New Jersey legislators are considering a number of measures that would relax laws governing alcohol sales, The Wall Street Journal reports.
One bill would expand the sale of beer and wine in supermarkets. Currently, a supermarket owner can only obtain a license to sell liquor in two stores, which restricts alcohol sales in statewide chains. Lawmakers are negotiating the number of licenses per owner that would be allowed under the bill.
Another bill would allow craft beer breweries to increase production, from 3,000 barrels a year to 10,000. A new state law allows the direct shipment of wine to New Jersey residents from small wineries, the newspaper reports.
Alcohol laws are also being reconsidered at the local level. Ocean City, currently a dry town, will hold a public referendum on a measure that would allow a “bring-your-own” beer and wine policy at some restaurants.
The beer and wine industry has increased its political spending, the article notes. Lobbyists representing the industry spent $640,500 in New Jersey in 2011, a 15 percent increase from 2010. The industry also made more than $500,000 in contributions to individual lawmakers and state political committees last year.
Other nearby states also are making changes to alcohol laws. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed legislation last year that allows a phasing in of more supermarket licenses to sell alcohol. Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy wants to end his state’s ban on Sunday alcohol sales.