TRENTON - Gov. Chris Christie eulogized a legislative leader instead of delivering his annual State of the State address during an appearance before a joint session of the Legislature.

Christie appeared before the Legislature yesterday, a day after Assembly Minority Leader Alex DeCroce collapsed and died at the Statehouse on the last day of the 214th session.

He told lawmakers the Republican leader died "doing what he loved, serving the people of New Jersey" but that "does not lessen the pain."

The Assembly observed a moment of silence for DeCroce as the lawmakers were sworn in earlier Tuesday for a new term. Bagpipes played before the ceremony as a bouquet of flowers sat on the late legislator's empty desk.

VIDEO: Gov. Christie speaks on death of Assemblyman Alex DeCroce NJ Assembly's GOP leader dies at Statehouse Trenton mourns loss of Assemblyman DeCroce