Governor Corzine told us on Blue Jersey radio that he’d sign the Party Democracy Act, and on this Friday afternoon, he did:
Governor Jon S. Corzine today signed legislation that makes certain changes to current laws governing the activities of county political party committees. The bill, S-930/ A-1904, requires these committees to adopt constitutions and bylaws, calls for specific information concerning committee members to be filed with the county clerk and eliminates fixed terms for committee members and chairs.
“This legislation is another step forward in our efforts to bring more transparency and ethics to government,” said Governor Corzine. “I thank Senator Weinberg for her commitment and advocacy on this important issue.”
As a result of the legislation, constitutions and bylaws of each county committee are required to be posted on the organization’s respective website and copies of the documents must be provided to the county board of elections for website display. In addition, anyone elected or appointed to membership on the county committee is entitled to receive a copy of the constitution or bylaws and that request must be filled within 48 hours of receipt.
“This law is a reform of the party structure here in New Jersey,” said Senator Loretta Weinberg, (D-Bergen), who is a long-time advocate of open government. “As the prime sponsor of this bill, we designed it to ensure that there is an even playing field within party organizations with openness and due process. I want to congratulate Governor Corzine on signing such an important piece of legislation – one that now brings our state one step closer to full accountability on all levels of government.”
Under the bill, municipal clerks would be required to file an official list of committee members with the county clerk within 20 days after a committee’s first meeting following the primary election. This list would be considered a government document available to the public upon request.
You all know the reason for the other clause:
In addition, procedures for removing committee officers who are unwilling or unable to serve, is required to be included in the organization’s constitutions and bylaws. A member’s resignation must be accompanied by a notarized letter of resignation signed by that committee member, or, if the resigning committee member fails to provide such a letter, by a notarized letter stating that the resignation has occurred. The chair of a county committee would have a continuing duty to report changes in the committee membership, with appropriate documentation, to the county clerk.
Although it reads in the release like a minor thing, I believe the PDA is an important reform and significant step forward for progressives.