New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission chief administrator Brenda Fulton took some heat today from several lawmakers on the long delays motorists face to obtain their driving licenses during a hearing of the House Budget Committee.
Committee Chair Eliana Pintor Marin (D-Essex) and Assembly Member Harold Wirths (R-Sussex) asked the admin why there wasn’t a higher percentage of full-time employees at DMV sites and more than 30-day waits for residents to receive their driver’s licenses.
“If I were you, I wouldn’t be happy to have 60 days of waiting for any type of transaction. said Pintor Marin.
60 to 65% of full-time employees are on site, up from 80% before the pandemic, Fulton said, citing an increase in leave of absences normally due to Covid-19. She also noted that transaction delays generally only apply to novice drivers and that the majority of transactions are processed within days.
“No one waits more than a week, unless they’ve never had a license before,” Fulton said. “That’s where we’re working on the 55-day wait.”
Waiting at the DMV is a hot issue in the state.
The agency moved 80% of its business online and long lines plagued the sites, especially for a few months after they reopened in 2020, when New Jerseyans camped overnight and bought pitches online.
Wirths went so far as to criticize Fulton’s leadership.
“I really don’t know what to say. You don’t understand,” Wirths said. “The buck stops at the top, and I just don’t think you’re capable of solving problems.”
ALLEGATIONS OF REDISTRICTIONS — Princeton University’s internal investigation of Princeton Gerrymandering Project Director Sam Wang found no “credible allegations” of partisan data manipulation for New Jersey’s congressional redistricting process, reports Matt Friedman of POLITICO.
“Based on an initial review conducted after the work of the Congressional Redistricting Commission concluded, the university is not aware of any credible allegations of data manipulation regarding the work product provided to the commission,” said Michael Hotchkiss, director of media relations at Princeton University, in a statement. statement.
Wang had been accused by members of his team of manipulating data to favor Democrats in redrawing state district boundaries and creating a toxic work environment, which the New Jersey Globe reported for the first time last week.
COVID NUMBERS — New Jersey today reported 1,339 confirmed positive Covid-19 tests and two deaths from the virus. The state’s seven-day average is up 21% from a week ago and 142% from a month ago.
FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: SMOKING AT THE CASINO — Another union is in favor of legislation banning smoking in indoor casinos. UFCW Local 152 – which represents approximately 16,000 workers in the southern Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware areas, but no casino employees – says the time has come to ban smoking in casinos.
“As we have learned from the pandemic, if workers are not healthy, the economy suffers,” UFCW Local 152 President Brian String said in a statement. “Our brothers and sisters deserve a smoke-free work environment, period. Healthy casino employees will help casinos succeed and fuel a thriving local economy, which benefits all of us here in New Jersey.
UFCW Local 152 joins the United Auto Workers Union, which represents casino concessionaires, as labor groups in the region supporting a smoking ban.
Atlantic City’s main casino union, UNITE HERE Local 54, opposes a smoking ban in casinos, citing concerns about potential job losses or financial hardship due to a smoking ban. — Daniel Han
“New Jersey’s plastic bag ban poses greater challenges for low-income people with disabilities, advocates say,” by Steven Rodas of NJ Advance Media: “With days of New Jersey’s strict ban on single-use plastic, paper and polystyrene taking effect, questions have only piled up for low-income and disabled residents,” the authorities said. advocates at NJ Advance Media.
“Governor Phil Murphy signed the law on November 4, 2020, creating an 18-month track to help people prepare for the ban and provide free resources. But while many are in favor of environmentally friendly measures environment, some organizations said many of the best details of the new restrictions were not effectively communicated to all communities. Resources, they added, are also still badly needed.
“Social Equity in the Pot Industry Ahead, Says NJ,” by Taylor Jung of NJ Spotlight News: “It has been more than a week since recreational pot sales began in New Jersey, with 13 white-owned dispensaries being the first to take advantage of what is expected to be a lucrative market. The state’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission said just 12 stores had nearly $2 million in first-day sales alone.
“While it had been known for some time that these white-owned businesses would be allowed to open first, social justice advocates were stung by the lack of Black-, Indigenous-, or people-owned businesses. of color, especially given the continued reassurance of the state and laws to ensure racial justice. According to Leafly’s 2021 Seeds of Change report, only 2% of legally operated cannabis companies in the country are black-owned. Meanwhile, blacks in New Jersey are more than three times more likely to be arrested for possession of marijuana than their white counterparts. New Jersey also ranked 11th in the nation for the highest black marijuana arrest rates.
“NJ’s highest court to weigh recommendations to reduce bias in jury selection”, by Dana Difilippo of the New Jersey Monitor: “New Jersey courts would ask potential jurors their race, ethnicity and gender, allow people with certain criminal convictions to serve on juries and pay jurors more, if the state Supreme Court adopts the recommendations made. last week to reduce bias in jury selection.
“The Judicial Conference Committee on Jury Selection made 25 recommendations in a 63-page reportadvise how the state should expand jury pools and make jury selection fairer.
“Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner established the committee after the state’s highest court last July unanimously overturned the conviction in a murder case because they said prosecutors had likely acted with “implied or unconscious bias” in asking to exclude a black man from the jury.”
— A $1 million Powerball ticket was bought at a convenience store in Passaic County.
— A small plane bound for Maryland was forced make an emergency landing in Bergen County.
— Defenders compare fears on Middlesex County High School ‘cancer band’ to the infamous 1990s contamination of the water supply system at Toms River.
— Black and Hispanic students have the lowest enrollment in AP classes.