Why New Jersey Governor Murphy wont sign bill to help Breweries
The New Jersey Senate and Assembly voted unanimously to pass legislation to alleviate the heavy-handed restrictions on Local Breweries, Wineries, and Distilleries but Governor Phil Murphy has refused to sign the bill into law.
The New Jersey State Senate voted unanimously on June 26th and the State Assembly voted unanimously on June 30th to pass Legislative Bill S3038/A4630 which will lift the aggressive restrictions on New Jersey Local Craft Breweries, Wineries, and Distilleries. The current rules limit the number of events that can be hosted on-site at these "Craft Manufacturers" properties along with not allowing these local businesses to serve food like you would receive at a restaurant. There have also been restrictions on these businesses about what alcohol they can/cannot serve and how much they can produce.
The reason why there is so much overwhelming support for change to these rules is that the Local Craft Manufacturing Industry has outgrown most people's expectations when New Jersey passed a new law in 2012 to allow microbreweries to serve their products on-site. Many of the current rules were put in place to protect the business interests of Bars and Restaurants from losing significant business in the same regional proximity to these Breweries and Distilleries. But the last decade has shown that the growth in popularity of these Craft manufacturers has created a new industry for customers and now many local bars serve the products from these local Breweries and Wineries.
So why would Governor Phil Murphy not sign legislation with universal support and has zero no votes as it passed through the State Senate and Assembly? The Governor wants a larger reform bill to overhaul the state's liquor license system and wants to reform everything, not just what impacts the Craft Breweries, Wineries, and Distilleries. Murphy Administration Spokeswoman Jennifer Sciortino gave the following statement to NJBIZ:
“The Governor unequivocally supports easing restrictions on New Jersey breweries, which is why he proposed these reforms himself earlier this year. However, he has been clear that our outdated liquor license system needs comprehensive reform, not a piecemeal approach, in order to ensure equity and affordability so that all small businesses and the entire industry as a whole will benefit.”
In the meantime, while political jousting continues, New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin announced that the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) suspended enforcement of the aggressive restrictions on Local Craft Breweries and Distilleries. But that special order expires at the end of the 2023 Calendar Year, meaning ABC could resume strict enforcement of the old rules starting on January 1, 2024. So we all need the Governor and State Legislature can get on the same page to rectify this to ensure these small businesses continue to operate without any draconian restrictions.