Legislature passes liquor law changes to breweries

Michigan's microbreweries could start making twice as much beer as they currently produce under legislation that won overwhelming support in the Legislature.
AP Wire
Mar 13, 2014

The bipartisan package that amends many state liquor laws would change the definition of a microbrewery, doubling production limits from 30,000 barrels to 60,000 barrels a year. It also would accelerate liquor licensing by creating a conditional license for use during applicants' license review process. Startup craft brewers would be allowed limited self-distribution.

The legislation passed the House and Senate on Wednesday and is expected to reach Gov. Rick Snyder's desk soon.

Brewers and trade associations say the new regulations would help the industry grow and create jobs.

"These reforms will open the door of opportunity for businesses and further support Michigan's thriving craft beer sector," Michigan Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association President Mike Lashbrook said in a statement. "After more than two years of working with diverse stakeholders and making concessions to find common ground, distributors look forward to doing our part to keep Michigan beer hopping."

Michigan's $2 billion beer industry accounted for more than 5,000 brewing and distribution jobs and more than 30,000 retail jobs in 2012, according to the Beer Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based trade association. Lashbrook's association represents 53 distributors across the state.

Bill sponsor Rep. Kevin Cotter, R-Mt. Pleasant, said the production cap increase is a victory for breweries that were fighting what he called an "arbitrary" limit set in the 1990s. He would like the cap to be "even higher," he said, and the bills leave the Legislature room to reevaluate the limit.

"Frankly, 60,000 is another arbitrary cap. We arrived at it by multiplying the current cap by two," Cotter said in an interview. "I have a lot of confidence that we're going to butt up against that threshold in the coming years."

One bill in the package intends to shorten wait times for businesses applying to sell alcohol. While the state Liquor Control Commission is required to issue a license within 90 days of receiving an application, procedural rules have caused some businesses to wait for several months or years. The new legislation creates a $300 temporary license that a business can use while the commission reviews its application.

Another bill that regulates branded barware items became a sticking point for the package last fall, when Gov. Rick Snyder's administration began canceling the regulations but lawmakers voted to maintain some of the advertising rules.

The version that passed Wednesday would allow a business to use certain promotional merchandise, including coasters, napkins and trays. A business could only use "brand logoed glassware" if it purchased it from a glassware retailer, but not from an alcohol manufacturer or distributor.

Rep. Thomas Hooker, R-Byron Center, was among only a handful of House members who voted against certain bills in the package. He said he opposes increased beer and liquor distribution because of "the damage alcohol does to our society and the uncounted costs to families."

"My mom grew up in an orphanage because of alcohol," Hooker said in an interview. "I have vowed that every vote that's ever taken that expands or makes more liquor available, I'm going to vote against."

SB 505: http://1.usa.gov/1lXRpua

HB 4277: http://1.usa.gov/1lBsx8B

Beer Institute report: http://bit.ly/1glr8Cf

Comments

Barry Soetoro

About damn time this state government did something worthwhile.

See that Beer Institute report Lani? Those are the kind of links Barry S. likes clicking.

Lanivan

You are so right, Barry S...Click away...The timing couldn't be better for the GHTrib Semi-Annual Beer Summit you're organizing!

What do you think of this t-shirt? We could give one out to each attendee...http://www.wearyourbeer.com/ligh...

Cool, huh??

Barry Soetoro

I'll be sporting the colors of Liquid Aloha at the Summit...

http://store.konabrewingco.com/A...

bigdeal

I'll be sporting my new shirt...and hope Barry brings the choom!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=...

Barry Soetoro

We assigned that to tetrahydra a few pages back....

Awesome t-shirt!

Lanivan

Clearly I'm no authority on what Barry likes....You might see me in this, if I can get it laundered in time: http://www.ebay.com/itm/like/151...

LessThanAmused

Well if you folks ever decide to do this get together thing, let me know if you want someone to write an article about the event along with some poorly focused pics. I can just about guarantee you that someone won't like something I write.

Also, I think just to add to the air of mysticism that an event like this will no doubt generate, I suggest masks for all participants. That way you have to figure out who is who by what they say and how they say it. I hear Barry has a pretty recognizable face.

Lanivan

Why stop at masks? Let's go all out and ditch the t-shirts for costumes. I suppose we should try to find sponsors - Maybe Barry could solicit the White House since he appears to have a connection. What's stopping us from having our very own Dining Diva's blog, but we could name it GHTrib Tippler Tribe. You could be our blog writer and DD. I think this could go over big with this crowd.

Barry Soetoro

I would hate to see us labeled as semi-functional drunks/slobs in the comments section....

Barry Soetoro

I've been waiting for some warm weather and for some of the snow to melt. I had a premonition of myself falling into a snowbank in a post-Summit drunken stupor and not being able to get back up without assistance - having to rely on Lani and Vlad to finish a spirited discussion on the pros/cons of the Koch brothers before they render assistance. I get hypothermia just thinking about it.

Lanivan

You know me too well. Of course there's a t-shirt for that.....:~D

http://www.cafepress.com/mf/1980...

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