TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) — After a back-and-forth battle over the rights and activities of New Jersey microbreweries, Gov. Phil Murphy is moving to replace the head of the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
Murphy will nominate attorney James B. Graziano to lead the agency, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced Friday.
Current division head David Rible is leaving the agency to pursue other opportunities, Grewal said.
The division is in charge of oversight in regards to manufacturing, distribution, and sale of alcoholic beverages throughout the state.
“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,” said Grewal. “The ABC interacts extensively with businesses and municipalities across New Jersey in regulating and enforcing the state’s liquor laws, and James’ practice of law both on and off the bench make him uniquely qualified to carry out those duties.”
The state government came under intense scrutiny from brewers and beer-drinkers in September, when a ruling was passed that would have limited the number of events microbreweries could host in a calendar year.
After public outcry, the ruling was quickly reversed and now, a proposed bill is taking things even further, aiming to allow food vendors inside breweries.
As of now, New Jersey breweries can not serve food and require visitors to take a tour before tasting. The proposed bill would allow microbreweries to host an unlimited number of events, forego tours and allow the breweries to sell water, soda and snacks.
Pending confirmation from the Senate, Graziano will begin his new role on Nov. 26.
“It is an honor to be appointed to lead the Division. Alcohol regulation has important public safety and economic implications,” said Graziano. “I look forward to working with the Attorney General, the members of the Division and industry representatives to advance the legislative objectives of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act.”
Grewal did not mention the controversy in his statement.