The bill that incited the most debate during Monday’s floor session was one that would allow private licensees to begin alcohol sales at 10:30 a.m. on Sundays instead of 1:00 p.m. as dictated by current code. Aaron Payne reports.
House Bill 4454 would allow restaurants and tourism destinations such as a bed and breakfast to serve alcoholic beverages as part of Sunday brunch.
Supporters of the bill said that it could boost profits from tourism in the state.
Two amendments to the bill were proposed on the floor, both of which would change the time frame in which alcohol could be served.
Delegate Woody Ireland’s proposal would change the starting time in the bill from ten thirty to noon on Sundays. Delegate Ireland felt that serving alcohol earlier was not necessary to boost tourism.
“Is our tourism really a drink at ten thirty in the morning?” Ireland asked. “I suggest to you that if our tourism is dependent on a drink at then thirty in the morning, we got some significant issues that we need to address.”
The amendment was rejected by a vote of 41 to 55.
Delegate John Overington’s proposed amendment would change last call to serve alcohol every night to 2: 00 a.m. rather than the current 3:00 a.m. saying that the current law attracts the wrong kind of people to the state.
“All of our neighboring states close at an earlier hour,” Overington said. “It means that we attract the wrong type of people that come from Pennsylvania or Maryland after they’ve had a few drinks. They continue drinking and they come to a bar in West Virginia.”
While taking a neutral stance on the amendment, Delegate Tim Manchin said he wanted to offer reasons why the current code dictates 3:00 a.m.
Delegate Manchin said experts believed a change to an earlier time could have an affect on lottery profits and there was a history behind the time.
“I was with some folks that happened to be from the beverage industry so I’ll be honest with that and they said that the way this grew up was because of shift work, because there were people who actually worked a late shift and didn’t get off work until 12 or one o’clock in the morning and that by shutting off sales at two you deprive them of a right of going out after work and being able to imbibe and relax and enjoy themselves a little bit,” Manchin said.
The amendment was adopted by a vote of 53-42.
The bill as amended to include changing the cut-off time to sell alcohol to 2:00 a.m. passed by a vote of 70-26 and moves on to the Senate for consideration.