Office of Legislative Services
Office of Legislative Services: An Overview
The Office of Legislative Services (OLS) operates under the jurisdiction of the Legislative Services Commission, a 16-member bipartisan panel with equal representation from each house. The commission establishes general operating and budgetary policies for OLS, appoints its primary officers (executive director, legislative counsel, legislative budget and finance officer and director of public information) and delegates authority for day-to-day operations and personnel actions to the executive director. As nonpartisan employees of the Legislature, members of the OLS staff are prohibited from engaging in political activity or taking a public position with regard to any matter before the Legislature.
Types of Services
The Office of Legislative Services is an agency of the Legislature established by law to provide professional, nonpartisan staff support services to the Legislature and its officers, members, committees and commissions. The services which are available include:
- general, legal and fiscal research and analysis
- bill drafting
- legal opinions
- ceremonial resolution drafting
- fiscal note preparation committee staffing
- district office rental and supply
- distribution of bills and legislative documents
- computer data-base management
- public information programs
- general administrative services
- personnel program management
Nature of Assistance
By law, all communications between legislators and OLS are confidential. The Office will not disclose to a third party the nature of an assignment nor the name of the legislator requesting the information or research unless so authorized by the legislator. Similarly, drafts of bills and other research products will not be released except upon specific direction of the legislator.
The Office has no authority to formulate legislative policy and may only undertake bill drafting or research assignments upon the initiative of a legislator or committee. In assisting a legislator in the preparation of a bill, OLS will provide guidance for technical form and may offer suggestions as to content and legal or constitutional issues, but the final decision regarding the bill's substantive provisions rests with the legislator.
Requests for Assistance
While a legislator may contact any member of the OLS staff for assistance, the Office recommends that requests for research and bill drafting be made directly to the Central Management Unit 609-847-3880. Requests for other services should be directed to the appropriate OLS unit as described in this directory. For information concerning committee activities, a legislator should contact the committee aide.
Although OLS does not provide research assistance to the general public, it does maintain a toll-free information service in New Jersey 800-792-8630 through which the public (as well as legislators) may inquire as to the status of a bill, the calendar of events, legislative rosters, legislative procedures and other general information. For Hearing Impaired users: Dial 711 for NJ Relay. The Office will also assist other State and local government agencies to the extent that resources allow.
Organization of the Office
As a result of a 1986 reorganization, the separate divisions that housed the legal, research and fiscal functions were eliminated and the three staffs were integrated within ten sections organized by subject area. These sections report through the Central Management Unit to the Executive Director. Other OLS functions are established in units: Legislative Counsel, Legislative Budget and Finance, Public Information, Administrative, Data Management, Human Resources, and the Office of the State Auditor.
The Office of Legislative Services is housed in the State House Annex, except for the Office of the State Auditor, which is located at 125 South Warren Street in Trenton.