Clarification on Possible Changes to the Michigan Liquor Control Code (Updated)

Posted on February 22, 2012

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Yesterday, we attended a luncheon at which Chairman Deloney, the other two administrative commissioners, and several MLCC staff members were present.  Chairman Deloney made several points that give some limited clarification on the changes we may soon see in the Code, Rules, and procedures at MLCC.

To those of you who have been following our posts regularly, some of these updates may seem redundant; however, you will want to take note of what is mentioned under “Change at MLCC.”

Legislative Change
Chairman Deloney, like the rest of us, awaits the Governor’s announcement of proposed changes to the Michigan Liquor Control Code.  The Chairman did clarify several points regarding these proposed changes:
1.) There is no official talk of eradicating the SDD quota.
2.) Changing the inventory requirement of MCL 436.1541(1) (Meijer Bill/Fuel Pumps) has been discussed.  No clarification was made as to what, if any, changes were proposed.
3.) Changing the 1/2 mi rule (Rule 436.1133) has been discussed.   No clarification was made as to what, if any, changes were proposed.

Change at MLCC
     MLCC has set a deadline of March 19th for changing its own licensing procedures.  By March 19th, the Commission should make efforts to publicize numerous changes in the licensing process, intended to streamline the process for all of us.  Although the Chairman did not give any specifics, he did mention that MLCC is striving for, on average, a 40% time reduction in the application process, and elimination (or consolidation) of as many as twelve of the currently required documents.

Chairman Deloney did confirm that official requests for waiver of the 1/2 mi rule are no longer necessary.  He did note that applicants should feel free to continue submitting such requests for the convenience of MLCC staff.

One Significant Potential Change:  As mentioned before, MLCC is attempting to “stick to the law as written.”  This has led the Commission to consider what some practitioners may find to be an extremely undesirable change – MLCC is discussing the potential for requiring on-premise applicants to receive local legislative approval before submitting an application to MLCC.  The attorneys at Stariha & Brower, PLC, are currently reviewing the laws that MLCC believes dictate such a change; if we find a contrary interpretation of the law, we will submit it to the Commission as soon as possible.

UPDATE Regarding Local Legislative Approval: After reviewing the Liquor Control Code, we noted that an argument against the Commission’s proposed change could be made based upon MCL 436.1501(2) and MCL 436.1525(3)(b).  At the same time, however, the Commission brought MCL 436.1525(6) to our attention.  This section details what is required for a “completed application.”  Approval from a local unit of government is among those things required under this section.  Based upon the Commission’s focus on requiring “completed applications” before the licensing process begins, MCL 436.1525(6) would lend support to the requirement that local government approval is required before processing of an application.  The Commission is aware of MCL 436.1501(2) & .1525(6) and, we assume, is working to ensure that any implemented change will mesh well within the potentially conflicting Code sections.

For now, regardless of which party is required to request local government approval, we would remind all practitioners and applicants to maintain constant contact with local government units while awaiting their approval.  While many LGUs may be quick to send in their approval, others will only respond with helpful reminders from the applicant and/or the attorney.

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