CCSNJ Position on Health Emergency Termination Bill
TO: Members of the New Jersey General Assembly
FROM: Hilary Chebra, Manager, Government Affairs, CCSNJ
RE: A-5820 (Coughlin)
The Chamber of Commerce Southern New Jersey (CCSNJ) would like to share our opposition to A-5820 (Coughlin), which provides for the termination of the public health emergency declared by Governor Phil Murphy to address COVID-19 pandemic.
The CCSNJ is supportive of measures to safely return New Jersey to pre-pandemic normalcy. In fact, as part of the CCSNJ’s Preparing for Next Normal Report released on April 19, 2021, the CCSNJ recommended that all Executive Orders issued during the pandemic be reviewed to ensure businesses are not being hindered by previously established guidance specifically issued to combat the spread of the virus. Additionally, the CCSNJ recommended that the assessment of Executive Orders contain a cost analysis of how Executive actions impacted revenues and the overall economy as the health emergency continued to be extended.
However, this bill keeps in place certain Executive Orders that will impede the economic recovery of many essential New Jersey businesses. Specifically, A-5820 (Coughlin) maintains Executive Order No. 229, which extended a moratorium preventing New Jersey residents from having their utilities disconnected through June 30, 2021. The moratorium was previously set to expire on March 15, 2021, pursuant to Executive Order No. 190, and applies to all residential gas, electric and water utilities. Further, the utility companies are not permitted to charge late fees nor fees to reconnect services that have been disconnected.
Additionally, Executive Order No. 229 specifically cited the need continue to provide access to residential internet services to households with children due to all-remote schooling. However, the CCSNJ argues that this is no longer a necessity as nearly all of New Jersey’s schools have returned to in-person instruction.
Cable and utility companies stepped up during the pandemic to ensure that as essential services, residents were able to adapt to the changes caused by the pandemic. With nearly half of the population vaccinated, residents and businesses alike are ready to return to pre-pandemic normalcy. Businesses must be able to resume normal operations to get New Jersey’s economy back on track.
For these reasons, we respectfully oppose A-5820 (Coughlin).