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State Sen. Steve Oroho. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe)

Republican senators urge Sweeney to give COVID select committee subpoena power

By Nikita Biryukov, May 29 2020 6:16 pm

Four Republican senators urged president Steve Sweeney to give a planned select committee that will review the state’s response to the COVID-19 crisis subpoena power.

The senators — Steve Oroho (R-Franklin), Kristin Corrado (R-Totowa), Declan O’Scanlon (R-Little Silver) and Joe Pennacchio (R-Montville) — said they were concerned Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration would block witnesses if the committee could not compel them to appear.

“We would like to reiterate our belief that this new committee must have subpoena power to compel witnesses to appear,” they said in a letter to Sweeney. “Without this authority, it appears likely that the administration will prevent the testimony of key officials who have direct knowledge of the matters under review. We must ensure that lawmakers have the ability to obtain the answers we need to develop the protections every New Jerseyan expects and deserves.”

They also called on the committee’s scope to include an investigation of the Division of Developmental Disabilities’ response to the crisis.

“As the new Senate committee embarks upon its critically important review, we believe it is imperative that the needs of all of our vulnerable communities be examined, including residents with disabilities who live in group homes, apartments, and other facilities regulated by the State.”

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