Now that final congressional approval has been given to end the national COVID emergency, state Sen. Michael Testa, R-Cumberland, is calling on Gov. Phil Murphy to do the same thing.

New Jersey’s public health emergency was terminated in 2021, but the general state of emergency related to COVID that was declared on March 9, 2020, remains in effect.

“New Jersey’s ongoing state of emergency gives the governor and state departments the authority to keep unnecessary directives in place, and it allows the governor to continue spending billions in federal relief funds with almost no transparency or oversight,” said Testa.

He noted the state of emergency also the Murphy administration "to circumvent the Legislature and diminish our constitutional authority as a co-equal branch of government."

One emergency is over, another one remains

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Testa said the governor “needs to recognize that the COVID-19 pandemic is over and it’s time to give up his emergency powers.”

The U.S. Senate approved ending the federal pandemic emergency in a bipartisan 68-23 vote. The Biden administration has indicated the president would sign the joint resolution, which was passed by the House of Representatives earlier this year.

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Testa pointed out a state of emergency is designed to empower a governor to respond quickly when needed.

Phil Murphy via Getty Images
Phil Murphy via Getty Images

He says the Murphy administration is abusing emergency powers

“The danger is that it allows good government protections to be bypassed, that’s why we can’t allow declared emergencies to drag on for years without end. Governor Murphy has no excuse to continue clinging to the emergency powers that his administration has abused for far too long,” he said.

A request for comment from the governor’s office was not immediately answered.

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