(TRENTON) – Legislation introduced by Assembly Democrats Sgt. Robert Andrzejczak, Daniel Benson, and Gilbert L “Whip” Wilson that would exempt veterans with disabilities from certain fees for home adaptations that would facilitate mobility in their residences passed the full Assembly, 68-0, on Thursday.
The bill (A-2299) would require municipalities to exempt veterans with service-related disabilities or their caretakers from the entire cost of construction permit surcharge fees or enforcing agency fees for any construction, reconstruction, alteration or improvement done in an effort to increase the home’s accessibility.
“To show our gratitude for the sacrifices they made in defending our nation’s freedom, we ought to do whatever we can to ease New Jersey veterans’ transitions to civilian life,” said Andrzejczak (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland), a disabled veteran who lost a leg during a grenade attack in Iraq. “By alleviating some of the financial hardship that comes with home modification, this bill will allow our state to express appreciation for those who gave so much of themselves for the sake of this country.”
The legislation would appropriate $20,000 for municipal reimbursements, for which municipalities may apply via the Department of Community Affairs.
“Preparing a home to fit the needs of a disabled veteran can be costly,” said Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex). “Alleviating, at least, some of this financial burden goes a long way for disabled veterans. Their service to our nation is more than enough reason to give them all of the support we can provide during their transition to civilian life.”
“We continue to look for ways to support our military veterans in New Jersey,” said Wilson (D-Camden, Gloucester), a U.S. Air Force Vietnam Veteran. “Helping veterans’ and their families adapt their homes to fit the needs of a disabled veteran returning home is critical to supporting their transition into civilian life. They deserve our diligence and efforts for their sacrifice and service to our country.”
Under current law, municipalities may enact ordinances declaring fee exemptions for veterans with disabilities but are not required to do so.
The bill was released by the Assembly Appropriations Committee on Oct. 3.