Posted on | September 9, 2015
Written by | Paul Santelle
INDUSTRY EXPECTING FALL PRE-LAME-DUCK LEGISLATIVE PUSH AFTER SUMMER SUNSET
Although we have had a traditionally quiet summer on the legislative front, we are expecting a June pre-budget hang-over to return in the fall, focusing on another attempt to move several industry-related bills in the Assembly before and after the upcoming election for the full Assembly. There are currently three sets of bills related to three separate areas of concern that we are monitoring.
Two-License Limit Under Fire
First and foremost is Assembly Bill A2002 which would remove the longstanding two-license limitation, and has had the Assembly Majority Leader as its singularly outspoken supporter. There is no doubt that the Wegman family—already in control of seven licenses for seven in-state stores (including two corporately held licenses)—is driving this bus.
The new concern at this time relates to the recent A&P Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing that has turned into a fire sale of assets, including almost 20 corporately held “liquor” licenses as well as another dozen “warm beer” licenses that were part of the original 1962 grandfathering. These licenses should be sold off as individual licenses as they represent the last corporately held licenses owned by a single entity that exceed the state’s two-license limit.
New Breed of Restaurant License?
Assembly Bill A4267 another area of concern, relates to legislation that would create new licenses for certain restaurants as well as the issuance of new additional licenses regardless of the current population caps. This legislation, often referred to as the “R1 and R2 Bill” would create an obvious precedent that would lead to an “R3 Bill” that could create or issue new package goods licenses for grocery stores, big box stores or even convenience stores that would totally dilute the value and viability of all existing off-premise licenses and more importantly destabilize our already struggling independent marketplace. Just about every press release that was put out about this controversial legislation has made reference to another shoe dropping to accommodate grocery stores or big box stores.
Beer Bill Challenges 3-Tier & Tied-House
The third area of concern is a trifecta of Assembly Bills—A4389, A4390 and A4391—that would allow limited breweries and/or restricted breweries (Brew Pubs) to expand their current supplier business model into a broader, directly competitive wholesale/retail business model competing for a piece of an ever-shrinking market share for restaurants, bars/taverns and package stores. A4389 permits certain breweries to sell beer at community farm markets; A4390 allows for consumption of food on limited brewery premises; and A4391 authorizes restricted breweries to annually sell up to 1,000 barrels of beer to both in-state and out-of-state retailers. All three bills weaken the foundation of our three-tier system and challenge interpretation of Federal Tied-House laws.
NJLSA & NJLBA HOSTING DINNER CRUISE
On Thursday September 24th from 6:00pm to 9:30pm the NJLSA and NJLBA will be co-hosting an industry related “Evening on the Hudson” dinner cruise around Manhattan on the Skyline Princess out of Lincoln Harbor Marina, 1500 Harbor Boulevard, Weehawken (one block south of Chart House restaurant). This event will recognize key legislators who have supported our industry and will include dinner, DJ, open bar as well as sponsored sampling stations, all on multiple levels of this beautiful 120-foot super yacht.
Please contact Diane Weiss at our Trenton office (609) 396-1980 or go to our website for more information. Tickets are $125pp and there are also several sponsorship opportunities available to support this event.