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Murphy: In-person legislative sessions ‘a real possiblity’

Lawmakers want to be back under the golden dome by month’s end

By Nikita Biryukov, June 22 2020 4:57 pm

Gov. Phil Murphy isn’t opposing the return of in-person voting sessions and committee hearings sought by Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford).

“We’ve lifted the indoor number to the lower of 25% or 100. I would think, if you’re socially distancing, that is a real possibility, but folks again have to be really careful,” Murphy said Monday. “We’ve said this before, but indoors, this thing is much more lethal than it is outdoors.”

Lawmakers are aiming to be back under the golden dome before the end of the month.

Three legislators who spoke to the New Jersey Globe on the condition of anonymity said Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Woodbridge) were aiming to hold in-person voting sessions on June 29.

Lawmakers have to pass a three-month budget supplemental before the start of July to avoid a government shutdown.

There have been few indications on how much, if at all, the bill they pass will differ from the stop-gap budget proposed by Murphy.

Since mid-March, the legislature has operated remotely, with languid voting sessions being held via conference call and committee meetings conducted on Zoom.

Before Monday, indoor gatherings were limited to 50 people. While the higher 100-person limit likely means the Senate can meet with relatively minor social distancing measures in place, the Assembly might have a slightly harder time.

On session days, the Assembly chambers are crammed full of reporters, legislators, staffers and other statehouse personnel. It’s possible that only legislators will be allowed on the floor, with other observers restricted to the chamber’s overhead gallery.

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