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‘Homes for The Aged’ Get a Few Dozen Liquor Licenses

Clarkston Legal Jan. 2, 2017

This post examines new legislation that calls for the issuance of limited liquor licenses for certain ‘homes for the aged’. These are licensed facilities restricted to residents over the age of 62.

Should the aged have easy access to liquor? Some consider drinking alcohol on a consistent basis is a compassionate way to treat the elderly; others see it as irresponsible.

Just before the Christmas break, Governor Snyder signed PA 328, which provides for limited liquor licenses -a total of 25- in homes for the aged. Owners of licensed facilities that meet requirements of the new statute are candidates to receive one of the available licenses.

Why shouldn’t the elderly be able to imbibe alcoholic beverages? This is a very progressive piece of legislation that provides for the compassionate care and comfort to our aging population.

The 25-license limit, however, seems arbitrary and capricious. There are 83 counties here in Michigan; that’s one license for every 3.35 counties; demand will outstrip supply. A liquor license could drive-up the cost of housing in the select few homes that acquire a license.

This limited licensure is known as a competitive licensing system. Given the limited number of licenses, the state will be able to select from the best of the applications; the cream of the crop.

Only the elderly with means would then be able to attain this compassionate care provision. Drinking among rich elderly residents in assisted living facilities has been identified as a problem in many affluent areas in Michigan.

Perhaps, when the commission created to study the select facilities completes its mandate, the legislature will see fit to expand the number of limited liquor licenses in the ever-ubiquitous ‘homes for the aged’.

If you own a licensed facility, consider retaining competent counsel for the application process. Getting in on the ground floor could be important if this social experiment goes well.