TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Ronald L. Rice that will establish a 27-member New Jersey Count Commission charged with encouraging full participation in the 2020 Census was signed into law by the Governor Phil Murphy today.
“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 creates the commission as an essential tool to optimize our census process for maximum results.”
The law requires 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.
“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 law mandates 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.
It also requires 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 will submit its final report to the governor and the Legislature no later than June 30, 2019, outlining its plan for 2020 Census implementation.
The 27 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;
- two members of the New Jersey Legislative Black Caucus;
- two members 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;
- 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; and
- two individuals representing community-based, philanthropic, non-profit, educational, civic and faith-based organizations, appointed by the Governor.
The individuals representing counties and municipalities would be selected from different geographic regions of the state and no more than 14 of the members would be of the same political party, as determined by the member’s political party affiliation during the one year period preceding the member’s appointment. To assist in carrying out its duties, the commission will be able to create and appoint subcommittees and solicit participation from experts and practitioners involved in census issues.