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News from the Rutgers Social Work Policy Network
February 2, 2021

The Social Work Policy Network sends weekly resources regarding national & local legislature, events, as well as media. Today, we focus on decriminalization of cannabis, bills sitting in the NJ assembly, Biden's ongoing executive orders, Line 3, Covid-19 & more.

This week begins Black History Month! We are grateful to recognize & celebrate the fact that Black Lives Matter. Every Month, Day & Hour of the Year.

Honoring Black History Month with RU & PRCC
February 1-28, 2021
Join the RU - New Brunswick community and the Paul Robeson Cultural Center to celebrate Black History Month with events that reflect the richness of the African diaspora and historical contributions of trailblazers.
Learn more at the PRCC website!

Citing the pandemic, N.J. extends open enrollment in state health exchange, WHYY: "New Jersey will extend the open enrollment period for its health insurance marketplace, initially set to expire Sunday, through May 15."

Lawsuit - Bergen County Jail Detention Center is Over Capacity, WNYC:  
"Immigration and Customs Enforcement says its detention center at the Bergen County Jail in New Jersey is about 50 percent over capacity, raising concerns about the spread of the coronavirus as lawyers seek to get high-risk immigrants out of detention."

Murphy orders independent investigation into alleged beatings at N.J. women’s prison. ‘I am sickened by the horrific reports.’, "Gov. Phil Murphy appointed a special investigator Wednesday to review allegations of beatings at the state’s only women’s prison, NJ Advance Media has learned, as more lawmakers called for the head of the state prison system to step down." (Trigger Warning: mention of sexual assault and physical abuse).

Years in prison for growing weed? Still?, 
"Right now, the governor and Legislature are caught in a stalemate over legislation to implement the mandate of voters after 67 percent favored legalization for adult recreational use in November’s vote. The sticking point is how to enforce rules barring minors from joining the party. But...a second big problem with the bill on Gov. Phil Murphy’s desk: It does nothing to change the draconian laws barring users from growing their own marijuana plants."

Cannabis ‘cleanup’ bill doesn’t go far enough, NJ Spotlight: 
"Lawmakers are making yet another attempt at legal marijuana clean-up legislation, advancing a bill in an Assembly committee Friday, and it looks a whole lot like the original version." Advocates continue to address the long-term impact of the war-on-drugs.
What does this bill mean for social and racial justice?  

The Check is in the Mail, Insider NJ: "Back in July, the Assembly passed a bill (A-4034/S-2340) that would permit people, that can document their COVID linked economic hardship, to pay down their arrearages over 30 months from when the moratorium has lapsed." While this bill, also known as the People's Bill, passed the NJ senate, it has stalled in the assembly. What next?

Your auto insurance bill can be higher based on your job, education, credit score. N.J. Senate says it’s discrimination, The Fair Act was drafted in response to discriminatory insurance company practices.  What is the Fair Act? "The bill would bar auto insurance companies from using homeownership, marital status, educational level, credit score, employment status or occupation in assigning rates. It passed the Senate 22-9 on Thursday.
It now advances to the Assembly."

Battle over NJ funding for schools in poorest districts is back in court. Yet again, NJ Spotlight: "A four-decade legal battle over public school funding has landed back in the New Jersey Supreme Court, with a prominent watchdog group accusing state officials of again ignoring a constitutional mandate to repair and replace aging and shoddy school buildings in many of the state’s poorest communities... The lawsuit...noted there are 18,000 students 'who don’t have the seats they need' in overcrowded schools, as well as 7 million square feet of school space in poor districts that [are] more than 90 years old."

Sexual harassment complaints, long ignored in N.J. politics, would be focus of new state office, "Two state Senators introduced legislation Thursday aimed at eliminating harassment and other misogynistic behavior that has long discouraged women from participating in politics in New Jersey. The bill would require state, county and local campaigns and political party organizations to adopt anti-harassment policies covering behavior, provide anti-harassment training and designate a campaign official to receive confidential complaints, according to the announcement from the senators.”

Opposition to Line 3 Mounts, Unicorn Riot: "Direct actions halting construction of the new pipeline continue to take place as opposition [of] Line 3 grows. Friday morning in Northern Minnesota, two water protectors locked down to each other between three concrete barrels blocking the road to a Line 3 construction site." Calls continue for banks to divest from Enbridge and Biden to construction.

Biden issues executive orders promoting racial equity, Politico: "As part of the effort, the president directed the Department of Justice to not renew contracts with private prison operators and signed a presidential memorandum acknowledging the role the federal government has played in discriminatory housing policy." What does this mean for racial justice?

Here Are The Immigration Actions President Biden Plans To Sign, NPR: 
"President Biden is set to sign a series of executive actions on Tuesday to begin to reunite migrant children separated from their parents after crossing the U.S. border, take steps to restore the asylum system, and review the Trump administration's changes for the legal immigration system."

Biden Administration Asks Supreme Court To Delay Considering 2 Key Trump Policies, NPR: "The Biden administration is asking the Supreme Court to delay consideration of two major cases that are scheduled for oral argument in the coming weeks. One involves funding for former President Trump's border wall construction, and the other, the so-called 'remain in Mexico' policy. If the Supreme Court agrees to postpone consideration of the cases, as expected, at some later date they very likely will be pronounced dead as a legal matter."

Biden Revokes Trump Abortion Policy, Takes Steps To Shore Up Affordable Care Act, NPR: Last week, Biden signed two executive orders addressing reproductive health and health insurance. The first "...executive order Biden signed instructs the Department of Health and Human Services to open a special enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act... His second executive action [rescind] the Mexico City policy, also known as the global gag rule. This policy, reinstated and expanded by the Trump administration, bars international [NGO's] that provide abortion counseling or referrals from receiving U.S. funding".

Hope And Skepticism As Biden Promises To Address Environmental Racism, NPR: "Across the country, disproportionate exposure to pollution threatens the health of people of color, from Gulf Coast towns in the shadow of petrochemical plants to Indigenous communities in the West that are surrounded by oil and gas operations. Generations of systemic racism routinely put factories, refineries, landfills and factory farms in Black, brown and poor communities, exposing their residents to far greater health risks from pollution than those in whiter, more affluent places.
The federal government has known of environmental injustice for decades. Presidents have promised to address it. But a legacy of weak laws and spotty enforcement has left Black, brown and poor communities mired in pollution and health hazards."

Austin will use money cut from police budget to buy hotels to provide housing, The Hill: "The city of Austin, Texas, reallocated $150 million in funds from its police department this summer. Now, the city council is using those funds to purchase hotels and other properties for emergency housing. Voters have petitioned to vote on the city’s housing policy later this year."

Oregon will offer support, treatment instead of prison as the first state to decriminalize all drugs, The Hill: "Measure 110, also known as the Drug Decriminalization and Addiction Treatment Initiative, was approved by voters last year, reclassifying the possession of small amounts of drugs as a civil violation, subject to either a $100 fine or a completed health assessment by a designated center. The initiative uses taxes from the sale of marijuana, which was legalized in 2014, to partially finance addiction recovery centers and services."

Lavish Bonus? Luxury Trip? Health Benefits Brokers Will Have to Disclose What They Receive From the Insurance Industry, ProPublica: 
"The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, the much-debated legislation that authorized a new round of stimulus checks for many U.S. households, mandates that brokers disclose to employers how much they make from insurance carriers and vendors. Health benefits brokers are trusted advisers to employers, who sponsor health plans for about 150 million Americans. But...the insurance industry influences the consultants behind the scenes with cash and gifts — from six-figure bonuses to swanky island getaways. Critics called it 'a classic conflict-of-interest' that may cause brokers to put the industry’s interests above those of their employer clients, which drives up costs.'

A Frayed and Fragmented System of Supports for Low-Income Adults Without Minor Children, CBPP:
"The nation’s basic supports for low-income, non-elderly adults without children, particularly for those who do not meet a rigorous disability standard, are weak, fragmented, and often highly restrictive, leaving many of these individuals without help they need to afford the basics. These adults need stronger supports to help meet essential needs, a problem that the hardships inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic have magnified."

How Is The COVID-19 Vaccination Campaign Going In Your State?, NPR:  "Since vaccine distribution began in the U.S. on Dec. 14, more than 32 million doses have been administered, reaching 7.8% of the total U.S. population, according to federal data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The U.S. is currently administering around 1.3 million shots a day.'

Biden administration to buy 200 million more doses of Covid vaccine, Politico: "The Biden administration is planning to purchase an additional 200 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine, marking a stepped-up effort to vaccinate the vast majority of Americans this year. Federal officials negotiating for the new supply expect to receive 100 million doses each from Moderna and Pfizer, in deals set to boost the nation’s total vaccine capacity to 600 million."

How the CARES Act Forgot America’s Most Vulnerable Hospitals, ProPublica: "A federal economic relief package passed by Congress in March promised to provide a lifeline for hospitals, particularly those in rural communities where many facilities struggled to survive even before the coronavirus pandemic. But over the past 10 months, the distribution of more than $100 billion in CARES Act funding for health care providers has been plagued by a dizzying rollout and, at times, contradictory guidelines for how to use the funding."

How the pandemic has changed NJ governance, limiting public access and input, NJ Spotlight: "Important bills fast-tracked with key amendments inserted at the last minute. Hearings that start late but stick to tight time limits for public testimony. Consequential policies issued via executive order, first announced on social media, and not made available to the public until hours later... Governing practices like these have become commonplace in New Jersey, fostering concerns about the effectiveness of new laws and other important public policies enacted amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic."

Stuck in the system: 33,000 NJ claimants still unable to receive unemployment extension benefits, NJ12:  "It's been one month since the 11-week federal unemployment extension was enacted, but...33,000 New Jersey claimants are stuck in the system, unable to claim weekly benefits."

Hungry for Success? SNAP Timing, High-Stakes Exam Performance, and College Attendance, National Bureau of Economic Research 
"Taking the SAT exam in the last two weeks of the SNAP benefit cycle reduces test scores and lowers the probability of attending a 4-year college for low-income high school students"

What does this mean for students?
That SNAP/EBT (food stamps) are a highly beneficial benefit for youth AND are not sufficiently addressing hunger in this population, as families are running out of food in the 2nd half of each month.

Action Opportunity:
Contact Your Legislator

Support the NJ Reproductive Freedom Act with New Jersey Citizen Action.

"The Reproductive Freedom Act (S3030/A4848) was introduced in the New Jersey Legislature on October 8. Yet, it has not been heard in any committee hearings to date- almost 4 months later. The RFA aims to protect and expand access to reproductive health care services, ensuring that ALL New Jerseyans can make their own decisions when it comes to birth control, pregnancy-related care, and abortion. In order to advance this bill and reproductive health care, the RFA must be heard in legislative committees. We need your help getting this bill heard in committee and advanced in the Legislature."

Here's how you can help:

1. Send an email : Urge committee chairs and leadership to post the Reproductive Freedom Act in committee.

2. Tweet with Citizen Action: On Thursday, February 4 from 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM we are participating in a #PasstheRFA tweet storm. See the social media tool kit here for tweet ideas and graphics!

"Together, we can safeguard high-quality, affordable reproductive healthcare."

CBPP State Policy Fellowship

Center for Budget and Policy Priorities
A project of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), the State Policy Fellowship identifies highly motivated candidates – with a priority for fellows whose identities and experiences are underrepresented in state policy debates – to research policies that advance economic and racial justice. To apply for a State Policy Fellowship, please complete this application form and submit the required materials by February 19, 2021. If you have questions, please contact Eric Figueroa at
Learn more about the CBPP State Policy Fellowship here.

Digital Communications Manager (Full Time)
NJ Policy Perspective

The Digital Communications Manager will be responsible for the development and daily execution of NJPP’s digital and video strategy. This is an ideal fit for a creative and digital media-savvy individual who enjoys translating complex policy topics into stories that entertain as much as they inform. Please send your resume, cover letter, and portfolio of work to with the subject line “[Last name] - Digital Communications Manager” by February 22, 2021. In lieu of a portfolio, please link to or attachment three examples of your work with a brief description of your role in the project.
Learn more about NJPP's Digital Communications Manager position here.

Kathleen Crotty Fellowship
NJ Policy Perspective
The Kathleen Crotty Fellowship honors Kathy’s legacy by providing an eager, self-motivated student committed to public service with an intensive summer experience working in New Jersey policy and advocacy, under the guidance of experienced mentors at NJPP. Crotty Fellows participate actively in the research and writing of reports, op-eds and blog posts for publication, and will join NJPP analysts in outreach and coalition work. Fellows should come away with experience and networks to help them launch successful careers in New Jersey public service. Fellows receive a $10,000 stipend. Please send your cover letter, resume and writing sample to by March 1 using the subject line format: “Crotty Fellowship 2021 – [Your last name].” Finalists will be contacted by March 8 to schedule an interview. The Fellow will be notified by April 5. No phone calls, please.
Learn more about the Crotty Fellowship here.

The Contributions of E. Franklin Frazier to Social Work Education

February 3 (11:00 am - 12:00 pm via Zoom)
Free. Registration Required.
Join Jonathan Holloway, President of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey for a special presentation at Rutgers School of Social Work on "The Contributions of E. Franklin Frazier to Social Work Education." President Holloway is the author of Confronting the Veil: Abram Harris Jr., E. Franklin Frazier, and Ralph Bunche, 1919-1941 (2002). An American sociologist and author, E. Franklin Frazier is noted for influence on institutions and practices to accept the demands by African Americans for economic, political and social equality in American life. His publication, The Negro Family in the United States (1939), analyzed the historical forces that shaped the development of the African American family from slavery to the mid-1930s. In 1940, the book was awarded the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for the most significant work in the field of race relations.

Policing and Residential Segregation:
Toward a Research and Policy Agenda.
Thursday, February 4 (1:15-2:30 PM EST via Zoom)

Free. Zoom Login Below.
Webinar ID:  969 7647 7851
Passcode: 032530
Or join via telephone:
US: +1 646 558 8656  or +1 301 715 8592

Advocating for Educational Equity
February 18, 2021, (6:00pm - 7:00 PM EST via Zoom)

Free. Registration Required.
Join the RU Division of Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Engagement for a panel of educational policy and grassroots activists who will discuss how education policy can exacerbate educational inequality and negatively impact students of color's academic success. You will learn how you can exert influence on lawmakers to create policies that will level the playing field for all children and create educational equity.

Black Contributions to Social Welfare & Social Work:
A Legacy of Black Self-help, Resistance, and Liberation

Presented by Justin S. Harty
February 25 (5:30 PM EST via Zoom)
Free. Registration Required.
Limited to 300 participants.
Despite having a long and rich history of mutual aid towards families, communities, and neighbors, Black people have repeatedly been excluded from the histories of social welfare and social work. This talk will leverage historical texts, social work conference proceedings, and archival documents to highlight historical contributions to social work and social welfare made by Black individuals, leaders, communities, organizations, and movements that are often absent in the dominant literature of our social work profession.

Topics of discussion will include historical Black efforts towards self-help, preservation, liberation, activism, and social justice and a social work profession failing to recognize these efforts as “social work” while struggling to confront anti-Black racism, train Black social workers, and meet the needs of the Black community.

Campaign School for Social Workers

Friday and Saturday, February 26-27, 2021 via Zoom
Advanced Registration Required
You belong in politics! The Campaign School for Social Workers is for anyone who wants to be more politically active as a candidate, staff, volunteer and/or advocate for social change. Attendees learn from political social workers and national experts how to run a winning campaign, gain exposure to political career paths, and build valuable skills that can be applied to any practice setting. We have a strong network of more than 2,000 alumni who have gone on to run for elected office, work for elected officials, volunteer in campaigns, and/or serve as advocates for social change. Register today!
Learn More & Register for the 2021 Campaign School for Social Workers

28th Annual NASW-NJ Conference & Exhibition 
March 7-8 via Zoom (Review session times via website)

Free for Student Members of NASW
& Affordable Options for Student Non-Member of NASW
Registration Required.
The NASW-NJ Annual Conference is the must-attend event of the year for New Jersey's social workers. The conference brings together over 1,000 participants from across New Jersey and nationwide for 2 days of learning, laughter, and networking. With dynamic keynote speakers, cutting-edge workshops, and engaging special presentations, attendees have the opportunity to earn up to 22 Continuing Education credits during the event. Social work has a complex history of upholding white privilege alongside a goal to achieve racial justice. Moreover, our profession simultaneously practices within racist systems and works to dismantle them. The 2021 NASW-NJ Virtual Conference will present an opportunity to examine our profession’s relationship to white privilege and racial justice in order to reimagine an anti-racist future.

Pamela Oliver On What The Numbers Say About How To Reduce Imprisonment, Part 1

The goal of reducing incarceration has been gaining traction for at least the last decade in the U.S. In an interview we did with sociologist Pamela Oliver in late 2020, she talked about how we got to where we are today when it comes to U.S. imprisonment and the impact that different reforms would have on reducing the U.S. prison population.

The Social Work Policy Network's e-newsletter is created by:
Brittany Libby, MSW Graduate Student, Network Research Assistant
Dr. Lenna Nepomnyaschy, RU Associate Professor, Network Founder

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