How Michigan toasts, supports brewers, distillers and winemakers with new laws

LANSING, MI – If you snap a photo for every law Michigan has passed to help its liquor businesses in the past few weeks, you might get a little drunk.

Republicans and Democrats in the state legislature passed, and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a handful of bills helping Michigan distillers, wineries and brewers further develop their industry.

The measures include expanding tasting rooms, lowering tax rates on “mixed alcoholic” beverages, adjusting licensing requirements and more.

Whitmer signed several regulatory easing bills last week and added to the list on Thursday, making it easier to open offsite tasting rooms for businesses.

Four bills signed last week have developed a better “regulatory framework” for the state’s liquor distribution markets, said Jon O’Connor, owner of Long Road Distillers.

“I am hopeful and grateful that this package (…) is a turning point for us to start reinvesting in Michigan distillation and craft drinks,” he said on May 24 at a joint press conference with Whitmer in Grand Rapids, “so that we can grow our industry and once again become one of the leading distilling states in the country.”

The push for an expansion of alcohol distribution has been underway since last summer, as manufacturers and retailers saw the possibility of sagging sales during the winter months of the pandemic.

Here are the ways Michigan has supported its alcohol industry in recent weeks.

Tasting room permit

Distilleries, wineries and microbreweries can now operate tasting rooms on and off premises after Whitmer enacted a Republican-sponsored bill on Thursday, June 3.

Senate Bill 49, sponsored by Sen. Kim LaSata, R-Coloma., Allows liquor companies to hold offsite manufacturing and tasting room licenses along with a permit for a room. tasting on site.

The bill passed unanimously in the House and by a margin of 34-1 in the Senate. Whitmer praised the bipartisan support for the state’s economic growth.

“Michigan is home to some of the best microbreweries and craft distillers in the country, and this bill makes it easier for those companies to create and operate tasting rooms,” Whitmer said in a statement. “I am proud that this bipartisan bill will make it easier for Michigan residents to taste fine spirits and delicious micro-brews, while creating jobs and helping our small businesses and economy grow faster.”

The bill will help businesses as tourism in the state is expected to expand during the summer months, LaSata said.

“In this critical time when our state is getting back to work and with tourism rebounding, ensuring our craft beverage producers the ability to both taste and sell all of their creations in one place is a simple, but extremely powerful, solution. important for state law, ”she said in a statement.

The law comes into force immediately.

Home delivery of canned cocktails

Senate Bill 141, sponsored by Senator Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, would allow certain licensed retailers to deliver canned cocktails direct to homes. The retailer should be open to face-to-face shopping to the public and be licensed to sell food products.

“This legislation eases the government’s burden on Michigan businesses,” Schmidt said in a statement in March after the bills were passed in the Senate. “I support the removal of these burdensome barriers and the approval of measures that allow our businesses to prosper and better serve their customers. “

This law, along with the other laws on this list, will come into force on August 23.

Read more: ‘It’s the spirit’: Governor Whitmer signs bipartisan bills allowing distillers to sell canned cocktails

Lower the tax rate on sales of “mixed spirit”

Senate Bill 144, sponsored by Sen. Curt VanderWall, R-Ludington, increases the permitted alcohol content in a “mixed spirit drink” to 13.5% as long as it is in a 24-ounce can.

By dropping canned cocktails into “mixed spirits,” the sales tax rate for these products is reduced from 48 cents per liter to 30 cents per liter. Analysis by the Senate Tax Agency estimated a possible loss of about $ 400,000 in tax revenue, but that increased sales of canned beverages could offset this loss.

“Ready-to-drink cocktails have seen massive growth in the market over the past few years and this legislation is a critical part of ensuring that these products are able to compete on a level playing field,” VanderWall said in a statement. . “These invoices help our local distillers by removing tax barriers and giving them the ability to present their products to consumers easily and quickly. “

Direct sale of canned cocktails to retailers

Senate Bill 142, sponsored by Senator Winnie Brinks, D-Grand Rapids, allows distillers to sell to Michigan retailers if, among other things, sales are limited to 31,000 gallons per year. Senate Bill 143, sponsored by Senator Jeremy Moss, D-Southfield, changes the term “licensee” to “retailer.”

Brinks said last week the bills would push for the sale of soft drinks and other mixed canned drinks, while Moss toast Whitmer for signing the bills.

“We have innovative distillers here in Michigan making increasingly popular products, but the law had to catch up to allow this growing industry to succeed,” Moss said in a statement. “Kudos to Governor Whitmer for signing our bills.”

Learn more about MLive:

Michigan artisanal distillers say more options for delivering products to customers would be a ‘massive lifeline’

‘It’s devastating.’ Michigan Craft Distillers Respond to Whitmer’s Veto on Bills to Expand Distribution Options

Cocktails to go? Bar and restaurateurs push Michigan to allow it during coronavirus

Cocktails to Go, Outdoor Drinking Districts Receive Michigan House Panel Support

Outdoor eating quarters offered at State House to help Michigan bars and restaurants

Home Alcohol Delivery Possible In Bill To Help Michigan Bars And Restaurants Affected By Coronavirus

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