Clock is ticking on Murphy mandates in NJ
As the clock ticks on Gov. Phil Murphy's current public health emergency, and COVID metrics reach pandemic lows, it is still not clear whether he will extend the emergency, or let it expire next week.
Murphy had some discussions with legislative leaders on Thursday, but there was no consensus about what comes next and no announcements from either side.
Republicans have been vocal in demanding Murphy not only let the public health emergency expire, but rescind all of his executive orders related to pandemic restrictions, including the controversial mask mandate in school.
Democratic caucus members have also become increasingly uncomfortable with Murphy's reluctance to give up his pandemic powers and with some of the remaining restrictions.
Publicly, Senate President Nick Scutari has said he will take a "wait and see" approach before deciding if he will allow legislation curbing Murphy's pandemic powers to move forward.
Republicans have tried to get legislation curbing Murphy's authority passed before, but efforts were stymied by democrats. However, the latest bill introduced by Sen. Declan O'Scanlon has a Democratic co-prime sponsor.
The GOP separately launched a new social media campaign dubbed "#GiveItBack" to urge Governor Murphy to surrender his executive powers. It includes a petition members of the public can sign.
Did Murphy telegraph future moves?
While the governor has not said what he will do next week, he did make a key cabinet appointment on Thursday. Murphy nominated Matt Platkin to become Attorney General.
Platkin had served as Murphy's chief counsel, and helped draft the initial State of Emergency and Public Health Emergency nearly two years ago. Platkin also advised the governor on what powers Murphy had as chief executive and helped write Murphy's executive orders relating to the pandemic.
While Democrats praised Platkin's nomination and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin said he looked forward to working with him, not everyone was pleased.
Republican state Sen. Kristin Corrado expressed concerns about Platkin's former role.
“On emergency powers," Corrado said in a statement, "We need someone who shares the views of New Jerseyans that its time for Governor Murphy to give it back.”
Platkin is likely to be questioned by Republican senators when his confirmation comes before the upper house in the weeks ahead.
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