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Gov. Whitmer discusses return to in-person work, signs bills benefiting MI craft distillery industry in GR

Posted at 5:39 PM, May 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-24 17:39:10-04

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. — Governor Gretchen Whitmer visited two West Michigan businesses Monday to discuss new MIOSHA guidelines for returning to work, as well as sign bipartisan bills that could help the state's craft distillery industry.

Whitmer said she hopes the new MIOSHA guidelines will make it easier for businesses to navigate the process of bringing employees back to the office.

Her first stop was at Steelcase, the Grand Rapids-based business saying they've found slowly bringing back employees increases creativity, while admitting the process to get to this point hasn't been easy. Employees who are vaccinated don't have to wear a mask.

But the MIOSHA requirements state employers still must make it so those who are unvaccinated are following proper protocols as well.

“If anyone needs help understanding how to move through that process, we’re happy to do so,” CEO of Steelcase James Keane said.

Whitmer's next stop was to Long Road Distillery, where she signed four bipartisan bills aimed at leveling the playing field for Michigan distilleries to compete with national brands.

“A big part of this is ready to drink cocktails,” Vice President of St. Julian's Winery and Distillery Nancie Oxley said.

The new bills allow for distilleries to distribute their products on their own, eliminating costly red tape.

“We have so many things lined up ready to go. We were just waiting for these bills to be signed and passed,” Oxley said.

Long Road says it's good news for Michigan distillers everywhere. The bill also reduces the way some items are taxed. Previously, 12 oz. of liquor were taxed the same was as a full fifth.

Local distillers saying, this is especially helpful because they're allowed to sell their products to local bars and restaurants without having to go through a third party.

“Oftentimes the little guy gets lost,” Oxley said.