Murphy in Talks With Legislature to Extend/Expand Pandemic Powers in NJ
When Gov. Phil Murphy agreed to end New Jersey's public health emergency last June, the legislature did extend some of his emergency powers until Jan. 11.
There were indications at the latest COVID briefing that Murphy is already in talks with Democrats in the legislature to extend those powers and possibly enhance them. 14 of his previous executive orders remain in effect, including the oversight of the vaccinations and testing as well as data collection from healthcare providers.
The current mask mandates, in schools and state buildings, can only be increased or expanded if there is an uptick in the state's COVID rate of transmission or a spike in hospitalizations. Both are occurring.
Murphy did say he doesn't see "any shift of any significance" in current restrictions. That includes imposing new restrictions as well as changes in current rules, like the mask requirement in schools.
Under legislation passed by lawmakers earlier this year, Murphy can ask for a 90-day extension of his current powers beyond Jan. 11. He could also ask for more.
When reporters asked him on Monday if he planned to ask for an extension or enhancement of his powers, Murphy was vague in his response. He said he met with legislative leaders last week for a "general discussion about what we think we're gonna need to do in terms of public health." He said that also included a conversation about his current executive orders.
Neither Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin nor Senate President Steve Sweeney are revealing what was discussed in those meetings.
Murphy did add, "We need resolutions from the Legislature to take certain steps," but refused to elaborate.