Governor expected to sign, veto more than 40 bills by Thursday

Procedural deadlines threaten to make legislation law without Murphy’s signature

By: - November 2, 2021 7:00 am

Gov. Phil Murphy signing a bill in Bloomfield in July. (Fran Baltzer for New Jersey Monitor)

A flurry of bill signings and vetoes is expected from Gov. Phil Murphy before noon on Thursday, when a procedural deadline could make dozens of bills law without his signature.

In New Jersey, bills that sit on the governor’s desk for more than 45 days become law when the chamber they originated in next meets for a quorum. Now, that rule could spawn new laws on police body cameras, lead plumbing, and dozens of other topics.

“We’ve got a lot of bills sent our way in June,” Murphy said Monday. “We want to make sure we always deliberate, analyze and make an informed decision on all of these — they were literally measured in the hundreds.”

The Senate is scheduled to return for its first quorum since June on Thursday, Nov. 4. The move will activate a procedural deadline for 46 bills and two joint Senate resolutions sent to Murphy’s desk in June.

A separate procedural deadline will come into effect on Monday, Nov. 8, when the Assembly convenes for its first quorum since the early summer. Its return could make up to 40 bills law, along with two joint Assembly resolutions.

Murphy said he expected his office to act on bills in advance of either chamber’s return but declined to elaborate.

“I’m very confident we’ll meet our deadlines both for the Senate re-adjournment and for the Assembly’s next Monday’s re-adjournment,” he said at Monday’s press briefing.

Some measures on the governor’s desk have drawn attention from lawmakers and advocates.

An Assembly bill allowing police officers to review body camera footage before filing reports remains on the governor’s desk. Advocates for police transparency have warned against the bill, charging it would allow police officers to conceal wrongdoing by tailoring reports to footage captured by body-worn cameras.

It’s not clear whether the governor will veto that bill. He declined to give indication of how he would handle any of the 86 bills and four resolutions on his desk Monday.

But he is expected to veto at least one measure.

Murphy appears poised to conditionally veto S2559, which would require insurers reimburse customers for telehealth services at the same rate as in-person visits and bar carriers from restricting telehealth coverage based on its medium of deliverance, among other things.

Other unsigned measures include bills to help troubled renters obtain monetary assistance, to require the Department of Health to draft infection control and prevention plans for nursing homes statewide, and on regionalization, a longstanding priority for Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester).

But many of the measures remaining on Murphy’s desk are uncontroversial.

A bipartisan bill that passed both chambers in unanimous votes and would allow children to operate things like lemonade stands without receiving permits from their local government is unlikely to cause much of a stir.

The same is true of a Senate bill, which also won unanimous support in both chambers, that would require property condition disclosure statements to note the presence of lead plumbing pipes.

Murphy has not said why he has left many of the bills unsigned. On Monday, he mentioned the deluge of bills approved by the Legislature before it went on an extended break that started in early July.

The governor has signed more than 100 bills since July, but the pace of legislation being sent to his desk isn’t particularly unusual.

The Legislature tends to approve many bills during its June budget season. A similar spate of activity happens around lame duck sessions, which begin after elections for state office and last until early January.


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Nikita Biryukov
Nikita Biryukov

Nikita Biryukov most recently covered state government and politics for the New Jersey Globe. His tenure there included revelatory stories on marijuana legalization, voting reform and Rep. Jeff Van Drew's decamp to the Republican Party. Earlier, he worked as a freelancer for The Home News Tribune and The Press of Atlantic City.