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Double Trouble: Two threats surface in election year!

Posted on  | April 23, 2015   Bookmark and Share
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This is an election year for the State Assembly, and two troubling bills have surfaced with our industry aligned in the crosshairs. Both bills are sponsored by well-known South Jersey Legislators in Democrat leadership positions
Assembly Bill A4267 calls for the creation of potentially thousands of new and very inexpensive licenses for BYOB restaurants, which could include anything from a pizzeria to a McDonalds to a Quick Check or a boardwalk concession with a kitchen. These new R-1 & R-2 licenses would be issued at the local municipal level and cost $1,500 to $10,000—equating to a fraction of the cost of existing licenses.

The NJLSA met with the bill’s primary sponsor, Assemblyman John Burzichelli (District 3) last month to discuss our concerns, including the obvious loss in sales our licenses would experience from BYOB customers no longer purchasing from our licenses. We also addressed his bill could dilute the value of the Broad C licenses many of our licensees own. Most importantly, we discussed our concern that a legislative precedent could be established for future consideration of an R-3 retail license for grocery and convenience stores as well as big box stores like Walmart!

We are currently working with our industry partners to create an alternative bill we can present to the Assemblyman that would not turn our marketplace upside down. Clearly, this so-called “Common Sense” bill would make no sense for anyone other than real estate developers looking for something for nothing.

The second threat we are watching, Assembly Bill A2002, represents Armageddon for our already struggling independent retail sector and would raise the current two-license limit to 10 licenses! Assembly Majority Leader Greenwald (District 6) has been the lone wolf in our Legislature on this issue for as long as I can remember, and although he is clearly driving the two-license limit challenge bus, Wegmans is providing the fuel while hiding behind the façade of their alter ego trade association known as “Retailers for Responsible Liquor Licensing.”

Through my serving on the Executive Board of the American Beverage Licensees, I have become thoroughly informed and aware of what is really going on in the rest of our nation. The realities represent a stark contrast to what the Majority Leader has represented, and the fact is that New Jersey is NOT that different from a lot of other states fighting the same battles with the big boxes.

Some good news, for a change. A comprehensive study published by the Foundation for Responsible Alcohol supports that LICENSE LIMITS SAVE LIVES the same way speed limits save lives. The study of DWI fatality rates in alcohol sale grocery chain states revealed an average rate of 4.2 deaths per 100,000 of population, as opposed to the national average for all states of 3.3 deaths per 100,000. New Jersey’s rate of 1.9 deaths and New York’s rate of was 1.8 deaths correspond to less than half the national average of chain states.

New York has a single license limit and was ranked 50th and New Jersey has a two-license limit and was ranked 48th. The five lowest states either had low license limits or did not allow any sale of alcohol in grocery stores. Twenty-four of the 26 worst states with the highest fatalities rates were—take a guess—grocery chain states where alcohol is too convenient and too accessible. It’s time for Assemblyman Greenwald to stop trying to step on the backs of small business owners and start thinking about saving lives!

It is with great pride that we announce that Jerry Fischer will be representing the NJLSA as our Legal Counsel.


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