(The Center Square) (Nov. 19, 2020)--– New Jersey Republicans say Democrats are blocking their attempts to limit Gov. Phil Murphy’s executive powers, legislation they say is important after Murphy issued executive orders limiting the number of people who can gather.
On Tuesday Murphy limited indoor gatherings to 10 people and outdoor gatherings to 150 people effective Nov. 23, citing an increase of COVID-19 cases. Religious services, celebrations, political events, weddings, funerals and performances are limited to 25% capacity up to 150 people.
Last week, Murphy ordered that indoor restaurants and bars must be closed between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.
The governor says the new executive orders are necessary because of a sharp rise in new cases, which were the highest counts since the pandemic began March 4.
And with the rise in COVID-19 cases, there is speculation more executive orders are coming.
On Monday, the Senate voted along party lines to table a bill that would require the governor to come before the Legislature if he wants to extend his executive orders past 14 days. A move by Republican Assembly leader Jon Bramnick was also defeated.
“I’m not challenging every decision this governor has made, and some of them are correct,” Bramnick said on the Assembly floor. “But I would submit it’s time for this Legislature to do its role and have public debate. And I believe this governor should listen to the testimony of the public.”
In March, Gov. Murphy issued an executive order shutting down restaurants and small business, leaving only businesses that were deemed essential open. Those orders hurt the economy, Republican lawmakers said.
“Hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to go on unemployment thanks to his orders, and countless small businesses and restaurants are suffering without any financial relief in sight,” said Sen. Jim Holzapfel and Assemblymen Greg McGuckin and John Catalano, all Republicans from the 10th district. “They feel as though they are being blanketed by the governor’s blatant overreach of power under the guise of safety.”
Assemblyman Parker Space accused Democrats of backing the governor so they don’t have to take responsibility.
“To disagree that the Legislature should have input on issues that affect the people who elected them for fear of having to take responsibility is spineless,” Space said in a statement.
Tenth district Republicans said Murphy should share the data behind his decision with the legislature and the public.
“Why shouldn’t we require the governor to give all of us the reasoning for why his intrusive executive orders must remain in force?” they asked.