restaurant empty dark chairs tableEmpty Chairs at Set Tables (Pixabay)

TRENTON, NJ – Senator Declan O’Scanlon and Senator Michael Testa blasted Governor Murphy’s absolute veto of legislation that would have helped restaurants, bars, and breweries to survive the economic harm caused by nearly a year of indoor dining restrictions due to COVID-19.

“The governor’s veto is kicking the restaurant industry while they’re down,” said O’Scanlon (R-13). “He should have come to the Legislature during the three months the bill was under consideration if he had concerns. Instead, he said nothing and waited until months after it passed the Legislature unanimously to issue a veto. If the Governor had supported the other forms of relief we had suggested over the last few months, including more aid for restaurants and small businesses through the EDA, this bill might not even be needed. Unfortunately, he hasn’t listened at all and more ‘out of business’ signs will be the result.”

O’Scanlon and Testa are sponsors of the bipartisan legislation, S-3128/A-4525, which would have allowed restaurants, bars, distilleries, and breweries to expand food and beverage service to outdoor spaces they own or lease, including patios, decks, yards, walkways, parking lots, and sidewalks.

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Jackson Pines and Cranston Dean in residency at Langosta Lounge in Asbury Park
Jackson Pines and Cranston Dean at Langosta

The owners and operators of the establishments would have been required to file applications with municipal zoning officers detailing their planned use of outdoor space.

To address local concerns, the bill would have allowed municipalities to control the days and hours of certain activities, including the outdoor service of food and beverages, including alcoholic beverages if so licensed, and live performances, as well as to deny, revoke, or suspend, the outdoor dining activity of any establishment that violates the provisions of the bill.

It would have been a temporary measure to help restaurants and the other covered establishments to survive and recover from the public health emergency, with an expiration date of January 2, 2023.

“This bill was a reasonable response to help struggling restaurants, bars, and breweries to compensate for the severe economic harm caused by Governor Murphy’s unconstitutional shutdowns and unsustainable 25% indoor dining restrictions,” added Testa (R-1). “The governor’s veto will be the final nail in the coffin for restaurants that were holding out hope for this bill to become law. It’s yet another example of the Governor Murphy’s war against Main Street. Failure Phil strikes again.”

The legislation was first introduced on August 13th and passed unanimously through the Assembly Appropriations Committee (11-0) and the full Assembly (79-0) in September.

The bill then passed both the Senate Budget Committee (12-0) and the full Senate (39-0) unanimously in November.

Governor Murphy didn’t express any concerns with the legislation until he signed an absolute veto of the bill on January 4th.

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