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NJBIA President & CEO Michele Siekerka issued the following statement Wednesday regarding the passing of former state Senator Ron Rice (D-28), a veteran and former Newark law enforcement officer who served 36 years in the Senate and was the founder and chairman of the Legislature’s Black Caucus.

“NJBIA mourns the passing of Senator Rice, as it is an enormous loss for the state of New Jersey. In addition to his legacy of trying to improve social justice, criminal justice and economic justice, it was Senator Rice’s independence as a free thinker, and his conviction to stand up for what he believed in, even if it was against the will of his party, that was truly to be admired.

“While we didn’t agree on all issues, we have immense gratitude for the times he stood up for New Jersey’s business community. Senator Rice will be greatly missed, and we offer sincere condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.”