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This Week In New Jersey: April 21st, 2023


Governors Murphy, Whitmer Hold Convening on Strengthening Youth Mental Health

National Governors Association (NGA) Chair New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy continued his nationwide listening tour on youth mental health issues with an event hosted by Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. The Governors held a roundtable discussion with those on the frontlines of youth mental health care in the third of a series of conversations to advance the NGA Chair’s Initiative: Strengthening Youth Mental Health. New Jersey First Lady Tammy Murphy, North Carolina First Lady Kristin Cooper and North Dakota First Lady Kathryn Burgum also spoke at the event, which also focused on expanding access and quality of care for maternal and infant health.  

“The youth mental health crisis and the relentless toll it takes on families, educators, providers, and communities can be felt in cities and states across the country,” said Governor Phil Murphy. “Systemic challenges have depleted the national mental health workforce, which has led to barriers to access due to expense and distance, preventing children from receiving the care they need. This convening focused on the solutions needed to remove these barriers and build a robust system of supports by leveraging innovative funding opportunities that can supplement and amplify existing state investments and programs. As Governors, we remain committed to working together and sharing best practices to ensure that our young people, as well as their families, communities, and schools, have access to the critical youth mental health support they need and deserve to thrive.”

“In Michigan, we’re working together to ensure all children can thrive by investing in their overall well-being, including mental and behavioral health,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “We know we have more work to do in Michigan and across the nation, and we recognize this crisis will take an all-hands approach. This roundtable serves as an opportunity for all of us to learn more and to consider ways we can build on the good work taking place.”

“Fixing dual issues that are plaguing our country – maternal and infant health and youth mental health – will require us all to work together. I am grateful for the opportunity to learn from the lived experiences of our experts and discuss further steps that can be taken in each of our states to address these crises nationally,” said First Lady Tammy Murphy. “In New Jersey, the success we have seen in the maternal and infant health space is a result of collaborative efforts among many stakeholders. Together, we will move our country in the right direction with respect to each of maternal and infant health and youth mental health.”


U.S. Supreme Court Unanimously Affirms New Jersey's Right to Withdraw From the Waterfront Commission

On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court  unanimously ruled that New Jersey can unilaterally withdraw from the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor, which was formed by a bistate compact in 1953. Governor Phil Murphy issued the following statement: 

"I am thrilled that the United States Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that New Jersey has the right to withdraw from the Waterfront Commission. Since the first hours of our time in office, my Administration has steadfastly pursued the dissolution of the Waterfront Commission because it was the right thing to do. Over 90 percent of commerce at our ports happens on the New Jersey side, and the New Jersey State Police, one of the finest law enforcement agencies in the nation, is more than capable of taking on the Commission’s law enforcement and regulatory responsibilities. For many years, frustration over the Commission’s operations has been building. I am proud that after a five-year battle in the federal courts, where my Administration used every legal tool at our disposal, New Jersey’s sovereign right to govern our ports has been vindicated.

"I must extend a special thanks to all of the attorneys who worked on this effort in the Attorney General’s Office under the leadership of Solicitor General Jeremy Feigenbaum, whose outstanding argument before the Court made this day possible. I am also grateful to the U.S. Department of Justice for arguing in support of New Jersey before the Court as well.

"I also want to thank Senate President Scutari and Assembly Speaker Coughlin for standing firmly with my Administration in this fight, as well as all of the stakeholders in labor and industry alike who supported our efforts. We look forward to working with New York to ensure a swift and orderly dissolution of the Commission in a way that ensures security and uninterrupted business at New Jersey’s ports."


Governor Murphy Announces Nearly $100 Million Investment in Community Recreation Initiatives Across the State

Governor Phil Murphy announced a proposed investment of nearly $100 million for projects to develop or update parks and preserve open space, including a new initiative to fund construction of inclusive playgrounds for differently abled children. The funding, announced during Earth Week 2023 through the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) Green Acres Program, will enhance the quality of life for residents across New Jersey, especially in many overburdened communities.

The proposed investment includes $92.2 million in funding subject to approval by the Garden State Preservation Trust, and an additional $7.7 million for Urban Parks projects, bringing the total to $99.9 million. The investments are especially timely as this year’s national Earth Week theme is “Invest in Our Planet.”

“The projects recommended for funding to the independent Garden State Preservation Trust will help build and update New Jersey’s outstanding parks, recreation, and open space inventories while providing for construction of inclusive playgrounds,” said Governor Murphy. “These grants and loans will benefit numerous communities across the state by providing opportunities to engage in healthy activities, enjoy the outdoors, and spend quality family time together.”


Governor Murphy Announces Nation's First Environmental Justice Rules to Reduce Pollution in Vulnerable Communities

On the first day of Earth Week, Governor Phil Murphy announced the final adoption of regulations to implement New Jersey’s landmark Environmental Justice (EJ) Law. The EJ Law and implementing rules are the first in the nation aimed at reducing pollution in historically overburdened communities and communities of color that have been subjected to a disproportionately high number of environmental and public health stressors. 

The EJ Rules were developed by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) through an extensive stakeholder process that brought together affected communities, environmental and public health advocates, and leaders in business and industry to offer critical insights that shaped the regulations. Effective upon their publication in the New Jersey Register this week, the EJ Rules pioneer a community-first approach to planning and permitting certain pollution-generating facilities. First, the rules require enhanced upfront community engagement before such facilities are proposed in the state’s overburdened communities. Second, using community-level environmental and public health data available through DEP’s Environmental Justice Mapping, Assessment and Protection (EJMAP) tool, the EJ Rules direct permit applicants to avoid and minimize environmental and public health stressors and enable the DEP to establish permit conditions that better protect vulnerable communities. 

“Since the outset of my Administration, we have worked incredibly hard to ensure that all people—regardless of income, race, ethnicity, color, or national origin—can enjoy their right to live, work, learn, and recreate in a clean and healthy environment,” said Governor Murphy. “As we enter Earth Week 2023, the final adoption of DEP’s EJ Rules will further the promise of environmental justice by prioritizing meaningful community engagement, reducing public health risks through the use of innovative pollution controls, and limiting adverse impacts that new pollution-generating facilities can have in already vulnerable communities.”


Governor Murphy Declares September 23 as Bruce Springsteen Day

Governor Phil Murphy on Saturday announced that Bruce Springsteen’s birthday, September 23rd, will be formally recognized as Bruce Springsteen Day in New Jersey. Governor Murphy presented the proclamation at the American Music Honors, which took place at the Bruce Springsteen Archives and Center for American Music tonight. 

“Bruce Springsteen is one of the most recognizable, iconic and influential musicians – and New Jerseyans – of all time,” said Governor Murphy. “It is important that we recognize Bruce for all he has done and will continue to do, from giving us the gift of his music to lending his time to the causes close to his heart, including making the Archives and Center for American Music a repository that will inspire tomorrow’s songwriters and singers. We thank him for showing the world what it means to live our New Jersey values. I am both honored and proud to declare his birthday Bruce Springsteen Day in New Jersey.”