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Anne Arundel County (Md.) Bars Could Stay Open Extra Hour

An emergency bill is making its way through the Maryland legislature to allows bars in Anne Arundel County to stay open an hour later than usual in the early morning hours after President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration Tuesday.

The legislation was endorsed by committees in both the House of Delegates and state Senate todayand sponsors said they believe it will be passed by the full chambers tomorrow, lightning speed for the traditionally slow-starting Maryland General Assembly. The legislative session opened Wednesday.

The bill has the backing of county business groups, as well as the city of Annapolis and the county’s Board of Supervisors. More than 50 bars and restaurants have already called the county’s Board of Liquor License Commissioners, inquiring about the possibility of extended hours, ever since the District decided to allow bars to stay open late for Inauguration weekend.

The bill allows restaurants and bars to pay a $200 fee in exchange for the ability to stay open one hour late; under current law, some establishments can stay open until midnight and some until 2 a.m.

“It would be helpful in this time of economic slump to help these businesses stay open an hour longer,” said Sen. John C. Astle (D-Anne Arundel), a bill sponsor.

Del. Mary Ann Love (D-Anne Arundel), another sponsor, said many Inauguration visitors are staying at hotels in Anne Arundel County and might return from festivities in the District looking to continue the party.

“If they come back from Washington, this gives them an extra hour to celebrate,” she said.

The D.C. government is allowing bars to serve alcohol until 4 a.m. -- two hours later than usual -- and stay open all night for food service from Jan. 17-21.

By Ann Marimow

By David A Nakamura  |  January 15, 2009; 4:29 PM ET  | Category:  Entertainment , Food & Dining
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