‘Rain Tax’ Likely To Become Reality In New Jersey

Save it for a rainy day. Some of your hard-earned dollars may be taken away as the weather turns ugly and rain drops fall on the Garden State. A new bill calls for the creation of local or regional storm water utilities, giving local counties and municipalities the power to collect a tax from properties with large paved surfaces such as parking lots, CBS2’s Meg Baker reported.

That’s businesses and homeowners.

The bill passed in the Senate and the Assembly and is now headed to Gov. Phil Murphy’s desk.

Is It A Good Idea To Tax People When It Rains?

“With all the salt that we’ve had on roads recently, that’s all running into the sewer systems. So you can’t ignore problems because they don’t go away,” Senate President Steve Sweeney said.

Sweeney said most states already have storm water utilities that collect and filter runoff from storms. In New Jersey, the runoff goes directly into streams, rivers and bays, carrying with it pollution like lawn fertilizers that contaminate the waterways.

MORE: Gov. Murphy Signs Bill That Will Eventually Raise Minimum Wage In N.J. To $15 An Hour

Former governor and current state Sen. Richard Codey said it’s necessary.

“A lot of our economy is based on, obviously, the shore. We gotta make sure we keep it that way,” Codey said.

Some homeowners aren’t a fan of the plan, either.

“They are crazy. As it is, there are too much taxes in New Jersey,” Elizabeth resident Ramon Columna said. “Why would we want more taxes especially on cement, ya know?”

“Our homeowner’s taxes are as high as they can possibly be. They shouldn’t go any higher. It’s not fair,” resident Leslie Cedillo added.

MORE: New Jersey’s Gas Tax Jumps For 2nd Time In 2 Years

Some Republicans have dubbed the bill the “Rain Tax,” saying another tax makes New Jersey even more unaffordable, and state Sen. Tom Kean Jr. agrees.

“We all want to protect our environment. We all want to preserve it for future generations. But this is a weighted tax. The citizens of New Jersey … really with no oversight and no way to defend themselves against tax increases at local levels,” Kean said.

When asked what he would say to taxpayers who say they cannot afford another tax, Codey said, “It’s a small cost to live safely.”

Other supporters say creating these utilities would help reduce flooding caused by storms.




Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey Launches Presidential Campaign

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker entered the race for the Democratic presidential nomination on Friday, aiming to offer a message of unity in a growing field of Democrats opposing President Trump.

The African-American senator, who announced his candidacy in a flurry of appearances in traditional and social media, is the tenth Democrat to launch a presidential campaign and the fourth Senate Democrat to throw a hat in the ring, joining Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Kamala Harris of California and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. Potential rivals such as Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden, Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke also are considering entering the wide-open field.

While several Democrats are emphasizing their fights against Mr. Trump’s policies, Mr. Booker has stressed the need for unity among Americans who have become disillusioned with government and disconnected from their communities.

Mr. Booker warned that Democrats couldn’t win the 2020 election by “demonizing each other,” adding, “I’m not in this race to tear people down. I’m in this race to try to build our nation up.”

Presidential hopefuls are stepping out of the shadows, but their 2020 announcements are far from spontaneous. WSJ’s Shelby Holliday explains.

“I believe we have more in common than what divides us,” the senator told reporters outside his home in Newark, N.J., where he had served as mayor. He is expected to travel to the early-voting states of Iowa, South Carolina and New Hampshire in the coming weeks.

Mr. Booker had about $4 million in his Senate campaign account at the end of last year, money that can be used to seed his presidential bid.

San Francisco donor Steve Phillips, a friend and longtime fundraiser for Mr. Booker, started a super PAC late last year aimed at generating enthusiasm in the early primary states for a potential presidential bid. Mr. Booker’s spokesman has said the senator has nothing to do with that outside effort. Other 2020 candidates, including Sen. Warren, have sworn off super PACs.

Mr. Booker, 49 years old, has served in the Senate since 2013, when he won his seat in a special election following the death of Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg. He was considered to become Hillary Clinton’s running mate during the 2016 election and traveled extensively during last year’s midterm elections to help fellow Democrats.

Mr. Booker faces re-election to the Senate in 2020, but he won’t be pressured to choose one office over another. New Jersey state lawmakers approved a change in the law last year allowing a congressional candidate to appear on a ballot for president or vice president simultaneously.

The senator has been heavily involved in efforts to overhaul the nation’s criminal-justice system, working alongside Republicans such as Rand Paul of Kentucky. Mr. Booker was a co-sponsor of legislation signed into law by Mr. Trump in December that aimed to lower recidivism and reduce sentences for nonviolent offenders.

He has also advocated for a Medicare for All health-care system, the legalization of recreational marijuana, steps to curb the effects of climate change and legislation to allow the import of prescription drugs from Canada.



New Jersey Hotline For Clergy Sex Abuse Claims Flooded With Calls, Officials Say

A hotline created to document reports of clergy sex abuse in New Jersey is receiving so many calls that some can’t even get through. The round-the-clock call center opened last week as part of a new investigation by Attorney General Gurbir Grewal.

Fred Marigliano says it took him more than 50 years to speak out about being abused by his priest when he was 11-years-old.

“All I wanted to do was not be raped again,” he told CBS2. “Sometimes I still have nightmares.”

Read more



DOD Training Exercise Terrifies Unprepared New Jersey Residents

Melograno took the video from his backyard on Rutherford Court. The chopper was flying right above the North Jersey Developmental Center, which is under construction.

“There was a Blackhawk helicopter flying right over here,” Melograno says on the clip.

He can now laugh and even brag about what happened, but in the heat of the moment he said his entire block was petrified.

“I was really scared. I had no idea what was going on,” Melograno said.

At around 10 p.m. on April 16, the community was rocked by piercing explosions.

“We were scared about that, you know? It happened at night time,” resident Mauricio Gallardo said.

“First it was explosions and then the chopper was so low that our house was vibrating,” resident Larry Pizzichetta added.

Most of the residents on the block came running outside in panic. John Emmolo said his daughter called 9-1-1 to find out what was happening, but got a short answer.

“They said, ‘Well, you have to talk to state police about it,’” Emmolo said.

Eventually, they learned members of the U.S. Armed Forces were training in secret for three nights. So CBS2 went to both local and state police to find out why the residents weren’t informed.

Neighbors said they should have been informed, and next time they are hoping they get a head’s up before they have to look up.

Both local and state police wouldn’t go on camera, and CBS2 is still waiting for a call back from the Department of Defense.