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. Labor Department has stopped $5.4B in fraud claims

By: - January 24, 2022

The state Labor Department says it has stopped more than a half million potentially fraudulent unemployment claims since the start of the pandemic, an amount that would represent more than $5.4 billion in losses. Spokeswoman Angela Delli-Santi credited ID.me — a company specializing in identity proofing that is used by more than 25 other states […]

Climate groups sue Murphy admin seeking more action to reduce pollution

By: - January 20, 2022

A coalition of 120 environmental activists have filed a lawsuit against Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration they hope will compel the state to issue specific goals to reduce carbon emissions. The group, known as EmpowerNJ, is appealing the state Department of Environmental Protection’s rejection of its petition demanding the state set enforceable benchmarks to achieve Murphy’s goal […]

Activists incensed after N.J. fund for immigrant workers cut by 85%

By: - January 20, 2022

Immigrant advocates expressed anger Wednesday over the state reallocating the majority of a $40 million fund for residents excluded from COVID-era relief, which advocates secured after 18 months of protests and a 24-day hunger strike. “We didn’t think it was real. We didn’t think it could be possible. Now, instead of fighting for more money […]

Gov. Murphy signs flurry of bills just before second term begins

By: and - January 19, 2022

Gov. Phil Murphy signed a controversial law Tuesday that will allow New Jersey police officers to review their own body-camera footage before writing incident reports. Reformers fought the measure, fearing it would enable officers to omit details the camera didn’t capture and thereby evade accountability. Police unions pushed for it, saying it would improve the […]

Murphy signs law solidifying abortion rights in New Jersey

By: - January 13, 2022

Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill Thursday codifying the right to an abortion into state law, a move abortion rights advocates say is necessary as the U.S. Supreme Court has signaled it may overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision later this year. The new law (S49), dubbed the Freedom of Reproductive Choice Act, will […]

Activists urge Murphy to stop planned Newark power plant

By: - January 13, 2022

Environmental activists and community organizers are urging Gov. Phil Murphy to halt plans to construct a gas-fired power plant in the Ironbound, a minority-majority community in Newark already dealing with pollution from three other nearby power plants.  The Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission canceled a vote scheduled for Thursday on a contract to build the plant, […]

N.J. and N.Y. announce joint offshore wind program

By: - January 12, 2022

Nearly one half million acres off the shores of New Jersey and New York will be auctioned next month in an effort to generate more clean energy. The wind energy auction for six lease areas in the offshore area known as the New York Bight will take place on Feb. 23, and will be one […]

Bills making changes to mandatory retirement for public workers advance to Murphy’s desk

By: - January 11, 2022

Lawmakers advanced two bills Monday to clarify when state employees can work beyond their mandatory retirement dates, part of an attempt to address some of the labor issues plaguing the state. The first measure, A6262, would allow retired public employees to return to employment on a part-time basis in the Legislature under certain circumstances without […]

Diversity in N.J. Legislature improves in 2022, but still doesn’t reflect the state

By: - January 11, 2022

When Shama Haider — soon to be a freshman assemblywoman representing Bergen County — arrived at the Statehouse Annex on West State Street in Trenton for orientation, she was giddy with excitement. But Haider is not excited just because she’ll get to push for policies that matter to her, like environmental protection and transportation, or […]

Legislature approves bills to address school staffing issues

By: - January 11, 2022

Lawmakers approved two bills Monday intended to help schools struggling with continuing staffing issues amid a new, highly-transmissible coronavirus variant. One bill (A5576), passed unanimously by both chambers Monday, would allow retired teachers to return to the classroom through the 2022-2023 school year and still collect their pensions. Another measure (S4203) would eliminate the requirement […]

Teachers, school officials plead for solutions for schools during COVID

By: - January 7, 2022

Teachers, school nurses, principals, and their advocates vented for nearly two hours to the Senate Education Committee Thursday, saying they are stretched beyond their limit because of COVID-19. Teachers are taking on the responsibilities of cafeteria workers and custodians. Schools can’t retain educators. And everyone is growing more worried about remote schooling’s impact on learning […]

Parents confused, angry over school disruptions

By: - January 6, 2022

Since returning from winter break Monday, North Plainfield students have attended school on a half-day schedule. Steven Rudyz’s son — who tested positive for COVID-19 and is quarantining — gets one hour of online schooling daily. Arlene Chuisano has three children in Sayreville schools, and kept her two sons home after they tested positive. But […]