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Communications Workers of America New Jersey director Hetty Rosenstein. (Photo: Nikita Biryukov for the New Jersey Globe)

Advocacy groups urge Senate to nix in-person committee meetings

By Nikita Biryukov, July 17 2020 3:33 pm

A group of more than 40 largely-progressive advocacy organizations urged Senate President Steve Sweeney to abandon his plan to resume holding committee meetings in-person.

“During such a dangerous pandemic threatening public health, it is irresponsible and dangerous for the Senate to make the conscious choice to end remote committee hearings and move to in-person hearings,” said Brandon McKoy, president of New Jersey Policy Perspective. “This decision has endangered the health and well-being of lawmakers, advocates, and the public at large for no good reason and should be reversed immediately.”

Though the Assembly continues to hold its hearings remotely via Zoom video calls, Senate committees have resumed meeting in person.

A Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee meeting on Thursday saw lawmakers seated far from one another, though the number of audience members allowed into the hearing room was vastly reduced.

On top of wanting the chamber to move back to electronic meetings, the groups want everyone in the statehouse to wear a mask at all times, even while speaking.

If in-person meetings continue, the groups want the chamber to accept testimony given over Zoom.

“It’s an insult to our thousands of members who are essential workers and who have no choice but to provide public facing services every day, for elected leaders to be cavelier about the deadly results of virus contagion,” Communication Workers of America President Hetty Rosenstein said. “We expect a greater degree of care and responsibility from them but surely, at the very least, they can wear a mask.”

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