Now What?!?! Brewers Guild of New Jersey Baffled By Stalemate on Efforts to End Brewery Restrictions

Now What?!?! Brewers Guild of New Jersey Baffled By Stalemate on Efforts to End Brewery Restrictions

Guild calls for all sides to come together for the good of the state’s craft beer industry and its supporters

 

Trenton — December 4th, 2023 — Based on media accounts in recent days showing a lack of support for a concurrence vote in the New Jersey Legislature on the conditional veto by Governor Phil Murphy on Senate Bill 3038 / Assembly Bill 4630 (S-3038 / A-4630), craft breweries across the state are wondering where to turn with brewery license restrictions set to be again enforced on January 1st, 2024 per Advisory Notice 2023-1 issued by the NJ Division of Alcohol Beverage Control on June 30th, 2023. This temporary stay was issued at the urging of the Governor’s Office to afford the Murphy Administration more time to negotiate with the Legislature on its broader liquor license reform goals. The Governor’s aspirations of broad liquor license reform seem tabled for the duration “lame duck” legislative session, leaving the entire craft beer industry on life support as the final days of 2023 tick away with no plan in place to address the dire concerns of our industry.

            Back in the spring of 2023, the Guild along with industry stakeholders from various sectors of the state alcohol industry were able to craft a consensus proposal which garnered unanimous support from both houses of the Legislature and unmatched public support for almost any policy proposal in recent memory as demonstrated in two independent New Jersey public opinion polls conduct by the Stockton University Polling Institute and Rutgers-Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling. To build consensus, craft beverage manufacturers conceded on many of their initial proposals in S-3038 / A-4630, including capping the number of off-premise events, giving up the ability to home deliver their products after COVID-era rights expire, backing off of a full self-distribution privilege for brewpubs, and prohibiting a brewery owner’s financial interest in a food-related business in the state.  Despite these facts and the Governor’s repeated support for the end of brewery restrictions both privately and publicly, the Murphy Administration decided to delay the end of brewery restrictions and issue a conditional veto to S-3038 / A-4630 with minor, yet still controversial changes to the state’s liquor licensing system. While Guild believes adoption of the conditional veto by the Legislature would both accomplish the craft beer industry’s priority goals and begin to address the inequities in our state’s antiquated liquor licensing system, it seems New Jersey’s craft beer industry is on the brink of being sacrificed due to the stalemate between the Governor and Legislature. With less than a month remaining until restrictions are reimposed on New Jersey breweries, we would ask both sides to reconsider their positions and hammer out a compromise which adopts what S-3038 / A-4630 was intended to do: the permanent end of craft brewery license restrictions.

“The Governor must signal his acceptance of a brewery-only legislative redo, and the Legislature must be willing to move it this month. If that arrangement fails to materialize, the Murphy Administration must take unilateral administrative action to stop the reimposition of brewery restrictions and give the rights and privileges afforded to craft beverage manufacturers in the current legislation through an executive order or other means.”, said Scott Wells, Owner of Bolero Snort Brewery in Carlstadt and Board Member of the Brewers Guild of New Jersey. “January 1st is only a matter of a few weeks away. The limbo our industry finds itself in is not only impacting planning for us and the 140 other breweries in our state for the first half of 2024, but the welfare of the industry for years to come.”

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Founded in 2018, the Brewers Guild of New Jersey (BGNJ) was established to better represent the policy interests of New Jersey’s pioneering independent craft breweries and brewpubs in the region’s ultra-competitive alcoholic beverage market. The Guild’s membership is the foundation of today’s New Jersey craft beer industry. Our brewery members positively stimulate local economies and have earned national recognition for their critically-acclaimed ales and lagers. Please find more information at https://www.brewersguildnj.com/

 

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