Holzapfel, McGuckin & Catalano Bill Would Limit Governor’s Executive Orders to 15 Days in Emergency

The New Jersey Statehouse and Capitol Building In Trenton

 

Say Months of Shutdown Makes Clear that Legislative Oversight of Governor’s Executive Powers Is Necessary to Prevent Abuses

Senator Jim Holzapfel and Assemblymen Greg McGuckin and John Catalano (all R-10) have sponsored legislation that would cause certain executive orders by the governor to expire in 15 days unless extended by the Legislature. The legislators said current lockdown orders, which only Governor Murphy can terminate under existing law, have made it clear that additional legislative oversight is necessary to prevent abuses of executive power and to ensure that the governor continually shares critical information with other elected officials.

“Simply put, the governor has kept his executive orders in place for too long, and we believe the people we represent are ready to reopen New Jersey with safety as everyone’s top priority,” stated Holzapfel. “We cannot allow one person’s decisions with such far-reaching consequences to impact an entire state for so long without legislative input. This measure would ensure that the people’s elected representatives from all corners of the state have a say in whether consequential emergency orders should be extended.”

The legislation provides that any order, rule or regulation issued by the governor pursuant to the “Civil Defense and Disaster Control Act” will terminate on the 15th day after issuance, unless the Legislature approves a greater period of time by way of a concurrent resolution. In addition, the bill, S-2482/A-4147, prohibits the governor from issuing an order, rule or regulation to the same or substantially same effect as one terminated for the same emergency.

The legislation does not impede a governor’s ability to act decisively in an emergency with executive orders, but requires cooperation with the legislature every two weeks. Since the Governor issued his stay at home orders in mid-March, most businesses and all schools have remained closed.

“As we have progressed in our understanding of how COVID-19 has impacted New Jersey, it’s increasingly clear that Governor Murphy’s one-size-fits-all solution that treats all of the state the same doesn’t make much sense,” added McGuckin. “As legislators, we deserve the right to have a say in what is best for our constituents and their livelihoods. We understand for example, that the Jersey Shore has different needs and is experiencing the impacts of the coronavirus on a different timeframe than other parts of the state. We shouldn’t have to wait for everyone else to catch up to where we are now that we’re ready to reopen.”

The legislators have repeatedly stressed to Governor Murphy’s administration that the financial well-being of hundreds of thousands of families are in jeopardy if any portion of the short summer tourism season is lost. Seasonal businesses employ 1 in 10 New Jerseyans, and tourism represents a $45 billion industry for New Jersey.

“Governor Murphy needs to understand the importance of small businesses on the Jersey Shore and the billions of dollars it contributes to the economy each year. Enough is enough. It’s time to give individuals and business owners the opportunity to make informed decisions about their health and their financial future,” concluded Catalano. “The longer the Governor sits back and waits for a vaccine, the longer our residents, business owners, and economy will suffer.”

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