New Jersey franchise bill takes dangerous step forward, despite significant concerns expressed by majority of committee

New Jersey franchise bill

WASHINGTON (May 13, 2024) – American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) Interim President & CEO Kevin Carey released the following statement today after a committee in the New Jersey Assembly approved A3495, a bill that would destroy the hotel industry in the state.

The bill is still being considered in the state Assembly, and similar legislation (S2336) is pending in the state Senate.

“If A3495 and S2336 become law, they will lower hotels’ quality, service, and safety standards and drive many brand-name hotels out of the state. On behalf of New Jersey’s more than 45,000 hotel employees, we urge lawmakers to rethink this flawed legislation and have a transparent debate about the extreme negative effects it would have on the state’s economy and its hoteliers,” said AHLA Interim President & CEO Kevin Carey. “We applaud the committee members who today rightly acknowledged that the bill must be amended before full Assembly consideration and before they will consider supporting it. Franchising is too critical to the success of the hotel industry for this to be rushed through the legislative process, and we will be working closely with state legislators to ensure they understand the dangers this bill poses to New Jersey’s tourism industry.”

Background info
The New Jersey Assembly Committee on Commerce, Economic Development, and Agriculture on May 13 approved A3495. The vote came after the Assembly Committee on Financial Institutions and Insurance quickly called up and approved the same bill in February despite longstanding concerns from hoteliers.

The legislation is still being considered in the state Assembly. Today, the sponsor of the bill, Assemblyman Robert Karabinchak, said lawmakers are working on amendments to the bill that would address the concerns of hoteliers, and AHLA will be working with lawmakers to ensure the voices of our members are heard during this process. A Senate companion bill, S2336, is also pending before the Senate.

In its current form, the legislation would put severe limits on the ability of hotels to enforce brand standards related to quality, service, and safety guidelines.

Among other things, the bills would:

  • Require brand improvements such as Wi-Fi, mobile check-in, breakfast, etc., to be negotiated property by property, which will weaken brand standards.
  • Allow hotel owners to use “comparable” products to those required by brands, which will weaken brand standards and lead to increased litigation as both parties try to determine what is comparable.
  • Force hotels to allow their federally registered trademarks to be used on “comparable products,” undermining the value and destroying the trust in these trademarks.
  • Undercut the loyalty points system that many brands use to reward loyal customers, which could force many brands to terminate these loyalty programs in New Jersey.

About New Jersey’s Hotel Industry
In 2022, New Jersey’s 1,180 hotel properties:

  • Employed more than 45,000 people
  • Paid employees $2.6 billion in wages and salaries
  • Generated nearly $1.7 billion in tax revenue