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The bar scene in West Michigan might change a bit, if a bill sponsored by two Democrats and a Republican is passed into law. Senate Bill 247 was introduced in early March. If passed as written, it would allow bars to stay open until 4:00 am if they pay a $10,000 fee to the state.
The bill reads, “An on premises licensee located within a central business district in a city may sell or furnish alcoholic liquor between the hours of 2:00 am and 4:00 am on any day if the licensee has obtained an extended hours permit from the commission. To obtain an extended hours permit, a licensee shall submit a completed application and a yearly permit fee of $10,000.00 to the state.”
Other requirements, include providing one security person for every 50 customers and having or installing a 360-degree video surveillance system on the premises.
One bar owner told us that staying open until 4:00 am could be a big money-maker for West Michigan bars.
It would also put millions of dollars into state coffers with the recommended fees attached.
However, not everybody is on board.
The owner of Barfly Ventures, Mark Sellers, feels the money is not worth the price to the community.
He says drinking and driving, fighting, noise issues and other complaints will be detrimental to the area.
“I don’t support it at all as a bar owner and I hope none of the bars downtown Grand Rapids try to get one of these 4:00 am licenses because it won’t be good for downtown,” said Sellers.
Since the bill was just introduced in March, it could be months before it’s voted on and a possible final version of the bill reaches the governor’s desk.
(D) Senator Bert Johnson, (D) Senator Virgil Smith and (R) Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville co-sponsored the bill.