Grapes, Amazon, Kids Health Insurance – Monday’s Roundup

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The Philadelphia Inquirer has a neat feature about South Jersey viticulture, featuring interviews with Atlantic County vineyard-owner Larry Coia and others about the increased demand for their grapes. Coia, who farms and harvests but does not make wine, and other local vineyard owners say there are a lot of problems to harvesting grapes in the area but there is a good demand for quality grapes for wine.

Atlantic City announced on Monday it has submitted a proposal in response to Amazon’s search for a site for a second headquarters. “Publicly owned, development ready sites could easily meet Amazon’s need to complete a building with more than 500,000-square-foot by 2019, with abundant room for expansion,” according to the city’s press release. “These sites are immediately adjacent to the Atlantic City Rail Terminal, have fiber optic capacity and can be powered by solar and microgrid energy.” Amazon’s HQ2 is expected to bring a $5 billion investment. The Press of Atlantic City reported that Egg Harbor Township, Hammonton and Galloway Township are also courting Amazon. Separately, Gov. Chris Christie last week said he would sign off on a plan to give $5 billion in tax breaks to the electronic retail giant if it develops in the state.

Kids Health Insurance
Hundreds of thousands of New Jersey children could lose their health insurance next year after the federal Children’s Health Insurance Program expired over the weekend and was not renewed, Route Fifty reports. The federal program provides funding to states that offer services to extend children’s health care to low-income families for little or no cost. In New Jersey, CHIP is run through NJ FamilyCare, which also provides Medicaid insurance to blind, disabled and pregnant women. In total, about 1.8 million people in the state use NJ FamilyCare and from our analysis of the data at least 150,000 of those people are children in South Jersey who could be affected by the expiration of CHIP. NJSpotlight reported last week that New Jersey should have enough money to extend CHIP through the spring. Other states are not so fortunate. Here is a link to a The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation report on the status of CHIP funding.

In the rest of the headlines from the weekend and this morning, top Dem. leaders want NJ cops and firefighters to manage their own pensions, the Press of Atlantic City takes a look at how the State Health Benefits Plan has been targeted in the local prescription fraud case, a South Jersey survivalist who has stockpiled food for 40 years is now helping the Puerto Rico relief effort, Ocean County is getting more federal funding to fight drug trafficking, a South Jersey man was reunited with his stolen wallet after 50 years, a Margate restaurant chef is fighting deportation to Mexico, and read this guide to the Pinelands.

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