CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Last call will be moved up an hour across West Virginia with a bill that is now pending in the state Senate.
The bill that was originally introduced as a way to cater to brunch crowds and allow for earlier alcohol sales on Sundays at bars, restaurants and bed and breakfast locations — pushing the Sunday drink sale time from 1 p.m. back to 10:30 a.m. — now also includes a change to the nightly cut-off time for alcohol sales at bars.
Instead of 3 a.m., alcohol sales would have to end at 2 a.m. with the proposal.
Delegate John Overington (R-Berkeley, 62), who offered the earlier closing time amendment, sees the bill as a compromise. “I don’t think it’s a safety hazard for a restaurant to be selling a beer or alcohol on Sunday morning as much as it is having people come from out of state to get in that last hour or two of drinking (in the late night hours),” he said.
Closing time is earlier in many of West Virginia’s neighboring states. “They close their bars anytime from midnight to 1 a.m. to 2 a.m. and, what that means is, we have a lot of people, especially in the border counties, that — when a bar closes at 1 a.m. in Virginia — they come to West Virginia for another two hours of drinking,” said Overington.
If the Legislature passes it, alcohol sales at private clubs, including restaurants and casinos, would not be allowed between 2 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. on Sundays and between 2 a.m. and 7 a.m. on weekdays and Saturdays.
On Tuesday, the full House of Delegates approved the bill, HB 4454, with a 70-26 vote.
The bill’s first stop in the Senate will be the Senate Government Organization Committee. The bill will then have to go to the Senate Judiciary Committee before making it to the Senate floor.
Less than three weeks remain in the 2014 Regular Legislative Session. The last day is Saturday, March 8.