Says the Original Law was a Lame Duck Mistake that Threatens The Will of the Voters
TRENTON – Declaring the new law to increase the length of time between municipal ballot questions a “lame duck mistake,” State Senator Loretta Weinberg announced today the introduction of a new bill to create a fairer standard that preserves the intent of the original law without jeopardizing the will of the voters.
“Senators are human and we do make mistakes from time to time,” said Senator Weinberg, D-Bergen. “During the ‘lame duck’ period of the last legislative session, we advanced and enacted a flurry of new laws, most of which are in the best interests of the public and make New Jersey a better place to live. Unfortunately, the so-called ‘referendum kill bill’ does more harm than good, and we should seek a repeal of the provisions to protect the voting rights of the general public.”
Senator Weinberg’s measure, S-1353, which is also prime sponsored by Senator Joseph F. Vitale, would repeal language in the law which extends the permissible length of time between municipal questions to ten years in municipalities that allow for initiative referendum. Under the new bill, the ten-year standard established by S-3157 during the last legislation session would be replaced with a five-year standard only if the measure is successful. If voters reject the question, it would revert back to the original intent of the law. Senator Weinberg said that the five-year standard for adopting measures would give the general public enough time to review the effectiveness of any change to the municipal form of government, without stifling the people’s voice for at least a decade.
“Voters should not have to wait a decade to be able to force change in their municipality through the power of initiative and referendum,” said Senator Weinberg. “I can understand the need for stability as new forms of government attempt to find their footing within a municipality, but the ten-year standard is simply too long, and must be amended.”
“Law and government should have the flexibility to be able to go back and correct errors when they happen, and through this legislation we are doing just that,” said Senator Weinberg.
The bill will be referred to the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee.