February 2021, Issue 2
COVID-19 has caused major hardships, not only for our citizens but also for New Jersey's business community. The State Senate recently unveiled an exciting new plan to invigorate new and existing businesses throughout the state as we work through what we hope are the waning months of the public health crisis.

The Senate Democrats have also been working on promoting greater government efficiency to benefit taxpayers through important legislation and also aim to bring early in-person voting to future elections in our state, a move that would strengthen the electoral process.
Bill Unveiled to Provide $300 Million in EDA Grants, Loans to Small Businesses, Nonprofits to Spur Economic Recovery, Job Growth in Wake of COVID-19
Bipartisan legislation providing the state Economic Development Authority with $300 million for grants and loans to help small businesses and nonprofits rebound from the COVID-19 crisis was introduced by Senator Dawn Addiego, Senate President Steve Sweeney, Senators Vin Gopal, Declan O’Scanlon, and Michael Testa, and Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean.
“Small businesses and nonprofits face difficult challenges as they try to decide how and when to reopen, rehire and ramp up to full operation as we slowly come out of this terrible pandemic. The $300 million we are providing the EDA for grants and loans will preserve and expand jobs, help small businesses and nonprofits recover, and restore the vitality of our downtown business districts.”

- Senator Dawn Addiego (D-Burlington/Camden/Atlantic)
“Small business is the backbone of our communities and the biggest source of new job creation. This $300 million investment will speed up our economic recovery from the pandemic, prevent more businesses and nonprofits from closing, and create jobs for workers who have been on the unemployment rolls for almost a year.”

- Senate President Steve Sweeney
This legislation will be particularly important to the restaurant, hospitality, and tourism industries that have been hit hardest by the shutdowns last spring and the continuing restrictions imposed by the pandemic that have crippled these businesses for the past 11 months. These businesses are going to need help when they try to ramp up to full operation again in what is bound to be an uncertain economy as we come out of the pandemic.” 

- Senator Vin Gopal (D-Monmouth)
The bill would provide aid not only to small businesses and nonprofits that lost revenue during the economic shutdowns and slowdowns caused by the coronavirus crisis, but also to those whose business opening plans were disrupted by COVID-19 and those who fill vacant storefronts or under-utilized space with new operations.
Shared Services Legislation Clears Senate Budget Committee
Legislation sponsored by Senate President Steve Sweeney and Senator Vin Gopal that would generate taxpayer savings and promote government efficiency through greater use of shared services by local governments was approved by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.
“Identifying and implementing government efficiencies that will produce cost savings for taxpayers is more important than ever as we seek to recover from the economic hardships suffered by so many businesses and people as a result of the pandemic. Property taxes in New Jersey are the highest in the nation, and we all know why."

- Senate President Steve Sweeney
The bill, S-1, would modify the “Uniform Shared Services and Consolidation Act” to encourage and facilitate the provision of local and regional services through shared service agreements and joint contracts. It would allow New Jersey’s Local Unit Alignment, Reorganization and Consolidation Commission (LUARCC) to study municipal governments to determine where taxpayer dollars could be saved through shared services.
Early In-Person Voting Legislation Clears Senate
The Senate passed legislation sponsored by Senators Nia Gill, Linda Greenstein and Shirley Turner that would require an in-person early voting period for certain elections.
“Our accountability over government, opportunities to better our lives and the chance to elect our representatives all depend upon our ability to access the ballot. Passing early voting and implementing electronic poll books will ensure our fundamental right to have our voices heard. There are few rights more important than a citizen's ability to vote. I look forward to the full Senate passing this legislation.”

- Senator Nia Gill (D-Essex/Passaic)
The bill, S-3203, would establish an in-person early voting procedure to allow voters to cast their votes in specially designated polling places, starting on the 10th day before a general election and ending the Sunday before the election. A voter who participates in early voting would not be permitted to vote by mail-in ballot or in-person on Election Day. Early voting would only be required for a June primary and a November general elections but under the bill, a municipality with elections in May would be able to adopt an early voting period by ordinance.
“A secure and resilient electoral process is a vital national interest. Added protections for early voting are an integral part of this legislation. For future elections, we must ensure that we have an accessible and secure means of voting.”

- Senator Linda Greenstein (D-Mercer/Middlesex)
“This legislation will encourage voter registration and turnout, especially in off-year elections. Early in-person voting sites should and will be easily accessible to all individuals in the county in order to ensure a convenient and fair voting system for all New Jerseyans.”

- Senator Shirley Turner (D-Mercer/Hunterdon).
Senate Democrats' Week in Review
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