Presented by Anbaric Development Partners

Good Tuesday morning!

Justice Jaynee Lavecchia yesterday gave Gov. Murphy and Senate President Sweeney a big gift: She announced her Aug. 31 retirement

years earlier than she needed to.

Murphys ability to reshape the court in his first term has been limited. He appointed Fabiana Pierre Louis to replace Walter Timpone. But that was the only mark he was expected to leave on the court during this term. While three other justices were or are up for tenure during this term Anne Patterson in 2018, Faustino Fernandez-Vina last year and Lee Solomon come June Murphy pledged to abide by the precedent of re-nominating justices for tenure and avoid the kinds of fights Chris Christie got himself into.

Now LaVecchias early retirement gives Murphy a chance not just to put another new justice on the court ahead of his reelection effort, but to tilt it in favor of Democrats. LaVecchia is an independent, but she was a Christie Whitman appointee and staffer or cabinet member in two Republican administrations. Democrats have viewed her as a Republican, even though she hasnt really stuck out for her conservative decisions. Now, assuming Murphy picks a Democrat, the court will go from 3-3 with 1 independent whom Democrats counted as Republican to a clear 4-3 Democratic majority.

How much does this matter in the long run? Im not sure. The courts recent landmark decisions that come to the top of my head last years decision allowing the state to borrow billions during the pandemic, for instance, or the 2013 ruling that effectively legalized gay marriage have been unanimous. But it cant hurt Democrats.

And as for Sweeney? Hell be in charge of confirming a Supreme Court pick, and that could give the Senate some leverage over Murphy.

WHERES MURPHY In Paterson at 3 p.m. for a vaccine site visit.

CORONAVIRUS TRACKER: 2,201 newly-reported positive PCR tests for a total of 722,997. 20 more deaths for a total of 21,193 (and 2,397 probable deaths). 1,786 hospitalized, 393 in intensive care. 854,001 second doses administered, or about 9.6 percent of the population.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: Theres no good reason other than putting off difficult paperwork in the crunch of my responsibilities.U.S. Rep. Tom Malinowski on his failure to disclose stock trades.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY Assemblymember Joe Danielsen, Missed yesterday: Murphy staffer Deb Cornavaca

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New Jersey is leading the race to scale offshore wind, taking groundbreaking steps like announcing a first-in-the-nation transmission only solicitation. Now, NJ will need a partner that can deliver on this bold vision. With extensive experience building transmission systems, Anbaric is the company New Jersey can trust to achieve our clean energy goals. Visit nj.anbaric.comto learn more.

WHAT TRENTON MADE

CLEAN UP ON AISLE 420 Murphy: I’m open to clarifying underage possession penalties, by POLITICOs Sam Sutton: Murphy said Monday he is open to legislation that would change a new law that bars law enforcement officers from notifying parents if their child is caught with cannabis or alcohol. A bill being proposed by Sen. Vin Gopal (D-Monmouth) could serve as a cleanup for legislation Murphy signed into law last month. The previous bill which set penalties for underage possession of cannabis and alcohol, had been the linchpin to the states tortuous path to legalizing and decriminalizing marijuana for adults. Gopal said in an interview Monday he expects to introduce the new cleanup bill on Tuesday.

THE ANTI-GARDEN STATE Scutari, Sweeney working on marijuana home grow bill, by New Jersey Globes Nikita Biryukov: Top-ranking Democrats in the Senate are working to draft a bill on homegrown marijuana, but the legislation likely wont allow New Jerseyans to grow their own cannabis, the New Jersey Globe has learned. The first topic was really the significance of the penalties for home growing right now. Its like drug manufacturing, a serious felony charge, said State Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Linden). You do a lot of years if you get caught growing your own marijuana right now, so theres been just some initial discussions if maybe those penalties are too severe.

Now that marijuana is legal in NJ, can you get fired for smoking weed? It’s complicated

Theres a push to change new N.J. law on underage weed, alcohol penalties. Murphy says he supports it

YOURE SO VAINIERI. YOU PROBABLY THINK THIS RACE IS ABOUT YOU The battle for Bergen’s Senate seat signals a civil war for NJ Democrats, by The Records Charles Stile: Huttle’s charge that the party machine was against her resonated beyond Bergen County. To some, it implied that Johnson’s endorsement was a hard-wired command from Trenton, where Senate President Stephen Sweeney was also working behind the scenes in favor of Johnson, a more conventional team player, rather than for Huttle, who is more independent. It is far more likely that Gordon Johnson is a definitive vote for Sweeney than Valerie is,’ said Sue Altman, statewide director for the New Jersey Working Families Alliance, a leading political grassroots advocacy group that has clashed with Sweeney and other prominent South Jersey Democratic leaders. That suspicion is also fueled by the reality that two prominent Bergen Democrats Weinberg, the state Senate majority leader, and state Sen. Paul Sarlo, chairman of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee are among Sweeney’s closest allies. Sweeney and Sarlo did not respond to messages seeking comment, but Weinberg has said the suggestion that Sweeney was trying to line up a party endorsement for Johnson was ridiculous.

While were on the topic of LD37, tonight could be a pivotal moment in the race. The Bergen County Democrats credentials committee will meet with candidates. Presumably theyll discuss Assembly candidate Alexandra Soriano-Taveras remarks about boycotting Teaneck businesses, which has been criticized as anti-Semitic. Gordon Johnson, whose slate Soriano-Taveras is supposed to be running on, has been critical of the remark. And Bergen County Democrats have been struggling with whether to try to spike the candidacy. Expect them to decide tonight. Palisades Park Mayor Christopher Chung, the other Assembly candidate on Johnsons ticket, has his own issues with his towns governance

.

CORONA CLERICS Judge stays lawsuit challenging New Jerseys capacity limit on religious gatherings, by POLITICOs Matt Friedman: Two clerics who sued Gov. Phil Murphys administration over capacity limits for religious gatherings during the pandemic have agreed to put the case on hold. U.S. District Court Judge Claire Cecchi granted a stay in the case on Feb. 25 after a Murphy executive order raised the limit on such gatherings. The parties wish to now advise that they are jointly amenable to an administrative stay of any and all further proceedings in this action, Assistant Attorney General Daniel M. Vannella wrote to Checchi on Feb. 24. Cecchi granted the stay the next day. News of the stay has not been previously reported.

BRINE TIME What it cost to keep NJs highways safe and salted through all those winter storms, by NJ Spotlights John Reitmeyer: Dozens of winter storms that have left piles of snow and ice across New Jersey have also put a dent in the state budget. The Department of Transportation has spent more than $120 million on winter operations to help keep state highways safe for motorists, officials said. Thats almost three times what was needed for the same purpose during the 2019-2020 winter season. To cover the increase in spending this winter on things like rock salt and brine, Gov. Phil Murphys administration is planning to add $95 million onto what was originally earmarked for winter operations, according to the latest budget documents released by the Department of Treasury.

WALKING THE LINE Davis picks Sampson IV to replace Chiaravalloti on the HCDO line in LD-31 Assembly race, by Hudson County Views John Heinis: Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis has selected William Sampson IV, a longshoreman and crane operator, to replace Assemblyman Nick Chiaravalloti (D-31) on the Hudson County Democratic Organization line in the June 8th primary Davis also mentions that Sampson graduated from Bayonne High School in 2007, is a crane operator for Global Container Terminal, and a member of the International Longshoremans Association Local 1588 where he serves as a political liaison and holds several board committee positions. At the end of last month, Davis told Chiaravalloti … that he would not have his support to run on the Democratic party line.

Kids need summer school more than ever, but N.J. educators worry about burnout

Long MVC lines are gone thanks to online transactions, appointments. Will the fixes stick post-COVID?

NJ Transit revising job description for customer advocate as position remains unfilled

It saved my life. N.J. parolees just out of prison get extra help dealing with addiction

$100M could be on the way for N.J. small businesses, restaurants, bars, daycare centers

Cyberattack hits NJ employee portal containing sensitive data. What you need to know

Steinberg: Cuomo is politically finished but Ciattarellis attempt to link Cuomo and Murphy will abjectly fail

Persichilli: Vaccine shopping will put you at the back of the line

Black business leader [Randall Pinkett] criticizes Murphy for COVID-19 response to underserved communities

All six chiropractors who voted to restore license of sex offender resign

Sciortino announces Bordentown city commissioner candidacy

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BIDEN TIME

MUY MALINOWSKI Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski is hit with two congressional ethics complaints following Insider’s report that he didn’t disclose dozens of stock trades, by Business Insiders Dave Levinthal: A pair of nonprofit watchdog organizations on Monday filed separate congressional ethics complaints against Rep. Tom Malinowski, a New Jersey Democrat, following revelations by Insider that the congressman failed to disclose dozens of stock trades worth at least $671,000. The two groups the Campaign Legal Center and Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust asked the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate Malinowski, whose office last week described the disclosure failures as an ‘oversight’ that the congressman is working to correct.

ATTENTION CHRIS SMITH Feds arrest NJ man who guarded Roger Stone at deadly Jan. 6, by The AP: Another two men wanted in the deadly riot at the Capitol were arrested over the weekend, including a Warren County man who reportedly served as a bodyguard to former President Donald Trump’s longtime political confidant Roger Stone, federal authorities said Monday. Roberto Minuta breached the Capitol grounds and aggressively berated and taunted U.S. Capitol police officers during the Jan. 6 insurrection, the FBI said in court papers. Minuta, 36, of Hackettstown, had been equipped with military-style attire and gear, including apparel emblazoned with a crest related to the Oath Keepers, the FBI said, referring to the far-right antigovernment militia.

What the US should do with Saudi Arabia: A Q&A with Rep. Tom Malinowski

Watson Coleman leery of stimulus bill as it currently stands

LOCAL

ESCORT SERVICE Saddle Brook police chief ordered illegal police escorts for his funeral home, state says, by The Records Steve Janoski: Saddle Brook’s police chief allegedly ordered on-duty officers under his command to provide police escorts for processions leaving his private business a township funeral home the New Jersey attorney general announced Monday. State authorities charged Robert Kugler, 59, of Saddle Brook with conspiracy, official misconduct and corruption of public resources for allegedly ordering subordinate officers to work the processions John Bruno, Kugler’s Rutherford attorney, said the chief was ‘shocked and outraged’ by the allegations. The chief intends to defend against these charges vigorously and looks forward to clearing his name, Bruno said He was also widely considered the Republican Party’s front-runner to challenge incumbent Democrat Anthony Cureton this fall in the Bergen County sheriff’s race.

TOKESBURY Why this N.J. county has the potential to become a leader in cannabis cultivation, by NJ Advance Medias Caroline Fasset: Murphys recent legislative approval for production of marijuana in the Garden State will impact specific counties across the region, according to a member of the New Jersey Cannabis Trade Association. However, he and other cannabis experts believe that Hunterdon County has the potential to become a robust cultivation center if applicants seize opportunities here and towns approve of adult-use cannabis. According to Todd Johnson, treasurer for the state Cannabis Trade Association and the head of operations for Justice Cannabis Co., cultivation facilities or greenhouses where marijuana is grown require large amounts of land up to two, three, four, even five acres of land’… ‘In that respect, Hunterdon County is an excellent cultivation location because the availability of land is much more prevalent than in urban centers,’ Johnson said.

THE TOXICITY OF OUR CITY, OF OUR CITY Blakeley apologizes, admits Trenton toxicity at rock bottom, by InsiderNJs Max Pizarro: He actually said it nearly a year ago, referring to Council President Kathy McBride as an illiterate crackhead prostitute during a coronavirus briefing on April 6. The grotesque remark surfaced last month. Today, Blakeley apologized but stood by his decision not to resign, and said he understands the episode as a lesson and an opportunity to work toward improving the rhetoric at City Hall and working to restore trust. Ill just say this my colleagues have been silent on racism, homophobia, threats of violence, anti Semitism etc., he said. They didnt even pass an anti bias resolution last meeting. They are attacking me for a year old comment for political purposes.

DISTRICT DETERMINES THEY WILL NOT NEED HIM NOR FEED HIM NOW THAT HES 64 Superintendent, 64, files suit alleging school board says its going younger, declines to renew contract, by NJ Advance Medias Anthony G. Attrino: A school superintendent in Sussex County has filed a discrimination lawsuit against the Lenape Valley Regional Board of Education, claiming his contract was not renewed because they want someone younger to fill his shoes. Paul DiRupo, 64, claims in court papers the boards president, Richard Kuncken, told him in December that his contract would not be renewed because the board was going younger. The comment was made following a board meeting in which the members voted not to renew DiRupos contract, according to the suit filed last month in Superior Court of Sussex County.

JERSEY CITY Jersey City to allocate all of their COVID-19 vaccines to teachers, BOE staff next week, by Hudson County Views John Heinis: The City of Jersey City will allocate all of their COVID-19 vaccines to teachers and other board of education staff next week in hopes of allowing the public schools to reopen for the final marking period of the year. Weve been waiting for restrictions to be lifted so that we can inoculate teachers and meet the communitys call to get students back to in-person learning as quickly as possible, and now that weve reached that point, were prepared to dedicate the necessary resources to safely and swiftly reopen classrooms, Mayor Steven Fulop said in a statement.

MONMOUTH COUNTY Monmouth taxpayers can’t be stripped of NJ rights under property tax program, judge rules, by The Asbury Park Press Susanne Cervenka: Monmouth taxpayers can’t be stripped of NJ rights under property tax program, judge Monmouth County taxpayers are still entitled to another protection that they had been told was stripped away with the advent of a controversial property tax pilot program, a New Jersey Tax Court judge ruled. The ruling from New Jersey Tax Court Judge Mala Sundar was the most recent decision against the Monmouth County Assessment Demonstration Program, which radically changed how the property tax values are determined. To date, Monmouth County is the only county that participates in the pilot program, which was created in 2013 and was supposed to last five years.ules

THE WRATH OF KHAN After Moran takes a knee in Camden, activist Khan considers the mayoral terrain, by InsiderNJs Max PIzarro: One person who wasnt really surprised by what went down was local Pastor Amir Khan, who would like to run for mayor this year in defiance of a party structure that ultimately genuflects at the secular altar of George Norcross III. We are still exploring it; weve been exploring it, said Khan Moran, said Khan, didnt make his own decision, of course. They pulled the plug on him. Its absolutely not his decision, Khan said..

Atlantic City Democratic mayoral candidate says he was proud to support Trump for president

Visitors willing to return to Atlantic City, according to survey

The Springfield Inn in Sea Isle was being demolished. Its beloved cover band was trying not to die of COVID-19

Hudson County progressives call for local Democratic org to end county line

Haddonfield Mayor Neal Rochford say he won’t run again

[Cape May County] fighting AGs ability to limit cooperation with feds over immigration

Suit claims South Jersey police chief left message for informant on wrong voicemail

Did you know that POLITICO Pro has coverage and tools at the state level? All the state legislative and regulatory tracking, budget documents, state agency contact information, and everything else you need to stay ahead of state policy movement integrate into our smart and customizable platform. Learn more and become a Pro today.

EVERYTHING ELSE

Arabs, Muslims report hundreds of discrimination claims each year. Here’s one NJ story

APP reporter lawsuit for arrest while covering Black Lives Matter protest can proceed: Judge

Former N.J. cop admits running $3M prescription drug fraud while on the force

A message from Anbaric Development Partners:

With a bold vision of creating 7500 MW of wind energy by 2035, New Jersey is leading the race to scale the offshore wind industry, but a major question remains: How will we transport that energy back to shore? The answer is planned transmission, the most efficient, economic, and environmentally friendly way to bring offshore wind power to New Jerseys homes and businesses.

Acknowledging the considerable benefits of a planned transmission approach, the BPU announced late last year that the state, alongside PJM, will issue a first-in-the-nation transmission-only solicitation in early 2021. Now, New Jersey will need a partner that can deliver on this transformative opportunity.

With extensive experience building transmission systems, Anbaric is the company New Jersey can trust to achieve our states clean energy goals. Anbaric is committed to scaling the offshore wind industry while protecting ratepayers and the environment. Visit nj.anbaric.comto learn more.