Bill would allow Colorado bars to stay open past 2:00 a.m.

9NEWS at 5 p.m. 2/9/17.

KUSA – When it’s closing time at Blake Street Tavern, Michael Doyle is one of the guys who eventually has to tell customers to leave.

“We’ll do last call at 1:40 a.m.” said Doyle, standing outside the popular sports bar in downtown Denver.

Doyle works as a facilities manager at the bar where he admits, there’s never a dull moment.

“[I’m] in charge of maintenance, crowd control issues,” Doyle said.

Current state law says 2:00 a.m. is the time Doyle must make sure Blake Street Tavern is clear of customers. All bars in Colorado must close by the same time, but a new bill before state legislators would allow Colorado cities and counties to set their own closing times.

“We have really good bipartisan support,” said Rep. Steve Lebsock, a Democrat who is sponsoring HB 1123.

The bill passed through the House Local Affairs Committee Wednesday, 11-2. Lebsock said the proposed legislation has support from the Tavern League and the Colorado Bar Owner’s Association.

“[The bill] allows our local business owners to work closely with local law enforcement and local governments to determine the best hours for businesses to be open.”

Mothers Against Drunk Driving fears the bill will open the door to “barhopping” which could result in drunk driving.

“HB 1123 will increase the likelihood of drunk drivers attempting to obtain one last drink by traveling from a municipality with an earlier last drink time to one with a later one,” said Franz Lanzer in a statement released to 9NEWS.

Lanzer is the Colorado executive director of MADD and testified against the bill during Wednesday’s committee hearing.

“MADD opposes HB 1123 and urges lawmakers to support a uniform statewide bar closing time,” Lanzer said in the press release.

Rep. Lebsock argued bar closing times should be determined on the local level, and not by state lawmakers.

“The only argument against this bill is it might open the opportunity for bad behavior to happen and that’s not a good argument,” Rep. Lebsock said. “You can’t legislate morality.”

Back at Blake Street Tavern, Michael Doyle didn’t see a good reason to extend the bar’s hours.

“We don’t get too much of a late-night crowd after midnight,” Doyle said. “Nothing good in a bar happens after 2:00.”

After clearing a House committee, the proposal will go up for a vote on the House floor sometime next week.

(© 2017 KUSA)


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