Two Republican lawmakers introduced legislation in the Assembly to help the economy during the coronavirus crisis.
Assemblyman Kevin J. Rooney issued a resolution urging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ramp up testing for COVID-19 to allow people to return to their jobs, while Assemblyman Brian Bergen is proposing a sales tax holiday.
Rooney said increasing testing would help people know when they will be able to resume their normal lives and provide for their families.
“It is imperative that people who have the coronavirus know as soon as possible so that they isolate at home or seek necessary medical care,” said Rooney (R-Bergen).
“The FDA needs to ensure we can test as many people as quickly as possible because the longer businesses are forced to shut down and everyone is ordered to stay home, the greater the long-term financial consequences will be.”
Rooney suggested more needs to be done to develop a blood test for coronavirus antibodies.
“The current lab test used in the United States identifies people who are currently spreading the virus. That’s crucial information, but that test doesn’t reveal who had previously been infected,” explained Rooney. “That’s important too for understanding the unfolding epidemic.”
The FDA recently authorized the use of the first rapid diagnostic test that could detect the novel coronavirus in approximately 45 minutes. It can be processed by providers without training at one of 5,000 machines across the country.
“If community spread continues, the closures mandated by the governor will be prolonged. This is something that we simply cannot afford,” said Rooney. “We need to have access to adequate test kits so that we can ensure these people are being quarantined.”
Assemblyman Bergen (R-Morris) sees his proposal corresponding with Gov. Phil Murphy steps to set up a state business-incentive program to help employers during the coronavirus pandemic.
Bergen said he would work with the governor to provide broad-based relief.
“I’m glad Gov. Murphy realizes that to have jobs you need to take care of business,” said Bergen (R-Morris). “A state business incentive program is tax cuts. A sales tax holiday will incentivize consumers, and allowing employers to keep their sales tax remittance for this filing period is a second step we can take to keep people employed.”
Bergen proposed sales tax holiday would be for the duration of the State of Emergency for the coronavirus pandemic.
“It would be less onerous on the state and businesses to provide a tax holiday,” said Bergen. “Another bureaucratic program would require more leg-work from employers during a crisis and more government spending on top of basic relief.”