New Jersey liquor store owners are aiming to push against the expansion of the maximum number of liquor licenses a business can own.
The liquor stores expect to square off this fall against larger retailers that want to own more than two licenses, the state's current limit.
Fred Leighton, the owner of Bayway World of Liquor, in Elizabeth, expects a legislative battle. He said liquor stores have seen revenue drop when larger retailers opened nearby.
Leighton, a member of the New Jersey Liquor Store Alliance, emphasized public safety in making the case against the expansion, saying that established liquor stores will be more vigilant than larger retailers in preventing sales to minors, as they are already on the lookout for young customers.
"My eyes are on you," Leighton said of customers. "You're not here to buy chips."
Leighton also said liquor stores can offer a larger selection of drinks than supermarkets and big-box chains.
But it may be a challenging atmosphere to block the expansion, since expansion opponent Assemblyman Joseph Cryan (D-Union) was replaced as Assembly majority leader by Louis D. Greenwald (D-Voorhees), a supporter of the expansion.
Retailers supporting the expansion have organized as the New Jersey Retailers for Responsible Liquor Licensing. That organization contends that New Jersey has more restrictive liquor laws than all but a few other states, and that supermarkets have effectively policed liquor sales to minors.
Exemptions from the sales tax for pet medications, rainwater capture basins and computer software were among the proposals that were met with disapproval by the state Sales and Use Tax Review Commission.
The commission did recommend one of the eight proposals it reviewed Aug. 1. This change would exempt the compressed natural gas used to fuel jitney minibuses in Atlantic City.
The little-known commission doesn't have official power to block legislation, but its recommendations can be useful for legislators, according to commission member James B. Appleton, the executive director of the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers.
Appleton said commission members found that the compressed natural gas used by the jitneys was at a disadvantage compared with other motor vehicle fuels.
"The commission tends to look at things as if there's tax equity, in which like products and services are treated the same," Appleton said.
The pet medication proposal — part of a bill named Fritz's Law — didn't clear the bar.
Commission member Susan A. Feeney, a partner at McCarter & English, expressed concern that the definition of a pet was problematic, and could extend beyond dogs and cats toward other animals, such as pot-bellied pigs.
"I think it's too vague, and I think it will create too many problems," she said.
Assemblyman Troy Singleton (D-Mount Laurel) is circulating a bill that would have wide-ranging effects on businesses if adopted.
The draft measure would establish new regulations for reimbursements by insurance companies and other carriers offering managed-care plans to out-of-network doctors for services provided to patients within in-network facilities.
It would limit the amount charged by these doctors to insurers to 100 percent and 500 percent of the Medicare rate.
If attempts to negotiate reimbursement for the out-of-network services don't result in a resolution within 14 days of the carrier being billed, the insurance carrier or the provider could initiate binding arbitration. A written decision by the arbitrator would be required within 30 days of the request being made to the Department of Banking and Insurance.
Beneficiaries who receive care from an out-of-network provider in an in-network facility wouldn't have to pay more than they would have for an in-network provider, under the draft proposal. This wouldn't apply to those who don't comply with preauthorization or medical necessity review requirements, or those who choose out-of-network providers when there is an in-network doctor who provides the service.