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New Law Aimed to Track Gender and Race Demographics of Members of New Jersey Boards, Commissions, and Elected Officials

On January 19, 2022, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed Senate Bill 4004 into law, providing for the creation of a database of certain appointed positions and elected offices. Specifically, the new law directs the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers to establish and maintain two databases: one for every person appointed to a State board, commission, authority, or other multi-member entity; and the other for every elected public official in this State, excluding school boards. The databases will contain the name of each individual so appointed or elected, the title of the office held, the term of office, the race and the gender identity or expression of that individual, and the appointing authority.

In a study conducted by Rutgers University’s Center for American Women and Politics in 2019, women held only 27% of the seats on 58 of New Jersey’s most powerful public boards and commissions. Additionally, NJ Advance Media conducted a study in 2021 and reviewed more than 900 appointments to public boards. The study found that women held about 28% of the 902 seats on the State’s 85 most powerful public boards while men sat in 55% of the seats, and 18% are vacant. Men were in the majority on 67 of the 85 public boards, including nearly all of the boards considered the most influential, from the Rutgers Board of Governors to the New Jersey Transit Board and the Board of Public Utilities. In some cases, public boards were entirely filled by men or women held only a single seat. There are also hundreds of vacant seats on public boards, including many that have remained unfilled for years.

The law is aimed toward collecting the data necessary to assist the State in eliminating disparities and promoting more balanced representation of New Jersey’s population in government, including on boards, commissions, and authorities.

This summary is for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute legal advice. This information should not be reused without permission.