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.

File photo

Del. John Overington (R-Berkeley, 62)

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.

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Comments

  • Steve

    I live in Huntington, and while I am not out at that hour as often as I used to be, I don't recall a swell of people coming from Lawrence County Ohio to the bars and clubs in Huntington at 1:00 AM. And Lawrence County is completely dry outside of the city limits of Ironton, which is 20 minutes away. This shows why we need fresh blood in state offices.

  • patchy

    "'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.'"

    Has this fossil been anywhere in WV besides the Eastern Panhandle and Charleston? Has he seen the plethora of mountains? Has he driven the winding, steep roads? The idea that someone is going to take on a grueling there-and-back journey to 'get in an extra hour of drinking' is ridiculous when applied to 98% of the state.

    But his district is bordered by Maryland and is within shouting distance of Pennsylvania. It's one thing to represent your constituents - quite another to stand common sense on its head statewide for a few malcontents.

    And what, barring impaired drivers, is the downside of customers crossing into WV to spend money on entertainment?

    Prohibitionists of any stripe are anachronisms.

    • Jonus Grumby

      Actually, Overington is right. But fear not, few (if any) of his proposed bills ever seem to pass.

  • Cory Boothe

    We have to vote county by county to allow Sunday hunting on our own land but the legislature decides staewide on the sale of alcohol during church time?

  • The bookman

    There should be no limitation to alcohol sales in any location. No carve outs for certain venues. 24 hours-7 days a week. If it's legal, then why restrict it?

    • Shawn H

      Just another gov intrusion into our lives.

    • Ben Dover

      It's just a silly "Blue Law" for a time long ago. It has no meaning or relevancy in this day and age.

  • Keith

    Sunday sales are not 2pm, it's 1pm (check the WV ABC web site).

    Also, who edits your stories? Wrong information provided and the verbiage 'local watering hole'?

  • Foster Brooks

    Is this all the idiots in Charleston have to worry about. Oh I forgot there's the ban on cold medicine.

  • Cb

    So many things that matter never make it to the floor, yet this is an important enough bill to make it.

    I live on a border town and go out some, I never see a huge influx of people driving and stumbling in after 2 am. I am sure someone has but come on, this is important why? Have we had any statistics that show this is a problem? Was it just made up with someone saying it sounded right because other states shut down early.

    It is another bill targetted at the youth of the state. What age group drinks at that hour primarily?

    However the bill makes sure the delegate and his wife can have their morning cocktail on Sunday, when I am sure the primary age group of people purchasing is much older.

  • wvajoker

    To understand why WV is considered a backward State one must only read the comments to news articles.

    • Ben Dover

      And look at some the antiquated laws on the books... ridiculous!

  • D

    So this is to stop out of state money from being spent in WV. Brilliant! Let's not forget DUI's make money for the state too. Leave the current law alone and do more checkpoints if DUI what they are worried about.

  • John

    I've gone grocery shopping after church on Sunday and realized the bottle of wine I put in the cart (not for immediate consumption) wasn't allowed to be purchased because it was too early. I've always thought it was a silly law. I don't really understand Overington's argument. VA residents coming to WV businesses to spend money for two hours on weekends is a bad thing? We already have drinking and driving laws to protect our residents from drunks getting behind the wheel. Is it really a bad thing for WV to have less regulations than neighboring states if it gives us a competitive advantage? The senate needs to consider the tax money generated from that extra hour of alcohol sales the state is going to give up. This probably won't mean a lot in Berkley County, but it certainly won't be good for Morgantown bar businesses.

    • John

      Why is this still waiting moderation?

  • Big C

    But seriously, an extra hour ? To solve what ? People are going to be stupid no matter what and it is not solving anything. West Virginians that drink, stock pile beer and liquor in their homes and come home from the bars and continue drinking after last call. GIve them the hour, HOUSE PARTY at my place this weekend !!!!

  • Jason

    bible belt.

    • Larry

      Yes, the Bible belt. Of course the bill's real purpose is to allow serving alcohol earlier on Sundays, to all the thirsty alcoholics, the 2am last call thing is just a trade-off to make it sound better.

  • Jim Beam

    This will cost the state millions

    • Charleston

      It's a net gain of 2 1/2 hours to purchase alcohol. How is this a loss?

      • D

        I bet there will be far fewer people spending money in a bar at 1030 AM than at 2 AM. So yes net loss.

      • RP

        How is that a net gain? You're losing 6 hours of sales through the rest of the week.

  • hilljack

    Just go on home legislature before you screw anything else up. Save the taxpayers some money and go home.

  • WrongWayCorgan

    DAT OBAMA TOOK MUH GUNS! NOW HE GONE TAKE MUH BOOZE!

    • J

      LOL

    • Larry

      To the contrary, under this bill you would be able to start drinking earlier on Sunday.