When shopping local, you may be warned by shops that paying with your card will result in an additional charge, which is meant to make up for the processing fee that the stores are charged with each electronic transaction.

New Jersey is one of many states that permit establishments to pass these fees on to the consumer. But local governments in the Garden State don't have the power to do the same.

A proposed law advanced by an Assembly committee aims to change that. Sponsored by Assemblywoman Annette Quijano, D-Union, the measure would authorize local governments to impose convenience fees for accepting electronic payments in person or online.

The measure, which was approved unanimously on Nov. 15 by the Assembly State and Local Government Committee, would cap any fee at $3 per transaction, instead of permitting a percentage-based fee system.

"This is sort of allowing the law to catch up to the times," Mike Cerra, executive director of the New Jersey League of Municipalities, told New Jersey 101.5.

According to the bill, several counties in New Jersey had been imposing these convenience fees, even though they're not technically authorized. Through this proposed law, Cerra noted, the individual taxpayer who chooses to pay electronically can foot the bill for the convenience, instead of having the processing fee come out of the general fund.

The measure was recently amended to clarify that local governments must still give residents the option to make payments by non-electronic means, such as cash, check, or money order.

Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.

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