NJ Politics Digest: Lawmakers Go Underground to Push for Federal Funding

Senators Cory Booker and Bob Menendez.
Senators Cory Booker and Bob Menendez. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

It’s become a must-see stop for New York and New Jersey politicians seeking to shame the Trump administration to honoring federal commitments to mass transit.

On Monday, Gov. Phil Murphy, along with Sens. Cory Booker and Bob Menendez, took a contingent of federal and state lawmakers on a tour of Amtrak’s Hudson River tunnel, which is in dire need of replacement, according to The Record.

Murphy and his entourage also stopped at the century-old Portal Bridge, which sometimes gets stuck open and doesn’t allow commuter traffic through. Then it was under the Hudson, to see firsthand the damage left behind by Superstorm Sandy on the tunnel built when Theodore Roosevelt inhabited the Oval Office.

Rep. Josh Gottheimer, was on the tour, and—according to NJ.com—said that if federal Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao (wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell) and Federal Railroad Administrator Ron Batory had seen what Gottheimer had seen, they’d have agreed on the need for funding. But Gottheimer might have been too optimistic.

President Donald Trump has made it clear he’s not a big supporter of either replacement project, even though New Jersey has agreed to contribute $600 million to the $1.5 billion Portal Bridge replacement plan.

Quote of the Day: “It is important that we pass this bill to protect victims from being forced into silence, to allow them to share their stories and fight for justice if they want to do so,” — Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce, on legislation banning the use of non-disclosure agreements that keep victims of alleged discrimination, retaliation and harassment from going public with their stories.

Murphy Tours Deteriorating Amtrak Hudson River Tunnel in Push for Fix
Gov. Phil Murphy and members of New Jersey’s congressional delegation toured Amtrak’s deteriorating Hudson River tunnel Monday, in an effort to drum up support for a federally funded replacement.
The Record Read more

Income Inequality: A Look at Wealth and Poverty in NJ
New Jersey is home to some of the wealthiest communities in the United States, where the average home price is well over $1 million.
Asbury Park Press Read more

A NJ Republican State Senator Just Switched Party Affiliation
“It has become increasingly clear that in order to effect change you have to be part of the discussion and not on the outside looking in,” Dawn Marie Addiego said in a statement.
NJ.com Read more

The E-ZPass Website Has Been Down for Days but Don’t Worry, Your Tolls Are Still Being Collected
New Jersey’s E-Z Pass customer service website has been down for three days after a computer problem affected the automated toll collecting system in several states.
NJ.com Read more

National Geographic and Cory Booker Explore Alabama’s ‘Environmental Racism’
In an episode debuting tonight, National Geographic’s Explorer will follow U.S. Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey through two small towns in Alabama’s Black Belt region to “delve into environmental racism,” according to an episode description published by the network.
NJ.com Read more

Bill to Prohibit Silencing Victims of Sexual Harassment, Discrimination Advances
New Jersey is getting close to banning the use of non-disclosure agreements that keep victims of alleged discrimination, retaliation and harassment from going public with their stories.
Politico Read more

Living Large at League Convention: Limos, Big Dinners and Room Service on Taxpayers’ Dime
When Cliffside Park officials sought to get around Atlantic City during the busy New Jersey League of Municipalities convention last November, they didn’t bother taking the public jitneys or cabs.
The Record Read more

Grassroots Activists Behind Midterm Blue Wave in NJ Aren’t Done Yet
It would be easy to imagine that the grassroots political groups that were instrumental in creating a blue wave in New Jersey last November would have closed shop and moved on after their victories in the midterm elections. On the contrary, many have become active at the state and local levels, plan to serve as watchdogs to elected officials, and continue to build their organizations in advance of 2020.
NJSpotlight Read more

NJ Homeland Security: Domestic Terrorists Remain Top Threat
The past year has seen a spate of attacks by domestic extremists acting on political or racial biases—from a deadly synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh to mail bombs targeting 16 elected officials, including New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker.
The Record Read more

Dems, GOP Take Credit for Putting Lid on NJ Property Taxes, But Can Lid Stay On
Gov. Phil Murphy was quick to take credit after news broke earlier this month that New Jersey’s hated property-tax bills grew at their slowest rate in decades last year, asserting his administration’s effort to boost funding for local school districts was a major factor.
NJSpotlight Read more

Moran: Brendan Gill: I Didn’t Hire Alvarez Either
Brendan Gill wants to be clear about one thing: It wasn’t him.
NJ.com Read more

Taxpayers Have Legitimate Reason to Worry About Murphy
Concern is warranted over the critical affordability issues New Jerseyans are facing under the crushing weight of being the most highly-taxed state in the nation.
NJ101.5 Read more

Tame First Town Hall for Freshman Congresswoman in Parsippany
Still riding atop the “blue wave” of freshmen Democrats in the 116th United States Congress, Rep. Mikie Sherrill faced little opposition or criticism in her first public town hall Sunday at the Parsippany PAL Building.
Daily Record Read more

Lawmakers Eye Reining in Proposed $100M in Horse Racing Subsidies
Lawmakers want to curtail $100 million of proposed subsidies to the state’s horse tracks through an amendment that would allow the state Legislature to review whether the subsidies are having their desired effects of boosting the horseracing industry, and whether those subsidies should continue.
NJBiz Read more

Democrats Take charge in Burlington County, May Dump the Pinelands Chairman, Stop the Pipeline
After more than 40 years of being in the minority, Democrats seized control of Burlington County’s governing body this month, and already have joined the fray over a natural gas pipeline that opponents say threatens the Pinelands, a federally protected million-acre tract in New Jersey.
Inquirer Read more

Towns Ask, ‘Should We Raise Taxes to Support Local Arts?’
New Jersey towns could soon have the option to ask their residents if they should raise taxes to fund arts and culture.
NJ101.5 Read more

Newark Mayor Calls for Public Aid After Shooter Injures Four
The mayor of Newark is calling on the public to come forward to help solve the shooting that wounded four girls and women, one critically, during a candlelight vigil in the New Jersey city.
Associated Press Read more

NJ Politics Digest: Lawmakers Go Underground to Push for Federal Funding