COLUMBUS, Ohio (FOX19) - As restaurants and bars continue to reopen around Ohio, state lawmakers are taking action to allow business owners to keep their doors open a little longer on the weekends.
H.B. 674, which just passed the House, would allow restaurants and bars to stay open until 4 a.m. on the weekends and sell liquor on Sunday without a special permit.
Those behind the bill say that it will help revive businesses that may be on the brink of closure.
“Many Ohio businesses have had their savings wiped, have fallen behind on bills and obligations and are teetering on the verge of bankruptcy,” said Rep. Brett Hillyer, the bill’s sponsor.
The bill would require bar and restaurant owners to obtain a new ‘J Liquor Permit’ to stay open and serve alcohol on Fridays and Saturdays until 4 a.m.
“A simple payment of a Sunday booking for a few hundred dollars could mean the difference between remaining open and bankruptcy,” Hillyer said.
The bill passed last Thursday, but not without opposition. Some argued allowing bars to stay open until 4 a.m. would create a burden for local law enforcement.
“They have to have a larger law enforcement staff for two hours following when the bars close just to deal with the unfortunate occurrences that closing time can sometimes cause,” said Rep. Kent Smith.
Cincinnati Rep. Bill Seitz supports the measure, saying it would help modernize liquor laws.
“Under current law the police have to be on duty at 2:30 a.m. They have to be back on duty at 6:00 a.m., so it doesn’t seem like the extra hour and a half for only two days out of the week would impose grave problems for the police,” Seitz said.
In addition to allowing bars to say open later on the weekends, H.B. 674 would also make it easier to establish or expand outdoor drinking areas and would permit voters to allow 24-hour liquor sales.
The bill is now heading to the state Senate.