The Star-Ledger

Action In Trenton

Committee Advances 'Clean Elections' Bill

The Star-Ledger — Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A bill intended to show that public financing of legislative campaigns can work in New Jersey began moving through the state Senate yesterday.

Following passage last month in the Assembly, the so-called "Clean Elections" bill (A100/S2438) won bipartisan support from the Senate State Government Committee and is now ready for a full Senate vote.

The bill would subsidize the general election campaigns of 18 or more Assembly and Senate candi dates in three districts chosen by legislative leaders from both par ties. It would provide about $7.7 million for campaign grants and to promote the program.

A previous pilot project during the last legislative campaign two years ago was considered a flop be cause it was too hard to qualify for subsidies and only two of 10 eligible Assembly candidates took them. Making it simpler to get

on government panels Gov. Jon Corzine yesterday is sued an executive order making it easier for average New Jerseyans to be considered for the vast array of boards, commissions and authorities that help govern the state.

Beginning tomorrow, a new Web page at the governor's site (http://www.state.nj.us/governor/) will help people learn which positions are open, what the various agencies do and how they can apply for membership.

"We want to encourage greater participation in our state government, and our new online process will make it easier for our citizens who want to be considered for appointments to gather information, complete applications and submit résumés," Corzine said.

The governor yesterday also is sued an order setting up a process of reviewing inactive boards and commissions so those that are not essential can be eliminated to save money and cut back on redundancy. Helping military spouses

obtain jobless benefits A bill to permit spouses of armed forces personnel who have to relocate outside of the state to collect unemployment benefits was approved 12-0 yesterday by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.

Sponsored by Sen. Shirley Turner (D-Mercer), the bill (S746) provides that if a spouse is other wise eligible in all respects to ob tain unemployment benefits, he or she may receive them.

The bill aims to avoid the problem created when a member of the armed forces is ordered to move outside the state and the member's family usually is forced to relocate, requiring the spouse to quit their job. Current law prohibits the spouse from qualifying for unemployment insurance benefits be cause the separation from work was voluntary and without good cause attributable to the work.

"These people are not willing giving up their jobs," Turner said. "They shouldn't be held to the same standards as those individuals who voluntarily quit their jobs. Our military families make so many sacrifices, both on and off the battlefield, we should try and reduce the challenges they must face on the home front." Legislators to honor a pair of trailblazers The Senate State Government Committee yesterday approved a bill to honor New Jersey's first black legislators – Assemblyman Walter Gilbert Alexander and Sen. Hutchins F. Inge.

"Assemblyman Alexander and Senator Inge overcame the racism of their respective time periods and won their seats because they were the best men for the job," said Sen. Joseph Coniglio (D-Bergen), who sponsored a bill (S2482) to have two plaques honoring the lawmak ers displayed in the Statehouse.

Alexander, a Republican from Orange, was a doctor who was elected to the Assembly in 1921 and served two terms. The son of former slaves, he earned his bachelor's degree from Lincoln University in 1899 and in 1903 earned a medical degree from Boston College of Physicians and Surgeons. He died in 1953 at the age of 73.

Inge, also a doctor, was a Democrat who represented Newark from 1966 to 1968 and was chairman of the Senate Federal and Interstate Relations Committee. A graduate of the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy and the Howard University School of Medicine, Inge served on the staff of United Presbyterian Hospital in Newark. He died in 2002 at the age of 101.

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