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New Jersey Association on Correction v. Lan

Decided: December 1, 1978.

NEW JERSEY ASSOCIATION ON CORRECTION, A NEW JERSEY NOT-FOR-PROFIT CORPORATION, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
DONALD T. LAN, SECRETARY OF THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



On appeal from Superior Court, Law Division, Mercer County.

Fritz, Bischoff and Morgan.

Per Curiam

[164 NJSuper Page 118] At issue in this appeal is the constitutionality of L. 1978, c. 79, recently approved in a general election by the voters of this State in a referendum held on November 6, 1978. The challenged enactment, known as the Institutional Construction Bond Act of 1978, passed the State Senate on June 8, 1978, the State General Assembly on June 26, 1978 and was signed by the Governor on July 13, 1978. The present action, filed pursuant to the Declaratory Judgments Act (N.J.S.A. 2A:16-50 et seq.), was initiated on September 27, 1978, heard on cross-motions for summary judgment on October 18, 1978, and its constitutionality was upheld by the trial court on October 18, 1978. Notice of appeal was filed on October 20, 1978 and the Supreme Court declined thereafter to consider the matter then pending

unheard in the Appellate Division. We accelerated the matter. We now undertake to decide the projected posited issue of the enactment's constitutionality.

L. 1978, c. 79, has the following title:

An Act authorizing the creation of a debt of the State of New Jersey by issuance of bonds of the State in the sum of $100,000,000.00 for public buildings, their planning, erection, acquisition, improvement, construction, reconstruction, development, extension, rehabilitation, demolition and equipment; providing the ways and means to pay the interest of said debt and also to pay and discharge the principal thereof; providing for the submission of this act to the people at a general election; and providing an appropriation therefor.

The critical section of this enactment, § 5, authorizes the issuance of bonds of the State of New Jersey in the total amount of $100,000,000, subject to voter approval, the proceeds of which "shall be allocated, to the maximum extent practicable and feasible, according to the following estimates of costs * * *": $51,000,000 to the construction of public buildings for the mentally retarded in conjunction with the Federal Program for Intermediate Care Facilities/Mentally Retarded; $8,000,000 for improvements and additions to facilities for the mentally ill, to be implemented by the Department of Human Services; $30,000,000 for construction of institutions for the incarcerated, including the completion of the reconstruction of Trenton State Prison, to be implemented by the Department of Corrections; $6,500,000 for the construction of buildings for records and for library facilities for blind and handicapped persons, to be implemented by the Department of Education, and $4,500,000 for the construction of a forensic science facility for the State Medical Examiner, to be implemented by the Department of Law and Public Safety. All of these building projects were legislatively found to be "critically" and "immediately" needed to carry out public responsibilities to the people of this State (L. 1978, c. 79, § 2). All were recommended by the

Commission on Capital Budgeting and Planning; all were designed to serve the administrative and institutional needs of State Government.

Plaintiff, appellant herein, a citizens' group concerned with correctional policies and inmates' rights, challenges the constitutional validity of the enactment on the ground that it embraces a multiplicity of purposes, in violation of N.J. Const. (1947), Art. IV, § 7, par. 4, and Art. VIII, § 2, par. 3.*fn1 While these constitutional provisions may have differing purposes and involve varied concerns in other contexts, they are virtually identical in their application to the present matter. Art. IV, § 7, par. 4 requires that "every law shall embrace but one object, * * *." Art. VIII, § 2, par. 3, specifically applicable to bond issue referenda, provides:

The Legislature shall not * * * create * * * a debt or debts * * * unless the same shall be authorized by a law for some single object or work distinctly specified therein. * * * No such law shall take effect until it shall have been submitted to the people at a general election and approved by a majority of the legally qualified voters of the State voting thereon. * * *

The unconstitutionality of L. 1978, c. 79, can be found, argues appellant, in the inclusion in one enactment of several objects to be served by the issuance of the bonds authorized by this enactment. It points out that these purposes are essentially unrelated to each other, or related only at a prohibited level of abstraction, and are each to be administered by different departments of the Executive Branch. It insists their inclusion within one enactment requiring voter ...


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