Residents, stakeholders and other interested parties planning to attend the Assembly voting session are urged to follow CDC guidelines; Can also view proceedings at https://www.njleg.state.nj.us/
With heightened awareness amidst an increasing number of presumptive positive cases of the coronavirus in New Jersey, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin and Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick announced legislation to be voted on next week in the Assembly. The Assembly leaders also detailed policy initiatives for the legislative offices designed to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and respond to the needs of legislative members and staffers.
“We expect the presumptive positive cases of coronavirus to increase in the coming days, weeks and foreseeable future,” said Coughlin (D-Middlesex). “It is critically important that we work diligently to contain the spread of coronavirus, while at the same time ensuring that government continue to function on behalf the people of the New Jersey. For that reason, we plan to consider only time-sensitive and vital legislation next week. Doing so will allow us to reduce the occasions of large gatherings, while also advancing measures to meet the challenges that the pandemic has created. We are also seeking ways to allow Assembly members and staff to safely perform their duties as medical and public policy professionals work to resolve the pandemic.”
Coughlin and Bramnick announced legislation designed to help New Jersey residents and businesses continue to live, work and thrive as the threat of the coronavirus grows and ultimately subsides. Monday, March 16, at 11 a.m., the Assembly Homeland Security and State Preparedness Committee will consider bills that would:
- Permit the use of remote or virtual classroom instruction to meet the minimum 180-day school year requirement should schools be closed due to the coronavirus;
- Ensure students eligible for free or reduced-price breakfast and lunch plans continue to receive the meals they need when being taught remotely;
- Require insurance carriers to cover the cost of coronavirus testing with no co-pay or deductible;
- Establish a fund to reimburse schools for coronavirus-related cleaning;
- Ensure insurance carriers provide coverage for business interruption;
- Permit the Economic Development Authority to provide zero-interest, short-term loans to assist businesses in meeting payroll obligations; and
- Ensure no employee is fired as a result of having to be quarantined.
The full Assembly is scheduled to vote on the bills at 2 p.m. The full agendas will be available upon finalization.
“Coronavirus is not going away anytime soon, and there is action the legislature can take to minimize its overall impact on New Jersey,” said Bramnick (R-Union). “We need to help our constituents. That’s the bottom line.”
The Assembly leaders also announced that they are actively exploring ways to ensure the public, legislators and staff are safe as the business of government continues through the COVID-19 pandemic. The initiatives being considered include, but are not limited to:
- Providing work-from-home options for certain staff members, including parents of children whose schools have been closed due to coronavirus; and
- Conducting committee hearings via tele-town halls.
Residents, stakeholders and other interested parties planning to attend the Assembly voting session are urged to follow CDC guidelines. Those over 60 or with compromised immune systems or other chronic medical conditions are urged to listen to or view proceedings at https://www.njleg.state.nj.us/.
“Public health is our primary concern, but the coronavirus will not stop us from doing the people’s work,” said Coughlin.