Bar closing time resolution delayed

Posted at 7:24 AM, Jan 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-22 16:51:12-05

It's anything but last call for the bar closing bill in Erie County. A resolution to change the bar closing time was supposed to go to a vote Thursday, but it's now been delayed.

The most passionate arguments did not come from the debate surrounding the resolution itself. Instead, legislators went back and forth over whether or not to even vote on it.

"We're kind of split 50-50 (in the community)," said Legislator Barbara Miller-Williams (D-Buffalo) said. "I think that a public hearing or information session should be set."

Legislator Thomas Loughran (D-Amherst) agreed. "To effect a whole industry without giving public notice on this issue from the very beginning did not make sense to me."

However, Majority Leader Joseph Lorigo (R-West Seneca), who also spoke against the resolution and called it a political stunt, said that legislators have had enough time and could have called a public hearing at any point since it was introduced.

"You've had between four and six months to deal with this issue in your own districts," Lorigo asked his fellow lawmakers. "How many people have?"

Lorigo called the delay "laughable."

Legislator Patrick Burke (D) agreed, stating "I've had enough of this issue. The facts are very clear if we've all done our due diligence."

The proposal would roll back closing times from 4 a.m. to 2 a.m. Advocates of bars and businesses say the delay in the vote is harmful to those in the industry.

"It's really giving everybody a lot of uncertainty," said James Puskas, with the Erie County Rights Coalition. "What are you going to do with your lease? What are you going to do with your liquor license if it's up for renewable? Things like that."

The resolution's sponsor, Legislator Ted Morton (R-Cheektowaga) said he originally planned to vote on the resolution today.

"But hearing my colleagues earlier today talk passionately about wanting more input, I personally decided holding off another two weeks, it would be the best thing," Morton said.

If the resolution had gone to a vote, legislators tell 7 Eyewitness News it likely would have failed.

If it ever does pass, that would still not be a final ruling. The proposal would go to the State Liquor Authority to have a final say. That process would include public hearings, according to Lorigo.




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