HAMILTON, NJ -- With their doors closed by order of state lawmakers, local small businesses have been among the hardest hit as COVID-19 has gripped communities across the nation. After hearing from several local small businesses regarding concerns of not being able to pay their rent on time, 14th District lawmakers Senator Linda Greenstein and Assemblymen Wayne DeAngelo and Daniel Benson and Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo (all D-Mercer/Middlesex) put forward legislation to suspend rent payments. 

"As many of our local small businesses throughout the 14th district and across our state struggle to keep going in the midst of this health crisis, we believe this bill will offer much-needed relief as they continue to wait for federal and state aid to come through. No small business should face eviction due to unprecedented conditions out of their control,” Benson said. 

Under the proposal, the governor would be authorized to permit emergency rent suspension for small businesses, with 50 or less employees, who can show a drastic drop in revenue as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The rent suspension would ensure that the business could not be evicted for up to three months and would allow them to pay back the amount owed over the span of six to nine months. 

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"We are currently faced with a public health crisis compounded by the threat of long-term economic ramifications on a national and regional level. The small businesses that are the lifeblood of our local economies and the heartbeats of our downtown districts find themselves in a state of financial uncertainty," said Greenstein.  "By authorizing the Governor to permit emergency rent suspensions, businesses would be able to remain in operation during the crisis, keep more cash on hand to pay salaries and wages, and would be well-positioned to contribute to the economic recovery as the COVID-19 crisis comes to an end."

"This legislation will give the Governor the option to authorize rental relief for the small businesses that need the help right now," said DeAngelo. "It's important for our state to be able to function and thrive again once this pandemic is under control. By helping businesses through this tough time, we can make sure our residents have jobs to return to and businesses that will meet their needs when we can return to normal operations."

Both houses of the State Legislature passed the measure on Monday which is now awaiting action by the Governor. 

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