Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Matthew Milam, Nelson Albano, Daniel Benson, Cleopatra Tucker and Wayne DeAngelo that would allow municipalities to provide veterans free or reduced cost access to beaches has been approved 79 to 0 by the full Assembly.
“Veterans have some of the highest unemployment rates in the country. A trip to the beach with the whole family may be more of a hardship for them then we think,” said Milam (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland). “This is one way to ease the financial burden on our veterans. I think we can all agree they deserve it.”
“Many of our veterans have been hit hard by the economy. The cost of entry may not seem like much, but when you consider the cost of gas and food, it can add up,” said Albano (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland). “Allowing them to enjoy our beaches for free or at a reduced price seems like a small courtesy considering their service.”
The bill (A-2042) would allow shore municipalities to adopt an ordinance to provide free or reduced fee beach access to veterans who have served in any of the Armed Forces, and who were discharged or released from there under conditions other than dishonorable and who either have served at least 90 days in active duty or have been discharged or released from active duty by reason of an actual service-incurred injury or disability. The bill would require any municipality providing for free or reduced fee beach access to track the number of veterans who qualify for this benefit.
“While our military men and women risk their lives protecting our shores, providing them with free or low cost beach access when they come home is just one small token of gratitude we can offer them,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex).
“There is no way to adequately thank our service members and their families for the sacrifices they make day in and day out, but this is one small way to show our appreciation and allow them to enjoy the best that Jersey has to offer,” said Tucker (D-Essex).
“We can never truly repay our service men and women for their many sacrifices, but we can do everything in our power to make their lives a little easier and more enjoyable, especially when they come home to such a difficult economy,” said DeAngelo (D-Mercer/Middlesex).
Current state law permits municipalities to provide free or reduced fee beach access – via ordinance – to persons 65 or older, to persons who meet the disability criteria for disability benefits under Title II of the federal Social Security Act, and to persons in active military service in any of the Armed Forces or who are active members of the New Jersey National Guard who have completed Initial Active Duty Training and their spouses or dependent children over the age of 12 years.
The bill now awaits further consideration by the Senate.