Saturday, July 12, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

POSTED: Friday, July 11, 2014, 11:19 AM

During a routine business meeting in a conference room in Trenton on Thursday, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority approved its third largest tax break in state history — $260 million for a new manufacturing plant on the waterfront in Camden.

The unanimous vote was remarkable in that it is yet another indication that Camden – routinely derided as the poorest and most dangerous city in America – has become something of a laboratory for Gov. Chris Christie to experiment with urban renewal.

Through a mix of state intervention in police and schools, tax incentives for large businesses and a personal touch with local Democratic politicos, Christie has created a potential legacy for his governorship and a platform for winning swing voters in a 2016 presidential race.

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POSTED: Friday, July 11, 2014, 5:15 AM

John Degnan, the former Democratic attorney-general whom Gov. Chris Christie tapped to take over the chairmanship of the embattled Port Authority, told the Senate Judiciary Committee at his confirmation hearing yesterday that he believed the politically motivated closure of George Washington Bridge was an “outrageous misuse of office.” Had he been in charge, he added, he would have fired those responsible.

But Degnan, who has served over the years in sensitive troubleshooting capacities for a succession of Democratic and Republican governors and Supreme Court chief justices, also said that he did not regard his new role of Port Authority chairman to be that of an independent reformer. Christie’s and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s power to veto any and all Port Authority actions meant that he would have to be accountable to both governors, Degnan noted.

With the Port Authority under investigation by six federal and state agencies and committees in the wake of the Bridgegate scandal, the committee questioned Degnan for more than three hours on his views on the future role and restructuring of the Port Authority, the degree to which he would be independent of Christie, and how to empower Port Authority employees to stand up to improper political interference.

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POSTED: Friday, July 11, 2014, 5:14 AM
Transportation is one of the areas identified by a panel for New Jersey to focus on to lessen the pollution that contributes to climate change. (Content That Works)

The biggest challenge to reducing the greenhouse-gas emissions that contribute to climate change in the state is to do so without imposing an unfair cost burden on residents and businesses, according to a new report submitted to the Legislature.

The report is the work of a study group set up by lawmakers to identify ways to comply with an aggressive goal of cutting back pollution that leads to global warming, reducing carbon emissions by 80 percent from 2006 levels by 2050. It recommends that the state focus on three key areas to achieve those targets:

transportation; heating and building; and energy production.

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POSTED: Friday, July 11, 2014, 5:13 AM

A bill that was promoted as a way to increase health-insurance options for small businesses is meeting fierce opposition from consumer advocates who see it as a threat to the new federal health insurance marketplace in the state.

The legislation, S-2220/A-3421, would make it easier to launch Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangements (MEWAs), which allow groups of employers to self-insure rather than buy commercial plans from insurers.

The bill was not controversial when it advanced rapidly through the state Assembly after being introduced on June 16, culminating in that body approving it by a 79-0 vote two weeks later.

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POSTED: Friday, July 11, 2014, 5:12 AM

The recovery of New Jersey's economy may continue to be slow, but one sector -- the self-employed and other businesses without paid employees -- has been steadily increasing, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Statistics released last spring for nonemployer businesses (like a CPA or a freelance writer) show that both the number and the total receipts have been rising in New Jersey and in most of its counties. Statewide, there were 620,282 businesses without paid employees in 2012, an increase of a little less than 1 percent from 2011 and up 5 percent over 2007, the year in which the recession officially began. Receipts for those businesses rose to $35 billion, a 3 percent increase over one year and 8 percent higher than in 2007.

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POSTED: Friday, July 11, 2014, 5:11 AM

What a difference a year makes. The Christie administration this week introduced new code for special-education services that skipped over most of the hot-button topics on how to serve students with disabilities.

The new administrative code submitted to the State Board of Education on Wednesday contained changes that were mostly technical in nature, officials said.

The one exception was a new requirement enacted by the state Legislature and signed by Gov. Chris Christie that raised the profile of dyslexia as a reading disorder, although further guidelines remain pending.

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POSTED: Friday, July 11, 2014, 5:05 AM

The state Economic Development Authority approved a tax break package of $260 million over 10 years for Holtec International, an energy-products supplier based in Evesham Township in Burlington County.

In return for the tax break, the company said it would move 160 employees to the Camden waterfront and hire an additional 235.

The chief executive officer of Holtec International is an associate of George Norcross, the Democratic powerbroker who hails from Camden. Holtec is designing a small, remote nuclear reactor that will be safer and cleaner, enabling it to reduce greenhouse gases.

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POSTED: Wednesday, July 9, 2014, 5:11 AM

The tiny village of Bay Point was pretty much overlooked when Hurricane Sandy pounded New Jersey – except by the killer storm itself, which destroyed 10 homes and severely damaged nearly three dozen more in the small coastal community located in Lawrence Township,Cumberland County, along the Delaware Bay.

Now residents are trying to decide whether to sell their flood-prone properties to the state through New Jersey’s Blue Acres program, which has earmarked $10 million to acquire properties in Bay Point.

Before the storm leveled their home, Mike and Kate Nelson described the place where he grew up as "a little piece of heaven on earth."

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