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Bar Hours Extention Bill Under Fire

Bar Hours Extention Bill Under Fire

Several of Baltimore's adult entertainment emporia are seeking state legislation to allow them to close an hour later than other bars, but neighborhood activists have met with numerous legislators to try to stop it—and they've made some headway. Two bills were carried into the General Assembly this session—a House bill (938) by Del. Shawn Tarrant (D-40) and a Senate bill (543) by Sen. Verna Jones-Rodwell (D-44). The bills would allow BD7 liquor license holders—those with on-premise consumption—who also have both "adult entertainment" licenses from the city and a full kitchen to stay open, serving food and drinks until 3 a.m. Currently only four Baltimore bars meet the criteria, though it is not entirely clear which ones. The bill appears to be on behalf of Scores, located near the city jail on the Fallsway. "Often we are told we can not get increased enforcement from both the Police and inspectors due to budget concerns yet this bill only requires a small fee of $750 per year to stay open until three am," Fells Prospect Community Association President Victor Corbin wrote when he got wind of the bills last month.  "It's an insult to the residents of Baltimore City to think we will get the enforcement we will need." There would be no nudity allowed during the extra hour and, under the latest potential amendments being discussed, drinks would have to be cleared from the tables at 2 a.m; only food could be served. Opponents say the measure, if passed, would be impossible to enforce in the short run and, in the long run, could lead to a general closing time of 3 a.m. for all bars, perhaps even state-wide. "Our biggest concern is that this an opening salvo for future relaxing of liquor laws," Sen. Barry Glassman (R-Harford County) wrote in an email exchange with other legislators in February. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has said nothing about the bill, but Mary Pat Fannon, who lobbies for the city in Annapolis as head of the Mayor's Office of Government Relations, wrote an email to activists in February that makes it clear the mayor does not oppose the bill. The idea is to have the "Liquor Board . . . determine the activities between 2 and 3 a.m. – like when the food can be ordered, etc.  That way folks at home will have an opportunity to comment on it," she wrote. Tarrant

to activists who asked him to withdraw it, saying clubs like Scores provide fellowship. "It is time to bond with your boys," Tarrant said, according to a piece on the North Baltimore Patch web site. Then, on March 2, Tarrant sent a letter to Rep. Derrick E. Davis (D-25), who chairs the Economic Matters Committee, withdrawing the House bill. The Senate bill continues, and Corbin, Joanne Masopust from the Fells Point Community Organization and several others drove to Annapolis on March 8 to meet with senators about the matter. The group passed out packets of opposition letters and found their way into several legislators' offices, according to Corbin. He says Sen. Lisa Gladden (D-41) indicated she wanted her name removed from a list of the bill's sponsors, and Jones-Rodwell's aide told the group that the senator had not been aware of Scores owner Brian Shulman's history at Chubbies, an Eastern Avenue strip club that was shut down several years ago

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and neighborhood opposition. Sen. Joan Carter Conway (D-43) told the opponents that she would withdraw the Senate bill if she got a copy of Tarrant's letter withdrawing the House bill, Corbin said. As of March 15, however, the bill is still live, according to the General Assembly's web site. A fiscal note on the bill says it would cost $80,000 in increased police protection, while garnering only $3,000 from increased licensing fees.

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