By Vin Gopal, Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey
As our state continues to make progress in slowing the spread of COVID-19, we have continued to address the many needs of Monmouth County residents so they will be ready to thrive as the economy recovers.
Keeping Legislative District 11 residents informed about business reopenings and assistance available to residents and small businesses, as well as updates on the latest COVID-19 developments, remains a top priority. We communicate daily with our colleagues in state government to ensure that we are getting the most up-to-date information. In addition to news columns such as this, we constantly update our Facebook posts and post the latest information we get on COVID-19 on our website, at ericandjoann.com/covid.
We also have been busy in Trenton. We introduced S3457 to appropriate $300 million to NJ Economic Development Authority for grants to help small business and not-for-profit corporations preserve and create jobs. The Main Street business communities that are the heart of our state and local economies and the most stressed segment of the business community. This legislation will provide the funds to help Main Street businesses get through the virus-driven economic downturn and come out in a better position to thrive as we recover.
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We have been working to help another hard-hit group, military veterans. Our members of the US armed forces and their families sacrifice a great deal to protect us. Their sacrifice and service are why we sponsored A1025, which expands eligibility for the civil service hiring preference.
Our Senate Resolution, SR109, calls for the state to recognize our Army and Air National Guard members who deployed from New Jersey to Washington, DC, in the wake of the attack on the US Capital to ensure a peaceful transfer of power during the presidential inauguration.
Another segment of our state that has never let us down, farmers, also need help. Garden State farmers operate with small profit margins and many natural challenges that have been amplified by the pandemic. Many farmers have supplemented their revenues with special occasion events such as wedding and life milestone events as well as educational programs. As development takes place near farms, we have seen more clashes between farmers and their new neighbors.
But this is the Garden State. That’s why we sponsored A3619, which strengthens the NJ Right to Farm Act by enabling commercial farmers to recover reasonable costs and attorney fees for defending against bad faith complaints. Farmers face enough difficulties without adding the expense of defending themselves against frivolous lawsuits.
Our Constituent Services Team also has been busy helping solve problems for approximately 200 Legislative District 11 residents in February. The Team also collected more than 3,500 pairs of socks and distributed them to local shelters and organizations that assist people experiencing homelessness. Constituent Services continues to help seniors take advantage of numerous programs through our Savings for Our Seniors (S.O.S.) program.
If we can assist you in an any way, or if you would like to share your ideas for making Monmouth County a safer, better and more affordable place for all residents, please visit us online, at ericandjoann.com/constituent_services, or call us at (732) 695-3371, and a member of our team will contact you.