Murphy signs legislation enabling municipalities, counties to borrow to cover revenue shortfalls

    Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation that authorizes municipalities and counties to borrow funds to cover revenue shortfalls and expenditures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, by issuing bonds and notes.

    “The COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing economic crisis has left no corner of our state untouched,” Murphy said in a statement. “In the absence of much-needed federal assistance, this legislation will provide an important tool to New Jersey’s municipalities and counties, allowing them to have access to the funds needed to continue serving residents.”

    Michael F. Cerra, executive director of the New Jersey State League of Municipalities, said the move will give municipalities more flexibility.

    “Municipalities have significant fixed statutory expenses and provide essential services, which have increased as a result of the pandemic,” he said. “Meanwhile, local governments are experiencing significant declines in revenue during this pandemic and for the foreseeable future, most of which will not be recaptured.

    “This new law will provide needed flexibility to maintain essential services, control property taxes and address this unprecedented financial distress. Our thanks to the governor and all the legislative sponsors for partnering with the league and other interested stakeholders to provide this critical financial tool.”

    Other notes:

    Calling 911 can be a crime

    Murphy signed legislation that would amend a current law to include false incrimination and filing a false police report as a form of bias intimidation. The bill also establishes a crime of making a false 911 call with purpose to intimidate or harass based on race or other protected class.

    “Using the threat of a 911 call or police report as an intimidation tactic against people of color is an unacceptable, abhorrent form of discrimination,” Murphy said. “This irresponsible misuse of our 911 system places victims in a potentially dangerous situation and can erode trust between Black and Brown New Jerseyans and law enforcement. Individuals who choose to weaponize this form of intimidation should held be accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”

    Attorney General Gurbir Grewal agreed.

    “Over the past two years, we’ve worked hard to build and strengthen trust between communities and law enforcement, and this law will help us further racial justice while keeping our residents safe,” he said. “Not only is falsely calling 911 a form of intimidation against people of color that places its victims in danger, it interferes with 911 emergency operators trying to save lives, and puts law enforcement at risk. This law demonstrates New Jersey takes addressing racial bias incidents seriously.”

    Travel advisory

    New Jersey added Alaska and Montana to the list of states and territories from which visitors are requested to self -quarantine. The list is now up to 33.

    Travelers and those residents who are returning from impacted states should self-quarantine at their home, hotel or other temporary lodging. Individuals should leave the place of self-quarantine only to seek medical care or to obtain food and other essential items.

    The 33 states and territories:

    • Northeast/Mid-Atlantic: None;
    • South: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia;
    • Midwest: Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas and Wisconsin;
    • West: Alaska, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada and Utah;
    • Territories: Guam, Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands.

    Final word

    Murphy, on the flying of all U.S. and New Jersey flags at half-staff at state buildings and facilities Tuesday in honor of U.S Army Staff Sgt. Vincent P. Marketta, 33, of Brick, who died last week during a training accident in California:

    Staff Sgt. Marketta’s passing is devastating to our state and our country. He dedicated his life to protecting his fellow Americans, and his loss will not be forgotten. Tammy and I would like to express our sincere condolences to Staff Sgt. Marketta’s family and friends at this difficult time.”