Volume 12 Issue 7 - Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Murphy Announces Increased Capacity Limits, NJ Early Voting Law Enacted, NJ Students Falling Behind Due to Pandemic and Stockton Poll Shows Murphy Approvals at 58%

Murphy Announces Increased Capacity Limits: This week, Governor Murphy signed Executive Order No. 234, increasing outdoor gathering limits and increase capacity for seated events at large venues.

The Order raises the outdoor gathering limit from 50 to 200 people, and outdoor gatherings such as religious services or ceremonies, political events, weddings, funerals or memorial services will continue to not have any limit. College and youth sporting events will be permitted up to 200 spectators if the outdoor venue can accommodate social distancing.

Larger venues, including sports and entertainment venues with seating capacity of 2,5000 or more will be permitted to host events at 20% capacity at indoor venues, and 30% outdoors. 

“With the warmer weather approaching, we are taking the step to increase outdoor gathering limits to encourage everyone to engage in social activities outside wherever possible,” said Governor Murphy. “By continuing to follow public health guidance and data, I am hopeful that we will be able to responsibly and incrementally expand capacities in the coming months.”

NJ Early Voting Law Enacted: Governor Phil Murphy signed a law on Tuesday allowing New Jersey residents to vote early and in person on machines, as Republican governors and lawmakers pursue new voter restrictions in other parts of the country.

The new law will be effective for the November general election, when Murphy and all 120 state legislative seats are up. It requires that each county in the state open at least three to seven early voting locations, depending on their populations and starting 10 days ahead of the general election.

The law will also apply to primary elections beginning in 2022, requiring that polling sites open four days before non-presidential primaries and six days before presidential ones. 

The bill is the latest of voting reform measures in New Jersey, following automatic voter registration at Motor Vehicle Commission offices, restoration of the vote for parolees and the expansion of mail-in balloting. 

NJ Students Falling Behind Due to Pandemic: According to a report released Tuesday from JerseyCAN, New Jersey Children’s Foundation and the Washington, D.C.-based education data nonprofit EmpowerK12, New Jersey students, on average, lost 30% of expected learning in English language arts and 36% of expected learning in math during the Covid-19 pandemic-related school shutdowns.

Black students lost an average of 43% of expected learning in ELA and 50% in math, while Latinx students lost 37 % of expected learning in ELA and 40% in math.

According to the report, by the end of this school year, in grades 3-8 alone, approximately 393,000 students in ELA and 430,000 students in math will not be learning on grade level.

Stockton Poll Shows Murphy Approvals at 58%: According to a Stockton University Poll released yesterday, Governor Murphy has a 58%-36% approval rating. Murphy’s rating is the highest a Stockton Poll has had him since he took office three years ago.

Just 49% of those surveyed said the state was heading in the right direction, with 40% saying it was heading in the wrong direction.

The poll also puts President Joe Biden’s approvals in New Jersey at 53%-37%, with a generic approval of Congress at an upside-down 40%-52%.  That number does not apply to individual members of the Senate and House.

By a 58%-40% margin, New Jerseyans support a move by Murphy and the legislature to expand vote-by-mail and early voting.