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In a big step toward reproductive freedom, new regulations proposed by the State Department of Banking and Insurance (DOBI) would make New Jersey the eighth state to require abortion coverage in private health insurance plans. The proposed mandate was part of the original Reproductive Freedom Act, but didn’t make it to the final bill, or the package of reproductive health bills Governor Murphy signed earlier this year. While this much-needed proposal requires more plans to cover abortion care, more work remains to remove cost barriers for people with low incomes and without insurance. “There are still people falling through the gaps, so we still have some bits missing here,” said NJPP Senior Policy Analyst Brittany Holom-Trundy. [New Jersey Monitor / Sophie Nieto-Muñoz]
In response to the new DOBI proposal, The Star-Ledger Editorial Board called on state lawmakers to eliminate cost barriers to abortion care. The editorial notes that even people with insurance coverage struggle to afford abortion care, and more must be done to expand access to this time-sensitive care. The editorial also quotes NJPP’s Sheila Reynertson, who connects the dots on reproductive justice and economic justice: “The consequences of these arbitrary barriers are massive. You’re talking about an economic security issue, not only for the mother, but for the children. You are changing the trajectory of somebody’s economic security.” [NJ.com / The Star-Ledger Editorial Board]
In a big win for public health, the Murphy administration announced this week that it will send $117 million to local, county, and regional health departments across the state. The two-year grant, funded by the CDC, is meant to bolster public health agencies so they can better detect and respond to outbreaks, and implement robust prevention strategies. This investment in public health is sorely needed, as New Jersey has one of the smallest public health workforces in the country thanks to drastic cuts in state funding made during the Christie administration. [NJ Spotlight News / Lilo Stainton]
Exciting news: The Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights Act advanced out of Senate committee earlier this week! If passed, the bill would require domestic workers be paid at least minimum wage, be protected by the state’s discrimination laws, and have written employment contracts. “They’re without rights,” said Sen. Richard Codey (D-Essex), former governor and sponsor of the bill. “In the food chain, they’re at the bottom. It’s about time. Overwhelmingly are they treated with love and respect, but there are a bunch who are not treated that way.” [NJ.com / Matt Arco]
Over a year after Hurricane Ida swept through New Jersey, FEMA is providing $10 million to buy out 31 damaged properties in Manville and fortify the area against future storms. Funding for the project comes from President Biden’s infrastructure law, and will allow the state to convert affected areas into open spaces to protect the community against flooding. The devastation left in Ida’s wake highlights the urgent need for New Jersey to update its flood zone maps so we can prevent future tragedies and keep families from harm’s way. [NJ.com / Steven Rodas]
The ACLU of New Jersey put out a new animated explainer on why New Jersey should end the War on Drugs. We definitely recommend watching the video and reading Ami Kachalia’s write up — she does a great job breaking down how the criminalization of drug use is one of the biggest civil rights issues of our time. [ACLU-NJ / Ami Kachalia]
Pet of NJPP
Meet Fishtopher, a 5-year-old tabby cat with enormous lovable cheeks who went viral over Thanksgiving weekend for his semi-depressing adoption bio. While you know we’re reluctant to feed into outmigration myths, we’re happy to see Fishtopher found a loving home in Maryland. Meow! [Philadelphia Inquirer / Emily Bloch]
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