‘Last Call’ may be moving to 4 a.m. at some bars and restaurants if a Michigan Senate bill becomes law. That is music to the ears of college students but not for the reasons one might think.
No doubt many of us would jump at the opportunity to spend two more hours at our favorite drinking establishments. However, many college students in Michigan are more excited about the boost this legislation would provide for their wallets.
Michigan Senate Bill 247 would allow the sale of alcohol until 4 a.m. at establishments located in the central business district of cities with downtown development authorities. Its supporters say the change would make nightlife in Michigan’s cities more competitive with areas like New York or Chicago.
The bill is designed to increase sales for the owners of bars and restaurants, and improve the experience of customers who frequent those businesses. The people serving those late-night beers and burgers will benefit too, and oftentimes that waiter or bartender attends college.
Students were struck hard by unemployment during the recent economic recession, and have yet to recover. In August, unemployment amongst workers aged 18-19 checked in at a whopping 21.7 percent. Meanwhile, 13.0 percent of 20-24 year olds were unemployed. The national average for unemployment was 7.3 percent.
Still, bars and restaurants are notorious for hiring students. The number of friends I have who are currently employed in the foodservice industry are too many to count. Working these jobs has become a rite of passage for many college students seeking employment.
Extending the deadline to serve alcohol for an additional two hours means another two hours worth of wages and tips for students employed at those establishments. That’s not enough to pay off student loans, but it could certainly help buy some books.
College is expensive. For some students the challenge of affording tuition, food, rent and a million other expenses can seem insurmountable. That makes opportunity to log additional hours at work all the more valuable.
The bill has bipartisan support, but still faces hurdles before it can become law. Opponents of the legislation, including the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police, say extending the hours of alcohol sales will have negative ramifications for public safety. While it may not be passed anytime soon, the bill has certainly caught lawmakers interest.
“This is just the first step,” State Senator Virgil Smith (D-Detroit) said. “This bill was just put out here to get the conversation started.”
Smith co-sponsored the bill with Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville (R-Monroe). If this bipartisan coalition can get Senate Bill 247 passed, students throughout Michigan should thank them.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Fortunately the bill was voted down in its first test, though it will doubtless be back. Police organizations and many municipalities are against it, because it is specifically designed to promote large clubs in central city areas, a primary source of alcohol-related accidents and violence. Even if the current bill passes, however, no Albion drinking establishment will apply for the special 4 a.m. license. We are not a large enough city to be eligible. What’s more, it costs $10,000, and our local places close down around midnight most nights because business is slow by then.