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Thursday, July 18, 2024

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The Wrap: Cannabis and the Workplace, Bring COAH Back and Sex Education

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By Herald Staff

Get ‘The Wrap,’ our take on the news of the week, in your inbox every Tuesday. Sign up at https://bit.ly/3goVpVr.
Sept. 12-18:

Cannabis and the Workplace

Under the 2021 state law that legalized adult-use cannabis, employers cannot fire or suspend an employee over a positive blood test for cannabis use. The law did not speak to how employers can detect and deal with cannabis impairment in the workplace. The Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) began the process of addressing that issue with this week’s guidance for impairment testing. CRC says it is “a first step toward formulating and approving standards for Workplace Impairment Recognition Experts (WIRE) certification.”
The commission is seeking to balance adverse actions at work for impairment with an adult employee’s right to privacy and to engage in what is permissible under state law. Cannabis use is still illegal under federal law.
Without the regulations that specify the criteria for certifying WIREs, this initial guidance allows employers to designate someone who is “sufficiently trained” to document physical and behavioral indicators of possible impairment. The guidance is silent on what “sufficiently trained” means and how an individual gets that training. The Commission did provide a “Reasonable Suspicion” Observation Report form for documenting behavioral or physical signs of impairment. What could possibly go wrong with this process?

Bring COAH Back

Last week, 13 municipalities sued the state, demanding that Gov. Phil Murphy appoint members to the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) board, thereby reestablishing the agency that has been defunct since the state Supreme Court declared it “moribund” in 2015. On Sept. 15 the Assembly Housing committee held hearings in Trenton. An audio recording of the meeting is available.
Mayors engaged in the litigation against the state called the process of determining obligations in Superior Court “inefficient, ineffective and costly.”
Affordable housing advocates argued that little was accomplished in the two decades in which COAH operated.
In Cape May County, Middle Township was the most recent municipality to seek court approval of its fair share housing plan as part of a settlement with the Fair Share Housing Center (FSHC). A list of settlements provided by the FSHC shows 12 of the county’s 16 municipalities have reached a settlement. The four not on that list are North Wildwood, Wildwood, Dennis Township and Lower Township.
The struggle over fair share obligations began with the Mt. Laurel Doctrine nearly 50 years ago. The doctrine was the result of a Supreme Court decision which determined that municipalities must provide realistic opportunities for their fair share of affordable housing. This is the latest skirmish in the struggle. Stay tuned but go ahead and breathe. This could take a while.

Sex Education

The ongoing implementation of the 2020 New Jersey learning standards for comprehensive health and physical education is causing an uproar, as districts deal with a backlash from parent groups concerned about the appropriateness of sex and gender education goals. In Ocean City, the municipal council passed a resolution establishing a parents’ bill of rights, giving parents access to curriculum components and providing them with the ability to opt a child out of curriculum issues that go against religious or moral sentiments.
This comes just one month after the local school board voted to adopt the new standards. The new district superintendent has promised to implement them “in the most minimal way possible.” Meanwhile, those who are critical of the parental backlash against the new standards are making their voices heard as well, calling for an end to the hatred that has been directed at the LGBTQ+ community.
The CDC has argued that too few schools teach prevention of HIV, STDs and pregnancy. Many states teach abstinence to the exclusion of other issues. Among the most controversial topics are those involving LGBTQ+ identities and relationships.
Feelings on these issues run deep. Both left and right-leaning groups have accused each other of using the standards to score political points. It could be a very difficult year.

Happenings 

The FEMA Director has admitted that flood maps fail to account for risk from significant rain events. One study says more than a million property owners are not aware of real flood risk.
Governor Murphy vetoed a bill that would have eased permitting for the development of blighted properties near the dune line in Wildwood. Murphy said the bill “would be at odds with my administration’s efforts to enhance the state’s resilience to climate change.”
Cape May introduced an ordinance that would lower the speed limit on city-controlled streets to either 20 or 15 mph. The city says lower speeds greatly reduce the odds of a fatality when a pedestrian is struck by a vehicle.
A state commission voted to increase the premiums for public employee health insurance by over 20%, on average.
The U. S. Drought Monitor still shows 53% of Cape May County in a severe drought status, even with last week’s rains.
Strathmere’s north-end beaches have scarping sufficient to produce 6 foot drop-off cliffs. The beaches are dangerous. Upper Township officials are seeking help from the Army Corps of Engineers.
The Wildwood Planning and Zoning Board has expressed support for a hotel on Pacific Avenue. The project began as a housing complex for international workers here on the J-1 visa.
Cape May has awarded a contract for preliminary design work on a new police station. The site for the facility depends on the outcome of a request to swap Green Acres protected land in the city center for land adjacent to the Sewell Track.
Wildwood Crest is considering a redevelopment zone along New Jersey Avenue that would require the relocation of Wildwood Linen. Plans also call for a liquor license in the otherwise dry town, for use by a restaurant in the zone.
July numbers from the Federal Reserve show that Cape May County no longer leads New Jersey counties in year-over-year increases in home prices. It could be a sign that the county’s frenzied real estate market is calming.
Atlantic City Electric’s smart meter initiative is underway. The meters will provide added benefits for customers while also improving the utility’s ability to respond quickly and accurately to outages.

Spout Off of the Week

Philadelphia – What a shame. Some folks are turning the crisis at our southern border into a racial issue to divide our states. Texas and Florida are part of the USA. They’ve been dealing with immigrants both legal and illegal. Cape May County nor Cape Cod Massachusetts have not faced the influx that our border states have. Get real. It’s not about race. It’s about being a country of all the United States working together whether Red or Blue. Border states should not have to bear the brunt of the border crisis. We are all Americans….are we not? Stop making it a party issue using the race card.
Read more spouts or submit your own at spoutoff.cmcherald.com.

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