Governor Christie's Fall Reform Agenda

October 13, 2010

Last month, Governor Christie unveiled a new agenda for reform. The Governor’s proposals include a ban on dual officeholding, heightened financial disclosure, increased penalties for violating the public trust and comprehensive legislation to expand New Jersey’s pay-to-play laws.

The Governor’s plan for pay-to-play reform includes legislation to:

• Restrict the Practice of “Wheeling” by imposing contribution limits on county and municipal committees for committee to committee contributions and committee contributions to out-of-county or out-of-municipality candidates. In some instances committees may currently make unlimited contributions to one another.

• Impose a Uniform Set of Contract Award Standards on all levels of government and all branches of state government. In short, the Governor’s proposal would end the “fair and open” contract exception in local government contracting. If this proposal comes to fruition, it will not have any impact on the state government contracting process, which does not currently provide any exception for “fair and open process” contracts.

• Include labor unions within the scope of New Jersey’s pay-to-play restrictions. The Governor previously sought this change by executive order, which was challenged and struck down.

As a complete package, the Governor has promised that his proposals for ethics reform and greater transparency in the Garden State will strengthen the public trust.

Although actual bills have not yet been introduced, the Governor is seeking legislative action on his pay-to-play proposals no later than December. If these proposals become law, New Jersey’s pay-to-play landscape will change again. The biggest impact on vendors will likely be the elimination of the “fair and open” exception to contracting at the local level. Also, the inclusion of labor unions within the scope of New Jersey’s statewide pay-to-play restrictions would mark the first extension of these restrictions beyond the government procurement context.

Tag: New Jersey