Big Brother still bellying up to the bar

Whiskey, beer and wine are legal in Michigan, but we take great care to shield our drinkers from demon advertising.

And if the state Senate gets its way, bar patrons will continue to be protected from logos, slogans and the like.

Only in Michigan, right?

Exactly. According to the Michigan Restaurant Association, ours is the only state to fully prohibit logos on beer glasses and other barware.

It is illegal for a brewer such as Miller or Yuengling to supply a tavern with coasters or ashtrays carrying a product name. Distillers such as Jim Beam and Jack Daniels cannot promote their brands by giving restaurants patio umbrellas or clocks.

These curious rules date to Prohibition and efforts to discourage suppliers from bribing retailers.

To his credit, Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration is looking to weed out some of government’s more inane intrusions into private business.

Andy Deloney, chairman of the Michigan Liquor Control Commission, favors lifting the pointless ban on logos. He reasons his enforcement staff should concentrate on serious issues, such as cracking down on those who sell alcohol to minors.

Who opposes this good sense?

The answer is the state Senate, which voted 34-3 to allow logos on barware, but only if the items are bought from a third party. If a bar wants beer mugs with a Samuel Adams logo, it must buy them from an independent supplier, even if the brewer would furnish the items for free.

“Apparently free market principles and the elimination of frivolous government intrusion are no longer priorities of Senate Republicans,” Brian DeBano of the Michigan Restaurant Association lamented. “I will be sure to consult with the caucus the next time my members want to change ketchup brands to make sure they approve.”
For the record, all 11 Democrats in the Senate joined 23 Republicans in approving the bill. The lonely dissenters were three Republicans — Bruce Caswell of Hillsdale, Patrick Colbeck of Canton and Howard Walker of Traverse City.

The Michigan Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association, which represents many craft brewers, lobbied senators with great success. Their members presumably fear drinkers would look at a beer coaster and order a Bud instead of a microbrew.

Well, it’s silly. State government has many roles to play, and this isn’t one of them. The House should reject Senate Bill 505, and if it won’t, the governor should use his veto.