Governor Murphy today conditionally vetoed legislation that would have added yet another burden on commercial property owners.  The bill, A-4750, would have required the owner of every commercial property in the state—presumably affecting retail, office and industrial space despite the bill’s reference to the creation of a “storefront” registry— to notify the state’s Business Action Center (“BAC”) whenever a commercial space “becomes available” and “no person or entity is presently scheduled to lease or purchase the property.”  The property owner would have also been required to notify the BAC again when such space became re-occupied. Instead of an outright rejection of the bill, however, Governor Murphy suggested that the Legislature first allow for the BAC to study the issue that the legislation aimed to solve. In conditionally vetoing the legislation, Governor Murphy echoed the sentiments of my colleagues in this earlier blog post.

Here is the full text of Governor Murphy’s conditional veto message:

“To the General Assembly:

Pursuant to Article V, Section I, Paragraph 14 of the New Jersey Constitution, I am returning Assembly Bill No. 4750 (First Reprint) with my recommendations for reconsideration.

Assembly Bill No. 4750 (First Reprint) requires the Business Action Center (“BAC”) within the Department of State to establish and maintain a public database of vacant commercial spaces available for purchase or lease by small businesses.  BAC would be required to make the database available online, to promote its availability, and to update it each month with new information concerning available vacancies.  I commend the bill’s sponsors for recognizing the challenges business owners and prospective business owners face in identifying viable commercial real estate opportunities.  However, the legislation overlooks the fact that such a database would duplicate the efforts of countless private real estate brokers and related online resources that advertise such information on a more frequent basis.  Moreover, BAC lacks the relevant experience and staff needed to create such a platform, and I am concerned that the inordinate amount of time and resources necessary to do so would impede BAC’s ability to establish and maintain such a database effectively.

I am therefore recommending amendments to allow BAC to broadly study the impact of vacant commercial properties on small business owners and prospective small business owners, including available programs or services offered by private entities and county and local governments, and whether such existing programs or services have been effective.  The study would aim to produce recommended policy actions and guidance materials that may help county and local governments effectively reach the small business community with respect to real estate opportunities.”