The first session of the Legislature convened on August 27, 1776, amid crisis and revolution. |
British troops were about to invade the State, and the internal conflict between colonists loyal
to Britain and colonists who sought independence was equally grave. A year earlier,
representatives from New Jersey's then 13 counties had formed a Provincial Congress to
supersede the royal Governor. In June 1776, the Provincial Congress had authorized the
preparation of a constitution, and within a few weeks it was written, adopted by the Provincial
Congress and accepted by the Continental Congress. It established an annually elected two-
House Legislature composed of a General Assembly with three representatives from each
county and a Legislative Council with one member per county.
The modern General Assembly was created in 1972, after the Supreme Court invalidated the
previous system of county-based districts.
Today, the General Assembly is an 80-member body, with members elected by district. There
are 40 districts statewide -- each elects one State Senator and two State Assemblypersons.
Members of the Assembly must be at least 21. They must also be state residents for two years.
All legislators must live in the districts they represent. Service in the Legislature is considered
to be part-time. Most legislators also hold other employment.
Elections are held in November of each odd-numbered year. Members of the Assembly serve
two-year terms. The two-year legislative term begins at noon on the second Tuesday in January
of each even-numbered year. At the end of the second year, all unfinished business expires.
Interim appointments are made to fill vacant legislative seats. These appointments are by county
committee or committees of the party of the vacating person. The office is on the ballot for the next
general election. If the vacancy occurred within 51 days of the election, the appointment stands
until the following general election.
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