It's the public health emergency that never seems to end. Gov. Phil Murphy has already extended his March 9 public health emergency declaration nine times, and despite the coronavirus vaccines coming to New Jersey, it doesn't look like it's going to stop anytime soon.

Is it possible our governor extends the emergency, usually used for a short time during a crisis, right up until the gubernatorial election this November?

Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick tells me by text, "I think as long as there is no effective vaccine and cases continue he will keep the emergency"

Murphy tweeted out today that the pandemic is nowhere near over.

But he has also tweeted out previously that he sees light at the end of the tunnel.

Could this be another step toward the end of the pandemic? Or will what seems to be the eternal state of emergency give Murphy executive power right through the election? I texted state Sen. Declan O'Scanlon, a Republican who represents New Jersey's 13th legislative district. Here's what he wrote back to me.

 "My issue isn’t with the state of emergency...I believe every single state is still under some form of state of emergency. My issue is with the failure to broaden – substantively – the decision-making process and the transparency of that process. Certainly, the Emergency Health Powers Act wasn’t meant to permit an executive to govern almost unilaterally through executive orders for months, or years, on end."
He went on, "It’s going on 10 months now. Our system of government was designed to include input from legislators from various regions and perspectives. At this point failure to substantively include us - and more broadly the public – in the decisions that so substantially impact us, is where I have a problem. That we haven’t consistently accounted for regional realities and the nuances of various impacted industries has been a problem. Other states’ governors have done all of this better than we have."
"To be fair," O'Scanlon said in the text exchange, "I appreciate the governor’s current, much more surgical and less reactionary messaging and policies. I hope he sticks with that. But there are many areas we can improve and the legislature’s input should help inform - in fact, be an integral part of - that process."
 Is it at all possible to give up total control once you've had it for so long? We shall see.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Steve Trevelise. Any opinions expressed are Steve's own. Steve Trevelise is on New Jersey 101.5 Monday-Thursday from 7pm-11pm. Follow him on Twitter @realstevetrev.

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