Michigan lawmakers pass 2 liquor control priorities

Published 9:12 am Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Michigan Restaurant Association (MRA) applauded the Michigan Senate and the Michigan House of Representatives for their action Wednesday to pass two key priorities in the area of state liquor control policy.

The Michigan Senate first passed the bill early Wednesday that would allow for Sunday morning alcohol sales by permit and allow restaurants and bars to offer free samples of beer, wine and spirits to patrons. The Michigan House followed suit and agreed with the Senate bill and sent it on to the desk of Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who has said she will sign it.

“We would like to thank the Michigan Senate and House for their strong, bi-partisan action to pass this important legislation,” said Rob Gifford, president and chief executive officer of the MRA. “Republicans and Democrats came together and identified the importance of this industry in Michigan and passed good public policy which will improve sales and increase awareness of Michigan products.”

Sunday morning alcohol sales

For a fee of $160 annually, liquor licensees will be able to apply for a Sunday morning sales permit from the Michigan Liquor Control Commission which will allow them to sell and serve alcoholic beverages on Sunday mornings starting at 7. This new permit will allow licensees to expand product and service offerings to patrons and increase sales. The permit is not mandatory and a licensee is not required to obtain the permit if they do not wish to serve alcohol before noon.

On-premises alcohol sampling

Michigan restaurants and taverns will be allowed to offer free samples of beer, wine and spirits to patrons. Each patron may be allowed no more than two samples of either beer, wine or distilled spirits. The sample size shall not exceed three ounces for beer, two ounces for wine, and a half-ounce for distilled spirits. This new provision will help drive additional sales of higher-end products in restaurants and taverns and increase awareness of craft beers, wines and spirits, especially those made in Michigan.

For the last several months, the MRA has led the way to pass Sunday morning alcohol sales and spirits catering provisions into law. The governor vetoed that bill but the MRA regrouped and continued working with other Michigan alcohol industry organizations and came back to the Legislature with the Sunday sales and sampling provisions. The MRA will ask the Legislature to consider the spirits catering provision again in the next session.