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Brewery owners say enough is enough with New Jersey's antiquated liquor laws

Murphy vetoes bill easing restrictions on breweries, distilleries & wineries
Murphy vetoes bill easing restrictions on breweries, distilleries & wineries 02:16

MONTCLAIR, N.J. -- Gov. Phil Murphy has conditionally vetoed a bill that would have eased restrictions on New Jersey breweries, distilleries and wineries.

Some brewery owners told CBS New York on Tuesday the bill would have helped boost business.

Leoppold Sawadogo's beers at Montclair Brewery, which he owns with his wife, tell a story.

"Black is Beautiful is, I can say, a protest beer," Sawadogo said.

The inspiration behind his business is brewed in West Africa.

"I grew up watching my mother make beer. That's what got me interested in making beer," he said.

But he says strict liquor laws in New Jersey are pushing business owners like him out.

"We need to make it easy for people, you know, to do business," Sawadogo said.

The brewery's co-owners say Gov. Murphy's conditional veto of a bill that would have allowed breweries to hold unlimited events, serve food, and collaborate with vendors is shocking.

"Right now, you have got a perfectly great bill that can help one segment, so why turn your back on that one segment? It's like saying we're not important," Denise Ford-Sawadogo said.

The governor has said he wants a bigger overhaul, including putting inactive liquor licenses back on the market.

"That's many hundreds of inactive licenses and that's a huge step -- more licenses in basically shopping malls," Murphy said.

"He should have signed this bill this way it was first thing when we passed it June, so these entities have lost a whole summer of events," state Sen. Declan O'Scanlon Jr. said.

"Sign the bill, Phil, please," Ford-Sawadogo said.

The New Jersey Restaurant and Hospitality Association is making sure the new rules are good for its members.

"We are now reviewing what does this reform look like, because it doesn't look like as it was first proposed as," the association's Amanda Stone said.

Vendors like food operators say they, too, are losing out.

"I have an event in Philly for a brewery," food truck owner Lou Falcon said. "I park on their parking lot, and I vend. I vend to all the patrons and they promote my business."

New Jersey breweries are limited to 25 events per year under current laws, but the governor says the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control has agreed not to enforce the laws until the deal is done.

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