URGENT NEW JERSEY: Statehouse will require lawmakers and visitors get COVID vaccine or test to enter the building

Our Stand: At-A-Glance

  • On October 27, 2021, the New Jersey Joint Management Commission passed a resolution to limit access to the State Capitol Complex for legislators, staff, and visitors if they are not fully vaccinated for COVID-19. The policy requires proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours or entry to the State House will be denied. 
  • The New Jersey Joint Management Commission oversees the operation of New Jersey’s State House and consists of four legislative staff and four staff appointed by Governor Murphy’s administration. 
  • This policy decision for the “people’s house” was made without public input and without engaging New Jersey’s elected officials via the legislative process. Did this Commission create this discriminatory policy for the legislators, staff and the public using Governor Murphy’s Executive Order powers? 
  • This policy infringes upon the rights of the public to participate in the legislative process and will likely affect legislators’ ability to carry out their duties as elected officials. “If any lawmaker does not comply, the leader of their House will ‘determine whether to admit the member’ and ‘under what conditions.’”  It’s possible the lawmaker would be allowed to vote remotely, one source said. Will members of the public be permitted to testify on bills remotely if they do not comply with this new State House requirement? Isn’t liberty what the government is charged with protecting instead of limiting? 
  • New Jersey Senate Republicans sent a letter to Senate President Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Coughlin opposing the resolution to impose strict COVID-19 vaccination or testing requirements. New Jersey Republican lawmakers are deeply concerned that this policy will prevent public participation in the legislative process especially since committee agendas often are not issued in a timely manner and agendas are frequently modified at the last minute with the addition of important bills. This could make it impossible for vaccine-free individuals to comply with the testing alternative, therefore, inhibiting them from exercising their right to testify at public hearings.
  • As per the current status of Governor Murphy’s Executive Orders, New Jersey residents, elected officials, and State House staff can visit the local Starbucks or supermarket unmasked and without proof of vaccination, so why are we imposing this discriminatory policy that exceeds the Governors orders and interferes with the democratic process?   
  • The COVID-19 vaccine is a personal health tool, it was specifically designed to lessen symptoms for the recipient, not prevent transmission of the virus.  Therefore, what is the rationale for requiring the public to show proof of a medical intervention that only protects the individual?  Why must the public submit their confidential medical status to the NJ Statehouse in order to participate in the legislative process?
  • Since recipients of the COVID-19 vaccine can still contract and transmit the COVID-19 virus, why does this new policy only require vaccine-free visitors to the State House to submit to testing?

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