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Gov. Phil Murphy vetoed a bipartisan bill late Wednesday that would have created a panel, led by his own administration, to identify and address government inefficiencies and red tape.

Murphy vetoed bill A-4810/S-441, which would have created the Government Efficiency and Regulatory Review (GEARR) Commission. The bill was overwhelmingly passed 35-0 in the Senate and 72-1 in the Assembly.

In his veto message, Gov. Murphy said the panel would too closely resemble Gov. Chris Christie’s Red Tape Review Group – even though that group was mostly led by the Legislature and not his own administration. He said the GEARR Commission could “morph into a forum that seeks to undermine long-standing, commonsense regulations that are designed to protect workplace safety, the environment and public health.”

NJBIA President and CEO Michele Siekerka, however, said the commission “would have simply provided an avenue to evaluate how the economic benefits of regulations compare to any onerous burdens.”

“But with his veto, the governor appears to admit that he does not see regulatory burdens as an issue in New Jersey and is not interested in starting that conversation with our job creators,” she said. “It is disappointing as it is puzzling that Governor Murphy vetoed a bill that provided a practical opportunity to make state government more efficient and responsive to business in New Jersey.”

In NJBIA’s 2021 Business Outlook Survey, 90% of business owners said New Jersey had not made progress easing regulatory burdens over the past year, while 63% said New Jersey was worse than other states when it comes to the cost of regulatory compliance.

“The GEARR Commission was also a priority of the Legislature’s bipartisan Manufacturing Caucus,” Siekerka said. “While manufacturing is the fifth largest industry in the state, employing 5.4% of the civilian labor force, it has lost about 3% of its jobs and 10% of its firms over the past decade, according to Focus NJ. A new commission to look at overregulation could have helped change that trend.

“Additionally, Governor Murphy claims to prioritize innovation to stimulate the New Jersey economy. Yet early-stage companies often struggle with a complex system of regulations. This commission could have supported New Jersey’s innovative startups.”