Extended bar hours bill signed into law

You might get to spend an extra hour in your favorite bar thanks to state lawmakers.

Governor Dave Heineman signed into law a bill (LB862) that will let cities extend bar closing times to 2 a.m. Cities currently can allow bars to stay open until 1 a.m., making Nebraska one of just a half-dozen states with that mandated closing time.

All the states that border Nebraska let bars stay open until 2 a.m. Extending the closing times until 2 a.m. will require approval from two-thirds of a city council instead of a simple majority.

In cities with seven member councils, such as Omaha and Lincoln, five of the seven would have to vote for 2 a.m. Five-member councils would need four votes for approval.

Scott Hatfield, owner of Duffy's in Lincoln, says it's about time Nebraska had a law like this one.  He says an extra hour of beer flowing from the tap would mean more cash flowing into his bar.  “It would obviously help our revenue and then help the revenue of the city as well.”

before cities can tack on an extra hour of bar time, individual city councils have to put it to a vote.

 Adam Hornung is on the Lincoln City Council.  He says, he' s heard concerns and excitement on both sides of the issue.” It will be an interesting issue.  Someone will have to reach out and let us know if they want to bring it forward, let us know what people think, and a chance to talk and debate and we'll go from there. “

Councilman Hornung said he's not sure when the bar time issue could come before the council, but when it does they'll debate and hear from the public before voting.  The council needs to pass it with a two-thirds majority, that means five of Lincoln's seven council members would have to vote “yes”.

As far as local law enforcement goes, Assistant Police Chief Jim Peschong says he'd have to shuffle schedules for officers so they could come in later to patrol when bars close.  He says it'll take cooperation to keep the extra hour safe.  “We want to partner with liquor establishments, especially downtown.  It's their responsibility to make sure they're not over serving to the point of intoxication.”