Zwicker, Coughlin Bill to Reinstate, Change Name of NJ Commission of Science and Technology Now Law

(TRENTON) - Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker and Speaker Craig Coughlin to re-establish the former New Jersey Commission on Science and Technology as NJ Commission on Science, Innovation and Technology was signed in to law Wednesday by the Governor.

At the inaugural meeting of the Assembly Science, Innovation, and Technology Committee on February 1, the panel received testimony from invited guests on ways to enhance and promote the state's innovation ecosystem. Zwicker, chair of the Assembly Science, Innovation and Technology Committee recurring theme from all testifying was to breathe new life into the Commission on Science and Technology.

"Reinstating the NJ Commission on Science and Technology and adding "Innovation" to its name both emphasizes the rich history and the importance to NJ of innovation as an economic driver. It also provides a focal point for the work we have already begun this year of spurring the creation of high-quality 21st century jobs for all New Jerseyans," said Zwicker (D-Somerset, Mercer, Middlesex and Hunterdon). "The past work of the Commission accounted for economic growth, job creation and aid in the positioning of New Jersey as a global leader and I expect great things from this body of science and technology experts as we move forward."

"The NJ Commission on Science and Technology was a vital economic growth and job creation stimulus for the state and it will soon be again with its reinstatement," said Speaker Coughlin (D- Middlesex). "The quality of work and of life for all New Jerseyans is enhanced through the development of its science and technological resources. Earlier this year, we created a new Assembly standing committee focused on Science, Innovation and Technology to ensure New Jersey continues to encourage growth in these areas. And today, by giving new life to this Commission, we seize another opportunity and begin to work on reclaiming New Jersey's place at the forefront of the industry."

Previously, the commission worked to maintain and develop programs that addressed the future needs of New Jerseyans through novel collaborative research partnerships, workforce development, and research and development (R&D) programs. It supported programs that addressed the continuum of commercialization in start-up companies and developed assistance programs in order to accelerate the commercialization of new technologies.

The Commission's programs helped the creation or retention of over 2,000 high-paying science and technology jobs, during a period of economic recession.

Under the new law (formerly bill A-3652) the membership of the Commission will include seventeen members

  • four public members appointed by the Governor;
  • two public members appointed by the Governor by recommendation of the Senate President;
  • two public members appointed by the Governor by recommendation of the Speaker of the General Assembly;
  • two members of the Senate, who are not to be of the same political party, appointed by the Senate President as ex officio, non-voting members;
  • two members of the General Assembly, who are not to be of the same political party, appointed by the Speaker of the General Assembly, as ex officio, non-voting members;
  • the Secretary of Higher Education, ex officio;
  • the Commissioner of Education, ex officio;
  • the Executive Director of the Economic Development Authority (EDA), ex officio; and
  • two presidents of the State's public and private research institutions of higher education, as ex officio, non-voting members.

Each public member is required to have a background and expertise in the field of science or technology, or in a business related to science and technology.

The new law also creates within the Commission and amongst its own members, an Innovation Council to report to the Commission, the Legislature, and the Governor on emerging industries and technologies. The Council will be required to author and provide a report on such to the Governor and Legislature once after the first year enactment and every three years thereafter.

The Assembly passed the bill in May, 64-7-3.