Good Friday morning!
You can now vote in-person ahead of the June 7 primary.Find a list of early voting polling places here.
This is only the second time New Jersey voters can vote early in-person, the first being November’s gubernatorial election. Could it boost turnout?
Other states’ experiences tell us that it probably won’t. And so far we only have one data point. Back in November, voter turnout for the general election was 40 percent. That was one point higher than the 2017 general election, when there was no in-person early voting. It’s a negligible difference that you could attribute to any number of factors.
In 2018 — the last midterm federal primary — turnout was a paltry 13 percent. Let’s see if you can do better for this election, New Jersey.
DAYS SINCE MURPHY REFUSED TO SAY WHETHER HIS WIFE’S NON-PROFIT SHOULD DISCLOSE DONORS: 107
WHERE’S MURPHY? — In Asbury Park at 6:30 p.m. for GSE’s Equality Ball
QUOTE OF THEDAY: “To this day, no explanation has been provided and the Executive seems to be moving ahead with its plans to disburse the $20 million, notwithstanding my raising of legal concerns.” — An Office of Legislative Services email to lawmakers on the Murphy administration’s transfer of money to the Excluded New Jerseyans Fund
HAPPY BIRTHDAY — Assemblymember John McKeon. Saturday for Republican consultant Thom Ammirato, former Senate Dem spox Jim Manion. Sunday for former Atlantic County Freeholder Alisa Cooper, University Hospital CEO Shereef Elnahal, Assembly Dems Dan Harris
TIPS? FEEDBACK? HATE MAIL? Email me at (email protected)
Costs in New Jersey are sky high – and that includes prescription drug costs. Every year, Big Pharma raises the price of life-saving medications. Fortunately, pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) negotiate with drug companies to reduce Rx costs for patients. As this legislative session ends, let’s remind our representatives to support patient advocates like PBMs and make all entities in the drug supply chain do their part to lower costs. https://www.affordablerxnj.com/.
CAMDEN COUNTY BALLOT ENVIRONMENTALISTS FIGHT TO PRESERVE BALLOT SIBERIA — “The New Jersey political tradition of landing the party line on primary ballots could end,” by The Record’s Charles Stile: “The case could take years to resolve, but for reformers, that drawn-out process may indirectly help build public support for their crusade. They are hoping that the discovery process — the exchanging of evidence before trial — could serve to reveal some of the backroom politics behind the county line. ‘Abolishing the county line would be an earthquake for New Jersey politics,’’ said Julia Sass Rubin, a professor at Rutgers Bloustein School of Planning & Public Policy who has been counseling local municipal parties about reform efforts. ‘Our entire system is built on transactions, starting with whatever candidates have to do to obtain the county line. Without the line, our elected officials would have to worry about pleasing the voters rather than pleasing the party bosses, and we would likely see a lot more political bravery.’”
BUDGET — “Murphy administration might have violated law by helping NJ immigrants,” by NJ 101.5’s Michael Symons: “Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration is under fire for transferring a total of $20 million into a program that provides pandemic-relief payments to immigrants who are in the country illegally. The two $10 million transfers flouted a requirement in the state budget that the Legislature approves such spending. Republican lawmakers say the transfers to the Excluded New Jerseyans Fund appear to have violated state law, as the 2022 budget enacted requires a vote by the Joint Budget Oversight Committee for any transfers of federal pandemic relief funds exceeding $10 million to any program. ‘It seems clear the Murphy administration exceeded that authority by appropriating $20 million for payments to illegal immigrants without the sign-off of the Legislature,’ said Sen. Michael Testa”
IN CONJUNCTION WITH KARS4KIDZ — New Jersey could get a new Department of Early Childhood, by Carly: Some New Jersey lawmakers want to create a new department within the executive branch — the Department of Early Childhood. The Senate Education Committee on Thursday released a measure, NJ S2475 (22R), that would establish the new department and place under its purview all responsibilities and programs for young children — including public preschool — currently being overseen by various other state departments. The bill would transfer the functions and responsibilities of the Division of Early Childhood Education in the Department of Education to the new department. According to the legislative text, the new department would absorb all of the DOE’s programs and responsibilities relating to students in grades preschool through 3, as well as all of the responsibilities of the Department of Human Services, Department of Children and Families and Department of Health relating to children from pregnancy to age 8.
HOUSING — “How are NJ lawmakers trying to tackle affordable housing crisis?” by The Record’s Ashley Balcerzak: “New Jersey families are struggling to find affordable rentals, to buy new homes and to pay sky-high property taxes. To relieve some of that pressure and combat discrimination in the housing market, two legislative committees advanced a handful of bills Thursday to improve affordability in the Garden State. And New Jersey is currently flush with cash, with the state’s tax revenues about $7 billion over what the governor predicted three months ago. Will some of the unexpected funds be used to try to create more affordable housing?”
AFTER 5 YEARS, IT’S D-NAA — “N.J. Supreme Court upholds defendants’ rights in case testing statutes of limitations in DNA crimes,” by New Jersey Monitor’s Dana DiFilippo: “Authorities have five years to prosecute crimes involving DNA evidence once they possess both physical evidence and a suspect’s DNA, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled Thursday in a case testing state law on the statutes of limitations in crimes. Any delays in lab testing or “lack of clarity” in official policies on DNA samples do not give the government more time to prosecute beyond what state statute permits, the court said in a unanimous opinion written by Justice Fabiana Pierre-Louis. The ruling reverses the conviction of Bradley Thompson, who was convicted in a 2001 Camden County sexual assault 16 years after the assault, according to the ruling. Police had DNA evidence from the victim within a day of the assault and collected a DNA sample from Thompson in an unrelated matter in 2004. But a federal database at the time had different policies then on what data was entered into the system, so no match was detected, according to the opinion.”
SALEM COUNTY EXCEPTED? — Assembly committee clears bill to ban menthol cigarette sales, by POLITICO’s Daniel Han: The Assembly Health Committee advanced legislation Thursday to ban the sale of menthol cigarettes in New Jersey as state lawmakers look to beat the federal government to a ban. The bill, NJ A1989 (22R), which advanced along party lines, could have significant impacts on public health, with menthol cigarettes accounting for about a third of all cigarette sales as of 2018, according to a Federal Trade Commission report. The renewed push to ban menthol cigarettes comes as the Biden administration has proposed rules to prohibit them. But it could take years for a federal prohibition to go into effect, a process that could be prolonged as Big Tobacco companies appear poised to fight a federal ban in the courts.
— Gopal ‘working on’ restraint and seclusion accountability legislation
—“School security money that was approved after Parkland killings is nearly spent”
—“40% of N.J. inmates released early during pandemic had already been denied parole, Republicans say”
—Bill to create licensing program for law enforcement clears Assembly committee
—“New Jersey rolls out proposed rule for environmental justice law — and expects a fight”
JUST ANOTHER CANDIDATE — “Rob Menendez has the endorsements and all kinds of cash in quest to join his dad in D.C.,” by The Jersey Journal’s Jonathan D. Salant: “Menendez raised almost $1 million through May 18, more than Sires raised in any of his races except his first. And his list of supporters reads like a who’s who of New Jersey Democratic politicos … ‘Obviously, he’s extremely well-connected but on his own merits he has secured the support of various unions and elected officials in the Democratic Party,’ said Ben Dworkin, director of Rowan University’s Institute for Public Policy and Citizenship. ‘He’s a talented politician, like his father.’ … Menendez said he made it a point to campaign as if he was just another candidate, not the son of the state’s senior senator. ‘That’s not how I was raised,’ he said. ‘That’s not how I went into this race. Give them as reason to vote for us. That’s always been the mission we’ve been building every single day.’”
CONCEALED CARRY: COMING SOON TO N.J.? — “An upcoming U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a NY case could mean more handguns in public places,” by WNYC’s Arun Venugopal and Herb Pinder: “While the recent mass shootings in Texas and Buffalo have renewed calls for stronger gun control, the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to go in the opposite direction as it considers a challenge to New York’s handgun law — among the strictest in the country. A ruling is expected any day in the case of New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen, one of the most anticipated of the court’s term. At issue are state permit provisions that leave it to the discretion of local officials to decide who has “proper cause” to carry a concealed handgun in public – a subjective standard opponents say infringes upon the Second Amendment right to bear arms. New York’s discretionary approach, by most accounts, did not carry the day during oral arguments in November, fueling forecasts of a ruling that reins in New York licensing officers, and those in a half-dozen states with similar laws. Forty-three states allow concealed-carrying by lawful handgun owners as a matter of right, without requiring applicants show any special need for self-defense.”
ABORTION — “NJ bracing for Supreme Court decision: ‘When Roe v. Wade goes away, we all lose’,” by The Asbury PArk Press’ Charles Daye: “Asbury Park Councilwoman Yvonne Clayton is worried about what comes next. “I just think that when Roe v. Wade goes away we all lose,” said Clayton. ‘It breaks my heart.’ Like many people around the country, Clayton was disappointed to learn, in a story first written by POLITICO, that the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to overturn the 1973 landmark Roe v. Wade decision, which guaranteed the right to an abortion. A decision could be issued this month. Clayton grew up before Roe v. Wade was decided and remembers all too well what life was like. ‘I’ve seen a good friend in college, who had to resort a backroom abortion, almost die. As result of that, she was never able to have children when she wanted to,’ Clayton said …. Clayton said she isn’t advocating for abortions, but she is advocating for options, particularly for minority communities, including Black women, who would be disproportionately impacted.”
NJ: WE’LL STILL GIVE YOU $7B TO COME TO NEWARK — “Call for federal investigation of Amazon worker injuries, critics gather at Logan site,” by The Courier-Post’s Joseph P. Smith: “A push for a federal investigation into workplace accident rates at the 53 Amazon warehouses in New Jersey has reached into Logan, where Amazon is a big player in a large and rapidly expanding industry. U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross, D-1, hosted a news conference Wednesday within view of the immense Amazon fulfillment center on a 70-acre property off Oldmans Creek Road. The topic was what critics allege is a disturbing injury trend at the state’s largest private sector employer. Norcross, in private life an electrician, said comparing Amazon facilities injury reports with those of other warehouse operators yields injury rates ‘astronomically out of whack’ with each other.”
—“Lakewood Vaad backs Smith, putting pressure on Orthodox community to turn out in June primary”
—“Gottheimer to push for $52.8 million for water treatment upgrades to cut forever chemicals”
—“‘End gun violence, no more silence!’ Booker & Menendez lead gun safety rally in West New York”
—Donald Norcross: “Stop making excuses for greedy gas and oil companies”
CIVAN DISOBEDIENCE — “Did mayor punish vocal critic with parking tickets? Another Englewood Cliffs brouhaha,” by The Record’s Megan Burrow: “A borough resident is suing Mayor Mario Kranjac and a borough zoning officer, claiming he was targeted for parking violations because of his outspoken political views. David Civan, who filed the complaint Tuesday in state Superior Court in Hackensack, alleges that Kranjac told Art Sopelsa, a borough property maintenance official, to issue summonses to Civan for parking his car in his yard after criticizing the mayor … In May 2020, Sopelsa issued warnings to Civan about his car, which was parked in his backyard. The next month he was issued a summons for parking a car in his front yard, although the car had not been parked there, the suit alleges. One night, Civan saw Kranjac “outside his home late in the evening, in the street, peering in his car,” Civan says in the suit. Sopelsa denied that the summons was issued in retaliation. ‘I’ve met the mayor twice in five years,’ he told NorthJersey.com on Wednesday. ‘He’s never sent me out. I saw the car parked in the rear yard when I was doing an inspection on another house.’”
BENSON HEDGES — “Benson won’t respond to speculation on Mercer County exec run,” by New Jersey Globe’s David Wildstein: “Assemblyman Dan Benson (D-Hamilton), who is rumored to be considering a bid for Mercer County Executive in 2023, today declined to answer a question on his future political plans. Benson, a former county freeholder, has served in the Assembly since 2012, and redistricting kept his 14th district seat almost entirely intact. But with State Sen. Linda Greenstein (D-Plainsboro) not looking like she’ll retire anytime soon, there has been speculation that Benson will head back to county government instead of waiting to move up in state government. That could put him on a collision course with current County Executive Brian Hughes, the son of former Gov. Richard Hughes, who first took office in 2004. Hughes said last week that he is preparing to run for re-election to a sixth term, though he insisted he hasn’t definitively made up his mind … Hughes has long been at odds with Mercer Democratic chairwoman Janice Mironov, and he wouldn’t necessarily get the county line if he does run again. But just yesterday, Hughes held a meeting with county Democrats in an effort to ‘talk it out’ … Just about every prominent Mercer Democrat was listed as having attended the meeting … The one exception: Dan Benson.”
—“Running off the line, Mastrangelo brings harsh rhetoric to Morris GOP primary”
—“Family of missing Haledon man may file lawsuit against Paterson”
—“Democratic nomination for Prospect Park mayor at stake”
—“Asbury Park, NJ mom turns in son over school shooting threat”
—“Man who died at Middletown Sewerage Authority Tuesday identified as longtime worker”
—“Former Ocean City Beach Patrol member, current teacher, facing sexual assault charges”
—“(Norwood) refuses to promote women police officers to sergeant, lawsuit says”
DOGS ARE GREAT, EXAMPLE # 100 TRILLION — “Hero dogs return home to South Jersey from Uvalde,” by The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Erin McCarthy: “Some hero pups are back home in South Jersey after providing comfort to those impacted by last week’s shooting in Uvalde. Three Jersey-based dogs and handlers of Crisis Canines spent much of the past week in the small Texas town that was shattered by the killings of 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School. Axel, a Rottweiler from Gloucester Township; Exon, a black lab from Pitman; and Tarik, a German Shepherd from Mullica Hill; flew to Uvalde last Thursday and returned Tuesday, said Crisis Canines CEO and president Andrea Hering. They were among several groups of therapy dogs from across the country that attended memorials and visited Robb Elementary. They also went to hospitals; churches; police, fire, and EMS departments; and even grocery stores.”
—“Offshore wind advocates urge court to end challenge from LBI residents”
—“Matawan’s Tammy ‘Sunny’ Sytch, WWE Hall of Famer, pleads not guilty in fatal DUI”
We can all agree that costs in New Jersey are already sky high – and that includes prescription drug costs. Year after year, big drug companies raise the price of life-saving medications to increase their profits. Patients deserve better. As this legislative session comes to an end, let’s remind our elected officials in Trenton to hold Big Pharma accountable and make all entities in the drug supply chain find real solutions to increase access to affordable prescription drugs without impacting services. That means supporting patient advocates like Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) that negotiate with Big Pharma to reduce Rx costs and put money back in the pockets of New Jersey families. It’s time to stand up to special interests, cut unnecessary red tape, and let these advocates do what they do best – save patients money. https://www.affordablerxnj.com/.