New Jersey swears in 120 state legislators, including new state Senate president
All 120 members of the state Legislature were sworn in on Tuesday at the State House in Trenton, including a new state Senate president and a Republican state senator who pulled off one of the biggest upsets in state political history.
“I think that the people want a more efficient and better government than they've seen,” said Democratic state Sen. Gordon Johnson.
The swearing ins took place hours before Gov. Phil Murphy reasserted his executive authority with a new public health emergency.
“There's 120 other elected officials in New Jersey who also have to reinsert their voice,” said Republican state Sen. Steve Oroho.
Even some Democrats said that elected lawmakers need a larger role in planning the end of the pandemic.
“I think that the legislative branch should have more control over the decisions the executive branch is taking on, that we actually have given [the governor],” said Johnson.
Republican newcomer Edward Durr was also sworn in as a state senator. He defeated 12-year state Senate President Steve Sweeney this past fall. Durr went from a furniture truck driver to a state senator.
Democratic Sen. Nick Scutari replaces Sweeney as the state senate president.
“Now to those of you that don't know me very well, I probably am best known for my attempts over the past decade to legalize marijuana here in the state of New Jersey. So I know about tough battles,” he said.
Scutari now is the second most powerful person in state government, able to deliver a governor's agenda, or stop it in its tracks.
“Who am I? And what do I stand for? And what are my plans for leading this body out of a historic public health emergency? And arguably the most polarizing period in our lifetime? I want to be a consensus builder,” Scutari said.
Oroho was sworn in as the leader of the Republicans in the state Senate.
“The Legislature has to reinsert itself as a co-equal branch of government,” he said.
The state Senate held its ceremony in the larger Assembly chamber to allow social distancing, while at the same time, the state Assembly was holding its swearing in at the Trenton War Memorial.