Democratic Caucus Includes 21 New Members
(TRENTON) – Craig J. Coughlin on Tuesday took the oath of office for his historic fourth term as New Jersey’s General Assembly Speaker, calling on the Legislature to build on its previous accomplishments in the new session by focusing on issues that matter most to New Jersey residents.
“Let’s find more ways for New Jersey to lead the nation and build on what we have done,” said Speaker Coughlin (D-Middlesex) as he addressed those gathered for the Assembly Reorganization Ceremony at the Trenton War Memorial. “Let’s commit to eliminating hunger altogether, to providing all New Jerseyans have a decent place to live, and to supporting our top-notch schools. We also want to ensure that all New Jerseyans can get the medical care they need, and that all New Jersey workers get the fair and respectful treatment they deserve.”
Speaker Coughlin will preside over the 80-member Assembly. Fifty-two Assembly Democrats, including 21 new members, were sworn in today into the 221st Legislative Session. It was the largest gain for Democrats in the Assembly in 22 years. Democrats have held the majority since 2002.
“Our incoming members’ fresh energy, coupled with the passion and institutional knowledge of our returning members, will benefit New Jersey immensely as we remain dedicated to addressing the everyday concerns that resonate within households across the state,” said Speaker Coughlin. “Together, we are ready to put forth a legislative agenda tackling issues that matter most to our residents, including affordability, education and property tax relief.”
In his speech, Speaker Coughlin reflected on some of the major achievements that have occurred under his leadership, including a focus on making New Jersey more affordable through property tax relief programs including ANCHOR and StayNJ, and the passage of 20 tax cuts. He also highlighted the enactment of the strongest equal pay law in the country and ensuring sick leave and family leave for workers.
“We’ve stood up for women’s rights. We stood up for workers and families. We stood up for gun safety, expanded the right to vote, and launched an all-out assault on food insecurity,” said Coughlin. “We’ve rebuilt our state’s finances. Our economy is thriving, our business rankings are growing all while minimum wage has reached $15 per hour.”
He called on Republicans and Democrats to work together to find common ground. “This will always be a Chamber where decorum is prioritized, where civility still reigns and where people of different philosophies come together to try to do right,” said Speaker Coughlin.
Assembly Democrats also selected Majority Leader Louis D. Greenwald (D-Camden, Burlington) to serve a seventh term in this leadership position. Majority Conference Leader Annette Quijano (D-Union) continues in her leadership role for a third term and Assemblyman Benjie E. Wimberly (D-Bergen, Passaic) is starting his second term as Speaker Pro Tempore.
“It’s an honor to continue serving as Majority Leader, and I can confidently say we’re ready to hit the ground running in this 221st Legislative Session and deliver real and meaningful change to the families we represent,” said Majority Leader Greenwald. “I’m incredibly proud of this new class of members joining the legislature today. Together they represent the best and brightest from around the state, and I’m ready to work side by side with them to accomplish our shared goals.”