(WWJ) – In 2020 Michigan lawmakers made it legal for bars and restaurants to sell to-go cocktails in sealed containers, in a move to help the industry stay afloat amidst the struggles of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now the legislature is considering making that rule permanent.
The Senate Committee on Regulatory Affairs on Thursday unanimously approved a bill that would do just that. It will now go to the full Senate for consideration.
Last fall the Senate approved a similar bill – which is due to expire at the end of 2025 – nearly unanimously, but it stalled in the House before the end of the year.
Jon O'Connor, owner of Long Road Distillers and president of the Michigan Craft Distillers Association, said last November "cocktails to-go were instrumental in helping many Michigan distilleries navigate and survive the challenges of COVID."
The option to pick up a cocktail curbside or take an extra drink home to enjoy later has proven popular among consumers, and the benefit to the economy has apparently made an impact on state legislators.
Across the U.S., 18 states had made to-go cocktails permanent, as of last fall.
But at Thursday’s committee hearing, one Oakland County resident spoke out against it, calling it “an insult” that the bill is under consideration in troubling times.
“This is an insult to Michigan to even have this before you when we have problems with schools and other problems. And liquor is a health problem. But forget about that, we’re gonna make this endless. Don’t waste another dime of time on this. Cancel this deal now,” John Lauve said during testimony against the bill.