Corzine vetoes controversial referendum bill

Update, 4:25pm

Josh Zeitz, who is the spokesman for the former governor, said that Corzine planned to pocket veto the bill but ultimately signed it after extracting a written pledge from the legislative leadership to revise the bill with later legislation, changing the referendum waiting period from 10 years to five.

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Outgoing Gov. Jon Corzine last night vetoed a bill that would have forced a 10-year waiting period for referendums on changes to the way municipal governments are elected. 

The bill was opposed by several groups, including New Jersey Appleseed, the Latino Leadership Alliance and the League of Municipalities.  Critics said it was a naked attempt to stop a group of New Brunswick activists who in November narrowly lost a referendum to change the structure of the city’s government from an all at-large council members to a mixed at-large and ward-based system.  The group, Empower our Neighborhoods, intends to put the question back on the ballot in two years.

The bill had just passed both houses of the legislature this month in a vote that was mainly, but not entirely, along party lines.  The assembly passed it by a margin of 41 to 34, while the senate passed it 21 to 15. 

Current law allows petitions to change the form of municipal governments to be brought every two, three or four years, depending on the type of government.

Corzine also vetoed four other bills last night.  

Corzine vetoes controversial referendum bill