Michigan cities may have the option of allowing downtown bars to stay open until 4 a.m. on weekend nights under a new bill that passed the Michigan Senate on Thursday.

Senate Bill 247 passed by a 22-14 vote, after an earlier vote failed.

Earlier this year, state Sen. Virgil Smith, D-Detroit, said that the expanded hours would make the bars more competitive and would promote a "safe environment," by either shutting down or regulating bars that are called "blind pigs," which now operate illegally after 2 a.m.

The new legislation would allow bars and restaurants in central business districts across the state to expand the hours that they sell alcohol to 4 a.m. Currently, those businesses must stop serving and selling at between 2 a.m. and 7 a.m. It will be up to each local government whether to permit the later hours.

It only applies to central business districts with an improvement area (such as a downtown development authority).

To have the later closing hours, bars would have to purchase an after-hours permit for $10,000 each year.

The bill now moves to the state House of Representatives for consideration in the lame duck session of the Legislature.