Morning Digest: Nov. 15, 2013

NJ DREAM Act advances on party lines, Democrats say bill will hit Christie’s desk

TRENTON – New Jersey Democratic lawmakers in both legislative chambers are signaling legislation will hit Gov. Chris Christie’s desk in the coming weeks that would allow undocumented students to both receive in-state tuition and be eligible for financial aid at state schools.

The proposal, which is known nationally as the DREAM Act, is currently making its way through both chambers in different forms. However, the bill’s Assembly sponsor told PolitickerNJ Thursday he will amend his proposal to “concur with what comes out” of the Senate, said Assemblyman Gordon Johnson (D-37). (Arco/PolitickerNJ)





Christie and Sweeney announce partnersiup with united Airlines to create more flights to AC

NEWARK – Flanked by Gov. Chris Christie and Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) in the bowels of Newark International Airport, United Airlines CEO Jeff Smisek today announced the creation of new United flights from Chicago and Houston to Atlantic City, effective April 1, 2014.

“This is an investment in our home state and we could not be more proud,” Smisek said, at a podium with the politicians on the third level of Terminal C. (Pizarro/PolitickerNJ)





Obama: ‘It’s on me’

President Barack Obama came to the White House podium Thursday to apologize. And apologize. Then apologize some more.

The press conference was the kind no president ever wants to have: admitting his political enemies have a point. He conceded that a project his administration spent years on is structurally flawed to a degree they did not anticipate and can’t explain. He confessed that his team did not fully grasp how to manage the federal government. And acknowledged he’s become a “burden” on members of his own party. (Dovere/Politico)




N.J. insurers struggle with Obamacare ‘fix’

New Jersey’s insurance leaders were struggling Thursday to figure out if they had the tools to carry out the “fix” that President Obama is trying to make to his embattled health care law.

Many said the repair the president wants – allowing people who like their current health insurance policies to keep them for another year – might not be possible anymore, now that cancellation notices have already gone out. (Diskin and Washburn/The Record) 





N.J. officials plan to avoid Super Bowl power failure

When the Super Bowl kicks off at MetLife Stadium on Feb. 2, it will be lights-out on the prospect of the lights going out. Or so officials pledge.

With the game still more than two months away, the power company that serves the Sports Complex in East Rutherford promised Thursday that everything possible will be done to ensure that the game will encounter no power failures like the one that interrupted the 2013 Super Bowl in New Orleans or the one that darkened the Meadowlands stadium during a game in 2010. (Sheingold/The Record) 





Fed pick 10 ideas for coastal shields in NJ, NY

NEW YORK  — Federal officials have selected 10 winners in an international design competition aimed at finding ways to better protect the coast from the kind of catastrophic flooding caused by Superstorm Sandy.

The projects include an array of strategies for keeping rising seas at bay.

One calls for an 8-mile system of dikes around parts of Manhattan.

Another would construct natural breakwaters off the shore of Staten Island.

A third would create a ring of water-trapping canals and parks for Hoboken, N.J.,

The 10 projects were selected by U.S. Housing and urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan from a pool of 41 submitted last month by teams of nearly 200 experts.

There is no guarantee that any of the proposals will become a reality. (Caruso/The Record) 




Economic Opportunity Act II Comes Hard on Heels of Its Progenitor

Senate committee green-lights measure intended to address flaws, oversights in original legislation

A Senate committee has unanimously passed a revised version of the Economic Opportunity Act, just two months after Gov. Chris Christie signed into law the sweeping overhaul of the state’s system of awarding business subsidies.

The original sponsor of the bill, Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union), introduced the revision in part to correct several provisions he disagreed with in the final version of the New Jersey Economic Opportunity Act of 2013. After hearing testimony from approximately a half-dozen speakers, the Senate Economic Growth Committee signed off on the reworked legislation, which the senator is calling “Economic Opportunity Act II.” (Nurin/NJSpotlight) 




Will NJ Pull Plug on Promoting Zero-Emission Vehicles?

Christie administration’s track record on greenhouse-gas emissions worries clean-energy advocates 

The Christie administration has already pulled New Jersey out of a regional initiative to curb greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. Does that mean the state’s efforts to encourage use of zero- emission vehicles — as proposed under the California Low Emission Vehicle program – will end as well?

That question is being raised by clean-energy advocates as the Senate is poised to concur Monday with Governor Chris Christie’s conditional veto of a bill (A-3028) that would establish a new task force to determine what obstacles are preventing wider use of alternate-fuel vehicles. (Johnson/NJSpotlight) 





Senate Panel Lends Support to ‘Innovation Fund’ for NJ Schools  

$5 million program would provide grants to encourage innovative approaches to education  

A proposal to revive the Christie administration’s plans for a state “Innovation Fund” for schools won a boost from a Senate committee yesterday, but not without questions about whether it was the best way to spend the money — a relatively small sum.

The Senate Education Committee was back to business yesterday with a half-dozen bills on its agenda, including the proposal for a $5 million Innovation Fund to provide grants for certain experimental programs in schools.

Sponsored by state Sen. Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex), the committee’s chairman, the bill is similar to a program that was proposed by Gov. Chris Christie in his state budget last spring but eventually removed by the Democratic-controlled Legislature. (Mooney/NJSpotlight) 




Homeland Security nominee nears confirmation 

WASHINGTON — Former Pentagon chief counsel Jeh Johnson pledged Wednesday to “vigorously pursue” the Department of Homeland Security’s disparate missions if confirmed as its secretary.

Johnson cited an “alarming’ leadership vacuum within the sprawling agency created in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks. (Johnson/USA Today) 




Judge to decide the outcome in District 2 Assembly race

After six months of campaigning, millions of dollars spent and more than 50,000 votes cast it all comes down to a judge.

District 2 Republican Assemblyman John Amodeo currently leads his race by two – you read that right – two votes as he seeks to hold off charging Democrat Vince Mazzeo. Tomorrow, 116 provisional ballots will be brought before a judge who will ultimately determine the outcome of the election. (Isherwood/ 




Senate panel advances bill to help N.J. crime victims get government records for free

TRENTON — Crime victims would not have to pay for government records and their requests would be kept confidential under a measure advanced today by a Senate panel.

The bill (S2790), approved 5-0 by the upper house’s State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee, would allow victims access to any law enforcement report, domestic violence report or restraining order for free. (Baxter/Star-Ledger) 




Obama Highlights Economic Agenda At Ohio Steel Plant

CLEVELAND (AP) — Dogged by the botched enrollment launch of his health care law, President Barack Obama on Thursday sought to put the spotlight on his economic and energy agenda, touting increased automobile fuel efficiency for helping reduce reliance on foreign oil.

For the first time in nearly two decades, the U.S. produced more oil at home in October than it imported from abroad. Obama called the shift “a huge competitive advantage” for the United States.

The president spoke at a Cleveland plant that makes steel used for higher fuel-efficient cars. Obama says the comeback of the auto industry during his presidency helped the ArcelorMittal plant and saved more than 1 million American jobs. (Kuhnhenn/Huffington Post) 





Officials Ramp Up Atlantic City Tourism Efforts

Governor Chris Christie thinks this is very good news.

During a news conference at Newark Liberty Airport, the governor said this will offer enhanced service to the people of South Jersey and Atlantic City, and all those folks who want to come and visit Atlantic City for convention and vacations.

“The United Airlines announcement is another important milestone for Atlantic City,” Christie said. “We’ve been working with legislative leaders to look for new ways to expand service and opportunity – both economic and otherwise in the Atlantic City area.”

Christie also said renewed efforts are underway for Atlantic City to continue to grow and prosper and for the citizens of South Jersey and the whole state to benefit from that future growth.

“In the end it’s up to the people and businesses of Atlantic City and South Jersey as to the success or failure of our venture,” he stressed. “But I don’t think it can be said any longer that the folks, in the state capital and north of there, did not understand or care about the needs of South Jersey and Atlantic City.” (Matthau/NJ101.5) 






 From the Back Room


FDU Poll” New Jerseyans want open space but don’t know how to fund it


A poll by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind this morning shows that eight in ten (80%) of New Jersey residents support the continuation of public funding for the preservation of open space and farmland, similar to results of a survey from a year ago (83%).  

More women (86%) than men (74%) favor the land preservation, and Democrats (86%) are more likely than Republicans (78%) to favor it, according to the poll, co-sponsored by the New Jersey Farm Bureau. (PolitickerNJ)






Cocktail party at Vinny’s 

Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-32) plans to say “thank you” next week at the annual League of Municipalities in Atlantic City.

The newly elected speaker will host a cocktail reception from 1-3 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 20th in the Foundation Room at the Showboat. (PolitickerNJ)







Should have been ice cream cones at the GWB

THERE IS a logical explanation as to why three local lanes to the George Washington Bridge were mysteriously closed in September. Someone inside the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey wanted to give commuters a gift. Yes, a gift.

This employee, someone high up enough to matter, someone with, let’s say edge, remembered Governor Christiebecame a YouTube sensation because he liked his ice cream cones. So it being hot September and all, this Port Authority employee told someone, “Let’s get some cones to the GWB.”

The lower-level employee, not understanding the edgy guy wanted ice cream cones, sent traffic cones instead. (Doblin/The Record)   

Morning Digest: Nov. 15, 2013