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Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Teaneck).

Weinberg calls on Murphy to back OPRA expansion bill

Measure would subject pandemic documents to disclosure

By Nikita Biryukov, January 12 2021 6:29 pm

Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Teaneck) pressed Gov. Phil Murphy to back a bill that would make some documents drafted as part of the administration’s response to the pandemic subject to disclosure under the Open Public Records Act after he made overtures to transparency in his State of the State address.

“New Jerseyans have come together and made tremendous sacrifices to keep themselves and their families safe,” Weinberg said. “It is in times like these that the public’s right to know is most essential and in need of protection.”

Murphy touted promises to transparency at numerous times during his speech.

After saying his administration would demand increased transparency and accountability over the Gateway Project, Murphy said those practices should be applied broadly.

“This commitment to transparency and honesty must be a standard we set across the whole of government,” he said. “Just as we can’t go back to economic policies that put the wealthy and the well-connected first, we can’t lean on the broken politics that puts special interests first.”

Under current law, documents drafted under the Emergency Health Powers Act, the law that enables executive powers during a public health emergency, are shielded from disclosure under OPRA.

Murphy also mentioned in passing an ethics reform package he first announced during last year’s State of the State. Among other things, those bills would excise a widely-used legislative exemption to OPRA.

Weinberg’s call isn’t a sign of criticism — she gave the address a good review.

“The Governor offered an optimistic outlook for the future, and with widespread vaccinations in the future, I believe that optimism is justified,” she said.

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