Incentive bills advance as end of legislative session looms

NJBIZ STAFF//January 5, 2012//

Incentive bills advance as end of legislative session looms

NJBIZ STAFF//January 5, 2012//

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A series of bills affecting New Jersey businesses advanced in the Legislature on Thursday, a necessary step if they are going to be passed during the last day of the legislative session on Monday.

The bills included a measure that puts employers that report business income as personal income on the same footing as corporations in pursuing a variety of business incentive programs, as well as the creation of a “business court” to handle business contract cases and a new subsidy for urban supermarkets.

The Assembly Budget Committee passed several of the bills, with Democratic members highlighting the job-creation potential, while Republican members questioned whether the bills should be passed outside of the annual budget process.

Several of the bills have received support from business groups.

The bill allowing employers reporting business income as personal income to apply for state business incentives would benefit limited liability corporations and sole-proprietor companies, according to Diane Walsh, vice president of government affairs and communications for the Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey.

“That would definitely help the business climate in the state,” Walsh said before the budget committee meeting.

One bill that sparked debate was a measure to allow wineries to ship directly, while establishing rules for wine retail locations. The bill was partially born in response to a court ruling that New Jersey must treat in-state and out-of-state wineries equally.

New Jersey Restaurant Association lobbyist Guy Gregg expressed concern that the bill could allow retail locations to have wine consumption on site without purchasing a liquor license. In addition, union officials and many current wine sellers opposed the bill, citing out-of-state retail competition as likely to cost New Jersey jobs. It was supported by the Wine Institute, a California trade association, although it opposed a provision setting a minimum size for wineries to ship to consumers directly.

The bill was still under discussion early Thursday afternoon.

Another bill cited as a source of economic development was A-4366, which would eliminate a 72-hour hour waiting period for couples to marry. Assemblyman Louis D. Greenwald (D-Voorhees) said the waiting period hurts Atlantic City in its competition with other tourism sites, while Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-Whippany) said the state can aid its business climate by cutting taxes and government spending, not “creating drive-by weddings.” The bill was advanced by the committee.