Assembly Speaker Craig J. Coughlin (D-Middlesex) issued the following statement Thursday announcing the postponement of a vote on A-5777 which was scheduled to be considered by the full Assembly today:
“After Speaking with legislative colleagues, advocates and other interested parties I have decided to postpone today’s vote on A-5777 in order to refine it so that it is the fairest and most responsible bill possible.
“I am committed to ending the public health emergency. This is extremely important legislation that we must get right.”
Republican lawmakers (below) exulted.
Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce (R-26) applauded Coughlin’s decision to postpone the vote on a controversial bill that purports to put limits on the governor’s emergency authority, saying that the current bill “does little curb the abuses of power that Gov. Murphy has shown throughout the Covid -19 pandemic.”
“I’m sure Speaker Coughlin (D-Middlesex) has been hearing from constituents – as we all have – about their frustration with the governor’s abuse of power and, hopefully he will address the deficiencies in the legislation (A5777) that are disconcerting to many people,” said DeCroce.
The assemblywoman says the bill, in its current format, is an election year gimmick by the majority party to mislead citizens into thinking the legislature is actually going to curb the governor’s dictatorial actions that have been so prevalent during the pandemic.
The reality, argued the assemblywoman, is that the bill specifically allows the governor’s Pandemic State of Emergency Executive Order to stay in effect until the governor says the emergency is over.
“This bill does not limit the governor’s authority, it enhances it,” said DeCroce. It creates the real possibility of unethical horse-trading among power brokers and the governor to determine what the chief executive wants in return for lifting the state of emergency.”
DeCroce said New Jersey, like many other states, has suffered the consequences of investing too much power in the hands of one person.
“Throughout the pandemic we have seen and heard the governor wagging his finger at people and calling them names as if he were teaching a class of First graders. That’s not acceptable.”
“He has shut down businesses without rhyme or reason and watched businesses lay off workers and eventually close,” added DeCroce. “His administration is acting vindictively by punishing business owners who have defied him simply because they do not want to lose their livelihoods.”
The assemblywoman says the legislature has to be more involved in governing the state in times of crisis and she hopes the revisions to A5777 reflect a legislature with more backbone.
“If this legislature wants to be taken seriously by the public, it needs to stand up and wrestle power away from the governor and do the job it was elected to do – represent the people that sent them to Trenton,” added DeCroce.