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Later bar hours during Democratic convention still in play

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MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Republican leader of the Wisconsin Assembly said Thursday he supports allowing bars to stay open later during the Democratic National Convention because after hearing presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speak people are going to “need a drink.”

The Assembly was scheduled to vote Thursday on a bill allowing bars to stay open statewide until 4 a.m. during the four nights of the convention in July. The Senate would have to pass the same proposal next month, but Republican Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said Thursday he didn’t know if there was enough support to pass the measure without Democratic votes.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos supports the later bar time, saying it will be great for the state’s economy and give Democrats, who he says are “clearly out of touch with reality,” a chance to grab a drink after they return to their hotels late at night.

Vos took particular aim at Sanders, the Vermont senator who won Wisconsin in 2016 and is among the front-runners in the Democratic presidential field this year.

“There are a lot of people in the state, who once they hear him speak, are going to say ‘I need a drink,’” Vos said.

Groups representing the state’s bars, restaurants and tourism industries who are preparing for an influx of 50,000 visits for the July 13-16 convention support expanding bar hours. In 2016, Ohio and Pennsylvania also allowed for later bar hours when the national conventions went to their states.

Bars currently must close at 2 a.m. on weekdays and 2:30 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

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