New Jersey Democrats lock out the unvaccinated at state capitol day before legislators to vote on key bills

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New Jersey Statehouse - Photo 158110771 © Chris Boswell |

TRENTON, NJ – Unless you are vaccinated or have a test to prove you don’t have the virus, you won’t be allowed to enter the New Jersey Statehouse.

Legislators in Trenton are scheduled to vote on dozens of bills in the chambers of both houses on Thursday, but Senator Joe Pennacchio voiced concerns about a decision by the unelected members of the State Capital Joint Management Commission that could stand in the way.

“This was a separate decision taken by the legislative leadership, but one that we completely endorse, and again, let’s remember what this is. I don’t want to give the – I think it’s just the Assembly today. Is that right – give the Speaker and the Senate President a big shout-out,” said Governor Phil Murphy. “This is not just you need to be vaccinated or show proof of a negative test. He’s actually got rapid tests at the statehouse, so there’s no burden whatsoever on anybody outside of that, and I think anybody who is messing with this is being completely reckless. Looking at the numbers, they’re going up. Come on, man. Let’s not play politics. This is about keeping people safe and healthy.”

The commission’s decision reached last month requires anyone entering the State House to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test and could prevent some lawmakers from casting votes.

“This commission comprised of appointees, not elected representatives, is telling the Legislature and the public that they can’t enter the People’s House,” said Pennacchio (R-26). “This edict violates the State Constitution which protects the Legislature from outside interference. Rules that govern the Legislature should come from the Legislature itself, not an unelected body.”

Pennacchio criticized the commission for essentially requiring vaccine passports, which does little more than violating personal freedoms.

“Requiring vaccination passports is disingenuous. Just because a person has been vaccinated doesn’t mean they can’t have COVID or that they won’t spread it,” Pennacchio said. “The edict seems based more on political science than medical science, and highlights the point that bureaucrats should not be making these kind of decisions.

“People can go to a liquor store or casino, stand in line in a shopping area, and pack into a stadium to watch a football game without proof of vaccination, but they will be blocked from watching their elected representatives in Trenton,” said Pennacchio. “It doesn’t make sense. This isn’t the way New Jersey State Government is supposed to be run.”

Pennacchio also questioned why the State Capital Joint Management Commission disregarded immunity developed by those who have recovered from COVID infections.

“They failed to factor in natural immunity, which has shown to be equal to, if not more effective than vaccines,” Pennacchio said.

“COVID numbers have waned, and treatments have improved, but it seems that hasn’t stopped the government from ignoring the Constitution and disregarding the right of the people and their representatives to be heard. Locking legislators and the public out of the State House is just wrong.”