Bill a welcome mat for home-based businesses
A bill that would allow home-based businesses to operate despite zoning restrictions has gained bipartisan sponsors in the Legislature.
The bill, A-983, would designate many home-based businesses as "accessory uses," which wouldn't require zoning variances.
Sponsor Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-Whippany) said the bill was necessary due to "overzealous" local officials who are enforcing zoning ordinances.
The Home-Based Jobs Creation Act would apply to businesses that employ only family members residing in the home and that do not have external signs or generate excess traffic or waste. It has gained support from the New Jersey Association of Women Business Owners' Morris County chapter; chapter President Susana Fonticoba said many of her organization's members work from home.
When the economy cratered, Fonticoba said, "We didn't have enough money in our investments and our savings to sit back. We took our fates and our talents in our hands and launched our own businesses."
Fonticoba added that most home-based business owners conduct their business by phone or by visiting clients. "We didn't expect to be made millionaires, we're doing this to pay our mortgage," she said.
She is owner of East Hanover-based businesses Home and Office Computer Training and Right Click Advantage. She works with business owners and nonprofits to choose and learn appropriate technology to pursue their business goals.
Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Englewood) said it was common sense to allow businesses that don't affect neighbors to operate from homes.
"It's not often that Jay Webber and I agree on certain things," but they're in complete agreement on the bill, said Vainieri Huttle, owner of Vainieri Funeral Home, in North Bergen.
Michael Egenton, senior vice president of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, said a similar bill nearly became law in the 1990s, only to meet resistance from dual-office holders, who apparently were concerned about a loss of local control. He added that at the time, half of the Fortune 500 companies had started as home-based businesses.
N.J. has chance to ‘learn a lesson' on brewery bill
A bill to lift some of the limits on small breweries in the state is set to be reviewed by the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee on March 5, and lobbyists are busy making their case over the measure.
The bill, S-641, would allow breweries to increase their production limits and remove other restrictions on their sales operations, such as allowing them to sell beer directly from breweries.
Eric J. Orlando, vice president of the Kaufman Zita Group, said New Jersey is in danger of losing a competition for brewers that are looking to expand. He noted that North Carolina recently won a battle with its neighbors for a Sierra Nevada brewery, while Pennsylvania is actively wooing Colorado-based New Belgium for a brewery there by using incentives and making its state laws more brewer-friendly.
New Jersey "could learn a lesson from these recent instances by showing it wants these breweries," Orlando wrote in an e-mail.
William J. Pascrell III, of Princeton Public Affairs Group, said the bill would benefit from amendments to make it clear that breweries cannot become restaurants. He represents Allendale-based Dougherty Enterprises Inc., which owns more than 50 Applebees locations and paid an average of more than $250,000 for the liquor licenses.
"We're working on making sure that this isn't another effort to creep into the restaurant business," he said.
Lobbyists see bright future for online gaming industry
With a bill to legalize online gaming — S-1565 — scheduled for a committee hearing on March 5, a veteran state lobbyist sees a bright future for the industry.
William J. Pascrell III, of Princeton Public Affairs Group, who represents gaming industry clients, noted the bill does not rely on a ballot question to legalize the practice.
"One way or another, we're going to get this done this year," Pascrell said.
Another lobbyist, who declined to be named, said the next two weeks will be crucial to online gaming's future in the state, but said it remains unclear whether there are enough votes for the measure to pass.
The bill requires all the facilities and equipment needed to operate online gaming sites in the state be located in Atlantic City's casinos. Supporters have said the state must move quickly to become a national center for the industry, in the event that it becomes legal.
Capital Impact Group adds ex-top GOP staffer to ranks
Lobbying firm Capital Impact Group has added Jeanette Issenman to its staff, firm President Gene Mulroy said.
Issenman has served as the executive director of the New Jersey Republican State Committee and as a member of the Senate Republican staff. Her most recent position was as vice president of government affairs for the Commerce & Industry Association of New Jersey.
"We're really psyched that she's joining," Mulroy said, adding that her strong reputation on West State Street and bipartisan relationships made her a "big pickup" for the firm.
Mulroy said there are "more positive changes" that will be announced at the firm, although he declined to provide details, adding only: "It's an exciting time."
Issenman's husband, Steve Issenman, is the senior vice president of federal and external affairs at the HealthCare Institute of New Jersey.