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  • Writer's pictureMichael Torrissi Jr.

Perspective/Torrissi in Trenton


Michael Torrissi Jr.

The New Jersey State Legislature is back in session, and that means that my “Torrissi in Trenton” column is officially back!


Before I begin, I want to thank every single voter who put their trust in me and voted to send me back to Trenton for my second term. To those who didn’t vote for me, I hope the way I represent Hammonton and the district will win you over the next couple of years.


While in Trenton, I’ll be serving on the Assembly Consumer Affairs and Oversight, Reform and Federal Relations Committee. Although they might sound obscure or dry, some incredibly impactful legislation comes before both committees.


One of the biggest battles in the state played out over my two years in Oversight, Reform and Federal Relations, last year—a fight that wasn’t settled until the last day of the legislative session.


In New Jersey, we have a law that only allows one liquor license per 3,000 residents in any given municipality. This caps the amount of bars, restaurants, etc. that each town can have.

Because of this law, liquor licenses in the state can be worth up to $1 million. Scarcity creates demand which increases value. Local restaurant and bar owners paid top dollar for these licenses and rely on them as capital to keep their businesses alive. I’m sure you all know and love at least one restaurant entrepreneur.


Governor Phil Murphy had a major initiative to do away with this law completely and allow for unlimited liquor licenses for a nominal fee. Abolishing the law would lead to many current restaurant owners going broke overnight. It was a dangerous proposal, but we knew that things did need fixing. There is demand for more licenses.


Instead, we passed complex legislation through the committee, and later signed by the governor, that will allow towns with pocketed liquor licenses to sell them to towns in need of licenses. Believe it or not, there are nearly 1500 pocketed licenses in New Jersey. This middle measure will make it so we use all the liquor licenses in New Jersey that are available while not damaging current owners.


The bill also expanded rights for breweries and will allow towns to create redevelopment zones to bring in new restaurants with the pocketed licenses. It was a compromise that was supported by the restaurant and hospitality industry, the breweries, local municipalities and later, by the governor.


It took two years to come to this compromise, but that’s the beauty of putting in work and being deliberate—we can make decisions that benefit everyone.


That’s what I’ll be looking to do for you all over the next two years. I want to be a reasonable voice that you can all rely on to go to the state capital and do things that are in your best interest. I can’t wait to get to work again.


Michael Torrissi Jr.

Assemblyman

8th District

Trenton

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