With an already-tight budget, ebbing tax revenue and a lack of business growth, Michigan is in no position to deny legislation that would increase state revenue. But on Oct. 12, Gov. Jennifer Granholm did exactly that when she vetoed a bill altering the sale of liquor that would have paid an estimated $500,000 into the state’s general fund. The liquor bill would have been an easy fix to bring in added revenue needed to fund higher education and unemployment benefits, and repeal an antiquated law. To give the state’s pocketbook a much-needed boost, the Michigan legislature must either reintroduce the bill or overturn Granholm’s veto.

The liquor bill approved by the state legislature in late September would have expanded the hours when liquor can be sold. According to an Oct. 13 article in The Detroit News, retailers would be permitted to sell alcohol from 7 a.m. on Sundays until 2 a.m. Monday with the purchase of a special $160 permit. It also increased the hours that liquor sales are allowed on Christmas, allowing for purchase after midnight on Christmas Eve and noon on Christmas day. The bill included provisions allowing for beer and wine tastings at grocery stores, alcoholic beverages to be served at restaurant-catered events and for community colleges to use alcohol for culinary classes. Granholm has stated that though she is in favor of extended sale hours, she didn’t approve of the other provisions, which is why she vetoed the bill.

The governor’s veto will prove hurtful to both the state and small businesses. The legislature has already been forced to cut spending across the board — the estimated $500,000 in revenue could have funded some valuable programs. As noted in yesterday’s editorial from the Daily, the funding could have been directed toward stabilizing unemployment insurance benefits. And small businesses will now lose out on profit that could have been made from sales during the extended hours. In this uncertain economy, any chance to increase profits is valuable for struggling businesses.

Granholm’s decision also keeps in place an antiquated, paternalistic law that was designed to promote puritanical Christian morality in legislation. Laws like this, often called blue laws, while seemingly unimportant, limit citizens’ personal freedoms. Granholm needs to recognize that ideals about the use of alcohol shouldn’t be thrust upon citizens by the state.

The legislature needs to recall the economic benefits of this bill and put it back on the table. Granholm stated that she would be willing to work with legislators to rework the bill. Due to the Nov. 2 elections, however, many are unwilling to revisit the topic during a lame-duck session. But that shouldn’t stop legislators. Granholm shouldn’t have vetoed the bill in the first place — now, the legislature shouldn’t stop supporting such a beneficial change.

Extending the hours of liquor sales would not only help businesses, but also help cut away at a large deficit. Whether legislators introduce the bill again or gather the required votes to override the governor’s veto, they should find a way see this bill turned into law.

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