It is gratifying to report that the governor has signed eight of our bills into law during the final days of the 2022-2023 legislative session that ended last week, including revisions to Alcoholic Beverage Control regulations that allow craft breweries and alcoholic beverage distilleries to hold special events.
Here’s a look at some of these new laws.
We worked hard with the administration in Trenton for nearly two years to allow craft alcohol manufacturers to hold up to 25 off-premises special events and an unlimited number of on-premises special events and private parties. This bill passed with bi-partisan support and both the Assembly and Senate giving unanimous approval.
Small businesses are the backbone of our local economy. Restaurants and entertainment-related enterprises are especially important to the tourism economy of the Jersey Shore. Craft breweries and alcoholic beverage distilleries are growing rapidly in New Jersey, providing jobs for residents, as well as products, and now services like special events, that consumers enjoy. We had to change the antiquated Alcoholic Beverage Control regulations that were stifling the growth of these mom-and-pop concerns.
The bill revamps New Jersey’s liquor license laws, increasing the availability of licenses by ensuring that inactive licenses become available through the market and making space for dynamic small businesses to thrive in the state. The new law enables craft breweries and distilleries to coordinate with food vendors, including food trucks and restaurants, to provide food at the events. The law also removes the requirement for limited brewery and craft distillery license holders to serve their products only in connection with a tour of their facility.
The governor also signed our bill updating the requirements and standards for prior authorization of medicines and health services to patients. The new law will streamline the process of getting prior approval and rulings on denial appeals from insurance carriers and other healthcare providers, including the State Health Benefits Program and School Employees’ Health Benefits Program.
Prior authorization plays an important role in making sure patients receive the correct treatments. Our bill, signed into law last week with bi-partisan support, sets standards that ensure the doctors who review prior approval requests or denial appeals for insurance carriers have a background in the treatment being requested and the condition it addresses. This new law will help patients get the right treatment or medications faster. It also enhances the transparency of the approval or denial process by requiring utilization review entities, which approve or deny the request, to disclose their prior authorization requirements and restrictions on their website and in writing.
Another of our bills signed into law requires emergency shelters for the homeless to make feminine hygiene products available free of charge to females residing in the shelter. The “New Jersey Feminine Hygiene Products for the Homeless Act” recognizes that shelters operate with limited budgets and includes a clause that says they must provide feminine hygiene products “within the limits of available funds.”
The governor also signed our bill making a $650,000 supplemental appropriation to the New Jersey Division of State Police for trooper recruitment and retention. Applications for positions as first responders are down in general and applications for the State Police class that started last year were down as much as 90 percent with less than two weeks to go before the application deadline, according to some reports. This law provides funds to augment State Trooper salaries to assist the division with recruitment and retention.
Thanks to all who worked to support our efforts to improve the lives of residents and small businesses and provide a safer, more affordable environment for them to thrive.
First elected in 2018, Senator Vin Gopal is a lifelong resident of Monmouth County. Senator Gopal chairs the Senate Education Committee and serves as Senate Majority Conference Leader. He represents residents of Asbury Park, Allenhurst, Bradley Beach, Colts Neck, Deal, Eatontown, Fair Haven, Freehold, Freehold Township, Interlaken, Loch Arbor, Long Branch, Neptune City, Neptune Township, Ocean Township, Red Bank, Shrewsbury, Shrewsbury Township and Tinton Falls in the State Senate.