Home>Governor>Bill renaming freeholders headed to Murphy’s desk

Senate President Steve Sweeney, left, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, center, and Gov. Phil Murphy

Bill renaming freeholders headed to Murphy’s desk

Governor will sign measure

By Nikita Biryukov, July 30 2020 4:21 pm

A bill renaming freeholders county commissioners is headed to Gov. Phil Murphy’s desk.

Both chambers of the legislature advanced the measure Thursday. In the Senate, it passed 31-6. In the Assembly, it got 61 yes votes and 12 noes.

Murphy has said he will sign the bill, which was introduced after the governor, Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin jointly announced they’d push to rename county lawmakers.

The title “freeholder” originates from old English, where it was used to refer to men who owned land free of debt.

The bill’s backers have argued the term should be replaced because it carried a racist legacy. The term was in use when only land-owning white men were permitted to serve in county government.

Others have argued the term should be retired because few New Jerseyans know what a freeholder is.

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