Republican lawmakers walk through Murphy administration’s vax pass at state capitol building

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TRENTON, NJ - APRIL 5, 2018: New Jersey state capitol building in Trenton

TRENTON, NJ – The administration of Governor Phil Murphy and the Democrat party announced this week that no person shall be allowed entry into the state’s capitol building unless they show proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test. The move, championed by Murphy and the Democrats became the state’s first official vaccination passport checkpoint in a public building.

This edict also included statehouse workers and public visitors.

“It seems clear that Democrats far exceeded their authority in adopting a policy that’s intended to limit public access to the State House in a manner that’s discriminatory and violates clear constitutional protections afforded to legislators when performing official duties on behalf of their constituents,” said State Republican Senator Tom Kean (R-21). “A ruling from the Court to block enforcement of this policy would be a big win for open, transparent, and accessible government.”

On Thursday, Republican legislators walked right past the checkpoints.

Democrats complained and blamed Republicans for making the vaccine mandate political. Tom Coughlin, the Democrat Speaker chastised New Jersey State Police officers, saying there was a total breakdown in security at the state capitol.

“The Democratic Caucus came to Trenton today to take care of the people’s business,” Coughlin said. “The Republican Caucus chose to care more about allowing an outbreak at the State House,”

Several members of the Republican caucus were stopped by New Jersey State Troopers but were eventually let into the chambers without showing their vaccination papers. Eventually, the full Republican contingent of 28 assembly legislators took their seats in the chamber without showing their papers.

Fully vaccinated Republican assemblywoman Holly Schepesi said the requirement was unconstitutional.

“I am against government overreach, mandates, executive orders and policy enacted behind closed doors without transparency and debate,” she said. “Today, as we were driving to the State House to do our jobs on behalf of those we represent, rules were made up and changed regarding what members of the Legislature had to do in order to appear in our respective chambers. They unilaterally ordered State Troopers to block members of the Legislature from entering their voting chambers unless they proved they had been vaccinated or had a negative test.”

She ended up calling the policy “horseshit”.

“Why, after 20 months of the pandemic did this suddenly become a matter of public health that rules were enacted TODAY denying entry to the Chambers to legislators? Why were the very ones setting this policy going to maskless parties with hundreds of people whose vaccinated status was questionable only two weeks ago,” Schepesci said.

Governor Phil Murphy called the Republicans’ defiance of a vaccination mandate, “reckless”.

The New Jersey Republican Party filed a lawsuit against the rule and was granted a stay by the New Jersey State Appellate Court until a formal hearing on December 13th.