|The New Jersey Legislature consists of two Houses: a 40-member Senate and an 80-member General Assembly. The Senate and Assembly chambers are located in the State House in Trenton.
Legislators are elected from 40 legislative districts of substantially equal population. The voters in each district elect one Senator and two members of the General Assembly.
Legislative elections are held in November of each odd-numbered year. Members of the Assembly serve two-year terms. Senators serve four-year terms, except for the first term of a new decade, which is only two years. This “2-4-4” cycle allows for elections from new districts as soon as possible after each reapportionment.
|The chief function of the Legislature is to enact laws. A proposal to make a new law, or to change or repeal an existing law, is presented to the Legislature as a bill. To become law, a bill must pass both Houses by a majority vote and be approved by the Governor.
The Legislature can also propose amendments to the New Jersey Constitution. Such an amendment must be passed by a vote of 3/5 of each House (24 votes in the Senate and 48 votes in the Assembly). No action by the Governor is required. If passed, the proposed amendment is placed on the ballot in November for a public vote. An amendment may also be presented to the voters if the Legislature passes it two years in a row by a majority vote.
Additional powers of the Legislature include Senatorial approval of the Governor’s appointments of judges and other officials. The Legislature is also empowered to ratify amendments to the U.S. Constitution; appoint the State Auditor; judge the elections and qualifications of its members; and institute and conduct impeachment proceedings against State officials.