Legislation sponsored by Senator Robert Singer (R-Monmouth, Ocean) and Senator Tom Kean (R-Union, Somerset, Morris) to make sure more students are aware of the New Jersey Student Tuition Assistance Reward Scholarship (NJ STARS) passed the Senate Education Committee.
“The NJ STARS program is a fantastic way for bright students who may not be able to afford college themselves to pursue a college degree,” Senator Singer said. “We have the resources and we have the students. We need to make sure those students know about this program so they can actually take advantage of it.”
Legislation sponsored by Senator Diane Allen (R-Burlington) and Senator Jennifer Beck (R-Monmouth) to help shelter animals find a home passed the Senate Economic Growth Committee.
The legislation, SJR-41, designates September of each year as “New Jersey Adopt a Shelter Pet Month” as a way to raise awareness about the ongoing need for pet adoption, as well as the joy of pet ownership.
The following editorial by Senator Steven Oroho (R-24) on a plan to reduce the burden on New Jersey property taxpayers, eliminate the state income taxes paid by most retirees, phase out the estate tax, and replenish the Transportation Trust Fund was published in The Record on June 19, 2016:
New Jersey faces twin crises that threaten to ignite a property tax explosion and hamstring our competitive economic position if we don’t take swift action to responsibly address them.
At stake is our ability to maintain and repair our roads and bridges — and a Transportation Trust Fund that is broke — alongside New Jersey’s reputation as having one of the most uncompetitive tax structures in the nation, which drives thousands of families, jobs and businesses to less costly states each year.
The impact of either problem is substantial. Taken together, however, these dual crises threaten both our economic vitality and our very existence as an affordable place to raise a family, work and retire.
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.”