LANSING – March 20, 2012 – The Michigan Liquor Control Commission has indicated that the annual license renewal process – underway now, and culminating at the end of April – may not be as lenient as years past. Licensees are urged to act promptly to make sure their license renewals are properly processed and paid for long before the April 30 deadline.
“The MLCC is under no obligation to allow leeway for late payments on license renewals,” said Ronalee Polad, of Techniques of Alcohol Management. “There has been an unspoken ‘grace period’ for renewals in the past, but the Commission is well within its rights to enforce these deadlines more strictly.”
Though this is a change in practices many Michigan licensees are used to, the April 30 deadline for liquor license renewal has been on the books for many years. “The law requires licenses to be renewed by April 30,” said Andy Deloney, chairman of the MLCC. “It is our expectation that licensees of every shape, size and type will live up to their legal obligations. Not having a valid license means that a licensee cannot sell alcohol or order alcoholic liquor.”
New policies may come as a surprise to those that have been in the industry for many years, but licensees are ultimately responsible for following all MLCC rules, policies and orders. “The bottom line is licensees need to handle their annual renewal promptly,” said Scott Ellis, executive director of the MLBA. “Previous commissions had been very lenient with late renewals and payments. If this Commission isn’t as lenient, it’s the licensee’s responsibility to adapt.”
Additionally, the MLCC has determined it does not have the authority to immediately re-instate a license that has been cancelled, what had been common practice after a delinquent licensee paid past due fees. Instead, after April 30 of this year, licenses that have not been properly renewed may simply be cancelled with no immediate avenue of recourse for a licensee.
Escrowed Licensed May Be Charged Retroactively
Liquor License renewals may be especially different this year for some licensees who hold licenses in escrow. If a license had been placed in escrow – essentially deactivated, but still technically in the possession of the owner – due to pending litigation or damage to the building, previous Commissions had not collected annual renewal fees from the licensee. The current Commission has indicated that they interpret MLCC Rule 436.1107 differently, and will therefore be requiring all applicable fees be paid by the owners of licenses in escrow for five years or less, regardless of the reason.
In addition, the Commission will be requiring unpaid fees from previous years to be paid as well.
“This could be a major issue for some who hold escrowed licenses, especially if they will now have to pay several years of renewal fees,” said Ellis. “Again, though, this Commission is merely adhering to laws and rules more strictly, and enforcing things that are already on the books.”
Licensees should file renewal paperwork and fees as early as possible, to ensure MLCC staff has time to make sure everything is in order. “We urge all licensees to make sure their renewal paperwork and payments are in order long before the deadline of April 30,” said Ellis.
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.