In Our Community

Gloucester & Camden County residents to receive 2013 Homestead Benefit application packets

The New Jersey Division of Taxation has begun mailing 2013 Homestead Benefit application packets to Gloucester County and Camden County residents, and will email instructions for downloading packets to homeowners who requested electronic applications. With very few exceptions, homeowners must file their applications over the internet or by phone by the Friday, October 30th deadline. The Homestead Benefit Internet filing application on the Division of Taxation website (www.state.nj.us/treasury/taxation/) and automated telephone filing system (1-877-658-2972) will be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week during the filing period.

Homeowners should read the instructions in the packet carefully, and if they meet the eligibility requirements, complete the worksheet in the packet before filing. Homeowners who have already sold the home that was their principal residence on October 1, 2013, or who plan to sell should pay particular attention to the packet instructions regarding sale of property to ensure they complete the application correctly.

Any resident in need of assistance with completing their application is welcome and encouraged to contact one of the 4th Legislative District Offices in Washington Township or Gloucester Township:

  • Washington Township Office
    129 Johnson Road Suite 1
    Turnersville, NJ 08012
    (856) 232-6700
  • Gloucester Township Office
    1379 Chews Landing Road
    Laurel Springs, NJ 08021
    (856) 401-3073

Homeowners may be eligible for the 2013 Homestead Benefit if they met the following conditions:

  • Domicile (permanent legal residence) was in New Jersey.
  • Owned and occupied a home in New Jersey that was their principal residence on October 1, 2013.
  • Had New Jersey gross income for 2013 that was not more than $150,000 for homeowners who were 65 or older or disabled, and not more than $75,000 for homeowners who were under age 65 and not disabled. The income limits apply to a single individual, a married/civil union couple living in the same residence, and a married/civil union partner maintaining a residence separate from their spouse/civil union partner.
  • The home was subject to local property taxes, and the 2013 property taxes were paid. (The State Budget requires that the benefit amount be calculated using 2006 property taxes.)

As the State Budget limited eligibility for 2013 benefits for senior/disabled homeowners to those with New Jersey gross income of $150,000 or less, and for nonsenior/nondisabled homeowners to those with New Jersey gross income of $75,000 or less, many constituents will not receive applications for 2013.

Most homeowners will receive their 2013 benefit payment as a credit on a future property tax bill. They can expect to receive a property tax bill or advice copy from their tax collector reflecting the amount of the benefit. Homeowners who indicated when filing that they no longer own the property or those whose principal residence was a unit in a co-op or continuing care retirement community will receive their benefit by check (or direct deposit).

Residents should not confuse the Homestead Benefit Program with the Senior Freeze (Property Tax Reimbursement) Program. They are separate property tax relief programs with different eligibility requirements, different applications, and different filing schedules. Applicants can receive benefits under both programs if they qualify. The total amount of property tax relief benefits a homeowner receives, however, cannot exceed the amount of property taxes paid on their principal residence for the same year.

For additional information or to file an application, please see the following:

For Homestead Benefit (for homeowners):

For Senior Freeze (Property Tax Reimbursement):

For additional questions on the Homestead Benefit, Senior Freeze, as well as any general tax questions, homeowners may contact the Division of Taxation at nj.taxation@treas.state.nj.us. Hearing-Impaired users can contact the Division of Taxation’s Text Telephone Service (TTY/TDD) at 1-800-286-6613 or 609-984-7300.

 

Mosquera Joins Discussion of Federal Efforts to Prevent Domestic Violence & Gun Violence

Find the original release at the AssemblyDems website.

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) — Assemblywoman Gabriela M. Mosquera (D-Camden/Gloucester) issued a multimedia package Monday of her recent participation in a panel discussion on ways to curb domestic and gun violence at the federal level.

The multimedia package consists of the hour-long panel discussion, in its entirety, and audio of same.

Hosted by Americans for Responsible Solutions, the panel “Domestic Abuse and Gun Violence: Progress in the States and the Need for Congressional Action” discusses recently introduced bipartisan federal legislation to address the connections between domestic abuse and gun violence and the significant progress made in several states to strengthen protections for victims of domestic violence.

The panel consists of: Assemblywoman Mosquera; U.S. Representatives Debbie Dingell (D-MI 12) and Robert J. Dold (R-IL 10); Dara Richardson-Heron, M.D., CEO of the YWCA USA; Ruth Glenn, Executive Director of the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence; and Robyn Thomas, Executive Director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

The panel was moderated by Sabrina Siddiqui, a political reporter for The Guardian.

The video can be accessed directly via our website — www.assemblydems.com — or by clicking here.

The audio file is available upon request.

Moriarty Legislation Would Require Used-Car Dealerships to Notify Consumers About Outstanding Auto Recalls

Find the original article, complete with an interview, at NJTVonline.org.

By Erin Delmore
Correspondent for NJTVonline.org

If you totaled the number of auto recalls last year alone, you’d end up with four years’ worth of cars sold in the U.S. — one out of every four on the road today.

“Our cars are major computers now and computers oftentimes have little bugs in them that we have to go back and fix. Think about your phone. How many times a year do you get an operating system change? Cars don’t have that ability,” said NJ AAA Public Affairs and Government Relations Director Cathleen Lewis.

New car dealers can’t sell cars that have been recalled until they are fixed. But if you’re buying a used car, who is legally required to let you know there’s a recall? Turns out, no one is. So is the airbag in the steering wheel of that used car you just purchased one of the 30 million that have been found to explode?

It’s a gap Assemblyman Paul Moriarty is trying to close. He’s sponsored legislation which would require used car dealers to notify customers of any outstanding recalls at the point of sale.

“At that point they can do one of many things, they can say no thanks, don’t want to buy the car. They can say okay, well I’ll still buy the car but you get it fixed. Or they can say I’ll buy the car but I’d like to pay less money,” Moriarty said.

Car dealers say it’s a critical piece of information that consumers don’t usually ask for.

“Generally they’re always asking for the Carfax to make sure there’s no accidents, anything like that, but they never look for open recalls because that’s not usually a concern of the general public,” said J&S AutoHaus Finance Director Matthew Domingo. “It should be, definitely.”

Last summer, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launched a VIN-lookup tool. To see any open recalls, enter your car’s VIN number, or start by checking the make and model. Assemblyman Moriarty’s legislation would put that responsibility on used car dealerships.

“Competitively, this is what people want to be doing anyway. They need this to make sales,” Moriarty said.

“Well I think that the due diligence belongs to the customer but the dealers try to provide as much information as we can.,” said Coleman Auto Group Vice President Bill Kendall.

AAA says recall checks should be part of regular car maintenance.

“All the pieces of your car are linked together. While it may not seem like it’s something that you care about because you’re not using it, it may have other consequences on your vehicle which will cost you more. Because the damage done by not fixing the recall, will not be covered by the recall,” Lewis said.

If your think this is an issue that doesn’t affect you, look around. A recent federal study revealed that one in four of cars recalled between 2006 and 2010 remain unrepaired. That’s a staggering 36 million cars on the road right now.

Moriarty Bill to Prohibit Sale of Powdered Alcohol Clears Legislature, Heads to Gov’s Desk

Find the original release on the AssemblyDems website

Legislation Assembly Democrats Paul Moriarty, Craig Coughlin, Charles Mainor, Nancy Pinkin and Joseph Danielsen sponsored to prohibit the sale of powdered alcohol in New Jersey cleared its final legislative hurdle with passage by the full Senate on Monday, June 29th. The bill was approved 39-1.

Powdered alcohol is ethyl alcohol which is designed to be dissolved in liquid to produce alcoholic beverages. Moriarty first introduced the bill in November. However, the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau finally approved the sale of powdered alcohol on the market in March, prompting renewed concerns about the dangers the product poses.

“The lure of this product to underage people and the potential for dangerous misuse among people of any age is ripe. Not only can it be inhaled, it can also be added to another person’s food or drink unbeknownst to them,” said Moriarty (D-Camden/Gloucester). “Because of its composition, powdered alcohol can also be easily concealed and brought into venues where alcoholic beverages from other sources may not be permitted or places where there is a total ban on alcoholic beverages.”

The bill (A-3580) stipulates that no person shall sell, offer for sale, or deliver, receive or purchase for resale, in this state, any product consisting of or containing powdered alcohol. The bill defines “powdered alcohol” as a powder or crystalline substance containing alcohol which is produced for human consumption.

“This product can be easily hidden and allows people to drink pretty much anywhere as long as they have water. That’s trouble waiting to happen,” said Coughlin (D-Middlesex). “Many people have a hard time limiting themselves with the liquid form. The potential for misuse is worrisome, especially among young people who may be experimenting with alcohol for the first time.”

“The makers of this product say people would be foolish to try to snort this product. I guess they never heard of the cinnamon challenge or the fire challenge,” said Mainor (D-Hudson). “Young people are impressionable; even more so in our social media age. The last thing we need is another potentially dangerous fad for young people to get into and promote on the Internet.”

“This product, with its powdery form, trivializes the effects of alcohol, which can be especially dangerous for young people who often binge drink,” said Pinkin (D-Middlesex). “From alcohol-poisonings on college campuses to alcohol-fueled accidents, youth and alcohol are often a bad mix. We don’t need a product that makes it even easier for them to drink irresponsibly.”

“There are so many untold risks with this product that far outweigh any benefits,” said Danielsen (D-Middlesex/Somerset). “Clearly most states are in agreement given all the action being taken to prevent this product from flooding the market. New Jersey needs to do the same before we open a Pandora’s Box of potential misuse and abuse.”

Federal approval of the product has prompted fierce opposition from health experts, public health officials and media outlets. At least five states banned the product before its approval and at least 23 other states are considering legislative bans.

The bill was approved 69-5-4 by the Assembly on June 25.

Assembly OKs Moriarty & Mosquera Bill to Crack Down on Dangerous Trend of ‘Swatting’

View the full press release at the Assembly Dems website.

The full Assembly on Thursday unanimously approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Paul Moriarty, Bob Andrzejczak, Vince Mazzeo, Gabriela Mosquera and Annette Quijano to crack down on the dangerous trend known as “swatting” after a string of recent hoax incidents in New Jersey drew large-scale law enforcement responses.

The FBI describes “swatting” as making a hoax call to 9-1-1 to draw a response from law enforcement, usually a SWAT team. The individuals who engage in this activity, many of whom are teens and twenty-somethings with ties to the online gaming community, use technology to make it appear that the emergency call is coming from the victim’s phone. The FBI notes that sometimes swatting is done for revenge, sometimes as a prank, but either way, it is a serious crime that has potentially dangerous consequences.

“To say swatting is troublesome is a severe understatement,” said Moriarty (D-Camden/Gloucester). “We’re talking about elaborate hoaxes that have drawn teams of specially trained officers, sometimes resulting in the closure of whole city blocks or roads, and occasionally even causing serious harm, like heart attacks, to the unsuspecting and innocent people who have these teams show up at their door. It’s time to send a message that this is not going to be treated lightly.”

Moriarty first introduced a bill in November in response to a swatting incident in Millville where a law enforcement team swarmed an innocent family’s house believing a violent altercation was taking place inside. After recent news reports drew attention to his efforts to crack down on the trend, he thenbecame the victim of a swatting incident himself.

Since then, a string of more recent swatting incidents in New Jersey — including a gaming shop in Clifton, a home in Upper Freehold and an elementary School in Homdel — have underscored the urgency of enacting swifter penalties for hoaxes and false alarms.

“A lot of swatters are young and tech-savvy,” said Andrzejczak (Cape May/Atlantic/ Cumberland). “I’m sure they can have a bright career ahead of them if they want it. So hopefully the idea of serious jail time and fines will help deter them from throwing their futures away over a stupid prank.”

The bill approved today (A-4375) would upgrade the crime of false public alarm to a crime of the second degree whenever such an alarm presents a report or warning of an especially dangerous scenario or targets certain places. The bill would also require statewide law enforcement reporting on all incidents of false public alarms.

“These are not innocent prank calls like many kids did growing up,” said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). “The whole goal of the hoax is to draw a large scale law enforcement response. Not only does this put innocent people in harm’s way, but it wastes taxpayer dollars and diverts valuable resources from dealing with other legitimate crimes.”

Under current law, such an act is ordinarily a crime of the third degree, punishable by a term of imprisonment of three to five years, a fine of up to $15,000, or both. Under the bill approved today, the crime, as upgraded, would be punishable by a term of imprisonment of five to 10 years, a fine of up to $150,000, or both.

“Clearly this a trend that is not going away right now, but rather gathering steam,” said Mosquera. “Without any real way to stop it, we have to send a message that the hoax is not worth the risk of getting caught if it carries serious jail time and monetary penalties.”

The primary intent of the sponsor is to address an increasingly troublesome form of false public alarm sometimes referred to as “swatting,” which results in the immediate and often aggressive deployment or use of law enforcement and other first responders against unsuspecting persons who are unaware that a false report or warning was made.

“Authorities estimate that the dangerous hoax costs New Jersey law enforcement agencies tens of thousands of dollars every year while diverting resources from other real crimes and putting innocent residents in the crossfire,” said Quijano (D-Union). “This demands a concerted effort to both crack down on this practice and underscore the severity of it so parents can talk to their kids about it and stay on top of their activities.”

Specifically, the bill would upgrade the crime of false public alarm to a crime of the second degree whenever the act:

1) involved a report or warning of an impending bombing, hostage situation, or person armed with a deadly weapon; or

2) involved a report or warning about any critical infrastructure located in this state, defined as “any building, place of assembly, or facility that is indispensably necessary for national security, economic stability, or public safety.”

The responsible party would also be liable, based on current law, for a civil penalty of $2,000 or the actual costs incurred by or resulting from the law enforcement and emergency services response to the false alarm.

Under the bill’s reporting requirement, all local and county law enforcement authorities would have to submit an annual report, on a form prescribed by the Attorney General, to the Uniform Crime Reporting Unit of the Division of State Police, or to another designated recipient determined by the Attorney General, containing the number and nature of false public alarm offenses committed within their respective jurisdictions and the disposition of these offenses.

Every two years, a summary of all reports received during the preceding two-year period, along with a summary of offenses investigated by the Division of State Police for the same period, would be forwarded to the state’s Office of Emergency Management.

The measure now heads to the Senate for consideration. It would take effect on the first day of the fourth month following enactment.

Mosquera Bill to Toughen Penalty for Strangulation in Domestic Violence Cases Clears Assembly

Find the original release on the AssemblyDems website.

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Reed Gusciora, Troy Singleton, Joseph Lagana, Pamela Lampitt, Liz Muoio, Marlene Caride, Grace Spencer, Gabriela Mosquera, Cleopatra Tucker and Whip Wilson to raise the penalty for the crime of strangulation in domestic violence cases gained the approval of the full Assembly on Thursday.

While strangulation cases are not limited to domestic violence situations, studies show a high incidence of strangulation in domestic violence cases. According to the Training Institute on Strangulation Prevention, a program of the National Family Justice Center Alliance, strangulation is one of the best predictors for the subsequent homicide of victims of domestic violence. In fact, one study showed that “the odds of becoming an attempted homicide increased by about seven-fold for women who had been strangled by their partner.”

“This is a violent tactic often used against domestic violence victims by their abusers. It can have a debilitating psychological effect on the victim, and at worst, lead to her death,” said Gusciora (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). “The fact that the harshest punishment for this crime is up to six months in jail and a fine is ludicrous. The risk of serious injury or worse from a strangulation assault warrants a higher penalty.”

The bill (A-235) provides that the strangulation of a victim during the commission of an act of domestic violence that results in bodily injury constitutes aggravated assault.

At present, if, during the course of an assault, a victim suffers bodily injury as a result of strangulation by an individual, the individual may be charged with simple assault. The individual may also be charged with simple assault if the victim does not suffer bodily injury but the individual attempts to cause bodily injury or attempts to put the victim in fear of imminent serious bodily injury.

Simple assault is punishable as a disorderly persons offense or a petty disorderly persons offense, depending on whether the assault was committed in a fight or scuffle entered into mutually. A disorderly persons offense is punishable by up to six months imprisonment, a fine of up to $1,000 or both, while a petty disorderly persons offense is punishable by up to 30 days imprisonment, a fine of up to $500 or both.

Aggravated assault is punishable as a crime of the third degree if the victim suffers bodily injury; otherwise it is a crime of the fourth degree. A crime of the third degree is punishable by up to five years imprisonment, a fine of up to $15,000 or both. A crime of the fourth degree is punishable by up to 18 months imprisonment, a fine of up to $10,000 or both.

“Strangulation may not leave obvious external injuries like other forms of abuse, but it is still painful physically and mentally,” said Singleton (D-Burlington). “Toughening the penalty for this crime can help protect women who are victimized by keeping their abusers away for a longer period of time.”

“There is no justice in a few months spent in jail and a fine for an assault that is terrifying, renders the victim powerless and in the worst cases, can end a life,” said Lagana (D-Bergen/Passaic). “Enhancing the penalty for this type of assault is only right considering the potential repercussions of such an attack.”

“When somebody strangles another person, cutting off that person’s air supply, there is no doubt that the intent is to threaten that person’s very life,” said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington), chair of the Assembly Women and Children Committee. “The consequence of potentially almost killing someone in New Jersey has to be more than a few months of imprisonment.”

“Strangulation is an appalling crime that centers on exercising the ultimate control over another person. It’s about showing someone that his or her life, quite literally, is in your hands, which abusers consider a source of power,” said Muoio (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). “Increasing the punishment for this kind of behavior will protect victims of domestic violence and make it clear that our state does not tolerate this violence.”

“Clearly anyone who goes so far as to strangle someone they claim to love has the potential to kill,” said Caride (D-Bergen/Passaic). “A six-month slap on the wrist simply is not enough of a punishment.”

“It’s unconscionable that strangulation – preventing someone from being able to breathe – can carry the same penalty as shoplifting does in some cases,” said Spencer (D-Essex). “This is a serious crime that ought to be regarded as such under the law.”

“Domestic violence, fundamentally, is about instilling fear in the victim, and few fears are more ominous than the fear of being strangled to death,” said Mosquera (D-Camden/Gloucester). “Six months in prison is far from a penalty that fits this crime. In addition to protecting victims, this bill will help ensure that children in a home do not have to witness such heinous behavior.”

“Approximately one in four female domestic violence victims has experienced at least one strangulation assault by a male partner in her lifetime, and this is considered a conservative estimate,” said Tucker (D-Essex). “With this legislation, New Jersey takes a stand against domestic violence in one of its most lethal forms.”

“An abuser who strangles a victim today may kill that victim tomorrow,” said Wilson (D-Camden/Gloucester), who handled several domestic violence cases as a lieutenant with the Camden Police Department. “Strangulation causes physical and psychological damage that warrants more than six months in prison.”

The measure, which passed unanimously, awaits Senate consideration.