Newsletter

DANCER & CLIFTON

YOUR VOICES IN TRENTON

Winter (Early) 2021-2022

Read articles from Assemblyman Dancer's newsletter, below, or view/download the PDF version.

OVERREACH! MURPHY’S MASTER PLAN: FORCED CONVERSION FOR HOMEOWNERS

Large power lines intersecting large towers.

Governor Murphy and his administration are moving to eliminate natural gas from your home and business and convert all appliances to electric, starting with New Jerseyans’ heating. This idea is all part of the State’s Energy Master Plan that Murphy revised in 2019.

The governor hopes to reduce New Jersey’s carbon footprint by getting rid of these natural gas-powered water heaters, clothes dryers, stoves, and furnaces. Murphy cites the combustion process—which produces carbon dioxide and is at the heart of their heating process—as the reason for this administrative ban.

Murphy has also revealed his intent to eliminate gasoline-powered vehicles, instead moving to all electric cars, trucks, and buses. If that policy sounds familiar, it is because the governor of California, Gavin Newsom, recently banned the sale of gasoline-powered cars starting in 2035.

Eliminating gas power sources for home appliances, businesses, and transportation will require a significant investment in new and reliable sources of energy. To provide this much new electricity, Murphy will move forward with renewable energy production, including solar panels and the development of wind farms in waters off the Jersey coast.

“My concern with this series of dictates is that it does not take into account the real-world situations in which we live,” said Assemblyman Ronald S. Dancer (R-Ocean).


Many people in the 12th Legislative District can remember times when winter storms or nor’easters have left homes cold and dark for weeks. If not for their natural gas- or propane-powered home generators, they and their animals would not have had water and warmth.


ASSEMBLYMAN RONALD S. DANCER


“Many people in the 12th Legislative District can remember times when winter storms or nor’easters have left homes cold and dark for weeks. If not for their natural gas- or propane-powered home generators, they and their animals would not have had water and warmth,” Dancer continued.

Under Governor Murphy’s new regulations, individuals and their families would be at the mercy of monopolistic power companies.

“We cannot put our entire well being in the hands of a utility company that fails to provide basic service in times of a crisis,” said Dancer.

With cost estimates for conversion running near $100,000 per household, the Governor fails to say who will pay for his plans.

“In order to get your opinion on this proposal, I have created a petition site for you to sign and send a message to the governor,” said Assemblyman Dancer. You can join thousands of New Jerseyans who are telling Governor Murphy to stay out of our energy production choices by visiting go.assemblymandancer.com/Energy-Conversion-Petition.

DANCER GETS ANSWERS ON AFGHAN REFUGEES

Due to the sudden presence of thousands of Afghan refugees at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst late last year, Assemblyman RON DANCER asked federal officials a series of questions about the circumstances there. Those answers have been provided and DANCER wants to report them to the people of the 12th Legislative District.

“It’s important to provide information to local residents who may be curious or concerned about what’s going on at the joint base. It is only through open communication that we can let residents know what the federal government is saying and create a dialog to ensure all important questions are answered,” said DANCER (R-Ocean).

DANCER’S late-September letter to THOMAS DECKER, Federal Coordinator of Joint Task Force Liberty at the joint base, was answered in mid-October. The Assemblyman’s questions were prompted by constituent concerns and reports from bases in other states about assaults by refugees against children and a female American service member, among other things.

Mr. DECKER’s responses indicate that:

  • there were 9,400 Afghans at the joint base;

  • the majority of Afghans who will be resettled in the United States have worked in support of the US in Afghanistan, or are family members of those who did;

  • Afghans paroled into the US receive screenings and vaccinations, including COVID-19 vaccination, unless there is proof of prior vaccination;

  • the Afghans housed there are not confined to the base; and

  • minor crimes have been committed among this population, but no felonies have been committed or charged as of his letter.

DANCER’s question about housing plans for when the refugees leave the base was largely deferred to three resettlement agencies in New Jersey.

“America has always been a welcoming country. I’m sure most Americans would be particularly glad to welcome any of the Afghans housed at the joint base who have put their lives on the line to serve beside our brave military,” said DANCER.

To read the full letters containing DANCER’s questions and Mr. DECKER’s responses, go to https://www.assemblymandancer.com/dancer-gets-answers. ■

NOTE: A version of this story was published on the website of the Office of Assemblyman Ronald S. Dancer prior to publication of the winter 2021–2022 edition of this newsletter.

MORE FUNDING FOR OCEAN, MONMOUTH COUNTY SCHOOLS

The New Jersey Department of Education has provided more than $11.5 million in aid to four school districts in Ocean and Monmouth counties, Assemblymen Ron Dancer and Rob Clifton announced recently.

The lawmakers, who were outspoken critics of Governor PHIL MURPHY’s plan to cut millions in state aid to schools in the region, praised the news while renewing calls for a more equitable funding system to be implemented as soon as possible.

“This is a huge relief for our schools that faced insurmountable budget gaps following a year of unprecedented challenges,” DANCER (R-Ocean) said. “When the same districts face cuts year after year, it is evident that our schoolchildren deserve a more sensible, equitable and reliable funding solution that will support their needs. Better investments in our schools will benefit educators, parents, taxpayers, and most importantly, children.”

To help schools adjust to lower funding levels forced by the school funding measure enacted in 2018, known as “S2,” the Legislature included $50 million in stabilization aid in this fiscal year’s state budget. Additionally, Education Rescue Grants were made available to any district that needed to rehire or retrain teaching staff following a reduction in teaching staff in the 2021-2022 school year.

“Our steadfast school leaders, public officials, concerned community members and attentive parents deserve a lot of credit for their persistence in winning this fight for funding,” CLIFTON (R-Monmouth) said. “Election-year politics should never get in the way of educating our children or funding our schools. We must come together to enable children to meet their full academic potential.”

Freehold Regional, Upper Freehold Regional, Jackson Township and Plumsted Township school districts received more than $10.8 million in stabilization aid. Jackson and Plumsted also secured Education Rescue Grants totaling $783,212. ■

RARE DISEASE ADVISORY COUNCIL SIGNED INTO LAW

Assemblyman Dancer’s legislation creating a Rare Disease Advisory Council (A4016/S2682) was enacted in June to study issues facing New Jersey residents diagnosed with rare diseases. The 20-member advisory council will help state government better understand barriers faced by the community and better serve patients, especially in the time of a pandemic. Members include health care professionals and researchers with expertise in rare diseases, as well as representatives from the patient and caregiver community.


A rare disease is one that affects fewer than 20,000 people. There are 7,000 rare diseases affecting approximately 25 to 30 million Americans. Those diagnosed often face a wide range of challenges, including misdiagnosis and lack of effective therapies.


“With the creation of this advisory council, we will develop policy recommendations and best practices to share with state decision-makers that can improve the lives of those in the rare disease community,” said Dancer. “I am grateful this new law will ensure that the rare disease patient community is represented and supported on important issues like health care access, coverage and the advancement of much needed therapies.” ■

DANCER HELPS TO INCREASE PERSONAL NEEDS ALLOWANCE

Assemblyman DANCER plans to introduce legislation aimed at improving the quality of life for residents of nursing homes, government run county psychiatric hospitals, and developmental centers who are eligible for Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). His bill increases the monthly personal needs allowance (PNA) they currently receive from $50 to $100 and provides for future annual cost-of-living increases.

Residents use this allowance for basic personal items, telephone expenses, meals out with friends, reading materials and hobbies. The PNA gives them the ability to participate in activities beyond those provided by the facility and stay connected with family and friends. These activities and items are a valuable compliment to the services provided by the facility.

Currently, 20 states provide a higher PNA than New Jersey’s existing $50 monthly amount. ■

DANCER DELIVERS ON UNIV. TUITION TRANSPARENCY, ASSISTANCE

Assemblyman RON DANCER has been championing common sense tuition reform in New Jersey. During the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ocean County assemblyman introduced legislation (A4499, 2020–2021 session) that would reduce state aid to any institution of higher education that provided a majority of its courses by remote learning.

Assemblyman DANCER’s second tuition-related bill (A3872, 2020–2021 session) requires colleges and certain other schools to provide greater transparency of tuition and fees. The new law will help protect the financial interests of prospective and current students starting in the next academic year.

“Every student, not just prospective ones, deserves a shopping sheet because colleges and universities often raise tuition every year and a student’s financial aid eligibility can change from one semester to the next,” DANCER (R-Ocean) explained. “Understanding the true costs of college requires evaluating available financial aid, tuition and fees, books and more. It’s imperative that we equip students and families with the tools to help them determine the most affordable path to a college degree.”


Students saw the biggest increase in debt over the last 15 years. In 2004, students left school with an average of $16,200 in debt and by 2019, average debt levels had increased three times faster than inflation.


The financial aid shopping sheet includes information on net costs and estimated debt that the student will incur. It also details the types of loans students are eligible for and the percentage of students from the institution who defaulted on their loans.

According to a report from the Institute for College Access & Success, New Jersey college graduates carry an average of $33,566 in student loan debt. Graduates of the institutions in the state carry the seventh highest student debt in the nation. Students saw the biggest increase in debt over the last 15 years. In 2004, students left school with an average of $16,200 in debt and by 2019, average debt levels had increased three times faster than inflation.

The tuition transparency bill was signed into law on September 16, 2021. ■

CLIFTON HONORS 80TH ANNIV. OF PEARL HARBOR

This past December 7 marked eighty years since the infamous attack on the United States’ naval base at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii. The surprise attack claimed the lives of 2,403 Americans and injured over 1,000 others; it led the United States to enter World War II.

Assemblyman CLIFTON spoke at a Pearl Harbor remembrance ceremony to honor those Americans who were wounded in action or lost their lives that fateful day. The assemblyman was joined by Senator SAMUEL THOMPSON, Old Bridge Mayor OWEN HENRY, and members of the Old Bridge council.

A wreath was laid near a plaque commissioned by the Old Bridge Township Council, dedicated to “those valiant Americans who made the supreme sacrifice so that our great country could remain free.”

Pearl Harbor Day is observed on December 7 each year. ■

Assemblyman Rob Clifton standing at a podium in front of the United States and New Jersey flags.
A group of veterans and elected officials standing by a memorial wreath.
A memorial wreath near a plaque dedicated to "those valiant Americans who made the supreme sacrifice so that our great country could remain free."

SENIOR CITIZEN, VETERAN PROP. TAX PROGRAMS

Assemblyman RON DANCER has prepared a comprehensive property tax rebate and benefit programs booklet for constituents in the legislative district.

This information about State programs may apply to you or a loved one, either now or in the future. These programs are in four categories: Tax Relief, Health Care, Veterans, and Utilities.

This booklet also provides helpful addresses, phone numbers and email addresses for federal, state, county, and local government officials.

The current booklet is updated through the beginning of 2021. Program details and deadlines for 2022 are in the process of being updated now.

The booklet is available online at www.AssemblymanDancer.com/constituent-services/property-tax-booklet. You can also download the full booklet as a PDF.

If you have questions about these programs, or would like a paper copy to be sent to your residential address, please contact Assemblyman DANCER’s office at 609-758-0205 or email asmdancer@njleg.org. ■


STATE ENERGY REBATES AND ASSISTANCE

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) and the Department of Community Affairs announced new and expanded efforts to provide financial assistance for New Jersey residents with utility bill arrearages.

“Due to the pandemic and the economic upheaval caused by it, the State is providing additional help to individuals who have gotten behind on their utility bills,” said Assemblyman DANCER.

The grace period on utility shut-offs ends on December 31, 2021, after which your utility can be disconnected for non-payment. It is critical that anyone with outstanding balances apply for utility assistance programs now.

Also, NJBPU has temporarily expanded its Universal Service Fund (USF) Program to moderate-income families so that households who encountered a financial setback during the pandemic can receive assistance. For example, a family of four can make up to $106,000 per year and qualify for the program. USF provides not only monthly credits on electric and gas bills, but also a pathway to energy debt forgiveness through the USF-Fresh Start Program. 

DCA’s LIHEAP program’s income eligibility criteria changed from 200% of the Federal Poverty Level to 60% of the State Median Income, resulting in an increase of the income threshold for a family of four from $4,039.00 gross monthly income to $6,439.00 gross monthly income.

“These changes will allow more people to qualify and receive assistance from both programs,” said DANCER.

For more information about these and other energy assistance programs, use the following links.

 TO APPLY FOR USF & LIHEAP 

Apply online at: https://njdca-housing.dynamics365portals.us/en-US/dcaid-services/.

Find more information about programs at the following websites: www.energyassistance.nj.gov, www.nj.gov/dca/dcaid, www.nj.gov/bpu, www.njpoweron.org, and www.aging.nj.gov. ■

TOWNS OF LEG. DISTRICT 12

Assemblyman DANCER serves over 200,000 individuals across parts of Burlington, Middlesex, Monmouth and Ocean counties.

Legislative districts are drawn every ten years after the decennial United States Census.

The 12th Legislative District includes fourteen municipalities, both small and large. Take a look at the map to see which towns are included in the legislative district.

CLIFTON BILL SUPPORTS LOCAL WINERIES, EXPANDS MAIL DELIVERY

During the 2020–2021 session the Assembly Oversight, Reform and Federal Relations Committee advanced a bill removing a production cap that limits how much wineries can ship directly to New Jersey customers.

The bill (A1943, prev. session), sponsored by Assemblyman ROB CLIFTON, would eliminate current restrictions that prevent wineries producing more than 250,000 gallons – about 95% of the market – from shipping to New Jersey residents.

The Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling at Rutgers University published a revenue estimate in April of 2017 stating the bill would result in revenues of $7.4 million, or an increase of 123% percent.

“As more people shopped online during the pandemic, direct wine sales increased significantly. New Jersey needs to recognize this opportunity to increase revenues and the preferred buying habits of consumers,” CLIFTON (R-Monmouth) said. “We should be supporting consumer choice, small wineries that are owned by larger labels, and economic recovery.”

The bill must be reintroduced now that a new session has begun. ■

TWENTY-NINE BILLS SIGNED INTO LAW: DANCER GETS RESULTS FOR NEW JERSEY

Over the course of the 2020–2021 legislative session, which ran from January 14, 2020, through January 11, 2022, twenty-nine of Assemblyman RON DANCER’s bills (including prime and co-sponsored legislation) were signed into law by the governor.

As a member of the New Jersey State Legislature, Assemblyman DANCER is one of 80 members of the General Assembly who may author legislation affecting the lives of New Jerseyans. The process of taking an idea and turning it into law is often long and difficult.

A bill’s life begins when the authoring member (the prime sponsor) introduces the legislation in his or her respective house. Then, the presiding officer of the house (in the assembly, the speaker) assigns the bill to a committee for hearing further discussion and debate. Once in committee, the chair has broad discretion to post the bill for a hearing. Most legislation does not successfully leave a committee.

When a legislative committee approves a bill, it then moves to the floor of the house in which it was introduced. At this point, the presiding officer may post the legislation for vote by the full house.

In New Jersey, as at the federal level, a bill requires passage in both the Senate and General Assembly before it is delivered to the governor. Once the governor signs the passed bill, it becomes state law.

In the past two years, those twenty-nine bills by Assemblyman DANCER took a similar journey through the halls of Trenton, each of them designed to better the lives of state residents. Subjects of Assemblyman DANCER’s passed legislation included property tax reduction, local small business support, funding for school districts, agricultural promotion, and much more.

The New Jersey Legislature now begins its 220th Session, which will continue through January 2024. ■