State Sen. Michael Testa says he will introduce legislation to give breweries more freedom to operate after new license conditions from the state Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control took effect Friday.
Testa, R-Cape May, Cumberland, Atlantic, said Monday the new rules limit microbreweries to holding 25 on-site activities annually, as well as 52 private parties.
“These breweries, like most small businesses, suffered under Governor Murphy’s pandemic shutdowns and restrictions. To increase their burden with these new rules only adds insult to injury,” Testa said.
Breweries can also attend 12 off-premises events, Testa said, such as town or local celebrations.
ABC has been trying to implement new rules since first issuing a decision in September 2018, which it did not implement due to a strong backlash from the industry.
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The division has said it is trying to strike a balance between restaurants and bars, which must pay tens of thousands of dollars in license fees to sell alcohol, and breweries, which pay less for licenses to manufacture and sell their product.
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Breweries that violate the license conditions can now be subject to financial penalties and have their license suspended or revoked, according to Testa.
“The fact that the government can come in and micromanage how breweries can operate is offensive enough. But further restricting their ability to innovate and be successful is unconscionable and requires the Legislature to counter the actions of these unelected bureaucrats,” Testa said.
Testa and other members of the Senate are reviewing the ABC language along with stakeholders across the state, he said.
The Legislature is on summer recess and is expected to resume in September.
REPORTER: Michelle Brunetti Post