Why Legislature was so wrong to extend Murphy’s emergency powers (Opinion)
When the pandemic struck, Gov. Murphy’s first order of business was to declare a public health emergency. It was done on March 9, 2020 through executive order 103. Why was that important? All emergency powers bestowed in him and carried out through executive orders that followed came from us being under such a state of emergency.
Among statutes invoked was the New Jersey Civil Defense and Disaster Control Act, which allows a governor of our state to establish rules and regulations “as may be necessary” to deal with problems faced in such an emergency.
Without that declaration of a public health emergency the governor would have limited power.
Here we are 15 months later and heading into an election. Does Murphy want the pesky emergency tainting his re-election or would he rather claim it’s been lifted so he could appear to have been the competent leader we need who weathered the storm and saw us through to the other side?
So somehow Democratic legislators were convinced to sell what’s left of their souls and go along with an epic swindle. Pass a law that allows the public health emergency to be officially over yet allow Murphy to hang onto his emergency powers in important areas until 2022.
First the Assembly voted 48-12 with 14 abstentions in favor of this sham. Next the Senate moved swiftly while protesters were heard through the walls yelling “kill the bill” to pass it in a 21-16 vote.
What they did Thursday should never have happened. Just like last year’s borrowing of billions of dollars without voter approval never should have happened. Because both acts subverted the state constitution. The scary thing is, despite what they’ll say, I believe they know it. And don’t care.
Murphy didn’t want to go into November’s election with a public health emergency still declared. But he also was not willing to give up his iron grip of control he perfected during the pandemic. What did he get to have? He was given the gift Thursday of having it both ways. And it’s a farce.
If he truly believes the state is doing well enough that the state of emergency can finally be lifted, then he does not need these extra emergency powers. If he truly believes he needs these powers, then he should never have lifted the state of emergency.
So while they’re high-fiving and chest thumping each other over a job well done, remember you’re being had. You’re being played. Nothing has really changed except they’re calling it something else you see. Emergency powers granted without there being an emergency. This isn’t supposed to happen folks. Just like the borrowing of the billions without your approving it.
Yet it did.
Oh, the pandemic was real alright. The shutdown in the beginning was necessary to stop the wildfire spread. The masks slowing the spread is real and settled science. It was all real.
Just as real as today’s hubris and gamesmanship. Just as real as the disregard for decency and the abdication of the Legislature’s role in checks and balances. Just as real as the decision to hold no hearings, to not allow public comment and to rush this vote.
They should all be ashamed of themselves.
UPDATE: How they voted
Check out my article where I name names and show how lawmakers voted on this.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski. Any opinions expressed are Jeff Deminski's own.