Weekly Newswatch – July 29, 2011

Week in Review

Energy Master Plan

This week, New Jersey’s Board of Public Utilities (BPU) held a public hearing in Newark in order to take comments on the draft Energy Master Plan which was revealed by the Christie administration last month. The draft EMP reassesses the state’s energy needs and shapes energy policy for New Jersey’s future. This was the first of three hearings that was scheduled so discussions may take place over the draft EMP’s objectives such as driving down energy costs and maintaining support for the 22.5% Renewable Portfolio Standard for renewable energy by 2021. The other two hearings will take place on August 3rd in Trenton and August 11th in Pomona.

Medicaid Fraud

Also this week, an announcement was made by the State Comptroller that more than $116 million fraudulently billed to New Jersey’s Medicaid program was returned over the past year. About half of the money was returned to New Jersey’s budget while the other half was returned to the federal government.

Other News

Budget Impact on Legal Services

In other news, the Assembly Judiciary Committee listened to testimony this week on the impact of Governor Chris Christie’s cuts to Legal Services of New Jersey and other legal assistance programs in the Fiscal Year 2012 annual Appropriations Act. The Governor is being urged to restore $10 million to the budget of Legal Services as they say their ability to help poor people with legal problems has been drastically affected.

Motor Vehicle Commission

Coming up next week, the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee will meet on August 4th to hear testimony about service reductions at Motor Vehicle Commission facilities as well as to discuss the recent computer failures at certain MVC facilities.