Majority Leader Says Transfer of Power to LG Should Include Notification Requirement
TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg which would require the notification of legislative leaders whenever the Governor leaves the State was approved by the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee today by a vote of 3-2.
“When the Governor leaves the State, he has an obligation to ensure for the orderly transfer of power,” said Senator Weinberg, D-Bergen. “While we have a defined order of succession in our State Constitution, if lawmakers do not know that the duties of the Governor have been transferred elsewhere, it puts us in a position where we may not know who to work with in the event of an emergency. There is more to ensuring the continuity of our State government than just following the established line of succession.”
The bill, S-1321, would require that whenever the functions, powers, duties and emoluments of the office of the Governor are transferred to another person in accordance with the line of succession, the Governor or person serving as Acting Governor must provide written notice to the designated successor and presiding officer of each House of the Legislature at least one calendar day prior to the transfer of power. Under the bill, the advance notice requirements of the bill would not apply to a succession resulting from an attack or other emergency which precludes preparation and transmittal of notice.
“Notifying legislative leaders when the Governor travels out of State is a common sense approach to preserving the functions of State government,” said Senator Weinberg. “When the Governor leaves the State of New Jersey for any reason – be it personal or political – the taxpayers of the Garden State still expect their State government to continue operating. By notifying the Legislature when he passes on the torch of executive leadership, the Governor would put us in a better position to do the people’s business.”
Senator Weinberg pointed to a recent article in The Star-Ledger which documented the fact that Governor Christie has spent 54 days out of the last eight months – more than one and a half days a week – out of State. Whenever New Jersey’s Governor leaves the State, the duties of the office fall to the next in the line of succession – typically the Lieutenant Governor under our current Constitution. Senator Weinberg said that with such a high rate of being out of State, legislative leaders have a legitimate need to know when the Governor hands off the reins of State government.
“While the notification issue is certainly compounded by the fact that this Governor spends a lot of time out of State – dealing with national political issues – certainly the same notification requirement would be beneficial for any governor and any State Legislature,” said Senator Weinberg. “At the end of the day, knowing when the Governor is out of State would better prepare the Legislature for any issues in which the executive and legislative branches have to work together for the safety and welfare of New Jersey residents. Governor Christie’s track record may underline the need for notification, but this is good public policy, regardless of the political affiliation of the person in the front office.”
The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.