TRENTON, N.J. – Gov. Phil Murphy announced new limits on outdoor gatherings to 25 people from 150 people among other restrictions. This comes as the Covid-19 transmission rate has dropped over the last three days and hospitalizations have fluctuated recently. Deaths have remained low.
“The legislature has resolved itself to being a governmental accessory in New Jersey,” said Assemblyman Brian Bergen (R-Morris). “Our governor is ruling by executive order, vetoing legislation that would help people, making unilateral decisions without providing the data or science he references, and our Senate and Assembly has chosen to be useless.”
On three separate occasions since May, Senate and Assembly Democrats have rejected efforts by Republicans to require the legislature to approve executive orders within 14 days after the governor issues them, allowing for a quick executive response to the emergency with legislative oversight. The bill is A4147.
Another bill to make data on Murphy’s decisions available (A4813/S2751), passed the Senate unanimously but has not been considered in the Assembly, in spite of bipartisan support.
“All efforts for transparency and accountability are lost on the governor’s office and Assembly leadership,” said DiMaso (R-Monmouth). “Political games are taking preference over good government and the interest of the people. It is always in the best interest of the people to know what is going on and having their closest representative advocate for their interests.”
The governor’s executive order authority comes from the Disaster Control Act of 1942 and the Emergency Health Powers Act of 2005. Republicans contend that the legislature provided those powers and should reprise its role as a check on the executive.
“Having checks and balances in government is incredibly important. That is the reason to fight for American democracy,” said Bergen. “One person should not have ultimate power, even if you agree with the policies that person enacts. That is something progressive liberals and conservatives can agree to lock arms and defend.
“Unfortunately, the establishment Democrats that run New Jersey are missing the point.”
Though there are multiple days open for legislative activity, it is not expected Democrats will consider legislation pertaining to the pandemic, such as business relief and reviewing the governor’s unilateral decisions.
“There is no good-government reason to oppose legislative input on executive orders,” said DiMaso. “Even if the legislature had the power to review and extend executive orders, Democrats would approve Governor Murphy’s decisions. They are just comfortable abdicating the responsibility they swore to uphold after being elected.”