Two bills sponsored by Senator Steve Oroho (R-Sussex, Warren, Morris) passed the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee today. S-2180 was drafted to assist Sussex Rural Electric Cooperative and S-2579 aids Knoll Heights Village in Sparta.
“Helping entities, in this case non-profits, navigate through the channels of state government in order to resolve an issue sometimes necessitates a change in the law,” said Senator Oroho. “Our office does a very effective job in working the legislative process for the benefit of so many in the district.”
Although Sussex Rural is a non-profit organization, due to their unique nature as the only rural electric cooperative in the state, they were never incorporated under state statute as such. This has caused them particular difficulties in securing FEMA monies. Congress made FEMA funding available to electric cooperatives to keep electricity costs reasonable and ensure smooth recoveries from major natural disasters. S-2180 would fix the problem through a change in statute.
“By enabling Sussex Rural to incorporate as a private non-profit, we void any FEMA eligibility roadblocks,” said Oroho. “That has enormous benefits to electric coop members because without FEMA assistance they could face higher electric rates.”
The bill also provides equal tax treatment for Sussex Rural in comparison to the other municipal power utilities in New Jersey. Specifically, the legislation exempts Sussex Rural from having to pay the state Corporate Business Tax. It is estimated that this could result in about a 1 percent rate decrease for coop members.
The other measure, S-2579, allows certain age-restricted housing projects to continue to receive a long-term tax exemption beyond the date on which the first mortgage financing is fully paid. This long-term tax exemption is a critical incentive for early debt repayment and may also allow project owners to pay maintenance costs and other important obligations with money that would otherwise be owed in taxes. The legislation responds to a situation currently confronting Knoll Heights Village in Sparta.
“The statute as presently written acts as a disincentive to pay off any debt ahead of time,” said Oroho. “Without this bill, Knoll Heights will be subject to a full local property tax assessment that may well force them to close their doors, adversely impacting the senior and disabled population which resides there.”
Oroho pointed out that last week, the full Senate passed another one of his bills, S-481, which clamps down on absentee owners of rooming and boarding houses which was a particular area of concern for the Town of Newton.
“By giving towns an additional enforcement tool against a bad actor, we can help local communities curb disruptive behavior in order to maintain the positive character of a neighborhood,” Senator Oroho said. “Our ultimate goals are to preserve property values and improve our residents’ quality of life.”
Senator Oroho said that the joint district office which he shares with Assemblyman Parker Space is very proactive in working within the overall community to address problems involving the state government.
“We take constituent service very seriously,” Oroho noted. “All of these bills were borne out of research that originally started as casework. Some issues are more complex and require legislation to resolve, and we use our relationships in Trenton to advance them through the legislative process.”
Last session, Senator Oroho was ranked number two in the state Senate in getting bills signed into law. He was the only Republican legislator in the top ten in the entire state Legislature.