Governor Whitmer to Sign Bill Allowing 17-Year-Olds to Serve Alcohol

Posted By: Mason Doerr Industry ,

LANSING, MI – Lawmakers yesterday voted in favor of a measure that would lower the age requirement to serve alcohol at on-premises establishments from 18 to 17. In a statement to Crain’s Detroit, a spokesperson from Governor Whitmer’s administration mentioned HB 4232 and the governor’s plans to sign the bill.

“Bars and restaurants throughout Michigan that have been struggling with employment issues will be pleased to see the governor sign this bill into law,” said MLBA Executive Director Scott Ellis. “The hospitality industry is still struggling to replace many of the workers who left during the pandemic – this legislation will certainly help.”

HB 4232 was introduced by Representative Hoitenga (R, District 102) and had bi-partisan support. The final tally on the House floor vote was 78 in support, 28 opposed.

“The MLBA would like to thank Representative Hoitenga, Governor Whitmer and everyone else involved in getting this key legislation across the plate,” Ellis said. “While this is a win for all bars and restaurants, I know our businesses in northern Michigan and other tourist areas will benefit tremendously from the signing of this bill.”

Due to safety concerns, amendments were made to the original bill which limited 17-year-old service to on-premises locations only (bars, restaurants, social clubs). The bill also requires 17-year-olds who are serving to be under the supervision of someone 18 or older and they must successfully complete an alcohol server training course approved by the state (e.g. Techniques of Alcohol Management®).

“The point of the bill isn’t to create an environment where 17-year-olds are slinging drinks behind a bar every night until 2 a.m. – not that labor laws would allow that anyway. It’s designed to let servers carry drinks from a bar to a table or out to a patio,” Ellis said. “Currently, these servers are taking orders and bringing food out to tables, but if they aren’t 18 or older, a bartender is having to come out from behind the bar and run every drink to patrons.”

Once signed, Michigan will become the second state behind Maine to allow 17-year-olds to serve alcohol.

“When driving around to bars and restaurants throughout the state, I’ve been seeing more ‘Help Wanted’ signs than political signs – which is rare considering it’s an election year,” Ellis said. “We are grateful to see our lawmakers working together to help our small businesses succeed.”

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The Michigan Licensed Beverage Association is a not-for-profit corporation created in 1939 by liquor licensees in the state of Michigan with the purpose of mutual improvement, protection, and benefit,

 therefore promoting the moral, social and intellectual advancement of the liquor licensees of the state of Michigan. For more information on the association and its activities, visit the MLBA website at www.mlba.org.