An Assembly bill allowing retail alcohol sales to begin at 6 a.m. has some city leaders scratching their heads. "I see no public need to have alcohol available at 6 a.m.," says central district police Captain Carl Gloede. "It will increase issues downtown with the chronic alcoholics and their ready access to alcohol."
Tanya Hein, a clerk in the office of state Rep. Karl Van Roy (R-Green Bay), calls AB-63 "a convenience issue. It's very common for people to try and purchase these legal beverages in the morning and turned away." Current law prohibits retail alcohol sales between midnight and 8 a.m.
Rep. Evan Wynn (R-Whitewater) authored the bill after hearing from third-shift workers who shop in the early morning hours and grocers who spoke of having to turn away customers, according to Brandon VerVelde, a legislative aide in Wynn's office.
Steve Schooler, executive director of Porchlight Inc., which provides shelter and other services for the city's homeless population, thinks the bill is a terrible idea. He predicts it would lead to increased arrests, detox detentions and emergency room visits. "Add up these costs and it's a pretty big number," he says.
Mark Woulf, the city of Madison's alcohol policy coordinator, says the bill would also allow big drinking events like Badger Saturdays and the Mifflin Street Block Party to get an even earlier start.
Fortunately, he says, the bill contains an amendment allowing municipalities to set their own sell times, as is the case under current law. If the bill passes, Woulf says the city will likely enact an ordinance moving the time back to 8 a.m.
Note: This article has been corrected with new information from Brandon VerVelde.