Governor Signs Law Ending Public Health Emergency
On June 4, 2021, in corresponding actions, Governor Murphy signed a law (A.5820) and Executive Order (EO 244) terminating the Covid-19 Public Health Emergency. These actions leave the State of Emergency in place, but have implications for various Executive Orders and related agency administrative orders that relied upon the Public Health Emergency declared by the Governor under EO 103.
Under the new law, most Executive Orders that relied upon the Public Health Emergency will expire 30 days after the law’s effective date. However, Administrative Orders, directives or waivers issued by a State agency in reliance upon EO 103 will expire January 11, 2022, unless they are continued, modified or revoked by the agency before that date.
For various development approvals extended by the Covid-19 Permit Extension Act (P.L. 2020, c. 53), the end of the Public Health Emergency marks the end of the “COVID-19 Extension Period”. Approvals that qualified for protection under the PEA are afforded a “minimum” tolling of not less than 6-months now that the Covid-19 Extension Period has ended with the termination of the public health emergency. For such approvals the beneficial tolling afforded by the PEA may be greater than 6 months depending on the overall time period that the approval’s facial duration overlapped with of the Covid-19 Extension Period.
EO 136, which tolled the timeframes for processing various DEP permits and approvals and suspended the “90 Day Law,” will sunset July 4, 2021 under the newly signed legislation. DEP relied upon EO 136 in issuance of Administrative Order 2020-06 to extend by 30-days timeframes for public comment on applications for permits and approvals under various regulatory programs, including among others coastal, wetland and flood hazard. Under the new legislation, AO 2020-06 will remain in effect until January 11, 2022 barring some contrary action by DEP.
Linda M. Lee, Michael P. Castore and Steven J. Corodemus also contributed to this article.