Subpoena power approved

The Assembly Budget Committee on Wednesday morning approved a resolution (AR151) that would authorize the committee to use subpoenas in order to compel testimony and obtain relevant documents from state employees, state agencies or other political entities.

“This is not a partisan issue…this is about access,” said Budget Committee Chariman Vincent Prieto, D-32, Secaucus. “I think this branch of government deserves to know the facts. I feel we need to know the facts. We’re entitled to hear the information first hand.”

Assemblyman Anthony Bucco, R-25, Boonton, said Prieto shouldn’t feel disrespected about the treasurer not testifying previously, adding that letters were sent detailing reasons why he couldn’t appear.

“This action is unnecessary,” Bucco said.

But Prieto pointed out that the correspondence was received relatively late, at the pre-meetings, well after the committee members arrived at the statehouse. A better is to have the responses provided well before a scheduled hearing.”

Prieto expressed his frustration a few weeks ago after Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff declined to appear before the committee. It was not the first time this had happened, Prieto said, and he felt pursuing subpoena power was the next option.

The resolution was passed along party lines. Assemblyman Chris Brown was filling in for the spot vacated by Assemblyman Gary Chiusano, who left the Assembly last week after being appointed by Gov. Christie to become a surrogate in Sussex County. He, like the three other Republicans on the committee, voted no.

All the Democrats voted yes.

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"I don't think what he's doing tonight, the method by which he's doing it helps to build a trustful relationship."
—Gov. Chris Christie reacting to President Barack Obama's speech on immigration reform.