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By Fred Barnes

The entire 80 members of the State Assembly are up for election this November. It was observed, in the past, that all politics is local. With New Jersey facing a possible budget deficit of 10 billion dollars in the next fiscal year, it is easy to understand the importance of this election.

Every year that a budget deficit shortfall occurs, the first industry that is looked at is the alcohol beverage retailers. 2009 was no exception. The Governor proposed and the Legislature passed a 25% increase in the excise tax on spirits and wine. No doubt, because of the huge deficit anticipated for the 2010 budget, again the government will be looking at the hospitality industry for relief.

As always, when the industry is under fire, a coalition of our industry partners will come together to protect the retail tier. These talented people will visit legislatures and explain that new taxes or fees will take a definite toll on the small businessperson.

Your help is needed in this election cycle. It is important to elect people who are dedicated to the principal that small businesses are important to the welfare of our state. Business friendly legislators must be elected and educated to understand how unique the alcohol beverage industry is. It is imperative that you question the candidates on their positions about new taxes, new fees and new regulations. If their positions are adverse to the interests of our industry, explain to your customers, friends, family and employees, how important it is not to elect them. By doing your homework, you can protect your bottom line.

During the lame duck session of the Legislature, we will be fighting the repeal of the two license limitation, ignition interlock devices for first time DWI offenders, special liquor licenses, mandatory rest and meal breaks and direct shipping of wine to name a few of the more than 200 pieces of legislation that are being monitored. Your membership is needed to keep the voice of the on-premise licensees loud and strong.

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