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President’s Message
By FRED BARNES

GRANTING OF "SPECIAL LIQUOR LICENSE FOR XANADU IS AN OUTRAGE!

The New Jersey Licensed Beverage Association has been fighting for over two years through numerous legislative proposals against the granting of "special liquor" licenses for economic development projects - such as the proposed Xanadu Project in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

On Friday, December 18, 2008 when ABC Director Jerry Fischer announced that he was granting a "concessionaire’s license to a restaurant in the Xanadu Mall project, for a mere $2,000, we were outraged. It simply was and is another blow to the thousands of small bars, taverns and restaurants who have paid up to $600,000 for an on-premise consumption license in the area of East Rutherford. Not only is it unfair but it devalues existing licenses! Why, should a large restaurant chain be able to come into a project such as Xanadu and receive a liquor license for $2,000 when others have had to pay market value?"

NJLBA has helped to lead fight before the State Legislature, testifying numerous times against the granting of special liquor licenses. In fact, NJLBA was instrumental in getting a ‘global’ piece of legislation passed on this issue in 2008!, outlining the perimeters for the granting of any special licenses. One of the requirements of this legislation stated; first, anyone seeking a ‘special license’ in these economic development projects must first see if any existing licenses were available to purchase. If not, the granting of a ‘special license’ would require that the purchaser pay two-and-a-half times the fair market value for such a license, 25% of which would be distributed among existing licensees to compensate them for any negative impact such a project, together with the granting of a ‘special liquor’ license, would have on existing licensees and our neighborhood bars and tavern in the area.

This legislation S-3280 and S-2040 was passed by both Houses of the Legislature; however, the Senate ‘slipped’ an amendment in the bill to exempt the Xanadu Project from the above requirements. NJLBA expressed strong opposition to this amendment, and will continue to fight for our members on any legislation that impacts their livelihood or the value of their liquor license!

NJLBA will consider joining with others to appeal this unfair decision on the Xanadu Project. The law provides 45 days in which to file an appeal with the Director of the ABC.

NJLBA SUPPORTS EXISTING LICENSES IN SOUTH ORANGE

On December 3, 2008, NJLBA wrote a letter to ABC Director Jerry Fischer, expressing our strong opposition to the pending application of the South Orange Performing Arts Center for a State Annual Permit.

Currently, South Orange has 9 Plenary Consumption Licenses which is 3 more than is allowed by the statutory population cap. Of the 7 active licenses, six are located within 3 blocks of each other and the Performing Arts Center theater. NJLBA believes that the granting of this permit would create unfair competition for the existing licensees and would destabilize the present market.

NJLBA will continue to oppose the granting of "special liquor" licenses, as well as numerous other legislative and regulatory issues in Trenton and statewide that would bring economic harm to existing licensees and drive yet another small business out of business!

IGNITION INTERLOCK LAWS

According to the National Conference of State Legislature, almost 13,500 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes involving alcohol in 2006, the latest year for which figures are available. Because drunk driving remains a significant public safety issues, policymakers around the country want to use ignition interlock technology to further reduce the number of drunk drivers. But is it the statistics that are driving this issue in state legislatures across the country, or is it the manufacturers of “ignition interlock devices” that are encouraging states to adopt more stringent “interlock” laws?

Forty-five states have some form of ignition interlock law, but fewer than half of them make ignition interlocks mandatory. Most states only require the device for offenders who have had prior impaired driving offenses.

In New Jersey, legislation - A-3073 - Munoz/Albano/Diegnan/Johnson - was recently released from the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee which would mandate that ignition interlock devices be installed for all drunk driving offenses. For first time offenders the interlock device would be required for 6 months; and for 3 years for subsequent offenses. Currently, New Jersey allows for judicial discretion for first time offenders. A-3073 would make it mandatory.

NJLBA’s position has been a “first time offender” could be a person who is only “one sip” over the BAC limit, or someone coming from a social or family event, and has had only two or three glasses of wine. These individuals are not your abusive or repetitive drinkers. Why then, should we mandate interlock devices on these individuals? Statistics show that most drunk driving fatalities are caused by repeat offenders, or someone whose blood alcohol level is significantly over the state’s legal limit.

According to “The Beverage Information Group”, an information source for the beverage alcohol industry, “by mandating breathalyzers for low-BAC, first-time offenders, regardless of their BAC level, you ignore hard-core alcohol abusers. Further, it eliminates judicial discretion, and creates a one-size-fits-all penalty for first time offenders and those who brazenly and repeatedly break the law and put others’ lives at risk? NJLBA believes New Jersey’s current law is sufficient and that A-3073 is over-reaching

Yes, I know. Every time there is another stiffer law or penalty imposed on first time offenders, the alcoholic beverage industry is accused of using their influence to defeat the legislation. And yet, it has been reported that legislation such as A-3073 is part of a broader strategy to get states to enact these laws in order that the manufacturers of these devices can call for the universal implementation of interlocks on automobiles.


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