Ocean County Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Limit Executive Orders to 15 Days
Ocean County lawmakers in New Jersey's 10 Legislative District are sponsoring a bill that would cause certain executive orders by the governor to expire in 15 days unless extended by the legislature.
Senator Jim Holzapfel and Assemblymen Greg McGuckin and John Catalano jointly stated that current lock-down 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."
The S-2482/A-4147 legislation states 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."
This bill also prohibits the governor from issuing an order, rule or regulation to the same effect as one terminated for the same emergency and requires cooperation with the legislature every two weeks.
Assemblyman Greg McGuckin says the 10 weeks we've been under executive orders is too long.
"The governor should have emergency powers in certain limited situations but now we're in 10 weeks since his declaration of an emergency and no state should be governed for 10 weeks by executive order," McGuckin tells WOBM News. "There's a 3rd branch of government, there's a reason for that, and it's to check unlimited executive power and we need to make sure that the legislature has a say in some of these things."
The governor would still be able to issue an executive order for at least a period of 15 days and if he wants it to continue, the legislature would have to agree with him.
"After 15 days if the Legislature agrees with him, it could continue but it would give the Legislature at least that opportunity to say 'hey, great idea, keep it up' or 'wait a minute, what about this, maybe we should be taking another look at this'," McGuckin said.
He says the process would include hearings on how to recover and reopen which should have already taken place.
"It seems to me that had we had those hearings, we would have heard from small business owners, we could have heard from clergy about the impacts on their businesses and churches," McGuckin said. "Those are the types of things that could have informed the decision on whether to continue these lock-downs."
The bill would also require the governor to share critical information and be transparent such discussing the plan to reopen, which McGuckin feels would have been helpful a month ago.
"Nobody knows when their business will be allowed to reopen, nobody knows when hair salons will be allowed to reopened, no one knows," McGuckin said. "If we had started this process 4-weeks ago we would be 4-weeks further down the road and everybody would have a clear road map of where we're going and how we're going to get there."
McGuckin says there needs to be hearings involved in decisions to extend E.O.'s to also allow input from the public.