Monday, November 12, 2018

After microbrew flap, Gov. Murphy replaces ABC director


State Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced Friday that Murphy will nominate attorney and municipal judge James B. Graziano to become the division’s new director.
David Levinsky reports for the Burlington County Times:
TRENTON — Gov. Phil Murphy is moving to replace David Rible as the head of the state Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control just a few months after the division issued and then overturned controversial rules about activities and special events at microbreweries.
State Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced Friday that Murphy will nominate attorney and municipal Judge James B. Graziano to become the division’s new director. He will replace Rible, who is leaving the post to pursue other opportunities, the Attorney General’s Office said.
Graziano’s nomination is subject to advice and consent of the state Senate. He will begin serving as acting director of the agency on Nov. 26, officials said.
“James is a seasoned civil litigator and experienced municipal judge whose legal background makes him an excellent candidate to lead the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control,” Grewal said in a statement.
Rible, a Wall Township police officer who represented the 30th Legislative District in the state Assembly from 2008 until the summer of 2017, when he was nominated to lead the ABC by then-Gov. Chris Christie in June and then confirmed by the Senate the following month.
Rible remained in his position under Murphy’s new administration but created controversy in September when the division issued a special ruling capping the number of in-house public events microbreweries could hold each year at 25 and restricted the number of private events and live sports broadcasts permitted in the tasting rooms. The ruling also banned menus from local restaurants from being displayed there.
Rible said the ruling was meant to define the terms set in a 2012 amendment that created limited brewery licenses, which cost between $1,250 to $7,500 a year depending on the number of barrels brewed annually. No microbrewery is permitted to make more than 300,000 barrels per year, or 9.3 million gallons of beer.
Burlington County is currently home to eight microbreweries.
The ruling created a stir with brewery owners, patrons and local government officials and were frozen shortly after it was issued. Since then, Assemblymen Joe Howarth, R-8th of Evesham, and Wayne DeAngelo, D-14th of Hamilton, have introduced legislation to allow microbreweries to host an unlimited number of events each year, eliminate a state-mandated tour breweries are now required to offer patrons, and allow brewery owners to sell water, soda and unprepared snacks on site with beer.
The legislation also would let brewery owners provide menus to customers and work with vendors to serve food on site.



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