TRENTON — The New Jersey Legislature kicked off a new session last week, and Burlington County’s lawmakers appear to be well-positioned to maximize their influence after receiving some of the plum committee assignments.
Burlington County’s two senators — Democrat Troy Singleton, of the 7th District, and Republican Dawn Marie Addiego, of the 8th District — landed spots on the powerful Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, and new Assemblywoman Carol Murphy, of the 7th District, was assigned to the Assembly’s budget panel.
The assignments are important because they afford lawmakers their best opportunity to shape policy and craft legislation in the areas they help oversee. Chairs control the committee’s agendas and determine which bills get hearings.
In particular, lawmakers on the two budget committees are considered especially influential because the panels are charged with reviewing the annual budget, as well as most legislation that involves appropriating state funds or assessing a tax or fee.
Singleton, who is starting his first term as a senator after serving for six years in the Assembly, previously served on the Assembly Budget Committee. He will also be vice chairman of the Senate’s Economic Growth Committee and serve on the Legislative Oversight Committee.
The latter committee has a wide range of authority to investigate and hold hearings on state issues of importance. Among its most recent hearings was related to NJ Transit and the repairs needed on its mass transit systems.
Reached last week, Singleton said having multiple Burlington County voices on the two budget committees is a big plus for residents.
“This will allow us to be advocates for Burlington County, and ensure that the fiscal blueprint that Gov.-elect Murphy develops for our state is responsive to the working families of our area,” he said. “I am also excited to serve in a leadership position on the Senate Economic Growth Committee as we look for ways to grow economic and employment opportunities and reduce income inequality for all New Jersey residents.”
Addiego, a former county freeholder who has served in the Legislature since 2008, is on the Senate budget panel for the first time. She joins Republican Sens. Anthony Bucco, R-25th of Boonton; Steve Oroho, R-24th of Franklin; Sam Thompson, R-12th of Old Bridge; and Declan O’Scanlon, R-13th of Little Silver, as the minority party’s representatives. She will also serve on the Senate Labor Committee.
Thompson, who represents part of Burlington County, will serve on the Senate’s Education Committee and the State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee.
In the Assembly, longtime member Herb Conaway, D-7th of Delran, retains his post as chairman of the Health and Senior Services Committee, and he remains on the Appropriations Committee.
In addition to the Budget panel, Murphy landed spots on the Assembly Financial Institutions and Judiciary committees. The latter assignment could prove key for one of her priorities, which is to update state laws and policies related to sexual harassment.
Another new member, Assemblyman Ryan Peters, R-8th of Hainesport, landed three committee assignments: Appropriations, Financial Institutions, and Insurance and State and Local Government.
Peters is a former Navy SEAL and an attorney specializing in commercial litigation, fraud and anti-money laundering.
Fellow 8th District Republican Joe Howarth will serve on the Assembly’s Law and Public Safety Committee and Tourism, Gaming and Arts Committee.
Two other Republicans who represent part of the county are Assemblymen Ronald Dancer, R-12th of Plumsted, and Robert Clifton, R-12th of Matawan. Dancer will sit on the Agriculture and Natural Resources, Military and Veterans Affairs, and Tourism, Gaming and Arts committees. Clifton will serve on the Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee and the Housing and Community Development Committee.
Democrat Pamela Lampitt, D-6th of Cherry Hill, also represents a portion of the county. She moves from chair of the Assembly Women and Children Committee to chair of the Education Committee. She will also be vice chairwoman of the Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee.
Many of the Democratic moves in the Assembly reflect a change in leadership, as Craig Coughlin, D-19th of Fords, took over as speaker for Vincent Prieto, D-32nd of Secaucus, following an intraparty battle. Coughlin emerged victorious, in large part, because he was supported by an entire bloc of lawmakers from South and Central Jersey, as well as a few key North Jersey members.