Pat Gagliardi // Chair, Michigan Liquor Control Commission
According to a recent national poll commissioned by the Center for Alcohol Policy, there continues to be a clear and overwhelming bipartisan support for state regulation of the alcohol industry. Americans expressed satisfaction with how alcohol is handled in their state and say the three-tier system is working well.
American adults want alcohol laws to prioritize public health and safety. They want states to evaluate the impacts of changes in alcohol regulations that occurred during the pandemic before making any changes permanent.
These 2023 survey results reported by New Bridge Strategy is the latest look at core attitudes on several facets of alcohol regulation that have been tracked every two years, since 2008. More than 1,000 adults over age 21 across the nation were surveyed. Key findings include:
- 80% support (across party lines) of states setting their own laws and regulations surrounding the sale of alcohol (beer, wine, and liquor).
- 89% say that “it is very important to keep the alcohol industry regulated” because alcohol is viewed as a unique product that requires oversight.
- 84% are satisfied with the “existing system for purchasing alcohol” in their state.
- 88% are satisfied with the variety of alcohol products available in their community.
- 72% are satisfied with the number of places alcohol can be purchased in their community.
Americans want alcohol laws and lawmakers to prioritize health and safety:
- 67% say that “more needs to be done to reduce the potential harm caused by alcohol,” while 33% believe efforts are sufficient.
- 91% view driving “under the influence of alcohol” as a serious problem.
- 80% say lawmakers should prioritize reducing drunk driving.
- 75% view “underage drinking by high school aged youth” as a serious problem.
The MLCC Celebrates 90 years: 1933—2023
The MLCC recently celebrated its 90th anniversary on April 27. The Liquor Control Commission was created when Public Act 64 of 1933 was signed into law on April 27,1933.
The Act legalized the manufacturing and sale of low-alcohol (3.2%) beer and wine in Michigan once again (following federal legalization in March 1933). The Act also created specific license types for retailers to sell alcohol and allowed local governmental units to vote to legalize alcohol sales in their territories or to remain dry.
In two short weeks, the Commission hurriedly organized its operations to have a supply of 3.2% beer available for May 11, 1933, when beer could be legally sold again beginning at 6:00pm. The headline of a story in the May 10 Lansing State Journal declared, “Liquor Commission Headquarters Like Chaotic Beehive at Present” as hundreds of licenses were issued.
On May 10, 1933, the Commission issued the first three retail licenses to sell beer to the Book-Cadillac Hotel in Detroit, the Olds Hotel in Lansing, and the Bancroft Hotel in Saginaw. The first Special License was issued to the American Legion for a huge event in Detroit also on May 10, where an estimated 30,000 people attended, as reported by the Detroit Free Press.
Speaking of firsts, Michigan was the very first state in the nation to vote on April 10, 1933, in support of ratifying the 21st Amendment, starting the process of repealing national Prohibition. In December 1933, the 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution repealed Prohibition.
The Legislature returned to the Capitol immediately thereafter to pass the Michigan Liquor Control Act, which greatly expanded upon the law passed in April 1933 and allowed for the manufacturing, sales, and service of beer, wine, and spirits in Michigan once Prohibition ended.
The Liquor Control Act also considerably pared down the number of members on the Liquor Control Commission from its original 17 members to five members, a number that has remained the same for almost 90 years.
In addition to issuing liquor licenses and enforcing liquor laws, the Liquor Control Commission was vested with the responsibility to act as the wholesaler of spirits products in Michigan, as it still does today.
Nine decades ago, the Commission ran a $5 million business that has grown to a $1.92 billion business in FY22. An original staff of “around 20 people” has grown to 145 individuals.
Just think, in 1933 you could buy an eight-ounce beer for a nickel.
To learn more about the MLCC’s fascinating history and read many actual statewide news articles from 1933, vist the MLCC’s main website at www.michigan.gov/lcc and click on the 90th anniversary logo.