Senator Steve Oroho (R-Sussex, Warren, Morris) decried Governor Murphy’s continued extensions of the public health emergency declaration without legislative input saying it amounts to an unfettered power consolidation.
The State Constitution envisions the elected Legislature playing a more vital and direct role in determining the state’s pandemic response, and Sen. Steve Oroho said it is past time to stem Murphy’s emergency powers. (New Jersey State Archives)
“It is disingenuous of the governor to reason that his emergency powers are still required more than a year after the onset of the coronavirus,” Oroho said. “The State Legislature, as envisioned in our State Constitution, should be playing a more vital and direct role in determining the state’s pandemic response.”
The governor’s initial emergency declaration came March 9, 2020, in the early days of the pandemic. Public health emergency declarations expire in 30 days, and Governor Murphy has repeatedly extended the declaration.
“To hasten the return of normalcy in New Jersey, we need to reopen more of our economy, our schools and our society,” Oroho continued. “Other states have led the way and showed how we can do it responsibly while respecting appropriate safety protocols.
“People expect government to play a critical role in helping us navigate through the pandemic, but government also must not act as a hindrance either,” said Oroho. “Besides the extensive lockdowns that have impacted so many businesses, especially small businesses, the Murphy Administration has not managed issues as effectively as it could have, ranging from problems residents are having with unemployment, motor vehicles offices, the vaccine rollout and especially protecting some of the most vulnerable in our long-term care facilities.
“Rather than remaining on the same course, the governor should be reaching out to the State Legislature for input and stop ruling by executive order,” Oroho continued.
Senator Oroho is sponsor of a resolution, SCR-117, along with Senator Joe Pennacchio, proposing a constitutional amendment to limit the effective period of certain governor-issued emergency orders, rules, or regulations to 14 days unless an extension is approved by the State Legislature.
During the Senate voting session scheduled for Thursday, Oroho said he will again move to relieve the resolution from committee for a floor vote. He made the same request on February 19, but the motion was tabled by the Democrat majority on a party line vote. Senate Republicans have made repeated attempts on similar legislation, S-2482, and each motion has been tabled by the Democrat majority.
“It’s disappointing because this shouldn’t be a partisan issue,” Oroho said. “Emergency declarations were never intended for long-term use. As elected officials, our mutual objective is to provide for the public’s general welfare so the State Legislature should be having more of a say on issues that affect our constituents’ lives. The governor’s unilateral reign does not serve that vital purpose.”
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