(TRENTON) –Legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Mila Jasey to establish the “New Jersey Complete Count Commission,” which will help ensure the state’s full participation in the 2020 federal decennial census, cleared the General Assembly Monday by a vote of 53-22-2.
“Because federal funds, grants and support to states, counties and communities are based on population totals and breakdowns by sex, age, race and other factors, communities benefit the most when the census counts everyone,” said Jasey (D-Essex/Morris). “We need all hands on deck in New Jersey to ensure that our communities are fully represented in the 2020 census.
“Ensuring full participation and avoiding undercounting helps communities get their fair share of the more than $675 billion per year in federal funds spent on schools, hospitals, roads, public works and other vital programs.”
The bill (A-4208) establishes the “New Jersey Complete Count Commission,” consisting of 21 members: the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the General Assembly, the Senate Minority Leader, the General Assembly Minority Leader, the Governor, the Secretary of State, the Commissioner of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development; three individuals representing municipalities in this state, appointed by the Secretary of State; four individuals representing counties in this state, appointed by the Governor; one representative each from four different organizations representing the interests of minorities in the state, appointed by the Secretary of State; and one representative each from three different organizations representing the interests of business in the state, including one organization representing minority business interests, appointed by the Governor. The individuals representing counties and municipalities would be selected from different geographic regions of the state.
The commission would be charged with developing, recommending and assisting in the census outreach strategy to encourage full participation in the 2020 federal decennial census of population.
The census outreach strategy would include, but not be limited to, state agency initiatives to encourage participation in the 2020 Census, the establishment and support of school-based outreach programs, partnerships with non-profit community-based organizations, and a multi-lingual, multi-media campaign designed to ensure an accurate and complete count of New Jersey’s population. The commission would be able to create and appoint subcommittees and must solicit participation from relevant experts and practitioners involved in census issues.
“This Commission will help to ensure that traditionally undercounted populations, especially those in minority communities, will have a voice in the census,” said Lopez (D-Middlesex). “It is tremendously important that the state and the commission ensure that federal resources are allocated equitably to the communities that need them most.”
The bill would also require the outreach strategy to be coordinated through the Office of the Secretary of State, which would provide administrative support to the commission and coordinate with all state agencies, constitutional officers, and units of local government, to identify effective methods of outreach to New Jersey’s population and to provide resources to ensure the outreach program is successful and that all New Jersey residents are counted.
Under the bill, all state agencies would be required to inform the Office of the Secretary of State of their designated census coordinator and cooperate with the commission and provide support to the commission. Other entities of government, including other constitutional officers, the offices of the legislative and judicial branches, and units of local government, are directed to cooperate and provide all reasonable assistance to the commission.
The commission would be required to submit an interim report to the Governor and the Legislature within six months of its organizational meeting, containing its recommended outreach strategy to encourage full participation and to avoid an undercount in the 2020 Census. Thereafter, the commission would submit its final report to the Governor and the Legislature no later than June 30, 2019, specifying its recommended outreach strategy for implementation for the 2020 Census.
The bill initially cleared the Assembly Budget Committee on June 18.