VanderWall’s bill helping Ramsdell approved by Senate

MANISTEE — The state Senate on Tuesday unanimously approved state Rep. Curt VanderWall’s bill that would boost civic, arts and social event opportunities in downtown Manistee and potentially other small towns across Michigan.

The bill is headed to Gov. Rick Snyder for his consideration.

VanderWall’s legislation lowers the population threshold for local governments to receive special liquor licenses for a municipally owned civic center or auditorium. The bill reduces the population needed from the current 9,500 residents to 5,500, potentially adding more than 50 Michigan towns to the list of places which could benefit from the legislation.

In Manistee, the legislation would allow the city-owned Ramsdell Theatre to get a license to offer alcohol during events such as weddings, plays and special performances.

“The Ramsdell is critically important to downtown Manistee,” VanderWall said after the Senate approved his legislation. “The theatre will be an even more popular and viable attraction once it is able to get a liquor license in the same way municipal facilities in larger cities already do.”

VanderWall said Michigan’s current law has a population requirement that is arbitrary and works against small towns such as Manistee.

“I am pleased to say this legislation will change an unfair practice and will give small towns in Michigan greater opportunity,” VanderWall said.

VanderWall, of Ludington, said the legislation will allow government-owned facilities such as the Ramsdell to become more financially self-sufficient.

House Bill 4411 was overwhelmingly approved by both chambers of the Legislature. The House approved the bill by a 105-1 vote in October.

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