(The Center Square) – New Jersey Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick has created a petition calling on Democrats to meet in a special session and discuss reopening the state.
Murphy issued his seventh executive order declaring a Public Health Emergency due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Indoor dining, gyms and other businesses have reopened, but only at limited capacity. The governor has said his actions are needed to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“Gov. [Phil] Murphy’s unilateral decision making regarding the reopening of New Jersey has lasted too long,” Bramnick said. “I am calling for an immediate special session of the Legislature to discuss the reopening of New Jersey and to put a check on the Governor’s power. The public and experts must be allowed to speak and the Legislature must act as a co-equal branch of government.”
The petition, which was posted on Bramnick’s Facebook page and had 108 signatures as of Friday afternoon, says the governor “has had unchecked power over the closing and reopening of New Jersey.”
“The Legislature, being a co-equal branch of government should exercise oversight of Gov. Murphy's actions pertaining to the reopening of New Jersey,” the petition reads.
Republican Sen. Jim Holzapfel and Assemblymen Greg McGuckin and John Catalano are asking the Legislature to act on bills that would require lawmakers to approve the governor’s executive orders. If the order doesn’t receive legislative approval, it would expire within 15 days.
“In times of crisis, we need appropriate checks and balances to prevent the overreach of power like we are witnessing now,” the three said in a statement. “We cannot allow decisions by one person, with such far-reaching consequences, to impact an entire state for so long without legislative input.”
An Assembly and Senate version of the bills were introduced in May but have sat in committees. Bramnick introduced the Assembly version of the bill on the Assembly floor in June but it was tabled.
Business leaders have also called on state officials to reopen the state. Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said in a roundtable discussion last week that businesses may not be allowed to fully reopen until there is a COVID-19 vaccine available.
Michele Siekerka, president and CEO of the New Jersey Business and Industry Association and Chamber Tom Bracken, president and CEO of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, asked Persichilli to consider a regional reopening plan. Persichilli said they look at the data statewide but would be happy to discuss the numbers.