November 15, 2013
Several proposals that change the way Michiganders can make, sell or purchase beer, wine and liquor passed the state House on Thursday.
There was significant bipartisan support for the six bills that relax restrictions on breweries and brewpubs and enact more flexible liquor licensing rules.
The votes came on the same day Short’s Brewing Co. announced plans to expand its Bellaire brewpub. Partner Scott Newman-Bale said uncertainty over the bills was holding things up, but now he’s excited to move forward especially given the legislature’s apparent willingness to facilitate further growth in the industry.
The bills are among several liquor law-related measures making their way through the legislature, including proposals from a work group that reviewed Michigan’s liquor laws and made recommendations that appeared in a 2012 report from the Michigan Office of Regulatory Reinvention.
The Michigan Senate also passed several liquor-related bills this week.
The following bills passed the House on Thursday and will now go to the Senate for consideration:
• House Bill 4709 would increase the barrel threshold from 30,000 to 60,000 barrels for micro brewers. Larger operations have to be licensed as brewers, a designation that come with different restrictions.
Bill sponsor Rep. Kevin Cotter, R-Mount Pleasant, said the current barrel limits are arbitrary numbers that are restraining business growth.
“I think we can all really be proud of the microbrewery industry that we have in Michigan, and this will allow them to continue to grow,” he said.
• HB 4710 would allow brewpubs to have an interest in five other brewpubs if the combined production doesn’t exceed 18,000 barrels of beer per year. Current law restricts it to two additional brewpubs with a total production of 5,000 barrels.
• HB 4711 allows brewers to sell their beer for on-premise consumption at two brewery locations instead of one. Bell’s Brewery and Founders Brewing Co. are the only licensed brewers in the state. The rest are micro brewers.
• HB 5046 would let bars and restaurants that already have liquor licenses to allow consumers to bring their own bottles of wine. They could set their own corkage fees. The proposal is different from BYOB laws in other states that allow consumers to bring their own alcoholic beverages to establishments without liquor licenses.
• HB 5140 allows for the transfer of specially designated distributor (SSD) liquor licenses within counties. SSD license holders are typically grocery, drug and convenience stores that sell alcohol. Currently these licenses can only be transferred within the municipality where it was originally issued, but the bill would permit the transfer to another municipality in the same county.
• HB 4257 allows economic development liquor licenses in any municipality, including towns and villages. Those licenses are currently available to certain eligible businesses in specific development areas of cities where other licenses are not readily available. The licenses would be in addition to those allowed by a quota of one per 1,500 residents in a municipality. The House passed a similar measure last year but it didn’t make it to a Senate vote.
The Michigan Senate this week passed several bills as well:
• Senate Bill 505 would officially ban the use of alcohol advertising on items of value or alongside the name of the establishment, unless specifically approved by the Michigan Liquor Control Commission. An exception would allow retailers to purchase glassware with beer, wine or liquor logos, but they could not buy them directly from the producer or wholesaler.
The Senate passed the bill codifying the ban on logo items immediately after the Liquor Control Commission announced plans to remove that ban.
• SB 650 and 651 allow small brewers that produce fewer than 1,000 barrels a year to self-distribute to retailers in areas where they haven’t already granted exclusive rights to a distributor.
• HB 4277 allows certain businesses to obtain temporary liquor licenses allowing them to sell alcohol before they receive final approval. The House removed a tie-bar to other liquor law bills, so the Senate must approve that change before sending it to Gov. Rick Snyder for his signature.
Source: Michigan live