Gov. Murphy conditionally vetoes bill to roll back NJ brewery restrictions

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NEW JERSEY (KYW Newsradio) — A bill to roll back restrictions on brewery owners in New Jersey will not be signed into law after all. While the bill passed with broad support, Gov. Phil Murphy says he has another plan.

Murphy says New Jersey’s prohibition-era liquor laws are due for an overhaul, and he doesn’t want to take a piecemeal approach.

A Murphy spokesperson says he remains unequivocally committed to providing relief to breweries as part of broad liquor reform. Murphy will make amendments to the bill passed just before summer recess and the legislature will then vote on those changes.

In the meantime, enforcement is suspended on many of the main issues the brewery bill aimed to fix.

The legislation would have allowed breweries to host unlimited events, sell packaged snacks and coordinate with local restaurants to provide customers with food options so people aren’t drinking on empty stomachs, and use outdoor taps.

Brewers Guild Executive Director Eric Orlando says their work is far from over.

“We believe that the next step is going to be a very tough negotiation between the legislature and the front office about what liquor license reform will look like,” Orlando said.

If rejected, the brewery bill would be dead and there would be no plan in place for next year, which Orlando says is very troubling and part of the reason why about one brewery a month is closing.

“We don’t know what this is going to look like in six months.”

Murphy says equity and affordability are top priorities for his agenda to ensure small businesses and the industry as a whole benefit from new laws.

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