N.J. legislature mulls bill that exempts teens from beach badge fees

Monmouth Beach (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Monmouth Beach (Emma Lee/WHYY)

A bill pending in the New Jersey legislature would allow teenagers to access beaches at a reduced rate or for free.

The bipartisan measure, known as A5712, seeks to amend a 1955 law that permits New Jersey municipalities to charge access to tidal waterways. It is awaiting action after being introduced in August.

The current law prohibits municipalities from charging fees to children under age 12. It also allows free or reduced fee access to:

  • Those 65 years or older;
  • Persons who meet the Social Security disabled criteria;
  • Active military personnel and their spouses and dependent children;
  • New Jersey National Guard members and their spouses and dependent children;
  • Honorably discharged military personnel who either have served at least 90 days in active duty or have been discharged or released from active duty by reason of a service-incurred injury or disability; and,
  • Gold Star family members.

Now, legislators want to add teenagers between 12 and 17 to that list. The bill would also remove language from the current law that limits the exemption and reduced fee to veterans who have either served at least 90 days in active duty or have been discharged or released from active duty by reason of a service-incurred injury or disability.

Bill co-sponsor Ned Thomson, R-Monmouth, tells NJ101.5 bringing families to the beach helps the state’s economy.

“We want to reduce and eliminate those fees the best we can. It should be public access to our beaches,” he told the radio station. “They’re everybody’s beach, not just the municipalities, though they’re charged with protecting them and staffing them with lifeguards, safety and police, they should be compensated for that aspect of it, but everyone should be able to enjoy our shore.”

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