Arizona is closer to a later last call for alcohol.
A divided House of Representatives voted 35-25 Monday to let bars and restaurants serve alcoholic beverages until 2 a.m., an hour later than current law.
HB2570 also allows liquor, grocery and convenience stores to make sales that additional hour.
The measure is being pushed by both the people who sell beer, wine and liquor as well as the state’s tourism industry.
Proponents say Arizona loses business to other states where conventioneers and visitors can imbibe later.
Rep. Gary Pierce, R-Mesa, said there is no evidence that later drinking hours will lead to more drunken driving. In fact, he said, having people leave bars an hour later actually will make the roads safer for everyone else who might be out at 1 a.m., perhaps returning from a late movie.
But Rep. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, disputed such arguments. "The purpose for keeping a bar open longer is to consume more alcohol," he said.
Pearce acknowledged that nothing prevents people from buying cans and bottles before closing time. "But at least you can confine it to homes," he said.
House Majority Leader Eddie Farnsworth, R-Gilbert, said it’s wrong to link the question of drinking hours to drunken driving. "It’s already illegal to drive drunk," he said. Farnsworth said arguments that the state should not allow later drinking because it might lead to people breaking the law are as flawed as those who propose gun control because some people misuse weapons.
If the bill passes the Senate, Gov. Janet Napolitano has said she will consider signing it into law.