Veteran-Related Bills Co-Sponsored By Assemblyman Danielsen Reported Out Of Committee

Two bills in the state Assembly, co-sponsored by Assemblyman Joe Danielsen, were recently reported out of the appropriations committee.

The state Assembly’s appropriations committee recently advanced two military veterans’-related bills co-sponsored by Assemblyman Joe Danielsen (D-17).

One bill would establish a pilot program to assist disabled and low-income veterans in paying for housing modifications, and the second would extend state civil service eligibility for non-combat veterans.

The first bill, known as the New Jersey Housing Assistance for Veterans Act (A-306), would create a $5 million pilot program for grants to certain veterans who need to modify their homes.

The money could be used to install wheelchair ramps, re-equip bathrooms for greater accessibility or enhance energy-efficient appliances, according to a release about the bill.

“At the very least, those who were willing to give their lives for this country should be able to get around their own homes without a struggle,” Danielsen, a former Army reservist, said in the release. “Anything the state of New Jersey can do to make veterans’ lives easier is a worthy endeavor.”

Organizations that employ workers participating in the Helmets to Hardhats Program, which connects military service members with training and career opportunities in the construction industry, would receive preference for grants, according to the release.

No single organization may be awarded more than $400,000 in any fiscal year under the legislation, the release said. Entities receiving a grant would have to contribute a 50 percent match through either cash or in-kind contributions.

Under the bill, the director of the Division of Housing and Community Resources in the Department of Community Affairs would provide an annual assessment of the pilot program to the governor and the legislature, according to the release.

Also co-sponsoring the legislation were Assembly members Troy Singleton (D-7), Cleopatra Tucker (D-28), Pamela Lampitt (D-6) and Gordon Johnson (D-37).

The second bill, A-460, would give non-combat military veterans a the preference in placement in state civil service jobs now afforded to combat veterans.

“Veteran” is not defined in New Jersey the same way it is on the federal level, which means New Jersey veterans could be eligible for advanced placement on federal civil service rosters, but not on the state rosters. The bill would incorporate the federal definition into the state’s civil service regulations.

Currently, a New Jersey veteran had to have served at least 14 days in a combat theatre in a time of war to be defined as a “veteran” and be eligible for expedited places in the state’s civil service system. This bill would eliminate that requirement.

Veterans would still be required to obtain a passing score on an examination and be federally qualified, according to the release.

“This is the proper approach,” Danielsen said in a release about the bill. “Expanding the eligibility for veterans civil service preference is, very simply, the right thing to do.”

The measure would require voters to approve a constitutional amendment before it becomes law.

The bill was also sponsored by Assembly members Vince Mazzeo (D-1), Tim Eustace (D-38), Nancy Pinkin (D-18), Lampitt, Annette Quijano (D-20), Gary Schaer (D-36) and Joann Downey (D-11).


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