Top Cop: GOP lawmakers could be refused entry to NJ State House
With Republican Assembly members threatening to boycott Thursday's voting session at the State House over a mandate that anyone entering the building has to prove vaccination status or a negative COVID test, things could get ugly.
State Police Superintendent Col. Patrick Callahan says he believes state troopers do have the authority to prevent any lawmaker who does not comply with the mandate from entering the building.
During Monday's COVID briefing with Gov. Phil Murphy, Callahan said, "I would have a hard time envisioning troopers handcuffing anyone, but I do think they'd have the ability to refuse entry for those men and women." He then added, "It’s certainly something I would consult with the Attorney General's office on, and would certainly do that if the issue arises.”
Whether the issue arises is still a bit unclear. New Jersey Globe reported there was widespread support among GOP lawmakers to have the entire delegation challenge the mandate and boycott Thursday's session if the rules were not changed.
However, Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Union) told NJ.com he intends to vote during the session. He did not make it clear if he would attend the session in person and comply with the mandate, or if he would attend the session virtually. Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin has granted members the ability to vote remotely. Bramnick did defend lawmakers who were opposed to the mandate.
Murphy accused Republicans of playing politics, and then mocked their objections to taking a rapid test if they refused to provide their vaccination status.
Laughing, Murphy scoffed, "Come on. This is beyond reasonable. It is 20 seconds of time (to take a COVID test). Ten seconds in each nostril."
The State Capitol Joint Management Commission approved the vaccine mandate in October, over the objections of its Republican members.