Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Extending Mich. bar hours has perks, problems

A proposed bill that would allow bars to stay open until 4 a.m. might seem like a two-hour legislative bonus to many college students.

The bill states that bars and restaurants could remain open an extra two hours for an annual $2,500 fee.

Under the bill, local municipalities could decide whether to enact the legislation.

While the idea might sound good to partying students looking to extend their weekend fun, enacting the legislation wouldn’t be wise for East Lansing.

And students shouldn’t get their hopes up because it’s unlikely to take effect here. Currently, the bill is stalled in the Michigan Legislature and if it does pass on a statewide basis, the East Lansing City Council still would be given discretion as to whether to enact the legislation.

This part of the bill is effective, as it allows governing bodies of counties and cities to decide what’s best for their particular area.

Therefore, it would come as no surprise if the council decided not to employ the legislation should it pass. In a college culture where alcohol stimulates many leisure activities, extending bar hours and tempting students to drink more for longer, would be an irresponsible move by East Lansing city officials.

The point of the bill is to make money for the state and help reduce the deficit. However, the bill seems too potentially dangerous to justify the budget relief.

Currently, bars across the state are open until 2 a.m. In that time, bar crawlers are able to thoroughly indulge in their desired alcohol-driven activities. By the time the bar closes, many patrons stumble home, drunk and tired.

What happens if bar hours are extended for two extra hours?

More alcohol is consumed, and at 4 a.m. patrons who are even more drunk and tired will pour into the streets, off to their next destination.

The potential for alcohol-related incidents including drunken driving and public intoxication likely would increase.

However, such legislation could be effective in stimulating areas such as downtown Detroit where casinos and other nightlife are prevalent.

In more metropolitan areas such as Detroit and Grand Rapids, where the majority of residents are working adults and not active students, the bill could provide a positive social and economic stimulus.

The bill also would allow alcohol to be sold between 7 a.m. and noon on Sundays. This aspect of the legislation makes more sense as it eliminates the inconvenience of having to wait to buy alcohol on Sundays and won’t necessarily increase the risk of alcohol-related incidents.

While the state needs to be innovative in coming up with ideas to stimulate the economy, this bill should be approached with caution.

Raising money from this potentially negative part of society may be necessary, but it also appears short-sighted and desperate on the part of the Legislature.

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