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By Fred Barnes


The New Jersey Licensed Beverage Association recently appeared before the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee to express our strong opposition to legislation that would permit municipalities to impose an assessment for costs and attorney fees on a licensee where they have been cited for a violation of a statute, regulation or municipal ordinance; or an assessment for costs that the municipality determines when there is a settlement agreement by both parties.

The legislation didn’t just target violations which might lead to a “license suspension”, it allowed municipalities to assess a fee for any violation set forth under Title 33. Under the bill, not only would a licensee have to pay an annual license fee to the municipality, but they would now have to pay the municipality whatever fines, attorney fees, and payment of any costs incurred during an investigation or prosecution, while at the same time, pay for their own attorney fees, and costs associated with an appeal!

In testimony before the Law and Public Safety, NJLBA stated, “this bill is an invitation to mischief, especially in light of the current economy and budget shortfalls at all levels. It will provide a strong and perverse incentive for municipalities to use this law as a revenue generator in order to balance their budgets off the backs of licensees.

“Senators, I’m sure you have heard that your neighborhood bars and taverns are struggling. One reason for this is certainly the economy, but is also because they, like all small businesses, have been choked to death with regulatory mandates, and other costs associated with doing business in New Jersey,”

Several of the Senators on the committee agreed with NJLBA’s concerns. As a result, the bill was not released from Committee.

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