A special Jersey power

Posted: July 01, 2012

TRENTON - New Jersey, which has one of the most powerful governor's offices in the country, allows the governor to call a special legislative session "whenever in his opinion the public interest" requires it, according to the state constitution.

Gov. Christie convened a special session for Monday morning and can even use state police officers to bring legislators from their homes - or the beach.

But after legislators listen to Christie's speech, scheduled for 11 a.m., they don't have to act on his tax-cut proposal or any other legislation. That's up to the Senate president and Assembly speaker, both Democrats.

Christie called a special session in his first year as governor, forcing Democrats back to the Statehouse in July 2010 to reach an accord on capping annual property tax increases. After three days, both chambers approved a 2 percent cap - a limit lower than either party initially wanted but with more exceptions than the governor's initial plan.

This year, the topic is tax cuts.

Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D., Gloucester) said in a statement Saturday that Christie's dramatic call for a special session was needless because Christie's proposal wouldn't go into effect until 2013.

"While the last thing anyone wants in the middle of a heat wave is hot air coming from Trenton, we will be there," Sweeney said.

In 2006, Gov. Corzine held a special session to address property tax relief. But he also vetoed the budget, shutting down the government to secure a 1-percentage-point increase in the sales tax, taking it to 7 percent.

The governor is required to give the Legislature 48 hours' notice for a special session, and that's exactly what Christie did - to the minute.

Contact Matt Katz

at 609-217-8355, mkatz@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @mattkatz00. Read his blog, "Christie Chronicles," at www.philly.com/


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