Participating in Legislative Activity
Citizens are welcome to participate in the legislative process at the New Jersey State House.
Legislative sessions and committee meetings usually occur on Mondays and Thursdays. Public galleries on the second floor of the State House allow citizens to observe voting sessions. The Senate President and General Assembly Speaker establish standards for access and decorum, which are enforced by sergeants-at-arms. Access to special events, such as an address by the Governor, may require a seating pass.
Committee rooms are located in the State House Annex. Some meetings are held remotely with live streaming on the legislative website. Committee chairs determine matters of protocol. Advance registration to provide testimony usually is required and arranged by the committee aide.
Citizens seeking to address legislators may wait in public corridors, with the expectation they will not impede anyone’s progress, hold signs or create a disturbance. Public events and displays inside the capitol are coordinated through the Public Use Program. Outside gatherings require a permit from the State Police. They may be reached at 609-984-4222.
Notice of legislative activity is provided in the Legislative Calendar, which is produced by the Office of Legislative Services Legislative Information and Bill Room. Located in Room B-1 of the State House Annex, the Legislative Information and Bill Room provides public information resources, manages portions of the legislative website, and responds to inquiries regarding legislative activity.
The Citizens’ Guide includes useful information for State House visitors interested in civic engagement, including a photo directory of the members, seating charts, and basic wayfinding information.
Representative democracy is a system of government where people elect officials to make policy. Since the power of government comes from the people, it is important to engage in civic responsibilities.
Look, Listen, and Learn
Getting involved with democracy and your local government can start with gathering information from reliable resources, including newspapers, television, and radio shows; websites and government publications; and from talking with and listening to other people interested in public policy. These types of outlets can keep you informed of what is going on in your community. It’s good practice to consult a variety of sources in order to form a thoughtful opinion of issues.
Contact Your Representatives
Write a letter, call, or email a government official to express your concerns or ideas. Legislators are especially interested in hearing from their constituents since their work is centered on creating laws to address problems. Doing research (as explained above) should help to ensure your comments are given consideration.
You may want to find other people or organizations that value the same ideas as you. Working as a group will help to raise more awareness of your concerns and possibly help to build support. You may start or sign a petition to show other people share your concerns. Public rallies and marches also show widespread interest in an issue
You can speak up by attending public hearings or asking to speak at committee meetings. Be prepared to share accurate, well-reasoned ideas and to answer questions. You can also speak up by using bumper stickers, wearing t-shirts, or using lawn signs . . . these ideas are just a few everyday tools you can use to spread your message.
Every election is a chance to "hire" someone to make our government work for us. Learn about the candidates and where they stand on issues. Then vote for whomever you think is the best for the job. In addition to voting, you can help campaign for a candidate you like, or maybe even run yourself!