Friday Facts and Figures is a weekly newsletter with data points, analysis, and commentary on the biggest policy debates in New Jersey and beyond.
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Vaccine Doses: 13,756,828
Fully Vaccinated People: 6,507,149
[New Jersey Department of Health / COVID-19 Dashboard]
State of the State
On Tuesday, Governor Murphy gave his fourth State of the State address, where he reflected on his first term, detailed the state’s ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and laid out priorities for his second term. While taxes, the economy, and public health were big themes, missing from the speech was any discourse on race, racial equity, and New Jersey’s excluded immigrant workers. And, of course, NJPP has takes on all of it. Read our Rapid Reaction by clicking the link. [NJPP]
The new year brings a new legislative session — and a slightly more diverse state Legislature. The number of Asian American lawmakers doubled after the new Legislature was sworn in on Tuesday, and New Jersey gained its first two Muslim American legislators, Assemblywomen Sadar Jaffer (D-Somerset) and Shama Haider (D-Bergen). But even with these gains, the Legislature still fails to represent the true diversity of the state, and men still hold 70 percent of the state’s legislative seats. [NJ Monitor / Sophie Nieto-Munoz]
With the U.S. Supreme Court expected to roll back or even overturn the 49-year-old Roe v. Wade decision later this year, Governor Murphy signed legislation to codify abortion rights into New Jersey law. The bill does not go as far as the original Reproductive Freedom Act, however, as it does not include provisions to require insurance companies to reduce costs by eliminating co-pays and deductibles. As Governor Murphy stated at the bill signing, “this is a victory, yes, but not necessarily a conclusion.” [NJ.com / Susan Livio and Brent Johnson]
A pleasant surprise from lame duck: The harm reduction expansion bill passed both houses on Monday and now heads to Governor Murphy’s desk! The bill, which removes the single biggest barrier to new syringe access programs opening — municipal approval — barely passed the Senate with exactly 21 “yes” votes. Described as a “game-changer” by Jenna Mellor of the New Jersey Harm Reduction Coalition, the legislation should save the Oasis Drop-In Center in Atlantic City from closing after the council voted to shut down the program last summer. [Filter / Alex Norcia]
Governor Murphy made headlines when he released approximately 2,500 people from prison in late 2020 to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Since then, only 9 percent of those released have been re-incarcerated, showing states that decarceration works. The state still has a way to go in creating a more transparent and compassionate criminal legal system, however — another big theme of Governor Murphy’s State of the State address. [WNYC / Karen Yi]
In a new op-ed, NJPP Interim President Jon Shure details the exact moment he learned how powerful the Legislature can be — so powerful that they can literally make time stand still. Click the link for the fun story, and read until the end for ways lawmakers can use their power to advance equity and support working families in the new legislative session. [NJ Globe / Jon Shure]
Pets of NJPP
Meet Willow, a little dog with a big personality. She is a three-month-old husky mix who made her journey from Texas to New Jersey a few short weeks ago. She has been acclimating to her new family and home by learning the ropes from her older dog mentor, cuddling with her humans Renée and Brian, romping through the snow, convincing the resident cat that they are destined to be best friends and, of course, learning about the New Jersey policy landscape by catching up on all of the archived NJPP Friday Facts and Figures. Woof!
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