New Jersey

NJ Assembly to Vote on 2 Amendments

While New Jersey's Assembly would be respecting GOP Gov. Chris Christie's wishes if it advances a constitutional amendment on bail Monday, it may also defy him with a vote on an amendment to guarantee funding to preserve open space.

Democratic Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto announced last week that the Assembly would convene on Monday for both votes.

Christie has been pushing for the bail overhaul measure.

But it's one area where Christie doesn't have direct control despite New Jersey's strong executive powers.

Changing the state constitution requires a vote of the public. But only the Legislature can put an amendment on the ballot.

Last week, Christie called a special session of the Legislature to try to push the Assembly to take action on bail changes. He supports an amendment and an accompanying law that would let judges hold suspects considered dangerous in jail without bail and let low-level suspects free without paying while they await trial. The idea has bipartisan support, but some critics worry it could give too much discretion to judges.

Christie wanted immediate action, but the key is getting the measure adopted by the Monday deadline. If 48 of the chamber's 80 members support it by then, it can go on the ballot in November.


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The Assembly agreed to take up the amendment, and it's expected to pass. The Senate approved the amendment Thursday.

When Prieto agreed to schedule a vote, he also added a vote on a second amendment -- also previously approved by the Senate.

This one would dedicate 6 percent of the state's corporate business tax revenue to preserving open space and other environmental funds. It would replace a measure that steers 4 percent of the revenue to environmental issues.

Spokesmen for Christie did not respond to questions Friday about where the governor stands on the open space measure, but the governor's environmental protection commissioner, Bob Martin, said this year that Christie doesn't support the approach.

Christie opposed an amendment that would have dedicated a portion of sales tax revenue to open space. But it never reached the ballot.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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