Snow shovelers rejoice! New law says you can offer to clear walks before storms

Brent Johnson, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

Trenton -- Attention, New Jersey's kids and teenagers: You can now legally offer to shovel your neighbor's driveway when a snowstorm is set to hit.

And it comes just in time, with a massive storm predicted to wallop the Garden State this weekend.

Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill into law Tuesday that would block towns from preventing residents in New Jersey from offering their shoveling services within 24 hours of an impending storm.

The legislation (S2741/A4213) was sparked by the story of a pair of Bridgewater-Raritan Regional High School seniors who were stopped by Bound Brook police last January when they tried to go door-to-door before a predicted snowstorm to ask residents if they needed their driveways cleared.

Police reportedly warned the teenagers -- Matt Molinari and Eric Schnepf -- that they might be violating the Somerset County borough's regulation ordinance by passing out fliers advertising their shoveling services.

Authorities said they were more concerned about the teens' safety than whether they were operating without a license.

Still, that caught the attention of lawmakers like bill sponsor state Sen. Michael Doherty, a Republican whose 23rd District covers parts of Warren and Hunterdon counties.

"Kids who should be learning the value of entrepreneurship and hard work are instead being taught the frustration of dealing with mindless government bureaucracy," Doherty told NJ Advance Media last year. "Our laws should recognize the difference between a professional business and kids trying to earn a few bucks on a day off of school."

The state Senate passed the bill 34-0 last May, and the state Assembly followed suit with a 72-1 vote last week.

"Many people have come to rely on their neighbors to shovel their walkway or driveway after a bad snow storm," Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen), another co-sponsor, said last week. "Entrepreneurial individuals offering to shovel snow should not have to worry about breaking the law simply by promoting their services before the storm hits."