TRENTON – Some Republican lawmakers ignored and walked past state troopers who were denying them access to the Assembly floor Thursday because they hadn’t complied with a new vaccine-or-test rule for access to the Statehouse.

“They’re not going to physically restrain us,” said Assemblyman Brian Bergen, R-Morris. “We can walk right past them.”

“Oh, it’s changed,” said Assemblyman Erik Peterson, R-Hunterdon, the most vocal in a group of lawmakers complaining about the policy and pressing troopers to explain who ordered it.

It took until nearly three hours after the 15-minute standoff between mostly maskless lawmakers and troopers ended quietly but defiantly for the Assembly voting session to begin, at 3:40 p.m. rather than 1 p.m. Majority-party Democrats had been unwilling to report to the floor where the minority Republicans were waiting.

Get our free mobile app

Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso, R-Monmouth, said via Twitter at 2:35 p.m. that Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-Middlesex, had told Republicans they would be “physically removed and/or carried out” if they didn’t vacate the chamber within two hours. She then followed up to say "security sweep cancelled!"

The Senate voting session did get underway, after a lengthy delay that is fairly typical for the Statehouse. Republicans spoke against a rule enacted Thursday morning that governs access to the chambers and committee rooms, but Democrats blocked their push for a vote to rescind the policy.

Get our free mobile app

Senate and Assembly Republicans filed a lawsuit Wednesday challenging the vaccine-or-test policy adopted in October and later updated by the State Capitol Joint Management Commission.

Where NJ's 'red wave' of the 2021 election was reddest

In 2017, Gov. Phil Murphy won the election by 14.1 percentage points, a margin exceeding 303,000. His re-election was much closer, an 84,000-vote, 3.2-point victory. He and others talked about a ‘red wave’ of Republican voters in the electorate, and certified results show which counties turned red most.

The most popular Christmas decorations in the US


More From WPG Talk Radio 95.5 FM