street Wire


Bergen exec Donovan rips utilities on communication

EAST RUTHERFORD – Bergen County Executive Kathe Donovan said there needs to be better communication from utilities regarding power restorations in the wake of storms such as Sandy.

“Sometimes good, sometimes awful,” she said about her experience in dealing with utilizes. Bergen County is primarily served by PSE&G and Orange and Rockland. Hassan, State Street Wire


Wagner leads call for ‘Good Samaritan’ CV override bid

TRENTON – Supporters are coming to the aid of the Good Samaritan bill.

Parents who lost their children to drug overdoses joined Monday alongside other supporters of the bill that would protect people from criminal liability who seek medical help for others suffering a drug overdose. Arco, State Street Wire


Oliver: Minimum wage constitutional amendment vote next step

TRENTON – Legislation that would increase the state’s minimum wage is on its way to the governor’s desk, but it won’t be the last time before the end of the year Assembly lawmakers vote on such a proposal.

Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver told reporters Monday, shortly after the lower chamber voted 44-31 with one abstention, by Ronald Dancer, R-30, Plumsted, to send a proposal to Gov. Chris Christie, that the Assembly will be voting on a proposed constitutional amendment in the coming weeks. Arco, State Street Wire


Buono lands in Los Angeles for DGA conference

Late Sunday night, state Sen. Barbara Buono (D-18) landed in Los Angeles in time for the start of today’s Democratic Governors Association (DGA) conference.

Buono is trying to get national level support toward a 2013 gubernatorial run with the group that recruits Democratic candidates for governor. Pizarro, PolitickerNJ


Christie requests fed approval of 100% reimbursement of Sandy costs

Governor Chris Christie today announced that he has formally requested federal approval of 100% reimbursement for state and local government costs associated with debris removal and emergency protective measures that continue in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

In a letter to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate, Governor Christie stated that the financial and economic hardships brought by the storm and its associated clean up burden have become untenable for the state and communities alike. To offer relief and ensure that these priority operations continue in hard-hit communities across New Jersey, the Governor requested that FEMA exercise its broad authority to implement 100% federal assistance for these costs for a period of at least 90 days. PolitickerNJ

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Conservative groups rebel against Boehner

Several prominent conservative organizations lashed out against a pair of decisions by Speaker John Boehner’s leadership team as House Republicans saw their tightly held grip on the right loosen a bit on Monday.

Heritage Action, long a thorn in the side of the House Republican leadership, told its members in an email that Boehner was asking his “members to go back on their promise not to raise taxes on the American people” by putting $800 billion in new revenue into the mix of the negotiations to avert the fiscal cliff. Sherman/Bresnahan, Politico


Buyer of Passaic hospital faces N.J. scrutiny

Prime Healthcare Services, the for-profit hospital chain that won the bidding for St. Mary’s Hospital in Passaic last week, withdrew from an agreement to buy another hospital in New Jersey earlier this year after pointed questions by the state Department of Health, the Attorney General’s Office and local opponents.

The New Jersey regulators asked Prime to explain its track record as the owner of 12 hospitals in California, focusing on how its rates of emergency-room admissions and diagnoses for conditions such as acute heart failure compared with California’s statewide averages, in an effort to see if the chain was attempting to boost profits. Washburn/Layton, Record


Princeton officials talk about consolidation

PRINCETON BOROUGH – What does a government built from scratch look like?

Tonight, members of the public, Princeton officials and the transitional task force got a good look as a presentation outlining the year-long work to consolidate the two Princetons was presented in its preliminary form, followed by a public question and answer session. Offredo, Trenton Times


Human error, automation, aging bridge blamed for Paulsboro derailment

The freight train derailment last week in Paulsboro likely was the result of human mistakes (overriding a red stop signal), money-saving automation (replacing a human bridge operator with an electronic system), and overloaded old infrastructure (a bridge with parts dating to 1873), rail experts say. Nussbaum/Gambardello, Inquirer


Resisted for blocking view, dunes blunt storms

LONG BEACH, N.Y. — Surfers railed against the project because they said it would interfere with the curl of the waves. Local businesses reliant on beach tourism hated it, too. Who would flock to the historic Boardwalk, they asked, if sand dunes were engineered to rise up and obscure the ocean view? Navarro/Nuwer, N.Y. Times


Hoboken, Jersey City commuters protest PATH 10 p.m. cutoff

Fed up with not being able to take the PATH into or out of New York after 10 p.m., some commuters have created an online protest to urge the Port Authority via Twitter, Facebook and to restore late-night service on the trains. McDonald, Jersey Journal


Environmental concerns as mounds of debris scatter shore

The pile of storm debris loomed nearly two stories high in Sea Bright. Cranes worked through the afternoon one Sunday to sort the sodden, moldy refuse.

A month after superstorm Sandy flooded homes along the New Jersey Shore, piles of destroyed appliances and mud-soaked mattresses dot coastal streets. Wood, gypsum wallboard and soaked pink insulation line curbs in many communities. In parking lots, piles of rubble larger than houses are circled by sea gulls. Billions in dollars in material lay rotting and molding in the giant trash piles. Oglesby, Asbury Park Press|topnews|text|

GOP opposition to Medicaid expansion may be preview of governor’s stance

While the state Senate voted on Nov. 29 to urge Gov. Chris Christie to expand eligibility for Medicaid enrollment in the state, the votes against the measure may be more telling than the votes for it. Kitchenman, NJ Spotlight



Sharpe James has sharp words for Booker

Mayor Cory Booker has come under fire from some city council members and community activists for pushing the council to fill a vacant seat on the governing body with one of his allies. Star-Ledger


Boardwalk Hall manager sues Atlantic City convention authority

A firm that has managed Boardwalk Hall and the Atlantic City Convention Center for nearly two decades has filed a lawsuit against the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority, claiming the agency used faulty procurement practices.

SMG, based in West Conshohocken, Pa., filed its lawsuit in U.S. District Court on Nov. 30. Its claims are centered on a request for proposals issued in August seeking a firm to manage the two Atlantic City facilities. SMG, the facilities’ operator since 1992, currently holds a contract for the work, which expires on Dec. 31. Bogdan, Atlantic City Press



Post-campaign super PAC cash still flows to consultants

More than five months after Newt Gingrich dropped out of the Republican presidential primary, the founder of the super-political action committee backing him was still drawing a check.

In fact, almost half of the $480,000 Rebecca Burkett paid herself as founder of Winning Our Future came after the former House speaker quit the race. Bykowicz, Bloomberg



Oyster Creek plant back online

LACEY — The nation’s oldest nuclear power plant is back in service.

The reactor at the Oyster Creek plant was restarted early Monday. It had been offline since late October for a planned refueling and maintenance work. Associated Press



Dems have two motives for wage bill

New Jersey Democrats are determined to put a few more bucks into the pockets of minimum wage earners.

They are equally determined to do so while putting Governor Christie into a political box. Stile, Record


Payback time for N.J.

With water and wind, Hurricane Sandy flattened New Jersey’s coastline and pushed damage farther and wider than any storm ever before. More than a month has passed, and we’re still taking stock of the wreckage. Star-Ledger


Can we take hint from reduced interest in school board seats?

So, more people voted in school board elections this year because the vote was held in November, says the New Jersey School Boards Association.

But, get this, fewer people ran for office.  South Jersey Times

Morning Digest: Dec. 4, 2012