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In advance of big storm, New Jersey lifts licensing laws for shoveling snow

By   /   January 20, 2016  /   News  /   No Comments

Just days ahead of an expected blizzard on the East Coast, New Jersey has officially repealed a nonsensical rule banning the shoveling of snow without a license.

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SNOW JOB: Police in Bound Brook, N.J., told two boys, Matt Molinari and Eric Schnepf, they were not allowed to shovel their neighbors’ driveways without a permit. A new state law puts the boys on the right side of the law, and common sense.

Gov. Chris Christie on Tuesday signed a bill making it legal for New Jersey residents to offer snow shoveling services without first registering with their town. Last year, two entrepreneurial teens going door-to-door and offering to shovel snow for a small fee were stopped by local police in Bound Brook.

The cops told the two boys, Matt Molinari and Eric Schnepf, they were not allowed to solicit businesses without a permit.

In Bound Brook, that license costs $450 and is only good for a period of 180 days.

After the story made national headlines — including here at Watchdog, where it was featured as our “Nanny State of the Week” story — state lawmakers began working on a solution.

READ MORE: Snow Job — New Jersey town tells kids to get a license to shovel neighbors’ snow

State Sen. Mike Doherty, R-Washington, who sponsored the so-called “right-to-shovel” bill, said it was incredible that some towns wanted teens to pay expensive licensing fees just to clear snow off driveways.

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DOHERTY: State Sen. Mike Doherty says government red tape shouldn’t stop kids from making a few bucks by shoveling snow.

“This new law sends the message that kids looking to make a few bucks on a snow day shouldn’t be subjected to government red tape or fined for shoveling snow,” Doherty said.

The bill removes only licensing requirements for snow shoveling services, and only applies to solicitations made within 24 hours before a predicted snow storm. Towns with laws prohibiting door-to-door solicitation will be able to enforce those laws in all other circumstances.

The bill was one of 93 signed by Christie this week, according to the governor’s office. He also vetoed 65 bills.

The governor’s signature comes just in time. Parts of New Jersey could see more than a foot of snow this week as a powerful storm takes aim at the East Coast.

In Bound Brook, there’s no word on whether Molinari and Schnepf are planning to offer their shoveling services again.

If they do, though, they will be on the right side of the law — and common sense.

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Eric Boehm is the national regulatory reporter for Watchdog.org. He lives in St. Paul, Minnesota. His work has appeared in Reason Magazine, National Review Online, The Freeman Magazine, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Washington Examiner and Fox News. He was once featured in a BuzzFeed listicle. Follow him on Twitter @EricBoehm87 and reach him at [email protected]