D.C. Council committee votes down extended bar hours

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A D.C. Council committee approved a proposal Wednesday allowing liquor stores to open two hours earlier, at 7 a.m. Hatchet File Photo

A D.C. Council committee voted down a proposal Wednesday to keep District bars open for an extra hour.

The proposal to extend bar hours to 3 a.m. on weekdays and 4 a.m. on weekends was derailed in a 3-2 vote by the Committee on Human Services, according to DCist.

Liquor stores got a green light from the committee to open doors up to two hours earlier, at 7 a.m. The committee also approved extended bar hours to 4 a.m. during presidential inauguration weekends.

With the extended hours ruled out, the council must find another way to rake in the $3 million in revenue Mayor Vincent Gray projected would help mitigate a $171.2 budget shortfall for fiscal year 2013.

Ward 1 D.C. Council member Jim Graham floated the idea Monday of increasing the sales tax on alcoholic drinks by 6 cents to produce more than $20 million in revenue to shrink the budget gap.That tax has not been raised since 1990.

A tax increase on alcoholic beverages would first need to pass through the council’s finance committee, chaired by Ward 2 D.C. Council member Jack Evans.

Graham, who voiced safety and noise concerns related to potential bar hour extensions at a town hall in mid-April, also proposed last week that stores with Class A liquor licenses, which sell soft and hard alcohol, be permitted to operate on Sundays to pour in more sales tax revenue. He reversed that proposal Monday.

The council is expected to vote on Gray’s budget May 15.

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