WASHINGTON -- District of Columbia Councilmember Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) is looking for $3.2 million to help kill a revenue-generating provision in Mayor Vincent Gray's 2013 budget proposal that would allow bars and restaurants to sell alcohol until 4 a.m.
As The Washington Post reports, Graham may have found $710,000 in potential tax revenues in a plan that would instead allow holders of Class A licenses -- liquor stores -- to sell alcohol on Sunday, which is currently prohibited in the nation's capital and a handful of states.
Graham, who represents nightlife neighborhood destinations like Adams Morgan and U Street, thinks that extending the 3 a.m. alcohol cut-off to 4 a.m. could create late-night nuisances for local residents. The councilmember has been quick to also point out that so-called "voluntary agreements" that many businesses must sign with advisory neighborhood commissions would prevent later hours of operation for affected restaurants and bars.
Under Gray's proposal, bars would be allowed to extend weekday and weekend hours by an hour—booze could be sold until 3 a.m. on weekdays and 4 a.m. on weekends—while liquor stores could start selling at 7 a.m. Monday through Saturday. (You could also buy beer and wine at the grocery store starting at 7 a.m. on Sundays.) Additionally, a presidential inauguration weekend would be established for 2013 and 2017—there was one in 2008—that would allow bars to stay open until 4 a.m. and give restaurants the ability to serve customers 24 hours a day.
Lifting Sunday "blue laws" has been a tactic many states have considered to generate needed revenue in dismal budgetary times. But in many parts of the country, those efforts have been opposed by family organizations and religious groups.
As the Post points out, Graham said that members of an alcohol task force in Ward 7 has expressed their opposition to expanded liquor sales saying that it would encourage bad behavior outside liquor stores.