Senate panel takes up LaSata tasting room fix bill

Also considers lawmaker’s Senior PGA event bill

LANSING, Mich. — The Senate Committee on Regulatory Reform heard testimony on Tuesday in support of legislation that would fix an unintended consequence of tasting room legislation signed last session.

“My bill makes a small, but important, change to legislation we approved last session to ensure that our local producers of wine, beer, and other spirits may sample and sell all of their offerings at the same location,” said Sen. Kim LaSata, R-Bainbridge Township. “I appreciate the Moersch Hospitality Group for bringing this issue to my attention.”

Senate Bill 897, sponsored by LaSata, would reform the law to allow wineries, breweries, and distilleries to operate both an on-premises tasting room and an off-premises tasting room at the same location, under certain conditions.

In his testimony, Matt Moersch, CEO and Partner of Moersch Hospitality Group, told the committee that his operation is one of a few in Michigan that manufactures Michigan-made wine, spirits, and beer. He said that not being able to sell all of their craft beverages at their Coloma location, like they do at other locations licensed before the 2018 legislation was passed, has prevented them from growing their business. This, LaSata said, is also preventing them from creating more jobs.

The committee also took up another LaSata bill Tuesday that would simplify the special event permitting process required to allow the Senior Professional Golfers Association (PGA) to hold a match in Benton Harbor.

Currently, state law must be amended every year there is a Senior PGA event to allow a special event permit for the specific tournament. SB 820 would allow a permit for any year — meaning a bill wouldn’t need to be passed and signed each year the tournament is played in the state.

The KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship at Harbor Shores is scheduled to return in 2022 and 2024.

Both bills remain before the committee for further consideration.