New Jerseyans are in favor of proposed changes to the state’s decades-old liquor licensing system, according to a new poll.
Survey results released June 1 by the Rutgers Eagleton Center for Public Interesting Polling showed that almost all residents are behind allowing breweries greater ability to serve food on premises, with 92% supporting versus 6% in opposition.
Additionally, 71% believe small towns should be given additional retail consumption licenses, which would enable more restaurants and bars to serve alcohol, while 26% think that’s a bad move, according to the poll.
The survey comes amid the latest attempt to overhaul the state’s liquor license laws, which are considered among the most restrictive in the country.
Since 1947, New Jersey has granted licenses to municipalities based on population, which has made the ability to sell alcohol a highly coveted right. With a limited number of available licenses on the private market, some business owners are willing to shell out as much as $1 million to be able to serve patrons beer, wine and other spirits.
Earlier this year, Gov. Phil Murphy unveiled a proposal to gradually increase the number of available liquor licenses statewide by relaxing the existing cap and lowering the costs for restaurants and bars looking to obtain one.
The governor’s plan would also create a targeted tax credit for current license holders that would be affected by the increased number of licenses in the state in addition to removing recently implemented operating restrictions on craft breweries, distilleries and wineries.
According to the Rutgers-Eagleton poll, 63% of respondents said they’re for repealing limits on the number of annual events held at such establishments.
Additionally, 57% said they support granting municipalities that have active liquor licenses not tied to a specific establishment with the ability to transfer licenses to another town in the same county, the poll found.
Residents are divided only when it comes to providing tax credits of between $30,000 to $50,000 to current license holders to help make up for a possible decrease in value due to the addition of new licenses, with 45% in favor and 42% opposed.
In commenting on the findings, Ashley Koning, an assistant research professor and director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling (ECPIP) at Rutgers University–New Brunswick, said, “One thing New Jerseyans seem to agree upon these days is revamping the state’s liquor license laws – an issue that even cuts across party lines.”
She added, “Residents’ sole hesitancy, unsurprisingly, is with tax credits for current license holders, which is in line with the broader narrative of New Jerseyans not wanting anything to ultimately impact their own wallet.”
Conducted between April 27 and May 5, the poll surveyed 1,002 New Jersey adults and has a margin of error of 3.6 percentage points.