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New Jerseyans’ student-loan debt is massive; by some estimates, it’s as much as $33.5 billion. And the state agency that writes those loans has a lot of critics. Lawmakers now seem intent on reforming the agency as part of an effort to help the borrowers. Read more
NJ Spotlight Daily News

April 19, 2018

Does School Security Mean Transforming Facilities into Fortresses?
Carly Sitrin | Education
Active shooter drills, armed guards, video surveillance, safety training for all personnel, including lunch aides and janitors — is this the new face of education in New Jersey?
State Diverts $69M from VW Settlement to General Fund
Tom Johnson | Energy & Environment
Clean-air advocates wind up with $72 million, had hoped total amount would go to fighting greenhouse-gas emissions
Reform Pending for New Jersey’s Medical Examiner System
Lilo H. Stainton | Healthcare
Overworked, underfunded agency will be transferred to Department of Health, in line for cash infusion, new chain of command
Governor Shows Off Another Benefit of His Bigger Budget
John Reitmeyer | Budget
Murphy highlights more money for Educational Opportunity Fund in his spending plan and doesn’t retreat from higher taxes despite lawmakers’ hesitancy
NJ Supreme Court Rules No Taxpayer Money to Restore Active Churches
Colleen O'Dea | More Issues
State’s top court decides taxpayer funds cannot be awarded to houses of worship still serving a congregation, even if goal is historic preservation of church structures
Op-Ed: We Need to Take the Trauma Out of Childhood
Marjorie A. Paloma | Opinion
Thousands of children in New Jersey have been through traumatic events that can have profound long-term consequences. It’s our job to help them
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April 18, 2018

Is 2018 the Year When New Jersey, Ever in a Tax Fix, Finds a Fix for its Taxes?
John Reitmeyer | Budget
New Jerseyans kvetch about the state’s high taxes, and nothing seems to change. But, momentum might now be with those who want a radical review of taxes and spending in the Garden State
Will Murphy Let Company Dump Treated Wastewater into Delaware River?
Tom Johnson | Energy & Environment
Opponents worry that loophole in bill on governor’s desk will allow fracking waste to be discharged into river
Murphy Administration Keeps Expanding Access to Medical Marijuana
Lilo H. Stainton | Healthcare
Proposal would let patients get medical marijuana prescriptions from physicians who treat their underlying disease or symptoms of that disease, like pain and nausea
Repollet Walks Back Stance on School Aid, Says He’s Open to Compromise
John Mooney | Education
Administration’s willingness to shift gears may get acting commissioner through the full confirmation process
Who’s in the Money? NJ’s 2018 Congressional Primaries — And Sole Senate Race
Colleen O'Dea | Politics
With the first quarter reports filed, this year’s contests are already shaping up to be expensive
Op-Ed: Minority Student Program at 50 — Still Centerpiece of Rutgers Law
Paul L. Tractenberg | Opinion
At the half-century mark, Rutgers’ MSP has transformed the face of legal education at the school where it began and across the country
Governor Signs Law Adding New Jersey to List of ‘Motor Voter’ States
NJTV News | Politics
Automatic voter registration at motor vehicle agencies for Garden State, and Republicans lawmakers not too happy about that prospect

April 17, 2018

Students’ Lives Are Priceless, But School Security Can Break the Budget
Carly Sitrin | Education
After Sandy Hook and Parkland, schools need military-grade imaging, metal detectors, wands, magnetic locks, ID card scanners, and surveillance cameras with livestream capabilities
ACUA’s Battery-Storage System, First Financed by NJ's Clean Energy Fund
Tom Johnson | Energy & Environment
Atlantic County Utilities Authority will back up wastewater treatment plant — powered in part by solar and wind — if grid goes down
Do We Need to Talk? — There’s a Push to Increase End-of-Life Planning in NJ
Lilo H. Stainton | Healthcare
Proponents point to higher rate of aggressive medical treatment and higher costs for patients nearing death in Garden State
Opinion: Saving the ACA, One Step at a Time
Joel C. Cantor | Opinion
New Jersey lawmakers have passed two bills that would maintain important features of the Affordable Care Act
Murphy Close to Restoring Enterprise Zones in 5 Cash-Strapped Communities
John Reitmeyer | Politics
Move would reverse former Gov. Christie’s decision to strip UEZs from Bridgeton, Camden, Newark, Plainfield, and Trenton

April 16, 2018

Whether Undocumented Students Get State Financial Aid Now Down to Murphy
Colleen O'Dea | Immigration
Immigrants, advocacy groups look to Democratic governor to sign off on financial aid program that would help New Jersey’s undocumented students attend college
Clean Vehicles Face Long, Bumpy Road to Acceptance in New Jersey
Tom Johnson | Energy & Environment
New Jersey Clean Air Council reviews roadblocks to wider adoption of zero-emission vehicles — cost, charging infrastructure, lack of public awareness
Horizon Leads Opioid Awareness and Prevention Program Focused on Youth
Lilo H. Stainton | Healthcare
Program with Rutgers pharmacy school touched nearly 2,000 kids in past year
One on One with Paymon Rouhanifard, Camden’s Departing Superintendent
John Mooney | Education
Rouhanifard fields questions about progress in Camden, rise of charters, carrying his work forward, statewide exams, and coaching b-ball at Camden High
The Goal Is Economic Growth, the Question Is How Best to Get There
John Reitmeyer | Budget
For Gov. Murphy, investments and tax hikes would deliver the revenue to fuel expansion, but members of his own party are adamantly opposed to higher taxes
Op-Ed: For New Jersey State Aid, Let Money ‘Follow the Child’
Jeffrey Bennett | Opinion
The School Funding Reform Act directs that the money it awards should ‘follow the child,’ but its own requirements make it impossible to do so
ICE Moves to Deport Egyptian Dissident Who Says He Faces Hanging Back Home
Matt Katz | WNYC News | Immigration
Ahmed Abdelbasit, who teaches physics in an Islamic school, applied for asylum but was picked up by ICE because he was not a legal resident

April 13, 2018

Lawmakers Want Voters to Approve $1B Bond Issue for School Safety and Vo-Techs
John Reitmeyer | Budget
Original bond was for $500M to upgrade NJ’s vocational-technical and community colleges, but legislators want to double it to improve school security
With Little Fuss or Fanfare, Legislature Passes Clean-Energy Bills
Tom Johnson | Energy & Environment
Murphy and Sweeney both get what they want, but how will consumers feel about shouldering the burden of more subsidies?
NJ Set to Enact Insurance Law, So Is this the End of ‘Surprise’ Medical Bills?
Lilo H. Stainton | Healthcare
Most interest groups support controversial measure to control out-of-network insurance costs, but many physicians unhappy
Beyond Signs and Slogans: What Does Rutgers’ Adjunct Faculty Want?
Carly Sitrin | Education
Part-time lecturers are asking for pay equity, affordable healthcare, and job security. Rutgers says it can’t afford to fund those requests
Opinion: Despite Potential Savings, New Jersey Has No Urge to Merge
Carl Golden | Opinion
Consolidation has been a tough sell in the Garden State, as Sen. Sweeney has found. Residents want their ‘own’ police, fire departments, and elected officials
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