Insider NJ’s Morning Intelligence Briefing: 6/24/2019

Below is the Insider NJ Morning Intelligence Briefing for 6/24/2019:



New Jersey’s public schools consistently rank among the top in the nation, yet the educators who help our students achieve their dreams have watched their pay checks go down for the past eight years. The unintended consequences of P.L. 2011, Ch. 78 have devastated the morale and the pocketbooks of public school employees for too long. It’s time for Trenton to #FixTheUnfairness and return respect to our public school employees by passing S-2606/A-4352. Learn more.


QUOTE OF THE DAY: I would ask the legislature what their relationship is like with the people they represent.” – Governor Murphy saying all options are on the table with the budget


TOP STORY: Murphy: ‘All Options are on the Table’ on Budget



The NJ Department of Human Services distributed over 16,000 packets (and over 32,000 doses) of opioid overdose-reversal drug Naxolone during the statewide free giveaway last Tuesday.


The NJBPU announced the state’s first award for offshore wind to Orsted’s ocean wind project to build a 1,100 MW offshore wind farm. The project is expected to power 500k New Jersey homes and generate 15k jobs.


Governor Murphy lauded the passage of bi-state Gateway legislation and called on President Trump and the USDOT to take action.


The Governor met with the Colombian ambassador to discuss an economic partnership as well as a potential trip to Latin America, according to ROI-NJ.


Speaker Coughlin and NY Speaker Heastie released a joint statement lauding the creation of the Gateway Development Commission.


Senator Booker has the fourth podium placement on stage for the first Democratic presidential primary debate on Wednesday, according to MSNBC. House Majority Whip James Clyburn says he’s surprised that Senators Booker and Harris haven’t had much of a surge in his home state of South Carolina, according to Politico.


Rep. Van Drew and the Blue Dog Coalition released a legislative proposal with comprehensive and bipartisan recommendations to secure US elections.


Rep. Pascrell praised the committee passage of a provision to provide tax relief to Sandy victims.


ICYMI: Murphy’s tough day; Booker doubles to 2%, tore into Biden, who fired back



Senator and CD7 GOP candidate Tom Kean was visible at the Morris County GOP unity breakfast over the weekend, attended by several hundred people and a slew of legislators, as the party looks to keep control of the Assembly seats and retaking the ‘lost real estate’ during next year’s 2020 congressional elections.


Former Governor Christie discusses his vetting dossier with Axios (video).


A coalition of grassroots organizations sent a letter to Senator Cory Booker demanding he reject a fundraiser for his presidential campaign held by Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo and George Norcross, saying ‘the age of cronyism, corruption, and political bosses needs to be over in New Jersey. We are determined to rid our state of political bosses and the undemocratic influence they wield’.


Former NJ Senate counsel Fruqan Mouzon has joined McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney, and Carpenter LLP to head up the firm’s new cannabis law practice group.


LD23 Senator Doherty, a former Trump state director, says President Trump made the right decision to call off an airstrike on Iran.


The Bergen County GOP freeholder slate blasted the incumbent Democrats over spending increases and an increase in the tax levy.


ICYMI: Quinones Perez elevated to equity shareholder at Decotiis; Lagana hauls $100k at fundraiser; Hoffman announced Senate run; Schepisi on NJGOP challenges; Stone betting on Norcross; Scutari complaint tossed; HCDO adds to exec team



Governor Murphy took action on legislation, including the signing of a bill to help Superstorm sandy-affected homeowners.


Governor Murphy held a post-budget vote press conference on Friday (watch here), saying that ‘all options are on the table’ as he considers his next move. Murphy derided the Legislature’s budget as being full of ‘pork’ and ‘short-sighted’, and reiterating his support for the millionaire’s tax, while noting its public support. Senator O’Scanlon reacted to the presser, saying the Legislature’s budget is a ‘very loud, unequivocal repudiation of Governor Murphy’s almost pathological obsession with inflicting new and increased taxes’.


The Budget:



The Select Committee for Economic Growth Strategies pulled the plug on its scheduled first hearing today, and will be rescheduled. Insiders had anticipated the possible surfacing of George Norcross, who had requested to testify. Senate President Sweeney said in a statement that the Senate needs one more voting session day before summer recess; the committee’s first meeting will be after that, so members are ‘able to devote, entirely, their attention to the task of the committee’. Last week, following the Task Force’s initial report released on the heals of a judicial ruling, (see the order and hearing transcript) the Legislature passed an extension of the tax incentive program, which Murphy said he will veto as he chastised the Legislature for passing it without reforms. Activists filed an ethics complaint against the committee, according to, saying that five of the seven members have had tied to Norcross.


NJ Spotlight held a roundtable on the future of marijuana in the state (watch the NJTV stream here).


Senate President Sweeney and Senator Singer introduced legislation to combat anti-Semitism in schools.


The American Cancer Society lauded the Senate’s passage of a palliative care bill.


ICYMI: Sacco remarked Dems on Dem ‘not healthy’; Murphy fired off letter to legislators, Sweeney fired back; Sweeney calls on Platkin to resign; Coughlin says leg. budget is ‘good news’; Cardinale, Pou sparred during Stellato interview; the budget drama; unions, prog groups rallied at Statehouse



Take a look at a few key Insider NJ budget reads from the current budget cycle.


Download and read the Insider 100: Cannabis publication by Insider NJ’s Jay Lassiter.


Listen to Politically Direct Episode 63 with host Fernando Uribe and guest Stacie Sherman, Bloomberg News Trenton Bureau Chief.


Visit the Insider 100 Publications page, the Events Calendar, the Press Release page, and check out the Insider NJ Video Gallery and Insider NJ Podcast page.



In Hoboken, the prosecution and defense will give their closing arguments today in the VBM fraud trial of Frank Raia, according to the Jersey Journal. The trial has pitted Raia against former allies, who he says acted on their own.


In Newark, Mayor Baraka blasted ICE raids across major cities as a ‘political stunt’, according to TAPinto.


In Atlantic City, Mayor Gilliam lauded the NJBPU’s offshore wind award to Orstead.


In Paterson, local supporters of Senator Warren’s presidential campaign gathered to host an ‘informational event’ yesterday, according to TAPinto.


In Hamilton, FMBA Locals 84 and 284 endorsed Democrat Council President Jeff Martin for mayor, and Pepparo and Phillips for council.


In Princeton, a state inspector flagged problems at the landfill, but no corrective action was taken by the NJDEP or local officials, according to PlanetPrinceton.


In Old Bridge, Councilman Razzoli released a statement calling sanctuary state policies and drivers’ licenses for undocumented immigrants a ‘road to no return’.


In Montague, the BOE is facing a backlash over the hiring of the superintendent, according to NJ Herald.


In Edison, the mayor says the city will explore other water and sewer options other than Suez, according to MyCentralJersey.


In East Brunswick, the mayor is under fire over his stance on proposed development, according to MyCentralJersey.


In Willingboro, the town unveiled a new city-wide surveillance system, according to Burlington County Times.


In Hackensack, several lawmakers demanded the resignation of BOE Trustee Cojela over anti-LGBT comments, according to the Bergen Record.


In Delran, First Lady Tammy Murphy advocated for sustainability curriculum in the schools, according to Burlington County Times.



Insider NJ columnist Jay Lassiter writes ‘From AIDS to Equal Marriage in One (Messy) Generation. An Ally’s Perspective.


Insider NJ columnist Alan Steinberg writes ‘Can Biden Effectively Deliver His Compelling Centrist Message?


In a guest column on Insider NJ, former Assemblyman Jose Sosa writes ‘Mitch McConnell, You Insult Every Soldier from Puerto Rico Who has Worn the U.S. Uniform


Insider NJ reporter Fred Snowflack writes ‘Drilling Down on the Most Egregious Finding in the Governor’s EDA Task Force Report‘ and ‘Governing a Third of New Jersey in Anonymity





Ocean County welcomes first Pride festival a decade after it was battleground for gay rights

Michael L. Diamond, Asbury Park Press


  • After getting a permit to fly the rainbow gay-pride flag last year, Exit 82 Theatre Company wanted to celebrate with a festival at its studio complete with music, vendors and perhaps a drag show. When township officials heard about it, their response was a surprise: don’t keep it confined to the theater; bring the event outdoors to Robbins Street, next to town hall.


Redevelopment plan ready for Atlantic City’s MGM marina district deal

Michelle Brunetti Post, Press of Atlantic City


  • A new redevelopment zone in the Marina District allows multi-family housing there, paving the way for luxury housing and other projects sought by MGM Resorts International and Boraie Development.


U.S. Sen. Menendez touts HEAR Act in Trenton, says it’s relevant to capital city

Isaac Avilucea, The Trentonian


  • Just call him Silent Bob. U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez unveiled legislation at a news conference Friday inside City Hall that would ban silencers like the one used in a mass shooting at the Virginia Beach municipal building last month.


We investigated what nuclear plant shutdowns mean for your wallet and your safety. Here’s what we found.

USA Today Network Staff


  • The nuclear energy industry finds itself at a pivotal moment. Nuclear power plant owners are announcing plans to shut down their reactors after decades of providing electricity for homes and businesses across the U.S.


There are about 100 billboards in N.J. with a strange message for Gov. Murphy. Here’s what it’s all about.

Matt Arco and Brent Johnson, NJ Advance Media for


  • There are about 100 digital billboards ads spread across major roadways in the northern part of New Jersey with an odd message for Gov. Phil Murphy. “Gov. Murphy,,” they read. That’s it.


Medical marijuana bill survives budget day scrum

David Cruz, NJTV


  • Lawmakers were finally able to get a medical marijuana bill across the finish line this week after some last-minute haggling with the administration. The bill passed Thursday 31 to 5 in the Senate and 22 to 12 in the Assembly.


JCETP ‘has expanded its client base significantly’ in the past 6 months, acting director says

John Heinis, Hudson County View


  • The Jersey City Employment and Training Program “has expanded its client base significantly” in the past six months, according to statistics cited by Acting Executive Director Sudhan Thomas.


Photos: Thousands attend first ever Princeton Pride Parade

Krystal Knapp, Planet Princeton


  • Photo gallery.


N.J. library planned a ‘Drag Queen Story Hour.’ Then came 2 days of nonstop phone calls.

Steve Novak, For


  • June is LGBT Pride Month. A Warren County library wanted to do something to mark the occasion, so it enlisted a New Jersey drag queen to read a story to children. But they never got the chance.


Boys are not girls — Can’t believe I have to say that (Opinion)

Bill Spadea, NJ1015


  • There’s a lawsuit in Connecticut that got me thinking about a controversy here in New Jersey. Three high school track team members are suing in federal court to fight boys competing on girls teams simply because they identify as girls. The reason? They say it’s completely unfair to them as biological girls to have to compete with biological boys. And they’re right!


Why legal weed laws failed in New Jersey and New York | Kelly

Mike Kelly, North Jersey Record


  • Remember those high times last year when New Jersey and New York seemed ready to join political hands and legalize marijuana? New Jersey’s newly elected Gov. Phil Murphy seemed blissfully smitten with the prospect of bundles of tax revenues from pot sales to finance his progressive agenda.


Norcross wants to talk. Do legislators have the guts to press him on shady tax break?

Tom Moran, Star-Ledger


  • New Jersey politics is easy to understand these days: It is all about Gov. Phil Murphy, the gawky new kid with no friends, and his titanic battle with George Norcross, the bully who scares every kid on the playground.


New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy is progressing into irrelevance | Mulshine

Paul Mulshine, Star-Ledger


  • As you walk down the marbled central hall of the Statehouse, the first turn used to take you to the office of the most powerful governor in America. Now it takes you to the restrooms.


Bear activist’s jail sentence vacated, fines cut

Lori Comstock, New Jersey Herald


  • A Vernon woman who appealed a sentence of 15 days in the county jail for releasing a bear cub from a culvert trap at Great Gorge Village with the help of a Park Ridge man will not have to spend any time behind bars.


Elmwood Park principal tells councilman he’s not welcome at graduation, then reconsiders

Katie Sobko, North Jersey Record


  • The borough’s newest councilman was sworn in last week and has already been caught up in a controversy.  Councilman Francesco Fasolo was told Wednesday night that he would not be welcome to attend Elmwood Park Memorial High School’s graduation ceremony, as is customary for council members, because it would be “awkward.”


Hinchliffe Stadium developer may seek long-term Paterson tax abatement

Jayed Rahman, Paterson Times


  • Mayor Andre Sayegh’s administration’s hand-picked developer for the renovation of Hinchliffe Stadium and a housing project in the Totowa section may seek a long-term tax abatement deal with the city.


Phillipsburg’s medical marijuana dispensary will be this swanky chain’s first East Coast location

Steve Novak, For


  • Granite countertops? Pendant lights? Chandeliers? If Phillipsburg’s medical marijuana dispensary is like others in the chain, it’s going to be a classy storefront when it opens by year’s end.


NJ could need 2,700 miles of sea walls to defend against rising waters

Jon Hurdle, NJ Spotlight


  • New Jersey would have to pay almost $25 billion to build almost 2,700 miles of seawalls to protect its coastal communities from anticipated sea-level rise by 2040, according to the latest study on the state’s vulnerability to rising ocean levels.


The NJ budget is on Murphy’s desk. Here’s what it looks like and what’s next

Ashley Balcerzak, North Jersey Record


  • A day after the Legislature passed a $38.7 billion budget, Gov. Phil Murphy suggested he will avoid a government shutdown but may take New Jersey to the brink of one.
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