Licensing and Regulatory Affairs
DECEMBER 12, 2013 – Sunday marks 80 years of the Michigan Liquor Control Commission (MLCC). The MLCC celebrated the 80th anniversary of the end of Prohibition and the ratification of the 21st Amendment on December 5.
Michigan became the first state in the union to ratify the 21st Amendment, which called for the end of Prohibition. On December 5, 1933 at 6:55 p.m. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt announced to the nation on a national radio broadcast that Prohibition has come to an end. On December 15, 1933, the MLCC had organized, had opened liquor stores and had liquor available for sale. On December 30, 1933, the Commission opened the first 7 state liquor stores, 3 in Detroit, Grand Rapids, Saginaw, Kalamazoo and Jackson. Ninety-six additional stores were opened in 1934.
With the adoption of the 21st Amendment, the states were free to experiment with new control systems or to retain prohibition. Twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia adopted the licensing (open-state) system and 17 states including Michigan, adopted the state control system, and three states remained dry, Oklahoma, Kansas and Mississippi. To this date, there are still 16 control states plus Montgomery County, Maryland.
“As one of 17 control jurisdictions, the MLCC’s guiding philosophy is to make alcoholic beverages available while regulating their sale and distribution in order to protect the rights and interests of Michigan citizens,” said Andrew Deloney, MLCC Chairman.
The MLCC must wear two hats, first they are charged with safeguarding citizens by minding the public’s safety, health and welfare in mind whenever there is a decision to be made. The second hat is the business hat. The MLCC is continually looking for ways to improve business. As the industry continues to evolve, whether it’s new breweries, wineries, new restaurants or stores, the Commission looks forward to participating in the evolution in keeping with its mission of making alcoholic beverages available while regulating their sale and distribution in order to protect the rights and interests of Michigan citizens.
"The MLCC understands that we are a critical component to the hospitality and tourism industry, and we need to balance that with our role as regulators of state laws which address selling and serving minors and overconsumption,” said Deloney. “We promote economic development, job creation and growing the economy. We also promote good, safe and responsible business practices and work with our licensees to make sure they are in compliance with the law.”
The Michigan Legislature in regular session created the first liquor control act, effective April 27, 1933, with a 17 member Commission, one from each Congressional district. On December 15, 1933 the Legislature abolished the 17 member Commission. It presently provides for the Liquor Control Commission to consist of five members, not more than two of whom shall be members of the same political party, to be appointed by the governor with the approval and consent of the Senate.
After the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, it became apparent that there would eventually be a whiskey shortage. Much publicity was given to it and the public was encouraged to stock up. In 1942 it resulted in the greatest volume of sales in the United States since the repeal of Prohibition. In Michigan, 3,026,432 cases of liquor were sold,
2,537,086 cases of which were whiskey. Fast forward to present day, Michigan sold 7.37 million cases of distilled spirits in fiscal year 2012 (October 1, 2011 through September 30, 2012), 1.52 million of which is whiskey.
Also in fiscal year 2012, Michigan had its best year of sales of distilled spirits selling $1.03 billion in spirits.
“Since the end of Prohibition, the manufacture, distribution, and retail sale and service of alcoholic beverages has helped make Michigan a leader in the hospitality and tourism industries,” said Deloney. “Michigan’s wine, beer, and spirits makers are developing excellent products, our distributors are getting those products to market, and our retailers are providing the best selection of products of any state in the country to our customers.”
Since the end of Prohibition, Michigan has been on the forefront of exciting ventures in the adult beverage industry, whether it was being the first state to ratify the 21st Amendment, building one of the largest liquor warehouse buildings in the United States, or being the testing state for new liquors. There has been a significant expansion in the MLCC’s technological capabilities in the areas of licensing, enforcement and sales. The MLCC is upgrading its database system, which will further improve with the licensing process, which has already seen dramatic improvement in the last two years. The average time to process and consider an application has been reduced from 280 days on average in 2011 to 99 days on average currently. Rather than working with mountains of paper files, MLCC staff will be able to create and access files electronically, saving a lot of time and expense for staff and licensees. Staff has already been field testing with iPads and getting the investigators set up with iPhones so they can do their jobs more effectively and efficiently. They can transmit and receive and access documents electronically, rather than waiting for a stack of paper to arrive in the mail, and having to only be able to look at documents on paper.