Good Monday morning!
Did you hear that the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on Friday? OK, I doubt there’s one person reading this newsletter who didn’t hear that, or who hadn’t been expecting it for nearly two months thanks to POLITICO reporter Josh Gerstein’ scoop of the century.
So between Roe and the overturning of “may issue” concealed carry laws, the conservative Supreme Court has handed down two huge decisions that cut hard against popular opinion in New Jersey — thanks in part to Jersey boy Sam Alito.
I’ve always found it interesting that two of the Supreme Court’s most conservative current or recent justices — Alito, who wrote the main abortion opinion and voted with the majority on the gun case, and the late Antonin Scalia — were both born in Trenton.
The gun ruling will affect New Jereyans soon, once officials start handing out concealed carry permits to anyone who qualifies. And the governor on Friday began making moves to cope with that decision by looking for ways to restrict people from carrying guns in a number of “safe” places.
For now, Roe changes nothing in New Jersey. But Republicans are likely to win at least one house of Congress in November, if not both. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is already talking about a 15-week ban. And while it’s hard to imagine that getting past 60 votes even in a Republican-controlled Senate, you can’t rule it out entirely.
DAYS SINCE MURPHY REFUSED TO SAY WHETHER HIS WIFE’S NON-PROFIT SHOULD DISCLOSE DONORS: 131
WHERE’S MURPHY? In Maryland this afternoon for the SelectUSA Investment Summit.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “People in the community are asking for this park to be protected …This narrative is being painted to get Black and brown people to be for this bill as it stands, without those protections. “It’s no secret what’s happening here. He’s been trying to get this parcel to expand his golf course. (Paul) Fireman is strategic.” — Jersey City Ward F Councilmember Frank Gilmore, whose district includes Liberty State Park.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY — GOP fundraiser Gail Gordon, SDA’S Scarlett Rajski Martin, NJDA’s Jim Schulz
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/
NEW JERSEY AND YOUR ABORTION PROVIDER: PERFECT TOGETHER — Murphy pushes for more abortion access in New Jersey as SCOTUS strikes down Roe, by POLITICO’s Carly Sitrin and Daniel Han: New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on Friday decried the U.S. Supreme Court’s “backwards and appalling” decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, declaring that he wants lawmakers in Trenton to further expand abortion access in the state. “While New Jersey planned for this eventuality by codifying a woman’s right to an abortion under state law, it is incumbent that we do more to fully secure reproductive rights and ensure access to reproductive health care without delay,” Murphy said in a statement shortly after the nation’s highest court struck down the 1973 precedent that guaranteed abortion rights. “Until we do, my Administration will take the necessary steps to fully protect both New Jersey’s women and those who come to our state to access the freedom which may no longer exist in their home state.” Friday’s 5-4 ruling by the conservative court shutters abortion access for millions of Americans across the country, but the impact may be more muted in New Jersey, where abortion rights have been enshrined into state law and state case law has guaranteed abortion rights for years. In January, Murphy signed the Freedom of Reproductive Choice Act which enshrined abortion rights into state law.
— Abortion laws by state: Where abortions are illegal after Roe v. Wade
BUT GUNS IN A BAR MAKE FOR A MORE FUN GAME OF DARTS —Murphy looks to ban guns from large swaths of New Jersey, by POLITICO’s Ry Rivard and Daniel O’Connor: Gov. Phil Murphy said Friday he wants to generally bar guns from private property across New Jersey, including public transit, places that serve alcohol, hospitals, day care centers, stadiums and government buildings. “Allowing ordinary citizens to carry concealed weapons into stores and malls, on mass transit, in day care centers and hospitals, in polling places or in bars and restaurants does not make us safer,” Murphy said during a press conference in Trenton. “A right to carry a concealed weapon is, in actuality, a recipe for tragedy.” His idea for a broad ban on guns would require new legislation and is the Democratic governor’s reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on Thursday in favor of gun owners who want to carry their weapons outside the home.
—“N.J. officials expect surge in requests for concealed carry permits”
PHIS MURPHTIE — Phil Murphy’s first 2024 hurdle: New Jersey Democrats, by POLITICO’s Matt Friedman: New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s name is on the lips of Democrats around the country as a potential 2024 candidate should President Joe Biden decide not to seek a second term — and he’s not doing much to dissuade the talk. But as Murphy tries to burnish his image as someone who’s putting progressive policies to work, he faces a major obstacle: A skittish Legislature led by members of his own party. He’s pushing more measures to stiffen the state’s already strict gun laws. He wants to further open up abortion access. The response from fellow Democrats has been muted, if not an outright “no.” The legislative leaders, simply put, are worried about feeding a Republican resurgence. “I think they realized after last year that the mood is different than it was just two years ago,” state Sen. Dick Codey, a former governor who’s often allied with Murphy, said in an interview … Murphy’s political allies, including his wife, Tammy, are spending millions of dollars to boost his image in the state with a super PAC and a dark money nonprofit group, which many view as a preview of the governor’s national ambitions. He’s also taking the helm of the Democratic Governors Association in 2023 for the second time. Murphy can’t seek a consecutive third term and, as a result, is free to focus on social issues that play to a national Democratic audience in early primary states. Members of the New Jersey Legislature, all of whom are up for reelection in 2023 under a new district map that gives Republicans their best shot in 20 years at winning control, don’t have that luxury.
REMEMBERING JOE ALBRIGHT — Tonight, watch highlights from an upcoming documentary about Joe Albright from 5-8 at Exit 7a Creative Studios and Services, 9 West Front Street, Trenton. Tickets are $75 ($50 for current and former Statehouse correspondents). ”In 2017, Columbia Journalism Review did a magazine feature on Jersey Journal reporter Joe Albright’s 88th birthday, proclaiming ‘Saint Joseph’ to be the longest-serving Statehouse reporter in the nation. Inspired by the article, independent filmmaker and long-time NJN videographer Tim Stollery launched into a documentary project on Albright, interviewing former governors, reporters and residents of the Trenton neighborhood where Albright has been telling stories, blessing and feeding birds and animals for more than thirty years. Although Joe passed away in May 2022, we are inviting his close friends and associates to view a sneak preview of some highlights from the documentary to celebrate his memory. We’ll also share some BBQ from 1911 Smokehouse BBQ and raise a glass of beer or wine to Joe.” See the trailer here.
SD-AIN’T DOING ANYTHING —“Overcrowded and crumbling, schools in New Jersey’s 31 SDA districts are outdated,” by The Record’s Dustin Racioppi: “The makeshift gym at Paterson’s Public School No. 3 is also a makeshift cafeteria. At roughly 600 square feet — the size of a small studio apartment — it’s really an empty classroom with basketball hoops mounted on the brick walls and lunch tables folded up along the perimeter … At Roberto Clemente school, students of different grades learn and eat in one large open-floor classroom, separated by thin dividers used in offices. And in Newark, space is so limited at Ridge Street School that students learn in ‘temporary’ trailers that have been there for two decades and are falling into disrepair … They are just some examples of the old, overcrowded schools students attend in New Jersey’s 31 so-called SDA districts — poor, mostly urban areas where the state is legally responsible for ensuring students get a ‘thorough and efficient’ education.”
But at a time when the state has an unprecedented surplus of roughly $8 billion, the Murphy administration has spent a fraction of it to build new schools in SDA districts. The surplus is enough to cover the roughly $5 billion needed to replace or renovate 50 “aging” schools and about $1.5 billion to resolve overcrowding, estimates recently disclosed by the Schools Development Authority in court papers … The agency has no money for new construction after borrowing $12.5 billion since 2008. It has made clear to political leaders for several years that the needs across districts are urgent, but Murphy and lawmakers have not come to an agreement since he took office in 2018 on the next phase of funding.
CAVEN POINT COULD BE RENAMED CRAVEN POINT IN HONOR OF N.J. LAWMAKERS AND GOVERNOR — “Why let a billionaire take a bite out of Liberty State Park?” by The Star-Ledger’s Tom Moran: “It’s time for Americans to use the word “oligarch” to describe our own billionaires, not just those in Russia. Because it clarifies things. It helps explain what’s happening at Liberty State Park as Reebok billionaire Paul Fireman paves the way to grab a pristine corner of the park for himself. He wants to expand his members-only golf course, whether we mere citizens like it or not. And the Legislature, at every turn, has rejected pleas to protect the land at stake, a 22-acre spit of gorgeous oceanfront, including a half-mile of beach, the biggest stretch in New York Harbor. Known as Caven’s Point, it is a feeding station for migratory birds, a nursery for horseshoe crabs, and a home for mussels, clams and even some oysters. Schoolkids visit to study this rare haven, tucked into the most densely packed corner of the most densely packed state … The bill is greased to win legislative approval next week. The only hope is that Gov. Phil Murphy will save the day with a conditional veto. And no one expects that … A dark money group supporting Murphy is now spending $2 million on a series of TV ads promoting the governor. Is Fireman helping pay that bill? Neither man will open their books, so it’s fair to wonder. Is Fireman donating to groups allied with legislators, even those who just voted on this bill? Again, a fair question with no answer.”
—”Fulop: Liberty State Park bill won’t lead to privatization, I’m against golf course expansion”
BUT THEY DEFINITELY WILL HAVE LUNCH BEFORE RECESS — “Despite national rulings, N.J. Supreme Court won’t have vacancies filled before recess,” by New Jersey Globe’s Joey Fox: “With the U.S. Supreme Court delivering two key victories for conservatives in recent days – striking down the justifiable need requirement for concealed carry laws and rescinding the constitutional right to abortion – the New Jersey Judiciary may soon be faced with new legal challenges to the state’s laws, especially to gun restrictions and regulations. But the New Jersey Supreme Court remains hobbled by two vacancies, and there’s no real chance progress will be made before Justice Barry Albin hits the mandatory retirement age in two weeks and brings the number of vacancies up to three, something that’s never happened since the modern New Jersey judiciary system was established in 1947. There’s currently no deal in place to move Rachel Wainer Apter, who was nominated by Gov. Phil Murphy in March 2021 to succeed retiring Justice Jaynee LaVecchia, past the blockade created by State Sen. Holly Schepisi (R-River Vale)’s senatorial courtesy. And Murphy has not even named a nominee to the vacant seat formerly held by Justice Faustino Fernandez-Vina, nor has he publicly indicated whom he’ll nominate to Albin’s seat once it becomes vacant on July 7.”
—“NJ Transit asks for permanent injunction and wants union fined over job action”
—“N.J. judge shortage reaching crisis level, with huge delays for thousands. ‘This is catastrophic.’”
—“PATH employees without new contract for 11 years implore Port Authority board to settle with them”
—“Vulnerable Republicans face difficult choices in next week’s budget vote”
—“Friendly Fire: Biden’s gas tax holiday, expanding gun carrying in NJ and Murphy’s dark money ads”
MORE ON ABORTION — “N.J. abortion providers ready for surge in out-of-state patients after Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade,” by NJ Advance Media’s Susan K. Livio: “With the right to an abortion no longer guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, medical providers in New Jersey say they are prepared to accept a surge of patients seeking to terminate their pregnancies from across the country, supported by donors and volunteers who have been on high alert since Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died in 2020 … Clinics are preparing to expand office hours, and have been hiring more medical professionals handle the anticipated demand, providers said. Advance practice nurses, midwives and physician assistants are permitted to perform first trimester, suction abortions, under rules adopted by the state Board of Medical Examiners last year … There is also a spike in the number of volunteers willing to to serve as clinic escorts so people are not facing anticipated protestors alone.”
—“Abortion providers in NJ worry they will face more protests after Supreme Court ruling”
— What changed from Justice Alito’s draft opinion to final ruling on Roe
—“At N.J. ‘rally for life,’ overturning of Roe v. Wade court decision gets celebrated”
—“‘Supreme betrayal.’ Protests against high court’s abortion ruling continue in N.J.”
—John Farmer Jr: “The abortion ruling strips 167M Americans of their rights”
—Anjali Mehrotra: “Abortion is now on your ballot”
TRICIA FALLFLATAGAIN — “Tricia Flanagan’s write-in campaign got a mere 15 votes,” by New Jersey Globe’s David Wildstein: “Perhaps Tricia Flanagan has not yet captured the essence of running for office – something she’s done twice before — that candidates need to get votes. Flanagan mounted a write-in campaign candidate for the Republican nomination for Congress in New Jersey’s 4th district after getting tossed from the primary ballot for a lack of legitimate signatures. Her total vote haul on Election Day: 15.”
—“Will the U.S. Supreme Court ruling mean more guns in the Garden State?”
—“Navy SEALs ‘Hell Week’ autopsy reveals cause of death of Manalapan man four months later”
DOES BYRON THINK HE’S SOME KIND OF LORD? — “Wildwood’s current and former mayors charged with fraud” by NBC 10’s Gianmarco Fernandez: “The current and former mayors of Wildwood, New Jersey, were charged Friday with allegedly participating fraudulently in the state’s health benefits system, the state attorney general’s office said. Current Mayor Peter Byron, 67, former Mayor Ernest Troiano, 71 and a city commissioner, Steven Mikulski, 57, face second-degree theft by unlawful taking and third-degree tampering with public records. Byron, Troiano, and Mikulski allegedly enrolled in the state’s health benefits program even though they were not eligible, the attorney general’s office said. None of the three were full-time employees of Wildwood, which is a requirement for enrollment, officials alleged. Wildwood and the State Health Benefits Program paid over $286,500 in premiums and claims on behalf of Troiano from July 2011 through December 2019, and paid over $608,900 in premiums and claims on behalf of Byron from July 2011 through October 2021, the attorney general’s office said. An attorney for Byron said the mayor ‘did nothing wrong’ and that ‘he will be vindicated.’”
THE MONEY FLOWS LIKE WATER — “Passaic Valley Water Commission promotes Passaic mayor’s supporter to $138K job,” by The Paterson Press’ Joe Malinconico: “The Passaic Valley Water Commission this week approved a promotion and $36,400 pay raise for a political ally of Passaic Mayor Hector Lora. Luis. D. Rodriguez, who is also president of the Passaic Board of Education, was appointed to the commission’s newly created position of assistant director for organizational development and human resources with a salary of $138,000. Rodriguez started work at the commission in 2017 in its customer service department and has been a personnel technician since 2019, according to his resume. Prior to the promotion, his salary had been $101,600 … Rodriguez’s resume said he worked as a director in admissions at county-owned Preakness Healthcare Center in Wayne from 2013 though 2016 and was employed by two medical management firms and a financial services company between 2009 and 2013.”
—“N.J. cop charged with harassment for incident at school, officials say”
PROPOSAL TO ADD 15 NEW TRACKS TO PENN STATION TENTATIVELY CALLED ‘PENN15 PLAN’ — “Overburdened Penn Station needs more tracks. But where could they fit?” by The New York Times’ Patrick McGeehan: “Amtrak, the national railroad that owns the station and the tracks that run through it, is moving ahead with a plan to expand the station at an estimated cost of $12 billion. That plan envisions demolishing an entire block of Midtown that is home to a 151-year-old church. On Thursday, Amtrak awarded a contract for the design of the station expansion, which it expects will take two years and as much as $73 million to draw up. But that effort comes just as a separate New York State plan to renovate the existing station has run into opposition from community leaders. The Amtrak expansion is part of a comprehensive program of rail infrastructure improvements known as Gateway. But Penn Station’s 21 tracks and platforms were already overloaded before the pandemic. For Gateway to serve its purpose, the station would have to have more tracks. Finding a place to put them in the middle of Manhattan is the challenge Amtrak has handed to a group of companies led by Arup, an engineering and design firm.”
—Hochul, Adams administrations near agreement on Penn reconstruction financing
—“After 10 years, Rowan University president Ali A. Houshmand is more ambitious than ever”
—“Are housing prices about to fall? Report says these 8 NJ counties are among most at-risk”
—“Missing pet: Vance the Emu is on the loose after he escaped from a West Milford home”
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/