I. State Issues
a. COVID-19 Update
Yesterday Governor Murphy announced there were 3,489 additional positive results since the day before, and 182 deaths. These results will likely increase in the days and weeks ahead, particularly as more testing sites are set up. That brings the statewide totals to 25,590 positive results and 537 COVID-19 related deaths. The negative cases are 33,520. The Governor noted that the number of deaths is not real time because there is a lag in confirming deaths by COVID-19. The Governor will release updates numbers at his 1 pm press briefing today.
In addition, the Department of Health has a COVID-19 dashboard that is updated daily. The dashboard includes the number of both positive and negative test.
The Commissioner of Health noted that it is predicted that we would see the statewide surge the second week in April with the northern part of the state to begin to see the surge the first week in April.
By an agreement between the Legislature and Administration the State Budget will be delayed until September 30. They will be making temporary appropriations to continue state operations. The League has reached out to the Governor’s office and State Legislative Leaders on the potential impact on local budgets. We will provide you with updates as we receive them.
Last week the League presented a free webinar for its membership, which provided an overview of Governor Murphy’s Executive Order, recently enacted State laws in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, legislation under consideration, Administrative Orders and Attorney General directive and a summary of the Federal CARES act.
The presentation is available both in PowerPoint format as well as a PDF document. While the information is a week old, you can still use this presentation, which includes links to the source materials, as a reference document.
Additional updates related to the current state of emergency:
- The Department of Health has issued waivers on the number of crew members need for ambulance to operate. Basic Life Support Services (BLS) waiver allows a rig to have 1 EMT and 1 First Responder instead of the required 2 EMTS. Advance Life Support Services waiver allows 1 EMT with either 1 paramedic or 1 mobile intensive care nurse instead of 2 EMTs with either 2 Registered Nurses or 1 Registered Nurse and 1 EMT.
- Attorney General issued guidelines on prescribing hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine due to concerns of potential drug shortages.
- The Governor has issued an Executive Order permitting the State Police to commandeer medical supplies such as N95 masks, PPE, ventilators, respirators, and anesthesia machines to distribute to acute care facilities, hospitals and other frontline workers.
- The Governor issued an administrative order permitting Blood Drives.
- The Division of Local Government Service issued Operational Guidance to Zoning Boards and Planning Boards regarding remote meetings and hearings.
- The Division of Local Government Service issued guidance to municipalities clarifying employee leave time and staffing FAQs published by the Civil Service Commission.
Contact: Michael F. Cerra, Assistant Executive Director, email@example.com, 609-695-3481 x120.
b. Property Tax Deadline Options
We have received many inquiries regarding the May 1 property tax deadline. We have communicated these issues to the Administration. We will advise you of any guidance provided.
In the meantime we suggest you review N.J.S.A. 54:4-67 with your Tax Collector and Chief Financial Officer for possible options.
c. Joint Federal-State COVID-19 Task Force Will Prosecute Wrongdoers
U.S. Attorney for New Jersey Craig Carpenito, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal, and New Jersey Acting State Comptroller Kevin D. Walsh have announced the formation of a joint federal-state task force to investigate and prosecute a wide range of misconduct arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, including the unlawful hoarding of medical supplies, price gouging, charity scams, procurement fraud, insurance fraud, phishing schemes, and false and misleading investment opportunities. See the AG's COVID-19 Task Force Press Release for more details.
The New Jersey COVID-19 Fraud Task Force will form joint investigative and prosecution teams to quickly address fraud complaints. In addition, the Task Force will share information publicly about common frauds so individuals and businesses can better protect themselves. Residents are encouraged to report possible misconduct through a hotline established by the National Center for Disaster Fraud at (866) 720-5721 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Complainants may remain anonymous.
Please share this information with your citizens.
Residents Should Report COVID-19 Related Fraud, Hoarding, Price Gouging to the New Jersey COVID-19 Task Force.
To report misconduct:
Call the Disaster Hotline at 866-720-5721; or Send an e-mail to email@example.com
Contact: Jon Moran, Senior Legislative Analyst, firstname.lastname@example.org, 609-695-3481 x121.
d. Clarification of Business Operations and Additional Businesses Added as Essential under EO 107
Governor Murphy and State Police Colonel Patrick Callahan, this week, enacted Administrative Order 2020-06 amending which businesses are permitted to operate and clarifying ways in which some businesses may operate in accordance with Executive Order No. 107 as follows:
Individual appointments to view real estate with realtors by individuals or families shall be considered essential retail business. Open houses are still considered impermissible gatherings.
Car dealers may continue to conduct online sales or remote sales that are consistent with current law. In the event of such a sale, the car may be delivered to the purchaser or the purchaser can pick up the car curbside or in the dealership service lane.
In accordance with the guidance released by the federal Department of Homeland Security, effective Tuesday, March 31, 2020, at 8:00 a.m., firearms retailers are permitted to operate – by appointment only and during limited hours – to conduct business which, under law, must be done in person. The NICS background check system will be up and running to process firearms purchases.
Golf courses are considered recreational and entertainment business that must close to the public and to members associated with private golf clubs.
In addition, the Governor also announced that the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (“ABC”) will be issuing guidance to allow microbreweries/brewpubs to provide home delivery to their customers. Home delivery had been prevented because of a ruling issued last May – ABC decided to relax that ruling today and allow for home delivery. For more information on the ABC’s guidance please see the League’s recent blog post.
II. Federal Issue
a. CARES Act State and Local Stabilization Aid
Posted on our Town Crier blog is a Federal Cares Act Update. It provides information on the $150 Brillion State and Local Stabilization Aid component of the massive $2.2 Trillion CARES Act. These funds can only be used to fund extraordinary costs, caused by COVID-19. These must be costs over and above funding included in each entity’s current operating budget. They cannot be used to cover revenues not collected, as a result of the financial impact of the Coronavirus on taxpayers.
The State of New Jersey is slated to receive $3.444 Billion. Of that total, a minimum of $1.894 Billion is earmarked for State use. The balance - $1.550 Billion COULD be distributed to ‘qualifying’ local governments.
But the definition of ‘local government’ in the Act needs clarification. Our partners at the National League of Cities (NLC) have launched an effort to secure CARES Act funding for all COVID-19 impacted municipalities, regardless of size. NLC Executive Director Clarence Anthony has written to U.S. Treasurer Steve Mnuchin, requesting a favorable interpretation of the new law.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has recognized this, and other problems that needs to be addressed and has opened discussions with the U.S. Treasurer on another COVID-19 response bill.
The Speaker had stated that the next bill should include provisions to help states and municipalities bridge the revenue gaps that will arise due to postponed tax payments and lower collection rates. Since then, attention has turned to a major infrastructure package. There is nothing wrong with that. But the need for funding to cover State and local revenue shortfalls should remain a priority. As you know, New Jersey municipalities collect property taxes on behalf of school districts and counties, as well as for their own local purposes. Only aid provided directly to municipalities, of whatever size, can help fill the gaps that all local governments will experience.
Please reach out to Senators Menendez and Booker and your Member of the House of Representatives immediately. We need to insist that stabilization aid be provided directly to MUNICIPALITIES, of whatever size.
Federal Departments and agencies are currently at work, developing procedures for funding distributions, and application advice for provisions subject to an application process. For information on other components of this massive bill, see our March 25 CARES Act Preliminary Snapshot. We will keep you posted.
Contact: Jon Moran, Senior Legislative Analyst, email@example.com, 609-695-3481 x121.
III. Annual League Conference
a. Claim Your CEUs from the 2019 League Conference
Attention Municipal Officials! Do Not Forget to Claim Your CEUs from the 2019 NJLM Annual Conference! Visit the Conference Tracking page to claim your credits.
IV. Also of Interest
a. Earn Ethics CEU’s Online!
Preventing Sexual Harassment in Your Municipal Workplace Webinar
Friday, April 17, 2020
11:00 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.
Location: Your Computer
CEUs: CMFO/CCFO-1.5 Eth;CTC-1.5 Eth;CPWM-1.5 Eth;RMC-1.5 Eth;QPA-1.5 Eth;NJCLE-1.5 Eth; RPPO/RPPS-1.0 Eth; Planning/Zoning Board Secretary-1.0 Admin; Zoning Officier-1.0 Admin; Land Use Administrator-1.0 Admin
Event Details for April 17 Preventing Sexual Harassment Webinar