DENVER (AP) – Lawmakers rejected a proposal to allow Colorado cities and towns to extend bar hours after the legislator sponsoring the bill on Monday asked them to vote no.
“I think that it’s time to go back to the drawing board on this, and so what I’m going to ask for is to go ahead and put me out of my misery and please just kill this bill,” Denver Democratic Rep. Crisanta Duran said. She made the request just before the House was set to take a final vote on the bill, and it was unclear whether she had enough to pass it.
She said after the vote that she didn’t think she had enough time to work out a compromise to address concerns from stakeholders.
The proposal would have let municipalities decide whether to let bars stay open until 4:30 a.m. Current law prohibits the sale of alcohol from 2 a.m. to 7 a.m.
Supporters said the goal was to give local governments more control and potentially reduce large, unruly crowds that let out at the traditional closing time. It’s an issue that’s been of particular concern in Lower Downtown Denver, a bar and nightclub district where crowds let out of bars at about 2 a.m.
Denver Democratic Rep. Paul Rosenthal supported the bill, saying it would make it so people leave bars on their own at different times, “instead of a big jam of people hitting the streets all at the same time.”
But opponents didn’t buy that argument and said that letting bars stay open longer would simply lead to more drinking.
“The later bars stay open, the more drinking that happens, the more likelihood there is to have accidents, DUIs, assaults, and neighborhood impacts,” Boulder Democratic Rep. K.C. Becker said.
The Colorado Municipal League, which lobbies on behalf of cities and towns, supported the bill, which they viewed as a local control issue. The Colorado Restaurant Association withdrew support for the bill after it was amended to give municipalities the power to shorten hours of operation earlier than 2 a.m.
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