ASSEMBLY, No. 4375

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

221st LEGISLATURE

INTRODUCED MAY 16, 2024

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblywoman† LINDA S. CARTER

District 22 (Somerset and Union)

Assemblywoman† LUANNE M. PETERPAUL

District 11 (Monmouth)

Assemblyman† MICHAEL VENEZIA

District 34 (Essex)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

†††† Directs Secretary of Higher Education to establish Legislative Youth Council and select institution of higher education in this State as host; makes changes to councilís structure to provide flexibility in activities and operations.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

†††† As introduced.

††


An Act concerning the New Jersey Legislative Youth Council, amending P.L.2021, c.398, and repealing sections 6 through 9 of P.L.2021, c.398.

 

†††† Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

†††† 1.††† Section 2 of P.L.2021, c.398 (C.52:13GG-2) is amended to read as follows:

†††† 2.††† The Legislature finds and declares that:

†††† a.†††† Engagement and participation by our youth in civic life are essential to maintaining the strength of our democracy, but the youth of the United States may not believe that they have a substantive voice in their government or the opportunities to share their perspectives and opinions at the highest levels of our government.

†††† b.††† The unique perspectives and valuable insights of the youth of this country are essential to ensuring that investments made by the government for programs and services for those youth are effective and efficient.

†††† c.†††† Many state legislatures and governors have created youth councils that have proven to be an effective means of understanding the perspectives and opinions of the youth of the state, leading to more effective and efficient policies, programs, and services for those youth.

†††† d.††† This State historically has sought to involve youth at the highest levels of government, including through a 1995 Youth Advisory Council to the Governor, established by Executive Order No. 34 (Whitman).

†††† e.†††† The creation of a new youth council in this State that can advise both the New Jersey Legislature and State policymakers in the Executive Branch will further develop an underutilized source of leadership in communities throughout this State and will be beneficial for the State and its resident youth.

(cf: P.L.2021, c.398, s.2)

 

†††† 2.††† Section 3 of P.L.2021, c.398 (C.52:13GG-3) is amended to read as follows:

†††† 3.††† [There is established] a.† The Secretary of Higher Education shall establish a New Jersey Legislative Youth Council for the purpose of providing a forum for the youth of this State to gain access to and knowledge of policymaking, and to participate in the democratic process [; to advise the Legislature and its committees, commissions, and task forces on the perspectives, opinions, needs, development, and welfare of the youth of the State; and to advise the Legislature and its committees, commissions and task forces on the most effective and efficient policies, programs, and services that the State could provide for the youth of this State.† The council shall research, analyze, discuss, and make specific recommendations in the areas of civics education; drugs and substance use disorder; emotional and physical health; employment and economic opportunities; environmental protection; gun violence and school safety; homelessness and poverty; mental health; safe environment for youth; sexual harassment and violence; youth services; and youth bias and hate crimes.

†††† In each two-year term of the New Jersey Legislature, the council shall submit, in writing, a series of policy recommendations to the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the General Assembly, the Minority Leader of the Senate, and the Minority Leader of the General Assembly.† The series of policy recommendations shall be made available online to the public.

†††† The council may express its position publicly on legislation pending before the New Jersey Legislature that is directly relevant to the youth of this State.]

†††† b.††† The Secretary of Higher Education shall identify an institution of higher education located in the State to host, develop, supervise, and provide administrative support to the council.†

†††† The institution of higher education shall appoint a coordinator who shall oversee the council, in consultation with the Secretary, when appropriate.† The coordinator shall receive an annual stipend in an amount to be determined by the Secretary.

†††† The coordinator may select and invite qualified persons who are considered subject matter experts to impart their knowledge, provide guidance, and assist the council members in researching and analyzing issues that the members determine to be of significance for the youth in this State.† The coordinator may also work with State policymakers to arrange for meetings, observation opportunities, and presentations that will allow for members to experience first-hand the policymaking process and to provide input directly to policymakers.† The coordinator shall report biennially to the Secretary of Higher Education and to the Legislature, pursuant to section 2 of P.L.1991, c.164 (C.52:14-19.1), on the activities of the council.

†††† c.†††† The Legislature shall appropriate sufficient funds in each fiscal year for the administration of the council.† Such appropriations may be used for the stipends provided for in this act.

(cf: P.L.2023, c.177, s.138)

 

†††† 3.††† Section 4 of P.L.2021, c.398 (C.52:13GG-4) is amended to read as follows:

†††† 4. †a. †The council shall be comprised of [44 members.† Forty members shall be members of the public and four members shall be members of the New Jersey Legislature] 40 members selected pursuant to section 5 of P.L.2021, c.398 (C.52:13GG-5).

†††† b.† Each of the 40 [public] members shall have been a resident of New Jersey for at least [15] 10 years and shall be between [15] 18 and [23] 25 years of age at the time of appointment.

†††† Each [public] member shall represent one of the 40 districts of the New Jersey Legislature.

†††† The 40 [public] members shall be inclusive and reflective of the racial, gender, geographic, urban, rural, and economic diversity of their district.

†††† [A public member who is less than 18 years of age shall be required to provide written permission from a parent or legal guardian to be a member of the council and participate in its activities.† Any public member who is less than 18 years of age shall be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian, or an adult designated in writing by the parent or legal guardian, at all times when attending meetings and other activities of the council.]

†††† No [public] member shall be a family member, or an employee, of a person who is holding, or who held in the five years prior to the public member's appointment, any appointive or elective public office of this State.

†††† [Public members shall serve for a term of two years, and if eligible, may be reappointed to serve for one additional term.

†††† c.† The President of the Senate shall appoint one member of the Senate to serve on the council.† The Speaker of the General Assembly shall appoint one member of the General Assembly to serve on the council.† The Minority Leader of the Senate shall appoint one member of the Senate to serve on the council.† The Minority Leader of the General Assembly shall appoint one member of the General Assembly to serve on the council.

†††† The legislative members shall serve a term coterminous with their term of office, and at the pleasure of the President of the Senate or the Speaker of the General Assembly.

†††† The legislative members shall be non-voting, advisory members appointed solely for the purpose of assisting the public members of the council in conducting the council's meetings and activities, and in fulfilling the council's purpose.

†††† The legislative members shall advise the council on the legislative process, provide policy and fiscal briefings, assist with the drafting of proposed legislation, and provide such guidance and information as the council deems appropriate.

†††† d.† The public members of the council shall serve until their successors are appointed and qualified, and, for this purpose, a public member may serve after reaching the age of 23 years.† The term of the successor of any incumbent public member shall be calculated from the expiration of the term of that incumbent public member.† A vacancy occurring other than by expiration of term shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointment but for the unexpired term only.

†††† e.]†† c.† For the purpose of the New Jersey Legislative Youth Council:

†††† "Appointive or elective public office" means an appointment by the Governor that requires the advice and consent of the Senate, or an appointment by the Governor to serve at the pleasure of the Governor only during his or her term of office, an appointment by an elected public official or elected governing body of a political subdivision of the State, that requires the specific consent or approval of the elected governing body of the political subdivision, or any office filled at an election by the voters at a general election.

†††† "Family member" means a child, sibling, niece, nephew, first cousin, or grandchild, whether the individual is related by blood, marriage, or adoption.

†††† ["Youth" means a person at least 15 years of age but under the age of 23 years.]

(cf: P.L.2021, c.398, s.4)

 

†††† 4.††† Section 5 of P.L.2021, c.398 (C.52:13GG-5) is amended to read as follows:

†††† 5.††† [The legislative members shall be appointed within 60 days after the creation of the council by law.]a.† The [legislative members initially] appointed coordinator shall develop an application form and application process for the selection of the [public] council members.† [The application form and application process may be revised by a majority vote of the public members appointed to the council.]

†††† b.† The member of the Senate and the two members of the General Assembly who represent each district of the New Jersey Legislature shall appoint one person, based on the application submitted by that person, to serve as a [public] member of the council from among the persons residing in that legislative district who submit applications.† The [public] members shall be appointed within 60 days of the [completion of the application form and application process.

†††† If no applications for public membership are received from persons in a legislative district or there are no qualified applicants, an additional 30 days to appoint a public member from that legislative district shall be provided for the receipt of applications from persons who reside in that legislative district] commencement of each new two-year legislative term and shall serve only for that legislative term.

†††† c.† Each council member shall receive a stipend in an amount to be determined by the coordinator, in consultation with the Secretary of Higher Education.

(cf: P.L.2021, c.398, s.5)

†††† 5.††† (New Section)† An individual appointed to the council prior to the effective date of P.L.††† , c. ††† (pending before the Legislature as this bill), who is eligible for appointment to the council pursuant to the terms of this act, P.L.††† , c.††† (pending before the Legislature as this bill), shall be deemed appointed to the council for the two-year legislative term of the State Legislature commencing on January 9, 2024.

 

†††† 6.††† Sections 6 through 9 of P.L.2021, c.398 (C.52:13GG-6 through C.52:13GG-9) are repealed.

 

†††† 7.††† This act shall take effect immediately.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

†††† This bill makes changes to the Legislative Youth Council to create flexibility and provide long-term support.

†††† The bill:

†††† Directs the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education to establish a Legislative Youth Council in collaboration with a college or university located in this State, for the engagement of youth in this State in the democratic process.

†††† Directs the college or university selected by the Secretary to provide support to council members so they can more effectively undertake their responsibilities and provide input to policymakers.

†††† Directs the college or university to designate a coordinator for the council to manage the day to day functions, including arranging for guest speakers and for opportunities to observe policymakers.

†††† Establishes a stipend, in an amount to be determined by the Secretary, for the coordinator.

†††† Removes the requirement that the members study particular subject areas, allowing the council to adapt over time and research issues of greatest concern to them as representatives of the youth in this State.

†††† Removes the requirement that the council provide regular reports to the Legislature on particular subjects but instead only requires that the coordinator report to the Legislature and the Secretary of Higher Education on the activities of the council once every two years.

†††† Aligns the term of the members with the two-year legislative term for overlap with the schedule of legislative activity in this State.

†††† Removes legislators from formal positions with the council, allowing for them and other policymakers to engage in a more advisory capacity.

†††† Requires the coordinator to develop the application for appointment to the council and removes the ability of the council to revise that application.

†††† Raises the minimum age for eligible applicants from 15 to 18 and the maximum age from 23 to 25 to create a cohort of council members who are closer in experience and college level of education to inform their activities.

†††† Lowers the number of years that a member has to have been a resident of this State to broaden the eligible pool of applicants.

†††† Requires the members of the Senate and General Assembly to appoint the members within 60 days after the start of a two-year legislative term.

†††† Removes the ability of the members of the Legislature to appoint members after that initial 60 days to ensure that there is no delay in participation for some of the members who are appointed later.

†††† Establishes a stipend for council members in an amount to be determined by the coordinator.

†††† Provides that all members who have been appointed prior to the enactment of the bill will constitute the inaugural council members, as long as they would also be eligible under the terms of this bill, and will begin their service with the new legislative term commencing on January 9, 2024.

†††† This bill also repeals several provisions of law that require the council to maintain an executive board, that require a certain schedule of meetings for the council, and that limit the payments received by members to reimbursements for expenses already incurred.