Superstorm Sandy left a profound and lasting impact to individuals and businesses in New Jersey and the tri-state region. In the wake of the widespread dislocation and destruction it caused, the storm has also spawned legislative activity in both houses of the New Jersey legislature. Since late October, the legislature has dropped several bills and passed resolutions urging action by the U.S. Congress and others. While it is widely speculated that the New Jersey legislature is drawing up an omnibus bill to address relief and reconstruction needs, such legislation has not been introduced as of December 17, the date this note was finalized.

The legislature’s creative juices are flowing and bills have been introduced to address Sandy’s impact. For those who have suffered from Sandy, they should keep tabs on this legislation as it goes through the legislative process. Some examples are:

  • A3065 – Provides sales and use tax rebates for certain purchases made by individuals and small businesses affected by Hurricane Sandy.
  • A3522 – Permits NJ gross income tax deduction for charitable contributions made for Hurricane Sandy relief.
  • A3566 – Allows voluntary contributions through filed gross income tax returns to support Sandy victims.
  • A3584 – Suspends temporarily penalties and interest for late payment of state taxes by disrupted businesses.
  • S2388 – Provides a corporation business tax or gross income tax credit to small businesses reinvesting in shore municipalities.

Given the sense that a comprehensive bill is being drafted, the future for these bills is uncertain. However, their presence reflects a legislative concern for those individuals and businesses devastated by the storm.

The legislature has also called upon others to offer relief. For example, both houses passed a resolution urging financial institutions to provide financial assistance in the form of short term, low or zero interest loans (SR85 and AR125). In another resolution, the NJ Commissioner of Health is urged to ensure that healthcare providers and expectant parents are made aware of the impact the effects of Hurricane Sandy on pregnant women. Most notably, both the Assembly and the Senate have urged the U.S. Congress to enact legislation requested by President Obama to provide $60.4 billion in federal resources to help New Jersey and other afflicted states to guide and support their successful navigation of the road to recovery from the Superstorm’s wake. Such legislation is pending in Congress, but unlike similar legislation passed to address Hurricane Katrina’s massive devastation, it has not proceeded as quickly. While Katrina relief was passed into law within two weeks of the storm event, the Superstorm Sandy legislation is moving along at a more measured pace. It is anticipated to pass, but its progress appears impacted by fiscal cliff and other economic issues grabbing the attention of Washington and headlines.

The unfathomable losses from the hurricane will call for more legislative and executive action over the next several months. It will pay to follow developments in order to benefit from resources and programs that will be created or replenished.

Source: In the Zone