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New Bill Supports Downtown Bars Serving Liquor Until 4 A.M.

The expanded licensing will cost $10,000.

The Zenith
The Zenith
Michelle and Chris Gerard

Michigan barflies may be in luck. Today, a bill allowing downtown bars to pay a $10,000-per-year fee in exchange for an expanded liquor license exited the State Senate's Reform Committee, MLive reports. If passed, the new licensing would permit bars to serve liquor until 4 a.m. and would only be available to businesses within central districts who meet certain security provisions.

Sen. Virgil Smith of Detroit says he got the idea for the bill from talking to downtown business owners who want to entice more conventions to the Motor City from other major metropolitan areas. Current licenses, he says, prevent Michigan cities from competing against the likes of Miami, Chicago, and New York, because the permits only allow sales of liquor until 2 a.m.

More than 80 percent of the fee would go to supporting local police departments, with 10 percent to the Liquor Control Commission, and the final 5 percent allotted to cities where the permits are located.

Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, a Republican representing Monroe, also supported the bill. "I voted against smoking ban because I thought that people who owned those businesses ought to make those decisions, and I think the same thing here. If they want to stay open later, I think that's up to them and not up to some state law," Richardville tells MLive.

The organization Michigan Alcohol Policy testified against the expansion of late-night liquor sales, citing the risks to public health and safety.

The bill must now pass the House.

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