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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Join us at our 25th anniversary celebration this September in New Brunswick!
[NJPP / Register Now]
There’s a new court challenge to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) — this time on access to free preventive health services like cancer screenings, birth control, and testing and treatment for diabetes, depression, and HIV/AIDS. Earlier this week, a federal judge in Texas decided that offering these services with no out-of-pocket costs violates a private company’s religious beliefs, putting the health care of 150 million people at risk. Fortunately, even if the ruling is upheld, this will have little impact on residents of New Jersey after lawmakers codified ACA protections in state law back in 2020. Here’s what NJPP’s Brittany Holom-Trundy has to say about the judge’s ruling: “This latest attack on the Affordable Care Act is discrimination masquerading as religious freedom.” [NJ Spotlight News / Lilo Stainton]
Some more national news: Freight railroads and labor unions representing 125,000 rail workers reached a tentative agreement to avert a nationwide strike. At the crux of the years-long negotiation are a punitive attendance policy and a lack of sick days without fear of discipline. While the specifics of the agreement haven’t been publicly released, it’s been reported that the deal includes record wage increases and new worker protections, but it lacks the paid sick days sought by rank-and-file members. Now it’s up to union members to actually approve the deal. [Bloomberg / Josh Eidelson]
File this one under, “Well, if it isn’t the consequences of my own actions.” In a record-setting case for the state, Uber has paid New Jersey $100 million in back taxes after the Labor Department determined the company misclassified its drivers. By wrongly classifying its workers as independent contractors, Uber failed to pay into the state’s unemployment insurance fund and deprived drivers of unemployment and safety-net benefits. As NJPP’s Peter Chen said here on Twitter, this is great news but also highlights how different crimes are treated by law enforcement, lawmakers, and the media. [NJ.com / Karin Price Mueller]
At a legislative hearing on Thursday, housing advocates and local elected officials sparred over how the state should plan for and build affordable housing. Groups representing mayors and local governments are pushing for the state to reestablish the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH), while housing advocates want courts to continue setting and enforcing affordable housing obligations for municipalities. The issue with COAH is that, from 1999 to 2015, they failed to set new rules and housing quotas, so barely any new affordable housing was built. It wasn’t until the courts took over the responsibility in 2015 that municipalities started approving new housing developments. [NorthJersey.com / Ashley Balcerzak]
A state Superior Court judge dismissed more than 2,000 drug charges after a judicial review found that a technician at a State Police crime lab falsified drug test results over the span of a decade. This is another reminder that the War on Drugs is a war on us, and should call into question why New Jersey spends over $1 billion every year enforcing the drug war. [NJ Monitor / Nikita Biryukov]
Governor Murphy will be joining us next week at NJPP’s annual policy conference, Progress 2022: Justice for All! Click the link to see the full line-up of speakers and panelists. [NJPP / Progress 2022]
Pets of NJPP
Meet Carol’s co-working pup, Gidget! Gidget was adopted off the streets of Jersey City and is now living her best life. She just had a quinceañera this weekend, as you can see here, so join us in wishing Gidget a very happy birthday! Woof!
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