OCEAN TOWNSHIP, NJ - A bi-partisan group of state lawmakers including Senator Vin Gopal (D-Long Branch), Senator Linda Greenstein (D-Plainsboro), Senator Declan O’Scanlon (R-Little Silver), and Assemblyman Clinton Calabrese (D-Cliffside Park) introduced legislation this week that would ease the restrictions imposed on the state’s breweries by the New Jersey Division of Alcohol Beverage Control’s new rules.
“New Jersey is home to a vibrant craft brewing sector and the state should be working to facilitate, rather than inhibit, its growth,” Senator Gopal said. “This legislation will provide a fairer regulatory framework for the state’s craft breweries and encourage collaboration between breweries and the state’s other homegrown producers.”
The legislation will eliminate several pieces of the ABC’s “May 2019 Special Ruling Authorizing Certain Activities by Holders of Limited Brewery Licenses,” including the provision that limits the number of on-premises special and private events a brewery can hold in a calendar year.
“This ruling has placed an unfair and unjust burden on our brewery owners, staff, and patrons,” Senator Greenstein said. “Local breweries play a crucial role in the fabric of our communities, as well as in the culinary history and future of the State. I am committed to passing commonsense legislation that supports our growing craft brewery industry."
Additionally, the bill will remove prohibitions that prevent breweries from collaborating with local food vendors and preclude breweries from brewing and selling coffee on their premises.
“The ABC’s restrictions unnecessarily hamper our New Jersey breweries,” Assemblyman Calabrese said. “Our breweries create jobs and tax revenues as well as serve as anchor businesses which help draw patrons to Main Street and provide business opportunities for supporting local artists and vendors at brewery events.”
The lawmakers are engaged in ongoing discussions with state regulators and brewery stakeholders from around the state and are confident the bill will be an important step toward making New Jersey a more hospitable business environment for craft breweries.
“While I do understand the concerns of fully licensed bars and restaurants, we have the past several years, when these much more restrictive rules weren’t in place, as evidence that the threat to fully licensed establishments isn’t significant,” Senator O’Scanlon said. “That makes these arbitrary, overly restrictive rules gratuitously punitive. Government, particularly here in NJ, is way too quick to punish and restrict. We should lean in the other direction. Our bill will help rebalance the system fairly for all.”
Senators Andrew Zwicker (D-South Brunswick), Patrick Diegnan (D-South Plainfield), and Gordon Johnson (D-Bergen) will co-sponsor the bill.