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Pennacchio Moves Bill to Bolster Scrutiny of Administration’s COVID Approach

Murphy has used emergency powers to deny OPRA requests

Senator Joe Pennacchio today introduced legislation (S-2575) to remove limitations in the Emergency Health Powers Act that obscure government transparency during crises like the current coronavirus pandemic.


Senator Pennacchio sponsors a bill that would remove limits in the Emergency Health Powers Act that obscure government transparency during crises like the current coronavirus pandemic. (SenateNJ.com)



Sections of the Health Powers Act, enacted in 2005, exempt information from the Open Public Records Act. The Murphy Administration has relied on sections of the Act to deny OPRA requests for information about preparations and decisions relating to the virus outbreak.


“The Act was never intended to conceal data and decisions that impacts public health and fiscal stability from public and legislative scrutiny, but that has been the reality,” said Pennacchio (R-26). “The State’s mistake-marred response to COVID-19 has cost thousands of lives and continues to devastate the state economy. To better understand the what led to the errors, and how to avoid them in the future, it’s necessary to have unobstructed access to correspondence, records and reports that have remained hidden.


“This bill would lift the curtain of secrecy and provide insight into the Administration’s decision-making, the functionality of the chain of command, and communication and cooperation within and between various departments and agencies in the state,” Pennacchio noted.


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