Minnesota bars may soon be serving into the wee hours of the morning if some legislators get their way.
Minnesota legislators are expected to hear a proposal on Wednesday that would shift the state’s bar closing time from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. The move comes on the heels of an initial proposal that will allow permit-holding bars in Minneapolis to remain open until 4 a.m. for a four-day stretch next February when the Super Bowl comes to town.
“I look at is as: They had a bill to extend it for Minneapolis — from 2 (a.m.) to 4 (a.m.) — and I thought: ‘Why are we doing it just for one weekend?’” said State Rep Jeff Howe, R-Rockville, who sponsored the bill. “If it’s good for that weekend … why not do it the rest of the year,” he said. “If it’s good for Minneapolis, it should be good for the rest of the state.”
Another Uphill Battle
It seems unlikely that the broader state law will be passed, because as we mentioned yesterday, Minnesota isn’t exactly known for being progressive when it comes to alcohol and other activities. The state still doesn’t allow individuals to purchase alcohol from stores on Sundays, and the Minnesota Legislature debated for years before extending bar time from 1 a.m. to 2 a.m. back in 2003. Even then, leaders only accepted the proposal after making a deal that extended extra funding to state troopers.
Howe is sponsoring the bill in the House, and State Senator Dave Osmek, R-Mound, is sponsoring it in the Senate. However, he’s not very optimistic that the bill will earn a warm welcome from fellow legislators.
“I’m not pushing it real hard,” said Osmek.
Instead, Osmek is throwing his attention at the state’s Sunday liquor law. The House will vote on revoking the Sunday liquor sales ban during a session next week, and many believe they’ll vote in favor of getting rid of the ban. The Senate’s position on the measure is less clear, and Osmek is hoping he can rally some more support at the last minute for revoking the ban. He’s a little more optimistic about the Senate’s role in revoking the Sunday liquor sales ban than in extending the state’s bar close time.
“[I’d give it a] better than a 50-50 shot,” in the Senate, said Osmek.
Extending bar time would certainly bring in more business for local businesses, but it would have a number of other ripple effects. Public transportation and police would likely have to staff more individuals at later hours, and there’s always the chance that extending bar hours could lead to an uptick in crimes and drunk driving. It seems like more research needs to be done before the measure is passed, so we don’t think it will gain much traction with lawmakers at the upcoming session.