January 10, 2022, was the final day of the current state Legislative Session, which means that any bill that fails to make it through both chambers by the end of the day will need to be reintroduced in the next legislative session.
One of the issues on the agenda is the public health emergency powers that had been granted to Governor Phil Murphy. Under a deal made last May, Gov. Murphy's emergency powers are set to expire tomorrow, on January 11. Gov. Murphy has asked for an extension of the emergency for 90 days due to the record COVID-19 cases counts New Jersey is facing as a result of the Omicron variant. Gov. Murphy has said he needs the extension to keep school mask mandates in place, to funnel more resources toward vaccinations and testing, and to provide more flexibility and resources to hospitals for their COVID-19 responses. Republicans in both houses have promised to vote against the measure in both chambers. Should lawmakers fail to deliver Governor Murphy an extension, he would have the option to sign a new set of executive orders granting himself the powers.
The New Jersey Insurance Fair Conduct Act (A1659/S1559) was also on the agenda today. Supporters say it is a means to offer recourse to policyholders if their insurance companies act in bad faith. The bill would allow policyholders to file claims against insurers for what they believe are unfair or unreasonable practices. Insurance groups that oppose the legislation warn that the bill will do nothing but shift more insurance costs onto everyday New Jerseyans.
Assembly Bill 6246 and Senate Bill 4048 were on the legislative agenda today and are aimed at protecting the rights of workers at certain businesses being sold or transferred. The legislation primarily applies to hospitals, hotels, and motels. A6246 would require the new owner of a hotel to keep employees on the payroll at the same pay for at least 90 days, and would enact tighter requirements for lay-offs. S4048 would similarly require new owners of healthcare facilities to keep in place the wages, benefits, and employment of the existing workers.
Click here to read more on these bills and other proposed legislation.