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Alcohol can be sold at university stadiums under new law

Al Martin

Michigan’s public universities may sell beer, wine and cocktails at sporting events under a law signed Tuesday by Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

Until now, state law barred alcohol sales during those events at public universities.

Michigan State University and the University of Michigan were among the last of the Big 10 schools not allowed to sell booze at football and basketball games.

“Authorizing the legal sale of alcohol at sporting events will bring us on equal footing with other universities, help reduce the likelihood of binge drinking before games, and bring in a heck of a lot more revenue that we can use to improve the student experience,” Whitmer said in a statement released by her office. “I am proud that we are getting this done and making fall evenings at the Spartan Stadium or the Big House safer and more fun.”

A Michigan Senate Fiscal Agency report says Ohio State University and the University of Minnesota each make between $1 million and $1.5 million a year from alcohol sales at sports events.

Another new law will make rules that allow bars and restaurants to sell alcoholic drinks to go permanent. The rules were adopted during the COVID-19 pandemic to help businesses that lost sit-down customers.

Whitmer said there have been no reports of liquor law violations or other problems so there’s no reason not to continue the policy.

Finally, Whitmer signed a bill to ensure the Healthy Michigan program is not at risk of being shut down because its costs are too high.

Healthy Michigan is the Medicaid expansion program that extends coverage to lower-income working families. The new law eliminates a cost-sharing provision previously required to be eligible for the program. More significantly, the measures eliminates a provision that would have lead to a shut down of the program if the costs to taxpayers end up being larger than the savings.

Whitmer said ending those triggers will reassure a million lower-income Michiganders who won’t have to worry about losing health coverage.

The legislation was sent to Whitmer with bipartisan support from state lawmakers.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.
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