Traverse City Record-Eagle


November 8, 2013

Senate OKs logoed glasses, but bars unhappy

LANSING (AP) — The Senate on Thursday voted to let Michigan bars and restaurants serve drinks in glasses with the logos of alcohol makers but angered those establishments by also moving to regulate glassware sales and codify a ban against logoed coasters and other items.

The move came just two days after state regulators began the process of rescinding rules that prohibit logos — Bud Light or Jack Daniels, for instance — from appearing on items with a “secondary use” in restaurants and bars: glasses, coasters, ashtrays, clocks, patio umbrellas and the like. The legislation approved 34-3 and sent to the House would trump the expected canceling of regulations from Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration.

Michigan allows signs and advertisements in bars and restaurants but is the only state to fully prohibit logoed barware items, according to the Michigan Restaurant Association. The rule stems from a Prohibition-era law designed to prevent bribing of retailers by suppliers and wholesalers with extra goods.

The group criticized the Republican-led Senate in part for allowing glasses to be bought only from third parties with no connection to alcohol manufacturers, wholesalers or vendors. Establishments worry it could be hard to find glassware not directly or indirectly affiliated with the alcohol industry. They would have to submit a purchase order to the state Liquor Control Commission for approval and keep receipts for three years.

“Apparently free market principles and the elimination of frivolous government intrusion are no longer priorities of Senate Republicans,” said Brian DeBano, president and CEO of the Michigan Restaurant Association. “I will be sure to consult with the caucus the next time my members want to change ketchup brands to make sure they approve.”

The legislation won overwhelming approval alongside a larger package of bills that would streamline liquor licensing, pave the way for the expansion of microbreweries and support limited self-distribution for startup craft brewers. Yet the fight dispute between lawmakers and the Snyder administration threatens to overshadow consensus on other liquor changes.

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