MN Legislature Looking at Expanding Bar Closings to 4 a.m.
A bill in the Minnesota House is proposing mandatory bar close be extended from 2 am to 4 am
MOORHEAD, Minn. — Think the bars close too early?
A new bill introduced in the Minnesota Legislature is proposing to extend closing time from 2 to 4 a.m.
But some say for state border towns like Moorhead, passing this bill into law could become a double edged sword.
If this bill were to become law, Moorhead bar owners and law enforcement say there’s one likely outcome.
Once clocks hit 2 am there would likely be a slew of late night drinkers crossing from Fargo over to Moorhead for a few extra hours at the bar.
Back in 2003, Minnesota extended bar hours to 2 am while North Dakota stayed with a 1 am closing time.
“The same thing happened where you know it came 12 o’clock and everyone started rushing over from the neighboring cities,” said General Manager of O’Leary’s Irish Pub, Seth Marts.
Marts said at the time it was good for business in the Moorhead area.
He said he thinks if lawmakers pass this bill, it could mean a positive boost for business.
“I think it could be a game changer for bordering cities for sure,” said Marts.
But it wasn’t all good news.
When closing time was different between the states, law enforcement said it created a bigger issue.
“We saw an increase in driving under the influence and it was something that was remedied by having consistent laws between states,” said Lieutenant Tory Jacobson with the Moorhead Police Department.
Not only are there commuting risks, late night drinking can bring already intoxicated customers to bars…which can also create problems.
Marts recognizes this risk, but he said he feels it’s nothing that can’t the bars can’t handle.
“Part of it’s concern. Because you have to wonder who is coming over at 2 am to 4 am, but at the same time, if you have the right security and you ensure the safety,” said Marts.
Lieutenant Jacobson said it’s too soon to say how good of a chance this bill has but he leans towards the idea of considering the history of bar close laws in the area.
“We recognize the importance of consistency between states and the concerns that happen when they’re not consistent,” said Jacobson.
The bill has a hearing scheduled in the Minnesota house on Wednesday.