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Encyclopedia > New Jersey State Legislature

The Legislature of New Jersey is the U.S. state of New Jersey's legislative branch, seated at the state's capital, Trenton. The Legislature is bicameral, consisting of two houses: the New Jersey General Assembly and the New Jersey Senate.

The General Assembly is the "lower house" of the Legislature. It consists of eighty members. In order to become an Assemblyman, one must be at least 21 years old and have resided in the state for the past two years, and must live in the district represented. The "upper house," the Senate, includes forty members. The qualifications include 30 years of age and four years' residence in the state, and must live in the district represented.

The legislators are chosen by forty electoral districts, each district electing one Senator and two Assemblymen. The district boundaries are determined by a bipartisan Apportionment Commission.

Legislative elections are held in November of every odd-numbered year. (The state is in this regard unusual, as most states hold legislative elections in even-numbered years, when Congressional elections are also held.) Assemblymen serve two-year terms, while Senators serve four-year terms, except in the first term of a new decade, which only lasts for two years. The "2-4-4" cycle was put into place so that Senate elections can reflect the changes made to the district boundaries on the basis of the decennial U.S. Census. (If the cycle were not put into place, then the boundaries would sometimes be four years out of date before being used for Senate elections. Rather, with the varied term, the boundaries are only two years out of date.)

The General Assembly is headed by the Speaker, while the Senate is headed by the President. Each house also has a Majority Leader, a Minority Leader, assistant Leaders, and whips.

The Legislature is empowered to make new law, subject to the Governor of New Jersey's power to veto a bill. However, the veto may be overriden by the Legislature if there is a two-thirds majority in favor of overriding in each House.

Furthermore, by a three-fifths vote, the Legislature may propose an amendment to the New Jersey State Constitution. An amendment may also be proposed if the Legislature passes it by a majority in two consecutive years. Whichever manner is adopted, the Amendment must be approved in a referendum to become valid as a part of the Constitution. Another major legislative power is vested in the Senate, which has the sole authority to confirm or reject gubernatorial nominees for judicial and some executive positions.

  Results from FactBites:
New Jersey State legislature passes bills funding embryonic stem cell research and allowing homosexual unions (882 words)
In a strong 53-24 vote, 4 Republicans joined all 49 New Jersey Democrats to pass a general assembly bill that approves 270 million dollars in funding for embryonic stem cell research itself, as well as for facilities in which embryonic stem cell research will be conducted.
According to the NJCC, fifteen New Jersey Catholic Hospitals, hundreds of Catholic parishes, the Catholic Health Association and all of New Jersey’s Catholic Bishops have endorsed this initiative and are working with the two public umbilical blood banks in New Jersey to actively support adult stem cell research.
On the same day, lawmakers in the state approved by a 56-19 vote in the Assembly and a 23-12 vote in the Senate, a bill that allows homosexual couples in New Jersey to enter into “civil unions,” which would provide similar benefits as those afforded to married couples.
  More results at FactBites »



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