NEW JERSEY -  A bill, introduced by Senator Tony Bucco (R- Morris and Somerset) which would help families who have fallen on hard times pay for their energy bills, has passed the Senate Economic Growth Committee. The legislation, S-77, establishes the NJ Shares Fund which would allow New Jersey taxpayers to make a donation to those facing financial hardship, helping them pay for their gas and/or electric bills.

NJ Shares is a 501(c)3 non-profit which provides assistance to individuals and families living in New Jersey who are in need of temporary help paying their energy bills. To qualify for assistance through NJ Shares, an individual or family must be facing a financial crisis but have otherwise had a history of good faith payments towards their utility bills. The individual or family can not be eligible for welfare or other income based assistance programs.

"This year’s brutal winter highlights the importance of helping families to keep their heat on,” said Senator Bucco . “A basic necessity is being able to keep warm on frigid nights, especially for children and seniors who are most vulnerable. My legislation gives New Jerseyans the opportunity to donate to households in need, helping families to stay warm and safe in their homes.”

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“Hitting an unexpected financial rough patch can be difficult for families to navigate,” added Sen. Bucco. “NJ SHARES has been a safety net for families weathering such unexpected economic storms for over 20 years. Given the cold spell our state has faced this winter, let’s make sure New Jersey families have a warm place to call home.”

Senator Tony Bucco is a Republican from the 25th Legislative District which includes Boonton, Boonton Township, Chester, Denville, Dover, Mendham, Mile Hill, Morris Township, Morristown, Mount Arlington, Mountain Lakes, Netcong, Randolph, Rockaway, Roxbury, Victory Gardents, Washington Township, and Wharton as well as Bridgewater.