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In The Spotlight

The state Senate this week passed a resolution that urges the administration to set guidelines by this fall for districts to address families who want their kids to sit out the controversial PARCC tests. The resolution does not dictate guidelines; it only says that the Department of Education’s rules should not punish children and families who "opt out" of the exams. Read more
NJ Spotlight Daily News

July 27, 2015

Telling It Like It Is: Christie Didn’t Close $11B Budget Gap When He Took Office
John Reitmeyer | Politics
Governor likes to regale voters with stories of how he plugged a huge hole in the state’s structural deficit, but NJ Spotlight analysis reveals he’s only trimmed $500 million
State On Target for Meeting Goals of Energy Master Plan, According to BPU
Tom Johnson | Energy & Environment
Agency identifies emerging issues -- like lengthy power outages in wake of severe storms -- that need to be addressed
NJ Home-Health Agencies Rank High in First-Time Federal Ratings
Andrew Kitchenman | Healthcare
While consumers get valuable help in making healthcare choices, industry representatives say other criteria should be taken into account
Senate Democrats Craft Nonbinding Resolution for PARCC Testing Opt-Outs
John Mooney | Education
Low-key request simply asks that students and families who choose not to take PARCC exams not be punished for decision
The List: How Do New Jersey Children Fare in National Well-Being Rankings?
Colleen O'Dea | The List
NJ ranks eighth-best overall in national kids' well-being ratings, but ranks near bottom for number of children living in families struggling to pay for housing
Op-Ed: Charting the Path to Local Control for Newark’s Public Schools
Theresa Luhm | Opinion
QSAC maps out a clear and expeditious approach for moving Newark’s state-controlled schools back under home rule
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July 24, 2015

Hospital Payments to Towns Discussed as Alternative to Property Taxes
Andrew Kitchenman | Healthcare
Tax-court decision has healthcare industry, state legislators talking about potential compromises
Irked by Christie’s Campaign Spending, Lawmakers Move to Limit Use of State Funds
John Reitmeyer | Politics
Committee votes out bill preventing sitting governors from putting anything but official duties on state’s tab
State Agency Pursues Probe into Utilities’ Responses to Severe Storm
Tom Johnson | Energy & Environment
Late-June macroburst knocked out power to more than 400,000 customers, disrupting communications and impeding restoration efforts
Business Groups, Worker Advocates At Odds Over Local ‘Wage-Theft’ Laws
Hank Kalet | More Issues
Ordinances in five towns threaten loss of licenses; businesses say rules could backfire, resulting in loss of jobs and hurting economy
Interactive Map: Tracking Job Creation and Wage Increases Across NJ
Colleen O'Dea | Maps, Map of the Week
Garden State posted net gains in employment and pay, but some counties saw losses – including 5 percent drop in jobs in Atlantic County
Feds: Administration Can Keep Targeting 'Priority' and ‘Focus’ Schools
John Mooney | Education
State DOE revises accountability system for state-run districts, severely challenged schools
Former Prosecutor, Christie Whistleblower Wins Access to Grand Jury Records
Meir Rinde | Politics
Judge orders confidential transcripts to go to Bennett Barlyn, but state could drag out release for month using legal means
Op-Ed: Energy-Efficiency Benefits -- Assessing Hype Versus Reality
Rasika Athawale | Opinion
Recent research reveals the seemingly unthinkable: Low-income households may not save money with weatherization programs

July 23, 2015

BPU Déjà vu: Agency Approves Pinelands Pipeline for Second Time
Tom Johnson | Energy & Environment
Controversial project, which has generated solid opposition, would convert coal-fired B.L. England power plant to natural gas
Legislation Aims to Protect Kids, Pets from Heatstroke Deaths in Locked Cars
Andrew Kitchenman | Healthcare
Bill would provide civil-liability immunity to Good Samaritans who break into vehicles to rescue children or animals
NJ State Investment Council Confronts Downside of Diversification Strategy
John Reitmeyer | Budget
At yesterday’s meeting, officials admit it’s tough to get free of unsavory investment; pension-fund officer calls for forensic audit of fees paid to hedge-fund managers
State Moves to Add Arbitrators to Handle Rise in Teacher-Tenure Disputes
John Mooney | Education
Number of cases this year already near total for all of 2014 – and pace is expected to accelerate
Poll: NJ’s Private Fund Managers -- Does It Take Money to Make Money?
Are the fees paid to private hedge fund managers over the top or a smart investment to help replenish the state’s pension system?
Environmentalists Accuse PennEast of Test Drilling Without Permit
Jon Hurdle | Energy & Environment
State DEP asserts company had requisite paperwork; PennEast dismisses claims as ‘intentionally inaccurate’
Op-Ed: Greater Oversight of Charter Schools Clearly Needed in New Jersey
Sen. Shirley K. Turner | Opinion
Three-year moratorium on charter enrollment would give us room to think about successes and shortcomings so far

July 22, 2015

Mercer County Revokes PennEast’s Permission to Survey Land in Local Park
Tom Johnson | Energy & Environment
Citing potential environmental damage, county joins growing list of landowners that won’t facilitate surveys for controversial pipeline
Questions Arise About Status of State's Monitoring of School Districts
John Mooney | Education
How much does state need to revamp QSAC for when Newark returns to local control, along with other districts and maybe even charters?
NJ’s Corporate Leaders Worry About State's Transportation Network
John Reitmeyer | Transportation
Annual survey of business professionals shows they have a lot more on their minds than taxes -- starting with roads, bridges, and mass transit
O’Dowd Looks Back at Highlights of Her Tenure as NJ Health Commissioner
Andrew Kitchenman | Healthcare
Changes in healthcare delivery, improving infant and maternal health, response to Ebola cases among big issues during her four years at helm
Profile: Fiscal Reforms And Top GOP Member of Assembly Budget Committee
John Reitmeyer | Profiles
Declan O’Scanlon helped retire NJ’s red-light cameras, puts social media to work to open dialogue with constituents, opponents

July 21, 2015

Agreement Brings Relief to Kin of Disabled Residents Living Outside of State
Andrew Kitchenman | Healthcare
If families object, state will no longer force return to New Jersey facilities, according to deal between senators and Christie
Christie Leads Poll of Iowa GOP Voters . . . in ‘Unfavorable’ Ratings
John Reitmeyer | Politics
More than half of those surveyed in most recent Monmouth University poll just don’t like the current governor of New Jersey
As Old Computer Monitors and Electronics Pile Up, Environmental Risk Grows
Tom Johnson | Energy & Environment
Many e-waste recyclers can no longer find vendors interested in their offerings, increasing likelihood that lead will leach into soil
Explainer: Coming to Terms With the Intricacies of Fair Housing -- After COAH
Meir Rinde | Housing, Explainer
From builder's remedy and growth share to rehabilitation and vacant land
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