Swim-up bars (photo by Riff Rafter)

Thanks to Mlive for this:

Michigan lawmakers have proposed legislation that would change the state’s law to allow swim-up bars at public pools, including hotels and other tourist attractions.

House Bills 5983 and 5984 would allow public swimming pools in Michigan to serve food and beverages to swimmers under certain safety guidelines.

State Rep. Rodney Wakeman, R-Frankenmuth, who co-sponsored the bills, said permitting swim-up bars would help boost Michigan’s tourism industry.

“Safely accommodating swim-up bars will add to our economy and fill a void in our tourism industry that currently drives people to hotels and attractions in other states,” Wakeman said in a prepared statement. “There is a lot of potential for resorts in Michigan to offer swim-up bars in a safe, controlled environment.”

The bill package was first introduced April 12 in the state House, where it later passed in a 101-3 vote. It was sent to the Senate, where it passed favorably in committee last month. The bills are expected to soon appear on the Senate floor for a vote.

Swim-up bars (photo by Riff Rafter)

Michael Zehnder, general manager at the Bavarian Inn Lodge in Frankenmuth, testified before the House Regulatory Reform Committee in favor of the bill last month.

The Frankenmuth business owner said prohibiting the consumption of alcohol in public pools puts Michigan’s tourism industry at a disadvantage when competing for tourists with other Midwestern states where swim-up bars are allowed.

Neighboring states like Ohio and Wisconsin have had a competitive advantage over Michigan for years,” Zehnder said in a statement. “These attractions are just that – tourist destinations that help the industry. They’re sought after, considered relaxing to most and elevate a guest’s experience.”

If the bills were signed into law, Michigan would become the 25th state in the country to permit swim-up bars.

Under current state law, pool operators are prohibited from serving food and beverages in a public swimming pool. That includes hotels, resorts and other tourist attractions.

House Bill 5983 would amend the law to allow consumption of food and beverage in public swimming pools, as long as it is served in non-breakable containers. Pool operators would also have to provide lifeguard services and have heightened pool filtration and chemical-monitoring standards.

House Bill 5984 would allow pool owners to purchase a $350 annual permit that would allow them to sell and serve alcoholic beverages in a public swimming pool.

If the bills are signed into law, Zehnder said the guidelines would provide a “safe and enjoyable experience” for adults.

The Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association applauded lawmakers for pushing the legislation through the Senate Committee on Economic and Small Business Development on May 11.

“Attracting visitors to Pure Michigan and providing flexibility for our hotel operators to offer unique experiences for guests has never been more important as the hospitality industry’s landscape continues to shift,” MRLA president and CEO Justin Winslow said in a statement. “This legislation does just that and we look forward to approval by the Michigan Senate and Governor Whitmer signing it into law before the summer recess.”

The next step for the bill package is for it to appear before the whole Senate for a vote, which will likely happen next week. It must be approved in both chambers and signed by Whitmer to become law.

Swim-up bars (photo by Riff Rafter)

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