Author

Sophie Nieto-Munoz

Sophie Nieto-Munoz

Sophie Nieto-Muñoz, a New Jersey native and former Trenton statehouse reporter for NJ.com, shined a spotlight on the state’s crumbling unemployment system and won several awards for investigative reporting from the New Jersey Press Association. She was a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists for her report on PetSmart's grooming practices, which was also recognized by the New York Press Club. Sophie speaks Spanish and is proud to connect to the Latinx community through her reporting.

N.J. bill would make false public alarms a form of bias intimidation

By: - November 30, 2021

A bill that would upgrade penalties for creating a false public alarm is scheduled to be heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday. The measure (A724) would also add creating a false public alarm to the list of bias intimidation crimes, making it a third-degree crime punishable by up to five years in jail and […]

‘Another door that doesn’t open:’ Hurdles for applicants to N.J. excluded workers fund

By: - November 29, 2021

When applications finally launched for the Excluded New Jerseyans Fund in late October, residents and immigrant activists rejoiced and began filing applications immediately. The fund was intended to help undocumented immigrants and other workers who were ineligible for other types of pandemic-related financial aid. But nearly a month after the program started, immigrants say they’re […]

State program to tackle labor shortage has helped 60 N.J. businesses

By: - November 24, 2021

About 3,700 businesses have reached out to the state about the “Return and Earn” program, which offers subsidies for businesses to train new workers and award them signing bonuses, according to the Department of Labor. Sixty contracts have been signed, committing nearly $500,000 to those businesses, the Labor Department said in a statement. Labor spokeswoman […]

New Jersey jobless rate now second highest in U.S.

By: - November 23, 2021

New Jersey’s unemployment rate is now the second highest in the nation at 7%, compared to the national rate of 4.6%, according to federal data released Friday. And while 81% of jobs have been recovered nationwide, the Garden State lags at 71%. Yet the pace at which New Jersey is recovering is better when compared to previous […]

Murphy announces $75M funding for schools, with most helping poorest districts

By: - November 19, 2021

Each of New Jersey’s 686 school districts will receive some funding for building maintenance and construction projects, Gov. Phil Murphy announced Friday. The state Schools Development Authority (SDA) will distribute $75 million to school districts across the state, with $50 million going to the 31 SDA districts, known as Abbott districts, that are home to […]

As N.J. Dems lick their wounds over 2021, 2022 looms

By: - November 18, 2021

Last week, 36-year-old Republican and U.S. Marine veteran Nick De Gregorio appeared in Glen Rock delivered what he hopes will be a message that gets him to Congress. That message: Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-05) does not know the struggles of ordinary Americans who are shelling out more for diapers and milk at Kilroy’s, a local […]

Bergen County Jail transfers last ICE detainees to facility 300 miles away

By: - November 17, 2021

For the first time in 30 years, the Bergen County Jail no longer holds any detainees under the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The last 15 detainees were transferred out Friday, a week before Bergen County had said they would clear the Hackensack facility of all detained immigrants. Advocates from Pax Christi and […]

Tenants seeking N.J. rental relief have until Dec. 15 to apply

By: - November 17, 2021

A program providing rental relief for struggling New Jersey tenants during the coronavirus pandemic will close applications on Dec. 15, the Department of Community Affairs announced. Since the COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program launched in July 2020, more than $500 million has been distributed to residents: $92 million to 15,000 families during the first phase […]

Lawmakers seek to enhance protections for domestic violence survivors

By: and - November 15, 2021

Amid reports of domestic violence abuse surging during the pandemic, state lawmakers will consider new measures to strengthen protections for New Jersey’s domestic violence survivors. Three bills on the docket Monday would require domestic violence training for prosecutors, certain judges and judicial personnel, and law enforcement officers. Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) is a primary […]

Jack Ciattarelli concedes NJ governor’s race, but plans to run again in 4 years

By: - November 12, 2021

After 10 days of counting ballots, Republican Jack Ciattarelli conceded the race for governor Friday afternoon to a crowd of supporters in his hometown of Raritan, saying he no longer had a path to victory after thousands of mail-in ballots were counted. And just minutes later to resounding applause, the 59-year-old announced his plans to […]

More than 3,000 people apply for N.J.’s excluded workers fund

By: - November 12, 2021

Just two weeks after it launched, the state’s excluded workers fund has received nearly 3,600 applications, according to the Department of Human Services. The $40 million fund was long anticipated by the state’s undocumented residents and others who were excluded from pandemic relief like stimulus checks and unemployment benefits. Announced by Gov. Phil Murphy in […]

Murphy vetoes bill assigning staff to help lawmakers with jobless claims

By: - November 10, 2021

A bill that would have assigned 100 full-time Department of Labor employees to help legislative offices handle unemployment claims was vetoed by Gov. Phil Murphy this week. In a statement, Murphy said he nixed the measure largely because federal labor officials warned the state that the bill, if enacted, would have violated federal rules, including […]