Bill Would Institute Stricter Advice & Consent Timeline to Ensure Accountability
An Assembly panel on Thursday approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald and Assemblyman Troy Singleton to boost accountability for state cabinet officials and county prosecutors by making sure the constitutionally-required advice and consent process is adhered to, rather than circumvented.
Under various provisions of the New Jersey Constitution and statutory law, certain positions in the executive branch of state government, as well as county prosecutors, are required to be filled by nomination and appointment by the governor with the advice and consent of the Senate.
“When you’re talking about top leadership posts in state government, it’s important that they go through the advice and consent process in order to make sure their qualifications and background are fully vetted,” said Greenwald (D-Camden/Burlington). “When you sidestep this process there’s no accountability for the decision-making of high-ranking officials.”
The bill (A-4436) would limit the time a state cabinet official, the state attorney general or a county prosecutor may serve in an acting capacity to six full months, either consecutive or intermittent, if the governor has not submitted that person’s name in nomination to the Senate to fill that position on a permanent basis.
“Our system of checks and balances was put in place for a reason,” said Singleton (D-Burlington). “Allowing an acting official to remain in their position indefinitely shields them from a certain level of accountability and runs counter to the intent of our constitution.”
When the name of a person serving in an acting capacity is not submitted in nomination to the Senate prior to the end of that six month consecutive or intermittent period, the person serving in an acting capacity would terminate that service at the end of the six months of service in that position.
The bill further provides that any person serving in an acting capacity on the effective date of this bill, whom the governor has not submitted for nomination to the Senate to serve on a permanent basis, must be nominated by the governor within 30 days of that effective date, or at the next Senate session, whichever is sooner, or the person must vacate that position.
The bill was approved by the Assembly Judiciary Committee and now awaits consideration by the full Assembly.