New Michigan Law Delivers Alcohol to Private Events

Thanks to a new law that's been passed by the Michigan state legislature, and signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder, it will now be easier for meeting planners in "The Wolverine State" to serve alcohol at their events, lawmakers announced last week.

The law, Senate Bill 5, creates a new liquor permit allowing the sale and delivery of beer, wine and spirits for off-premise consumption at private events. Previously, the law prohibited establishments such as restaurants and hotels from supplying alcohol for catered events when those events took place outside their place of business. As a result, meeting planners had to purchase alcohol from retailers and have it transported separately to their venue.

Supporters of the new law argued that the old one hurt hospitality businesses, caterers and event hosts by preventing establishments that were licensed to serve alcohol from doing so.

"We will continue to eliminate regulations that are needlessly cumbersome for families and businesses," Snyder said in a statement. "This new law simplifies the process for caterers and hosts while maintaining stringent safeguards concerning alcohol. It's a good step that lets small businesses know we want them to succeed."

In addition to streamlining the process of procuring alcohol for private events, the new regulation requires the permit holder to provide a trained employee for bartending services, which will increase business opportunities for caterers and create a safeguard against underage drinking at events.

In a statement issued last week, the Michigan Food and Beverage Association (MFBA) applauded the new law.

"Right now, anyone organizing an event at a private location must handle all the arrangements for liquor and spirits separately from the catering arrangements since caterers are not licensed to sell liquor and spirits," said MFBA Executive Vice President and COO Jennifer Kluge. "This new provision will streamline the process and add the same legal drinking safeguards already in place for on-premise liquor licensees like restaurants, bars and liquor retailers."

Added MFBA President Edward Deeb, "By establishing a new permit category, the state is making it much easier for those who organize private events to have all of their off-premise catering needs, including liquor and spirits, fulfilled by one source … This new law is just one more example of how state government is able to help both businesses and consumers by passing commonsense measures that respond to the needs of both sides of the issue."