Legislation sponsored by Senator Christopher “Kip” Bateman (R-16) to help small business owners secure financing to ensure their property is energy-efficient and prepared for severe weather events was advanced by the Senate Environment and Energy Committee.
“By allowing municipalities to engage in the private financing outlined in the PACE special assessment, we can empower more small business owners to make energy-efficiency improvements and recover from or prepare for future storms,” Senator Bateman said. “As we embark on hurricane season, this bill is essential to ensuring business owners can make vital improvements, such as raising the property to prevent flood damage.”
Legislation sponsored by Senator Jennifer Beck (R-Monmouth) to aid Superstorm Sandy survivors by extending the Consumer Fraud Act to homeowners enrolled in the RREM and LMI programs has cleared the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee. The bill would ensure that Sandy homeowners are treated fairly in the rebuilding process while providing recourse for homeowners who are victims of contractor fraud.
“More than three years after Superstorm Sandy, there are 7,776 homeowners enrolled in the RREM program and 316 in the LMI program, and far too many are still struggling to rebuild,” Senator Beck said. “Sandy survivors shouldn’t have to navigate through endless red tape without adequate support, nor should they have to fear retribution from a fraudulent contractor. My bill will protect these homeowners, who have already suffered significant hardships in the wake of the storm, from being further victimized.”
A bill sponsored by Senator Diane Allen (R-Burlington) to provide tuition benefits to members of the reserve components of the armed forces was passed by Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.
Under current law, members of the New Jersey National Guard can attend regularly-scheduled courses at a public institution and receive up to 16 credits per semester for free. This legislation, S-1915, extends that benefit to reservists as long as he or she is a resident of New Jersey.
The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee advanced legislation sponsored by Senator Joe Pennacchio (R-Morris) aimed at helping small businesses grow by giving them a chance to compete for state and federal contracts.
The legislation, S-123, would establish a “Small Business Bonding Readiness Assistance Program” through the Economic Development Authority, which would provide support to small businesses and help them meet requirements to obtain surety bonding, which is needed before they can bid on public contracts.
Senator Sam Thompson (R-12), a member of the Senate Budget & Appropriations Committee, has introduced legislation to provide a permanent, stable source of funding for New Jersey’s Transportation Trust Fund (TTF).
The TTF, which funds transportation infrastructure projects in the state, will soon lack the resources to pay for new projects. Unlike other proposals that would only serve as a short-term solution to TTF refunding for seven or ten years, Thompson’s proposal, S-2352, provides a permanent solution.
“Every few years the TTF runs out of money and short-term politics prevents the enactment of a reasonable long-term solution to transportation funding,” said Thompson. “My proposal will create a stable source of permanent funding and take the politics out of funding safe roads and bridges.”
Bucco Bill to Guarantee Equal Access Housing for Disabled Persons and Their Service Animals Advances
Legislation sponsored by Senator Anthony Bucco (R-Morris) to prevent disabled persons from being separated from their retired service animal was advanced by the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee.
“We cannot in good conscience allow an individual who has spent much of their life coping with significant hardships and adversity to face the heartbreak of bidding farewell to a faithful guide dog who has become family,” Senator Bucco added. “By amending this law, people with disabilities can continue to love and care for their loyal service dog as a pet, without the fear of losing their home or being unable to find adequate housing.”
Legislation sponsored by Senator Dawn Addiego (R-Atlantic, Burlington, Camden) to protect the privacy of consumers by restricting the collection of their personal information passed the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee.
“At a time when cyber hacks are becoming more and more common, it’s more important than ever that we keep a close eye on what kind of information retailers are holding onto,” Senator Addiego said. “This bill prevents shoppers’ most-sensitive information from being retained by businesses and will ultimately stop that information from getting into the hands of hackers.”
Legislation sponsored by Senator Tom Kean (R-Union, Somerset, Morris) to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service on Aug. 25, 2016 passed the Senate Environment and Energy Committee.
“America has so many beautiful natural wonders that have been protected through the work of the National Park Service,” Senator Kean said. “From coast to coast, you can visit countless parks that have been set aside for us, as well as for future generations.”
Beck & Doherty Joined by Small Business, Taxpayer Advocates to Oppose Billion Dollar Gas Tax Increase
Senator Jennifer Beck (R-11) and Senator Mike Doherty (R-23) were joined by small business and taxpayer advocates in opposition of a proposed billion dollar gas tax increase at a State House press conference. Senator Gerald Cardinale (R-39) offered a statement opposing the gas tax increase as well.
Beck has introduced a plan to fund the state’s Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) without a gas tax increase, and has hosted rallies in Tinton Falls and Freehold with concerned citizens who oppose raising the gas tax.
“We’re standing up for the citizens of New Jersey to oppose a billion dollar gas tax increase,” said Beck. “I’ve provided a detailed plan that shows there’s a real alternative to raising taxes. The thousands of people who signed our online petition and those who joined me at our rallies deserve for my legislation to be considered. Raising taxes shouldn’t be the only option that’s put up for a vote.”
Doherty has long-called for a study to examine excessive state transportation costs as the starting point of any transportation funding discussion. He is the sponsor of S-1888, which would create the “State Transportation Cost Analysis Task Force.”
“Advocates for a 23 cent per gallon gas tax increase have never explained why we need $2 billion annually for transportation spending,” said Doherty. “They’ve never seriously addressed the Reason Foundation report that shows we spend the most per mile in the nation or the disparity in spending figures cited by others. Before we ask drivers and taxpayers for even a penny more for our roads, I believe the state has an obligation to prove that the taxes and tolls already collected are spent wisely.”
The following editorial by Senator Mike Doherty (R-23) opposing a gas tax increase and calling for a study of transportation spending was published in the Asbury Park Press on June 14, 2016:
With a $1.3 billion gas tax increase proposed by some in the Legislature, it’s more important than ever to understand New Jersey’s transportation spending.
More than a year ago, I called for the state to create a “State Transportation Cost Analysis Task Force” to conduct a methodical analysis of the factors that contribute to New Jersey’s road costs, compare our costs to those of other states, and provide recommendations to complete projects more cost-effectively.
While many would consider this legislation to be a matter of common sense, it has failed to advance in the Democrat-controlled Legislature.