Gov. Chris Christie signed bills S-958 and A2042 into law on Tuesday. The legislation, which takes effect immediately, expands current law that permitted towns to provide free or discounted beach tags to active duty New Jersey National Guard members.
“Military veterans have sacrificed so much for our country. While we are at the shore in the summer enjoying vacation time with our families and friends, our military personnel are on the battlefields fighting for our freedoms,” said State Sen. Jeff Van Drew (D-Cape May/Cumberland/Atlantic), a co-sponsor of the bill. “When members of our Armed Forces have completed their service to this country, the least we can do is to offer these men and women free access to our beaches. This law is a great way for municipalities to show their appreciation to our troops and to establish their community as ‘veteran-friendly.’”
The bill passed the State Senate by a vote of 39-0 with one abstension on Jan. 9.
Ocean City passed an ordinance in October 2011 that waived beach tag fees for active-duty members of the military. A similar local ordinance would be necessary before the privilege could be extended to all veterans.
In 2010, a VFW group in Sea Isle City partnered with the municipality to purchase beach tags for veterans because municipalities weren’t permitted to do so on their own. That led to the introduction of the legislation that was signed into law this week.
“The brave men and women who have served in the Armed Forces deserve the highest level of respect and honor from our state,” said State Sen. Jim Beach (D-Burlington/Camden), a co-sponsor of the bill and the chair of the Senate Military and Veterans Affairs Committee. “State law already allows shore towns to offer free and reduced cost beach tags to active duty military personnel. Extending their authority so they can offer this benefit to military veterans is the right thing to do for these men and women and a small way we can thank them for their service.”