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Shrinking Trenton board lists- POLITICO

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Good Monday morning! I’m filling in for Matt today.

If you closely track legislative activity in Trenton you may have noticed one big difference: those long lists of bills are no more.

This may seem like a small, inside-baseball change. But it’s actually a significant one.

The media and advocates have long criticized state lawmakers and the governor for rushing a high volume of bills through, leaving little time for public scrutiny. However, in the new legislative session, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin and Senate President Nick Scutari have deliberately scaled back the voting board lists in a big way.

When I interviewed Scutari in January, he said that slowing the speed of the lawmaking process in Trenton was at the top of his agenda.

“One of the things I think we can improve on is spending more time on important pieces of legislation,” Scutari said. “Because everything you pass is important in some way or another.”

An example of how differently things are operating: a few weeks ago I frantically emailed my coworkers asking them why the voting session list hadn’t been posted yet. But it actually was online. The list was just so short that I had missed it.

Here’s to hoping that this trend continues.

DAYS SINCE MURPHY REFUSED TO SAY WHETHER HIS WIFE’S NON-PROFIT SHOULD DISCLOSE DONORS: 14

WHERE’S MURPHY? Murphy, Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, NJ TRANSIT President and CEO Kevin Corbett will make an announcement.

TWEET THREAD OF THE DAY: “After a long battle through the night, Ukrainian forces just declared victory in defending Kharkiv (2nd largest city in Ukraine) from Russian forces. The flag flies above the city. Word of this victory spread across country and Ukrainians tell me that morale is sky-high.THREAD” — @AndyKimNJ

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Absolutely appalling. There is no justification for this. Little bastard, I hate him.” — Elton John talking about Vladimir Putin at a concert in Newark.

TIPS? FEEDBACK? HATE MAIL? Email me at [email protected]

A message from AARP New Jersey:

New Jersey residents are concerned they won’t be able to afford the medicines they need in the future; yet, prescription drug prices continue to rise faster than inflation. It’s time to act and pass S329/A1747, which establishes a Prescription Drug Affordability Board. This board is responsible for investigating high drug prices and recommending action to lower costs for consumers. No one should have to choose between paying for groceries and paying for their prescriptions. Take action now.

HORRIFIC — NJ’s Ukrainians on constant watch as Russian invasion unfolds, by NJ Spotlight News’ Joanna Gagis:  “In New Jersey, aircraft from the 305th Air Mobility Wing at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst have been activated to support U.S. forces moving in Europe. Thousands of miles away, residents in the tri-state area remain fearful for their families and friends in Ukraine as they watch this war unfold. … Jersey City’s Oleh Pravada’s family is in Kharkiv an eastern Ukrainian city that was attacked by Russian forces yesterday and has been the site of intense fighting for control over the city. Right now it’s nearly impossible for civilians to leave. And even if they could … they’d have to across a country the size of Texas where battles are being fought throughout to get to Poland, where thousands of refugees are flooding over the border. Tatyana Yaremenko runs a Ukrainian Deli in South Bound Brook her family in Ukraine is further from the fighting but she’s still scared for their safety. ‘Whenever I watch t.v. It’s making me crazy. I’m ready to cry.’”

CUT OFF —Sarlo wants to bar New Jersey from doing business with Russia, by POLITICO’s Katherine Landergan: Senate Budget Chair Paul Sarlo said Thursday he will introduce legislation to cut off public investments and other financial agreements with Russia, hours after the country invaded Ukraine. Details: Sarlo’s bill would essentially ban any state or public entity from doing business with the Russian government, or with any business or financial institution with Russian interests. That includes pension investments, public contracts, professional services, deals with Russian financial institutions and tax abatements for companies with ties to Russia. “Russia’s unjustified attack of Ukraine is an assault on democracy that demands a response that sends a clear message that these actions will have consequences,” Sarlo (D-Bergen) said in a statement. “They violated the sovereignty of another country with complete disregard for the lives of innocent people. This demands a response by everyone who respects freedom and values human rights.”

THERE’S ALWAYS A NJ CONNECTION: “Why is Ukraine following New Jersey lmao. They only follow a few accounts and New Jersey is one of them” — @P____nut

REPRESENTATION — The new legislative map won’t immediately do much to increase minority representation, by the New Jersey Globe’s Joey Fox: “Nearly three weeks ago, the two partisan delegations on the New Jersey Legislative Apportionment Commission released their first proposals for the state’s new legislative map. Each one modestly obeyed the standards laid out by commission tiebreaker Philip Carchman, but both fell short in a number of key respects. Ultimately, those two maps were scrapped entirely in favor of a compromise hashed out by the two parties over the course of three feverish days last week. The result is a bipartisan map that, in most ways, marks a clear improvement over either original proposal. According to multiple measures, the compromise map is more compact than both original proposals; it includes six districts that split three or more counties, fewer than either proposal, and has a slightly better Reock compactness score (a mathematical measure of a district’s compactness).”

NEW JERSEYANS SAY THEY’LL BELIEVE IT WHEN THEY SEE IT — “Can your N.J. property taxes actually be reduced? We may soon find out.,” by NJ Advance Media’s Derek Hall: “With the average homeowner bill climbing about 2% a year, Murphy and other top politicians are now talking out loud about taking moves to actually reduce your property tax bill. A heated November election prompted a sea change in the debate over property taxes. Murphy won re-election by a tighter margin than expected, and Republicans gained seven seats in the state legislature, their best showing in roughly 30 years. Making New Jersey more affordable suddenly took center stage. Murphy has hinted about property taxes in his first two major speeches of 2022, touting his administration’s effort to boost state aid to towns and schools during his State of the State address, and talking about reawakening the American Dream in his inaugural address. ‘But I’m not going to be satisfied with just slowing property tax growth,’ Murphy said. ‘I want to get us to a place where we can begin to see them go down.’”

COMMUTERS ELATED TO RIDE NJ TRANSIT AGAIN — “A lot of us expect to return to workplaces by March, riders tell NJ Transit,” by NJ Advance Media’s Larry Higgs: “A lot of us expect to return to workplaces by March, riders tell NJ Transit, NJ Transit officials are anticipating what they’ve been waiting for since the coronavirus pandemic started — more people returning to work places and riding transit to get there. The agency’s fifth rider survey taken by 38,000 people in November said over 70% of those who commute or commuted to New York City are expecting to return to the workplace either this month or in March. Results were discussed at a board committee meeting on Friday. The results coincide with an earlier survey by the Partnership for New York City that said 61% of employers expect to see 50% of their workers return by the end of the first four months of 2022. That January 2022 survey also said a spike in omicron variant cases prompted employers to delay plans to bring people back into the office. Except for NJ Transit’s survey, no similar back to the workplace survey of New Jersey businesses could be found.”

A SPECIAL THANKS — To my cat, Mookie, who took a crack at writing the first draft of my NJ Playbook top today.

SUPREME COURT — Ketanji Brown Jackson is the first Black woman selected for the nation’s top court, by POLITICO’s Josh Gerstein: President Joe Biden has selected D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as his nominee to succeed retiring Justice Stephen Breyer, making history by picking a Black woman for the nation’s highest court, the White House announced Friday. In a message posted on Twitter, Biden called Jackson “one of our nation’s brightest legal minds” and he said she “will be an exceptional Justice.” Jackson, 51, was long considered the leading contender for the post, particularly after Biden elevated her last year from the trial court bench to the appeals court seen as second in power only to the Supreme Court. Jackson is popular with liberal legal activists looking to replace Breyer with a justice willing to engage in ideological combat with the court’s conservatives, who now hold a formidable six-justice majority.

MASK ON, MASK OFF — CDC says most Americans can now take off masks as Covid cases plummet, by POLITICO’s Erin Banco and Sarah Owermohle: The majority of Americans can now choose to take off their masks in indoor public settings, including in schools, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Friday. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said data supports state and local officials, schools and businesses in 70 percent of the country updating their guidelines to allow people the option to wear a mask. The move marks a milestone in America’s two-year fight against Covid-19 — one that relied heavily on masks to control the spread of the virus. The announcement comes after weeks of deliberation inside the nation’s leading public health agency about what metrics officials should use in deciding when and how to ease public health restrictions.

— “Murphy will still wait a week to lift N.J. school mask mandate March 7 despite CDC’s new COVID guidelines,” by NJ Advance Media’s Brent Johnson: “Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration will stick with plans to wait until March 7 — a week from Monday — to lift New Jersey’s statewide mask mandate in schools and child care facilities, despite the federal government softening COVID-19 guidance Friday, the governor’s office told NJ Advance Media. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced new guidelines late Friday afternoon for communities where the virus is declining, with the focus less on positive tests and more on hospital numbers. Healthy people in areas considered at ‘low’ and ‘medium’ risk are no longer recommended to wear masks indoors, including in schools.”

— NJ Advance Media: “More flights and lower fares coming to Newark Airport after feds act.”

THAT’S THE WAY THE COOKIE CRUMBLES  — Nabisco building coming down in 2023, Fair Lawn mayor says, by The Record’s Shaylah Brown: “Demolition will start on the iconic Nabisco building next year, Mayor Kurt Peluso said in a Facebook Live session Thursday. In 2023, the owners will start removing parts of the building “and then we will see a new structure up, which we are excited about,” Peluso said. In the meantime, although the Nabisco cookie factory has stopped production, the former owner and Nabisco parent company, Mondelēz, has not left the building. Mondelēz has temporarily leased back the property from its new owner. ‘Given that we still have pilot plant operations on the facility that will then transition, we have leased back from the new owner … to ramp down our operations on the site,’ said Laurie Guzzinati, a senior director at Mondelēz International.”

THIS STOCK PHOTO IS MATT FRIEDMAN APPROVED — “Cannabis panel paves way for THC concentrate sales,” by NJ Monitor’s Sophie Nieto-Munoz: “No date has been set for the long-awaited launch of New Jersey’s recreational cannabis industry, but cannabis officials are already moving for dispensaries to sell a wider array of THC products. During the Cannabis Regulatory Commission’s meeting Thursday, officials unanimously voted to pass a waiver for medical marijuana providers to produce and sell cannabis concentrates. Concentrates, which come in the form of dabs, wax, shatter, or oil, are highly potent forms of cannabis that can be ingested or smoked. Thursday’s vote does not affect vape pens, which medical dispensaries can sell now. Currently, licensed marijuana permit holders can produce marijuana products using flower, oil, or topical forms, and they can provide lozenges. CRC Executive Director Jeff Brown said he’s heard from both industry leaders and patients alike that more people are asking for products in the form of concentrate.”

OFFSHORE WIND — Offshore wind auction shatters records, by POLITICO’s Marie French: The first offshore wind leases offered for sale by the Biden administration are poised to rake in nearly $4.4 billion. The record-breaking provisional results announced by the Department of the Interior on Friday showcase the surging interest in the offshore wind market in the U.S., driven largely by state commitments to pay for the projects. The six leases were all located in coastal waters off New York and New Jersey. “The record-shattering interest in the New York Bight lease sale is testament to how bright the American offshore wind outlook is and how confident developers are in the strength of the U.S. offshore wind industry as a whole,” National Ocean Industries Association President Erik Milito said in a statement.

A message from AARP New Jersey:

More than two out of three New Jersey voters 50 and older are concerned they won’t be able to afford the medicines they need in the future; yet, prescription drug prices continue to rise faster than inflation. In just the first month of 2022, Pharma raised prices on 554 drugs, and 183 drugs were hiked by over $100! Now is the time to act and pass S329/A1747 to establish a New Jersey Prescription Drug Affordability Board. This board would be responsible for investigating high drug prices and recommending action to lower costs for consumers. Eighty-two percent of older NJ voters support the creation of a Prescription Drug Affordability Board. They know that no one should have to choose between paying for groceries and paying for the prescriptions they need. Tell NJ lawmakers: lower prescription drug prices now!

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