SENATE, No. 2560

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

215th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED FEBRUARY 7, 2013

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  JEFF VAN DREW

District 1 (Atlantic, Cape May and Cumberland)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Requires certain energy assistance organizations to establish energy assistance grant income verification procedures and to maintain monies received from State in separate account.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act concerning energy assistance organizations and amending P.L.2000, c.132.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    Section 1 of P.L.2000, c.132 (C.48:2-29.38) is amended to read as follows:

     1.    The Legislature finds and declares that [certain]:

     a. Certain citizens of the State may find it difficult to pay for energy services because of a temporary financial reversal, medical crisis, or other family problem; and

     [that nonprofit] b. Nonprofit energy assistance organizations such as New Jersey Statewide Heating Assistance and Referral for Energy Services (SHARES), have been formed, joining together various nonprofit human service agencies and the major energy public utilities in the State, to raise money through contributions of the members and others to provide temporary financial assistance to needy customers that may have exhausted all other available resources.

     The Legislature therefore determines that it serves a public purpose to provide supplemental funding to such Statewide nonprofit energy assistance organizations from the unclaimed property held by the electric and gas public utilities in the State.

(cf: P.L.2000, c.132, s.1)

 

     2.    Section 2 of P.L.2000, c.132 (C.48:2-29.39) is amended to read as follows:

     2.    The Board of Public Utilities shall designate an established Statewide nonprofit energy assistance organization representing the State's major electric and gas public utilities and human service nonprofit groups to receive supplemental funding from unclaimed property held by the State's electric and gas public utilities that is transferred to the State [in accordance with] pursuant to the requirements of R.S.46:30B-74.

(cf: P.L.2000, c.132, s.2)

 

     3.    Section 3 of P.L.2000, c.132 (C.48:2-29.40) is amended to read as follows:

     3.    a. The Statewide nonprofit energy assistance organization receiving such funding from the State shall utilize the funds to provide temporary financial assistance to residential customers having short-term difficulties paying their energy bills after such customers have exhausted all other available energy assistance resources.

     b.    The organization shall develop and file with the Board of Public Utilities the eligibility criteria and income verification procedures for customers to receive energy assistance grants.  These income verification procedures shall include, but not limited to, an applicant providing a copy of the following documentation for every member of the household 18 years of age and older: (1) the most recent State and federal income tax return or other tax verification documentation; and (2) the Social Security number.  The organization shall keep the information required pursuant to this subsection confidential, and shall not disclose the information unless an agency of the State or federal government, pursuant to law, requires disclosure to that agency.

     c.     The organization shall establish a separate account for the funding received from the State pursuant to the requirements of R.S.46:30B-74.  Other funding received by the organization, whether from private or other public sources of funds, shall not be kept in an account which has funds received from the State pursuant to the requirements of R.S.46:30B-74.

     d.    The organization shall [also] file annually with the Board of Public Utilities and, pursuant to section 2 of P.L.1991, c.164 (C.52:14-19.1), with the Legislature a detailed report on the use of the funds received from the State and the number of recipients and amount of energy assistance grants.

(cf: P.L.2000, c.132, s.3)

 

     4.    Section 4 of P.L.2000, c.132 (C.48:2-29.41) is amended to read as follows:

     4.    The Board of Public Utilities is authorized to [promulgate] adopt, pursuant to [law] the "Administrative Procedure Act," P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.), such rules and regulations as may be necessary to effectuate the purpose of [this act] P.L.2000, c.132 (C.48:2-29.38 et seq.).

(cf: P.L.2000, c.132, s.4)

 

     5.    This act shall take effect immediately, but shall remain inoperative for 60 days following the date of enactment.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill requires certain Statewide nonprofit energy assistance organizations to require income verification procedures related to an application for financial assistance.  The organizations shall require an applicant to provide a copy of the following documentation of every member of the household 18 years of age and older: (1) the most recent State and federal income tax return or other tax verification documentation; and (2) a Social Security number.  The organizations shall keep the information confidential, and shall not disclose the information unless an agency of the State or federal government, pursuant to law, requires disclosure to that agency.

     Further, the bill requires the organization to establish a separate account for funding received from the State.  Other funding received by the organization, whether from private or other public sources of funds, shall not be kept in an account which has funds received from the State.

     These requirements would only apply to organizations receiving State funding from unclaimed property held by the State's electric and gas public utilities to provide temporary financial assistance to residential customers.  The requirements implement three recommendations of the Office of the State Comptroller in its December 11, 2012 report entitled, “NEW JERSEY SHARES, INC.: SELECTED FISCAL AND OPERATING PRACTICES.”