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Alcohol Licensing Legislation Update on 4:00 am Closings, City Control and More Licenses [Video]

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The North End / Waterfront Residents’ Association (NEWRA) hosted a discussion regarding proposed changes to the state liquor licensing laws currently being debated in the legislature. State Representative Aaron Michlewitz and City Councilor Sal LaMattina updated the community on the status of these bills and answered questions from those in attendance at the July 10th meeting.

There are two bills currently pending in the State legislature: a home rule petition sponsored by City Councilor Ayanna Pressley and most recently, changes through an economic development bill as part of the state’s budget supported by Boston Mayor Marty Walsh.

The bills target three significant changes to alcohol licensing: (1) extending closing hours to 4:00 a.m. along certain MBTA routes, (2) adding 150 additional liquor licenses to the City of Boston, and (3) turning over control of the Boston Licensing Board from the State to City Hall. Under Councilor Pressley’s bill, the Mayor of Boston would appoint members of the Licensing Board with confirmation by the City Council.

Rep. Michlewitz and the Boston delegation in the State House have opposed 4:00 a.m. closing hours. However, this proposal remains in the legislature and could still be passed before July 31st. Meeting attendees also discussed how additional licenses could be restricted so they would support non-downtown neighborhoods and be non-transferable.

Councilor LaMattina noted that neighborhoods like the North End do not need more liquor licenses, but he supports additional licenses in his other neighborhoods such as East Boston. In some cases, he would support 4:00 a.m. licenses at hotels in Boston and to spread out the closings so that all bars do not empty out at 2:00 a.m. creating a police problem.

View the attached video for more details and the full debate on the issue at the meeting.