New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy nixes small business bill

Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey at press conference. Photo

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed some important pieces of legislation making them into law. However, he did not approve a bill targeted at trying to help small businesses pick up their game in this pandemic on ground it would threaten health and safety.

On Jan. 4, 2021, Gov. Murphy signed three bills in the state capital, Trenton –

A-2131/S-2227 (Tully, DePhillips, Freiman/Gopal, C.A. Brown) – Creates New Jersey Global War on Terrorism Medal.

A-3871/S-2231 (Karabinchak, Holley, Dunn/Diegnan, Madden) – Requires person taking written examination for permit to watch video of rights and responsibilities of driver stopped by law enforcement.

A-4182/S-2873 (Giblin, Wimberly, Calabrese/Singleton, Cryan) – Requires landlord to allow tenant to make rent payment using credit card during COVID-19 pandemic.

Governor Murphy vetoed the following bill:

A-4525/S-3128 (Freiman, Mazzeo, Verrelli, Houghtaling/Pou, Sarlo, Cruz-Perez) – ABSOLUTE – Expands opportunities for restaurants, bars, distilleries and breweries to provide outdoor dining and permits certain farms to adjust operations in response to COVID-19 public health emergency.

In his statement laying down the rationale for not approving the bill relating to restaurants, bars etc, including outdoor dining, the Governor acknowledged the sponsors for their effort to assist New Jersey’s businesses and farms in finding creative way to continue to operate during the COVID-19 emergency.

“Bars and restaurants are among the businesses hardest hit by the pandemic. Small producers and retailers of alcoholic beverages also have not been immune from the devastating impacts of the crisis,” Murphy noted.

“However, in seeking to deliver a degree of relief to these businesses, the bill circumvents existing licensing and regulation processes critical to protecting the public’s health and safety,” Gov. Murphy noted giving examples to support his point.

The bill would divest a municipality of its ability to reject an application based on public health or safety concerns, such as a proposed expanded area’s proximity to a school or church, or a licensee’s previous violations of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act; it would restrict a municipality’s ability to regulate the hours of operation and other oversight regulations.

He noted that thousands of permits had been issued for various forms of activity provided safety is not compromised.

“However, because aspects of the bill encroach on the authority of both the ABC (Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control) and municipal governments to protect the public’s health and safety, and because many of the bill’s goals have already been achieved, I am unable to support it,” the Governor said in his statement, adding, “I look forward to working closely with my partners in the Legislature in the days and weeks ahead to continue to advance creative solutions to help combat the economic turmoil caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”





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