A bill that would expand bar hours during the Democratic National Convention will receive a public hearing and exec in the Senate on Wednesday after its chances of passage by the end of the session was questioned.
Senate Committee on Economic Development, Commerce and Trade Chair Sen. Dan Feyen, R-Fond du Lac, told WisPolitics.com the hearing is in part “trying to get the ball rolling” in the skeptical GOP caucus.
“We still have some people to get on board, but I’m gonna support it and I hope my colleagues do as well,” Feyen said. “If it comes to the floor, I think it’d be close, but I think it would pass.”
A spokesman for Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said no final decisions have been made on what will be on the calendar when the Senate convenes March 24 for a final floor day of the regular session.
AB 869 passed the Assembly last month 84-13. The original bill would’ve allowed municipalities across the state the chance to expand bar hours to 4 a.m. between July 13 and July 17. It also would’ve established a permit process for so-called “wedding barn” private event venues and would’ve closed a loophole where breweries could stay open beyond bar time, among other things.
But two amendments, both introduced by bill author Rep. Rob Swearingen, R-Rhinelander, removed those provisions and limited the DNC bar hours section to 14 counties in southern Wisconsin.
“Every convention that I’ve been to has done this, and it has been a beneficial thing for local businesses in that area,” Feyen said.
Last month, Senate Dems attempted to attach the bill as an amendment to another bill. But the move was rejected by voice vote, with Republicans questioning the importance of the issue and expressing concerns over drunken driving.
The Assembly session already ended, and GOP leadership said there aren’t any plans to come back, other than for some possible veto override attempts in April.
AB 869 would have to pass the Senate in its current form for it to go to the guv’s desk. Feyen said his committee will not look at attaching any other amendments for this reason.