Bills Would Exempt Disabled Vets from Parking Fees, Notify State Residents When Flags are to be Flown at Half-Staff
TRENTON – Senator Jim Whelan announced plans to introduce a package of bills designed to honor the sacrifices of New Jersey’s veterans, whether it’s making life easier for a disabled vet or Purple Heart recipient, or allowing private citizens to take a moment to remember a fallen soldier.
“There’s no question that the battlefield is a dangerous place, but our vets are willing to push past the danger, and in some cases sacrifice so much in service to our nation,” said Senator Whelan, D-Atlantic. “For those who are called on to risk life or limb, these bills make life a little easier, relaxing parking fees and ensuring that, if killed in the line of duty, they are properly memorialized by their home state. These small gestures hopefully amount to a big thank you to our State’s veterans.”
The first bill in the package would exempt disabled veterans and recipients of the Purple Heart from municipal parking meter fees. Under the bill, in order to be eligible for the parking fee exemption, the veteran has to have a special license plate issued by the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission indicating that they are a disabled vet or Purple Heart recipient, and the parking fee exemption would only apply when the veteran is either the driver or passenger of the vehicle. The legislation is modeled after a law already on the books in South Carolina.
“In my opinion, if someone loses a limb fighting for their country, that should entitle them to park wherever they please, free of charge,” said Senator Whelan. “Exempting disabled vets from municipal meter parking fees seems like the absolute least we can do, but it does result in a tangible convenience for those who’ve already given so much to defend our freedom and security abroad.”
The second bill would require the Secretary of State to create an electronic mail notification system, in which a person could opt-in to receive automatic notification whenever the Governor orders the United States flag and the New Jersey State flag to be flown at half-staff. Typically, the Governor orders the flags to be flown at half-staff to commemorate the passing of a New Jersey resident who died serving their country, in the case of military members, or who died serving their community through public service. Senator Whelan said that by allowing people to opt-in to these notifications, we can allow patriotic New Jerseyans to show their collective sorrow in the passing of one of our State’s sons or daughters.
“This legislation would create – at minimal cost to the taxpayer – an opt-in e-mail distribution list to allow private citizens and business owners to find out when the State lowers its flags, and to act accordingly,” said Senator Whelan. “The idea is that, when the State of New Jersey loses one of its sons or daughters in the line of duty, that we can stand together and honor the sacrifice of our fallen soldier, police officer, firefighter or other public servant. Respect for the dead should extend beyond public buildings, and to the homes and businesses which make up the fabric of the Garden State.”
The bills will be formally introduced at the next Senate quorum.