It’s mayhem at the Statehouse, at least on the Assembly side. From Matt Friedman of Politico NJ: “Speaker ordered a security sweep of the chamber but most of the GOP lawmakers on the floor wouldn’t leave. After a bunch of GOP assembly members spent several minutes arguing with state police at the entrance to the chamber without showing vax proof, they eventually just walked by. …Brian Bergen said ‘they’re not going to physically restrain us. We can just walk right in.’”
Friedman has a video here.
In the video, Assemblyman Erik Peterson (R-23), confronted by state troopers in the chamber, said:
“You see this, folks. This is denying us entry into our house. This is America. Illegal procedure.
“This tyranny, folks,” Peterson added. “America, see what’s happening here.”
A state trooper told him he was in violation, prompting Peterson to strenuously object.
Alex Zdan of News 12 added the following:
“Lt. Col. Geoffrey Noble, the second in command of the @njsp, has just entered the Assembly chamber where Republican lawmakers who have refused to comply with the Statehouse vax/test mandate are holed up.”
Some background on this developing story, by way of The Associated Press:
New Jersey Republican lawmakers on Thursday scorned statehouse rules requiring proof of either COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test to enter the building and sought to halt the mandate with a lawsuit.
Assembly and Senate Republicans, who are in the minority, sued late Wednesday seeking to stop the requirement and set the stage for a confrontation with law enforcement officials. That’s because both chambers have scheduled votes for the afternoon, when legislators are expected to gather to cast their votes.
State troopers referred Peterson to the following October vote by the State Capitol Joint Management Commission:
The commission passed a resolution by a vote of 5-2 to require people in the Statehouse complex to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination along with their identification in order to gain access to the complex.
All members of the commission voted in favor of the motion except for Christine Shipley of the Senate Minority Office and Mark Duffy of the Assembly Minority Office, who affirmed the position expressed in a letter by Republican senators here.
While the Assembly stalled, the state senate did finally gavel in its own session an hour and a half late where state Senator Vince Polistina protested the vaccine-requiring conditions at the statehouse and found himself overruled by majority Democrats.
DCCC spokesperson James Singer zapped state Senator Tom Kean, Jr. for backing the suit.
“Over 28,000 New Jerseyans have tragically lost their lives from COVID and Tom Kean Jr’s opposition to basic public safety measures at the State House shows he will always put politics over doing what’s right,” said Singer.
Kean is running for Congress in CD-7 against incumbent U.S. Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-7).