TRENTON - New Jersey lawmakers have taken their oath of office for a new term in somber ceremonies as they mourn the death of a Republican leader who collapsed at the Statehouse.
Assemblyman Alex DeCroce collapsed and died as the 214th legislative session wrapped up last night. DeCroce was 75 and represented parts of Morris and Passaic counties.
Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) spoke at the joint session about the passing of DeCroce instead of his annual State of the State address, which has been postponed until next week.
The governor told lawmakers the Republican leader died "doing what he loved, serving the people of New Jersey" but that "does not lessen the pain."
Bagpipes opened the ceremony in the Assembly chamber, where a bouquet of flowers rested on DeCroce's desk.
The tributes poured in from all parts of the Statehouse and both sides of the political aisle. Instead of the usual pomp and circumstance, the Assembly held its reorganization inside its chamber, announcing elected members from every district.
DeCroce left his fingerprints on major pieces of legislation ranging from transportation issues to crime victim's rights. He is also remembered by fellow politicians for his leadership.
DeCroce's legislative office in Whippany was closed today.