Gov. Murphy defends executive powers during pandemic: ‘We do what we do for a reason’
New Jersey has been under a public health emergency for more than a year. Gov. Phil Murphy declared that emergency on March 9, 2020.
The state constitution and state law grant the governor of New Jersey wide-ranging powers during a public health emergency.
“We want to end the state of emergency and the health emergency as much as anybody else does,” Murphy said Monday. “This has become our lives…we want to move on."
The Emergency Health Powers Act – enacted in 2005 – allows the governor and state health commissioner to issue quarantine orders, have temporary mass burials and compel evacuations or decontaminations.
Murphy says that he is consulting with state Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin and state Senate President Steve Sweeney on maintaining his emergency powers. But he has not consulted with any Republicans.
“We do what we do for a reason. So, the health emergency, which is the one that has to be renewed every 30 days, has direct, explicit, unequivocal impact to do what we're doing with vaccines. As an example, one of many,” Murphy said.
Vaccine supplies are set to increase thanks to the new Johnson & Johnson one-shot vaccine. Murphy says that the supply could meaningfully increase by Easter.
Republicans in the state Assembly have tried twice to limit the governor’s emergency powers. But both times they were blocked from a vote by the Democratic majority.