Home>Highlight>Coughlin locks down Assembly chambers, won’t permit legislators on the floor unless they show vaccination proof

The doors to the New Jersey State Assembly chamber remain locked less than one hour before the scheduled start of a voting session. (Photo: Joey Fox for the New Jersey Globe).

Coughlin locks down Assembly chambers, won’t permit legislators on the floor unless they show vaccination proof

Assembly spokesman says leadership in touch with attorney general, State Police

By David Wildstein, December 02 2021 12:08 pm

Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin is barring legislators, mostly Republicans, from entering the State Assembly chamber unless they comply with his new policy to show proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test, the New Jersey Globe has learned.

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With about one hour before a voting session is set to begin, the doors to the Assembly chamber remain locked.  Typically, the doors are unlocked on the morning of a session day.

Coughlin and Senate President Steve Sweeney signed a new rule  this morning that requires attendees, including lawmakers, to follow a policy mirroring one adopted by the State Capitol Joint Management Commission last month.

“The Leaders have been in touch with the NJ State Police and Attorney General,” said Kevin McArdle, a spokesman for the Assembly Democrats.  “We anticipate that those who have not followed the protocols will not be permitted in the chamber.”

The State Police has flip-flopped several times this week on their involvement in enforcing the policy.

Acting Attorney General Andrew Bruck told Coughlin and Sweeney on Wednesday that the State Police would check for vaccination records, but they allowed Republican legislators to enter the building without asking for documentation.

Assemblyman Brian Bergen (R-Denville) has said he will resist any attempt to prevent him from participating in today’s session from the Assembly floor.

“If it’s unconstitutional outside the statehouse, it’s unconstitutional in the chambers too,” said Bergen.  “Constitutional protections don’t stop at the door.”

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