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Mayor Walsh, House at odds over later bar hours

Mayor Martin Walsh has sought for later closing hours for Boston’s bars.

Dina Rudick/Globe Staff

Mayor Martin Walsh has sought for later closing hours for Boston’s bars.

Tensions between Mayor Martin J. Walsh and his former colleagues in the House appear to be escalating over the issue of late-night liquor licenses.

After some Boston lawmakers voiced opposition, House leaders last week stripped from a compromise budget with the Senate a provision that would have allowed 4 a.m. closing times for bars in Boston and some surrounding communities. Walsh had sought the later hours, calling it part of an effort to make the city more appealing to foreign travelers.

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On Tuesday, the language materialized again, this time as part of an economic development bill that passed the Senate. The amendment for the Boston closing hours was offered by Senator Thomas Kennedy, a Brockton Democrat.

Kennedy’s amendment mirrored the earlier language sponsored by Senator Linda Dorcena Forry in the Senate version of the budget.

That amendment died in the House-Senate conference committee after several state representatives in Boston openly defied Walsh and apprised leadership of their objections.

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Senate sources said Boston lawmakers were unaware of the new amendment until it came to the floor.

“I appreciate the Senate taking steps to continue our conversation around liquor licensing, and working towards a system that is more in line with the city’s current needs,” Walsh said in a statement. “The option of having additional liquor licenses is a great asset for Boston’s future economic development, and is essential for the success of our bars and restaurants. That, combined with local control over our liquor licensing board, is a huge step forward.”

A spokesman for Speaker Robert A. DeLeo said in a separate statement: “Speaker DeLeo and Mayor Walsh are good friends and speak frequently on a myriad of issues affecting the city and state.”

The revival of the late-night liquor licenses is unlikely to cool tensions between Walsh and his former House colleagues, including Speaker Robert DeLeo. Walsh and DeLeo are at odds also on a policy matter far larger than closing times at bars: Walsh has called for the state gaming commission to hold off on sanctioning a Boston-area casino until after results are in from a November statewide referendum on the casino industry in Massachusetts.

Related coverage:

Lawmakers nix later closing hours for Boston bars

Mike Ross: ‘Boston’ rhymes with ‘awesome’

Late-night license debate a test for Walsh

Edward L. Glaeser: Better nightlife through experimentation

Editorial: A 24-hour city is a vibrant, accommodating city

Jim O’Sullivan can be reached at
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