(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Matthew W. Milam and Nelson T. Albano (both D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland) that would allow municipalities to provide veterans free or reduced cost access to beaches was advanced Monday by an Assembly committee.
“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. “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. “Allowing them to enjoy our beaches for free or at a reduced price seems like a small courtesy considering their service.”
The bill (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.
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 was unanimously released by the Assembly Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee.