At first committee hearing, GOP lawmakers push back hard against Democrat plans to delay allocating legislative power with redistricting
TRENTON, N.J. – Republicans in the Assembly Judiciary Committee pushed back against a Democrat plan to amend the state constitution to delay legislative redistricting until after the 2021 general election if the U.S. Census does not certify the state’s new population numbers by February 15, 2021.
“This is a nothing more than a shameful power grab by Democrat politicians in Trenton,” said Assemblyman Robert Auth (R-Bergen). “We shouldn’t be so quick to change the state constitution in the middle of a pandemic when people who will be impacted the most will have little opportunity to participate in the debate.”
“The Legislature should take a deep breath and stop what is a highly political and cynical incumbency protection bill,” said Assemblyman Chris DePhillips (R-Bergen). “This is not a one-time concern about the pandemic because this proposed amendment to the constitution would be permanent.”
Republicans complained about rushing to change the constitution. It has become a habit in the Assembly, and a common gripe by Republicans, that major legislation, which carry a large impact on the state, are being moved so quickly and with unprecedentedly short public notice.
“The public did not even know about this legislation until two days ago,” DePhillips pointed out. “Why are we rushing a bill cloaked in secrecy?”
DePhillips says the state’s current progress in taking the census shows the Democrats’ concerns are unwarranted.
“The committee is jumping the gun under the guise of the pandemic that there is absolutely no way that the census data will be ready by February fifteenth,” said DePhillips. “Meanwhile, the state is already at sixty-four percent participation – only ten percent behind the participation rate a decade ago.”
DePhillips pointed out that final census data in 2001 was not available until March 8, and did not require an extension; the primary was merely postponed to June 25. Similarly in 2011, numbers arrived on February 3 and the map was ready for a June primary with just a small extension of the filing deadline.