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Vote delayed on earlier bar closing time

Mike Desmond/wbfo news

Erie County legislators on Thursday refused to allow a vote on a proposal to cut back the county's drinking hours.

Even if they approved, the State Liquor Authority would have to approve a closing time change from 4 a.m. to 2 a.m. After a caucus Thursday, there was an angry debate during the Legislature session about bringing the measure to the floor for a vote.

Majority Leader Joseph Lorigo opposed a call for a public meeting. Lorigo pounded his desk to argue legislators had enough conversations about the bill and it was time to vote, saying Albany had the final decision.
"If you haven't gone into your district and had that conversation and had that dialogue, then shame on you as a district legislator," said Lorigo. who argued that the the State Liquor Authority would need to hold a public hearing before the change became official. 

Lorigo and three-others supported a vote while seven-legislators voted to keep it in committee. Legislators recently increased drinking hours on Sunday.

Democrat Thomas Loughran runs a well-known bar and restaurant in Amherst. Loughran backs a public meeting.

"At least there could be a public record. To affect a whole industry with not giving public notice and letting them weigh in on this issue, from the very beginning has not made any sense to me. So, I'm glad that we are not going to discharge this. It's somewhat of a compromise, an informational meeting," said Loughran.

Some legislators oppose the proposal completely, while others want to know how the public feels. Lorigo also took shots at County Clerk Chris Jacobs for being a strong and repeated advocate for the cut in drinking hours.

Lorigo and three others supported a vote while seven legislators voted to keep it in committee. Lorigo will set the time for the public meeting, as chairman of the Finance and Management Committee.