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Ray Cantor – VP, Government Affairs

Not long after the COVID-19 emergency shutdowns were put in place, NJBIA called for an extension of various government permitting and reporting requirements since business activity was being severely cut. It’s taken a while, but with passage of a permit extension bill on Thursday, the process is all but complete.

A-3919 (Calabrese, D-36)/S-2346 (Sarlo, D-36), which is awaiting the governor’s signature, would allow most state and local government permits that were approved before March 9 to remain in force until six months after the emergency is over.

“This bill will avoid putting unnecessary obstructions in front of businesses that are going to be struggling for survival for some time,” said NJBIA Vice President for Government Affairs Ray Cantor.

Those unnecessary obstructions include forcing businesses to start a lengthy and expensive permitting process for a permit that was already approved. The bill would not relax any standards or requirements under any of the laws affected; it just overrides the permits’ expiration dates.

“This is a common-sense measure that recognizes a lot of business activities have been shut down to prevent the spread of coronavirus,” Cantor said. “New Jersey has used permit extensions in the past when economic activity has been interrupted, including during the Great Recession and Superstorm Sandy.”

It’s also important for positioning the state for a strong economic comeback by allowing businesses to resume activities without worrying about their permit status. As it is, businesses will likely be opening with at least some restrictions for some time. NJBIA believes redoing permit applications should not be one of them.

“New Jersey is going to need businesses to operate at a high level to begin repairing our economy, even as they deal with social distancing policies and other limitations in the future,” Cantor said.

Passage of the legislation comes on the heels of several administrative extensions in recent weeks. Last Saturday, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection extended deadlines for public comment periods on applications that had not been approved prior to the pandemic.

The Saturday before (May 2), Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order extending statutory deadlines required under environmental laws for the length of New Jersey’s public health emergency.