Rice Bill to Create NJ Complete Count Commission Advances

Senator Ronald L. Rice (D-Essex)

TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Ronald L. Rice that would establish a 23-member New Jersey Count Commission charged with encouraging full participation in the 2020 Census was approved today by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.

The bill, S-2730, would require the commission to develop, recommend, and assist in the administration of a census outreach strategy that would incorporate school-based outreach programs, non-profit community-based organizations and a multi-lingual, multi-media campaign designed to ensure an accurate and complete count of New Jersey’s population.

“The importance of a complete, correct census count in our state cannot be overstated.  It is absolutely critical to our viability and growth and to our ability to govern ourselves toward a robust, exciting future during the next ten years,” said Senator Rice (D-Essex). “This legislation would create the commission as an essential tool to optimize our census process for maximum results.”

The bill would mandate the Office of the Secretary of State, to provide administrative support to the commission and coordinate the efforts, reports and communication among state legislative and judicial branches, agencies, constitutional officers and units of local government.

The bill would also require the commission to submit an interim report to the governor and the Legislature, within six months of its organizational meeting, containing its recommended outreach strategy to avoid an undercount in the 2020 Census. Thereafter, the commission would submit its final report to the governor and the Legislature no later than June 30, 2019, outlining its plan for 2020 Census implementation.

“We need a comprehensive plan to include people of every background, creed, age, economic level, and housing and immigration status,” said Senator Rice. “The more accurate a picture we get of who lives here and what they need, the stronger and more vibrant our state will become.”

The 23 New Jersey Complete Count Commission members would include:

  • the President of the Senate or a designee;
  • the Speaker of the General Assembly or a designee;
  • the Senate Minority Leader or a designee;
  • the General Assembly Minority Leader or a designee;
  • the Governor or a designee;
  • the Secretary of State or a designee;
  • the Commissioner of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development or a designee;
  • a member of the New Jersey Legislative Black Caucus
  • a member of the New Jersey Legislative Latino Caucus
  • three individuals representing municipalities in this State, appointed by the Secretary of State;
  • four individuals representing counties in this State, appointed by the Governor;
  • one representative each from four different organizations representing the interests of minorities in the State, appointed by the Secretary of State;
  • and one representative each from three different organizations representing the interests of business in the State, including one organization representing minority business interests, appointed by the Governor.

The individuals representing counties and municipalities would be selected from different geographic regions of the State. To assist in carrying out its duties, the commission would be able to create and appoint subcommittees as it deemed appropriate and solicit participation from relevant experts and practitioners involved in census issues.

The commission would expire on January 1, 2020.

The bill was approved by a 13-0 vote and next heads to the full Senate for further consideration.