Committee advances Rooney bill modifying civic organization for greater impact

Committee advances Rooney bill modifying civic organization for greater impact

Kevin J. Rooney

TRENTON, N.J. – The New Jersey Civic Information Consortium, an independent nonprofit that promotes public engagement through local media and other civic-minded projects, will have greater ability to manage its affairs and award grants under a bill sponsored by Assemblyman Kevin J. Rooney and advanced by the Assembly Higher Education Committee Thursday. 

The bill (A5293) makes changes to the structure of the organization by allowing board appointments to be staggered for more continuity, broadens membership, and permits the board to hire administrative staff, carry over its unspent budget and award multi-year grants. 

“Since 2018, the New Jersey Civic Information Consortium has encouraged citizens to get involved in matters that impact their daily lives, but we’ve also evolved as an organization. There are better and more efficient ways to do this important work and that is what this bill accomplishes,” said Rooney (R-Bergen), who is also the Republican appointee to the consortium. 

Housed at Montclair State University, the consortium solicits funds from the state and private individuals for grants that improve the quantity and quality of civic information in New Jersey communities. Grants awarded during the last two years supported a local news organization in Blairstown, community reporter training in Newark, Burlington and Asbury Park, digital journalism equipment for Cranford High School, a youth media outreach program, Spanish translation services for the Hammonton Gazette, and more. 

“I am honored to be a member of this organization that gives New Jersey residents greater access to relevant news so they can be more informed and engaged citizens. It helps build connections in communities while acknowledging the limitations of mainstream media to reach all residents in a meaningful way,” Rooney added. “By allowing the organization to have more flexibility in its administrative processes, we will be able to better respond to the evolving needs of citizens.” 

The bill passed the committee with unanimous support and goes to the Assembly speaker for further consideration.