Bills to help ease the burden of the COVID-19 health crisis on New Jersey residents passed the Senate and Assembly on Monday, including those giving people more time to file taxes and elect party nominees.
Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday he would sign the tax extension bill, which gives people until July 15 to file their state taxes and was sponsored by state Sen. Chris Brown, R-Atlantic, and co-sponsored by state Sen. Michael Testa Jr., R-Cape May, Cumberland, Atlantic.
“As we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, it is imperative that we give both the state and our residents every opportunity to endure financially,” said Murphy in a news release Monday. “Pushing this deadline into the summer will give us additional time to combat the virus and get as many taxpayers as possible back on sound financial footing.”
The bill also gave state legislators three more months to finalize the 2021 fiscal year budget. The fiscal year was supposed to end June 30, but now will be extended to Sept. 30.
Murphy is also expected to sign bills moving the primary election from June 2 to July 7 — a move he has already announced in an executive order.
Brown was a primary sponsor on the bill to move the state tax filing deadline, as well as on bills to require Medicaid and health insurance companies to cover refills of certain prescription drugs during a state of emergency (S-2344); to prohibit cancellation or nonrenewal of insurance for at least 60 days during an emergency (S-2354); and to provide relief from educational requirements to students receiving state financial aid (S-2356).
"The last thing our families need while they struggle to make ends meet during this shutdown is being left even more vulnerable by losing their health insurance or homeowner's coverage, putting them in a position where they could literally lose everything," Brown said.
The bill on student relief allows students to maintain eligibility for aid even if they were unable to complete the semester.
"Our students and their families should not be penalized because the coronavirus interfered with their opportunity to get a degree or perform to their highest academic ability this semester," Brown said.
Another bill to allow virtual and remote learning to meet the 180-day instruction requirement for school districts in cases of extended public health-related emergency school closures received final legislative approval 80-0 in the Assembly on Monday. It now heads to the governor’s desk.
“We are at the point where school closures have had students learning from home for a while now,” said co-sponsor John Burzichelli, D-Gloucester, Cumberland, Salem. “During these times and those ahead, ensuring school districts are equipped with the guidelines and flexibility for remote instruction when it needs to happen is crucial.”
The bill (A-3904) would apply to closures of more than three consecutive days in response to a declared state of emergency, public health emergency, or when a directive from the appropriate health agency or officer is given.
Charter schools, renaissance school projects, county vocational school districts, county special services school districts and an approved private school for students with disabilities (APSSD) are also included in the bill.