TRENTON – Counties and municipalities can provide more taxpayer funding to volunteer first aid, ambulance and rescue squads, under a law enacted Monday that raises the yearly limit for the first time since 2001.

The bill, S399/A3146, was one of four signed and two conditionally vetoed Monday by Gov. Phil Murphy as the Legislature met for committee hearings that triggered the deadline for acting on bills that had been passed before the budget recess began in March.

Under the new law, which the Legislature passed unanimously, the limit for how much a county or municipality can contribute each year to first aid and rescue squads is now $125,000, rather than $70,000.

Organizations that “experience extraordinary need,” according to the new law, can be provided an additional $70,000 a year, up from $35,000.

The bill’s sponsors include Sen. Anthony Bucco, R-Morris, a former captain of the Salvage and Rescue Company of the Boonton Volunteer Fire Department.

“I am well aware of the shoestring budgets that volunteer first aid and rescue squads struggle with each year,” Bucco said. “These organizations are essential assets for our communities, especially in suburban and rural areas. Unfortunately, many squads continue to experience a shortage of basic first aid equipment, and some cannot even maintain their ambulances.”

Any time the total contribution tops $70,000, the county or municipal chief financial officer must be provided an audit done by a certified public accountant or municipal accountant.

The other bills Murphy signed Monday are:

S356/A3089: Provides for lifetime disqualification from operating commercial motor vehicle and transportation network company vehicle for persons convicted of human trafficking

S906/A2847: Authorizes transfer on death of title to motor vehicle

A1115/S1679: Requires DEP to prioritize funding for environmental infrastructure projects for applicants with established program to employ, at project or related facilities, local residents or residents of nearby urban aid qualifying municipalities

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The bills Murphy conditionally vetoed, sending recommended changes back to the Legislature, are:

A642/S1369: Concerns use of steel slag as aggregate

A2472/S510: Establishes bribery in official and political matters applies to person soliciting, accepting, or agreeing to accept benefit as consideration to act even though not yet in office or otherwise qualified to act

Michael Symons is the Statehouse bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at michael.symons@townsquaremedia.com

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