Right now, there are several brewery-related bills before the New Jersey State Assembly, many of which would allow for greater job creation within the industry.
“And while we have no guarantees on anything happening with any of them, we have reason to believe they’re in play,” says Eric Orlando, VP of the Kaufman Zita Group which handles lobbying for the Garden State Craft Brewers Guild.
With a super close and contentious Assembly election taking place November 3 – for which candidates have been tossing some serious shade, accusing one another of tax evasion and gutter politics — brewers have been wondering: what does this election mean for our bills?
On the one hand, not much. Beer is a bipartisan issue, no matter who is in office. On the other hand, our current assembly leaders (especially those in our own District One) are great supporters of the Garden State Craft Brewers Guild, and they’re also well-informed. So if they’re replaced, it wouldn’t necessarily mean the end of the bills these guys have sponsored and supported, but it could delay the movement of these bills, since freshmen legislatures need to go through the education process.
Before you hit the polls, check out what our incumbents have done about beer so far…
(And if you need a refresher on how a bill becomes a law, see here.)
The Republican Incumbent: Assemblyman Sam Fiocchi (Running on a ticket with Republican Challenger Jim Sauro*)
–Sponsored bill AJR-72, which would designate the last week of September “New Jersey Beer, Wine and Spirits Week,” a time for celebrating – and bringing exposure to — these industries and the jobs they create within our community. The bill is still alive… but it hasn’t seen any movement since June of 2014, when it was assigned to the Tourism, Arts and Gaming Committee for discussion.
–Serves on the Regulatory Oversight Committee (along with Chris Brown, who’s currently up for reelection in District Two), where two brewery-related bills are up for discussion. One would allow patrons of Jersey tasting rooms to bring in outside food. The other would allow brewpubs to self-distribute a small amount of their product. (Both have been co-sponsored by Assemblyman Craig Coughlin, currently up for reelection in District 19).
–Met with CMBC President Ryan Krill and Jersey’s Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno last June, in order to talk about economic sustainability and hear how small brewers contribute.
–Honored CMBC with a resolution at the ribbon cutting ceremony for our expanded operation last May.
The Democratic Incumbent: Assemblyman Bob Andrzejczak (Running on a ticket with Democratic Challenger Bruce Land*)
–Is Chairman of the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, where he is a friend of the Garden State Craft Brewers Guild. Should he not be reelected, another democrat would take over this position, although it’s anyone’s guess who this could be. There are three brewery-related bills currently before this committee:
- One would allow a brewery to buy a cider and mead-producing license for $938, and to make up to 25,000 barrels of the stuff per year. (Was cosponsored by Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt, currently up for reelection in District 6).
- One would allow breweries to distill spirits in their existing facilities. (Was sponsored by Assemblyman Whip Wilson, not currently up for reelection in District 5).
- One would allow for the sale of craft beer at Jersey farm markets (Was co-sponsored by Assemblyman Craig Coughlin, currently up for reelection in District 19).
–Co-sponsored bill AJR-109, which would designate the third weekend in October “Shuck, Slip, and Slurp” weekend, to promote the state’s oyster, beer and wine industries. The bill was passed in the Assembly, before being sent to a Senate Committee for discussion in June.
— Honored CMBC with a resolution at the ribbon cutting ceremony for our expanded operation last May.
**Remember, just because politicians are running on a ticket together doesn’t mean they’re not competing with one another. Voters can mix and match if they so choose. They’re are four Assembly seats available, and four contenders in the race. May the best men win.