The New Jersey Legislature's new session is in full swing, and with it are some plum new committee assignments for Burlington County's lawmakers.
Among the new appointments, Assemblyman Troy Singleton, D-7th of Palmyra, was named chairman of the State and Local Government Committee, and Assemblywoman Maria Rodriguez-Gregg, R-8th of Evesham, was assigned to the influential Budget Committee.
The assignments are important because they afford lawmakers their best opportunity to shape policy and craft legislation in those areas they help oversee. Chairs control the committee's agendas and determine which bills get hearings.
Singleton replaces former Assemblywoman Linda Stender as the chair of the State and Local Government Committee, which focuses on legislation related to state and local government operations, as well as ethics, pensions, election issues and public employees.
Stender retired in January at the end of her term.
Singleton has been a state legislator since 2011, and the appointment marks his first time chairing a committee. He also is vice chairman of the Education Committee and is a member of the Budget Committee.
In addition to his elected office, Singleton is a leader with the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America.
"I'm grateful for the confidence the speaker has placed in me to fill this role," Singleton said last week after his appointment was announced. "With so many challenges facing both state and local government these days, I'm eager to roll up my sleeves and help find solutions to issues such as our mounting pension liability, expanding access to voting, and making sure government has the tools to operate more efficiently."
Rodriguez-Gregg takes over the Budget Committee seat held by her former 8th District colleague Chris J. Brown, who opted not to run for re-election in November.
Now in her second term, she is one of four Republicans on the 13-member panel, which is considered among the most powerful in state government because of its responsibility for reviewing the budget after its introduction by the governor as well as other legislation that involves spending, fees or taxes.
"Serving on the Budget Committee is an honor and a responsibility I take very seriously," Rodriguez-Gregg said in a statement. "I look forward to working hard to find solutions to New Jersey’s most challenging issues, from providing crucial property tax relief to finding a sustainable and affordable fix for public pension systems and the transportation infrastructure. There is much work to be done to make New Jersey affordable again for families and retirees.”
In addition to the Budget Committee, Rodriguez-Gregg was assigned to the Housing and Community Development Committee for the two-year legislative session.
Also, longtime Assemblyman Herb Conaway will remain in his leadership post as chairman of the Health and Senior Services Committee. He also will serve as vice chairman of the State and Local Government Committee and as a member of the Appropriations Committee.
The county's newest legislator — Assemblyman Joseph Howarth, R-8th of Evesham — landed seats on the Military and Veterans' Affairs Committee and the Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee.
Howarth was elected to the seat held by Brown.
He said his appointment to the Military and Veterans' Affairs Committee was particularly important given the large population of veterans in Burlington County and because the county is home to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, the second-largest employer in New Jersey.
“Thanks to the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, tens of thousands of active and retired military personnel make their homes in the 8th Legislative District. It is my privilege to protect their interests as a member of the Assembly Military and Veterans' Affairs Committee," Howarth said. "It has never been more important to ensure our veterans are receiving the care and assistance they have earned. And the unique challenges faced by active servicemen and women, and their families, especially following their return from deployment, will be a priority for me as a member of the committee.”
Other appointments include:
- Sens. Diane Allen, R-7th of Edgewater Park, and Dawn Marie Addiego, R-8th of Evesham, continue to serve on the Senate's Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. Allen also serves on the Military and Veterans' Affairs and Education committees, and Addiego is on the Labor Committee.
- Sen. Samuel Thompson, R-12th of Old Bridge, serves on the Budget and Appropriations and the Environment and Energy committees, and the State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee.
- Assemblyman Ronald Dancer, R-12th of Plumsted, serves on the Agriculture and Natural Resources, the Labor, and the Tourism, Gaming and the Arts committees. Assemblyman Robert Clifton, R-12th of Matawan, serves on the Housing and Community Development and Transportation and Independent Authorities committees.
- Sen. James Beach, D-6th of Voorhees, continues to serve as chairman of the Military and Veterans' Affairs Committee. He also is on the Commerce and Education committees.
- Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt, D-6th of Cherry Hill, chairs the Women and Children Committee. She also serves as vice chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee and as a member of the Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee.
- Assemblyman Lou Greenwald, D-6th of Voorhees, is majority leader and has no permanent committee appointments.