Right now, state law strictly regulates the amount of happiness at bars – at least as far as the price of drinks is concerned. Establishments can only feature fourteen hours of reduced drink prices a week, and no more than two hours each day.
Republican John Payne’s bill lifts the daily limit, so bars can hold happy hours whenever they want. “[They’d be] able to say, well, I’d like to do a happy hour for lunch, or maybe I want to do a happy hour for a Monday Night Football game,” he said. “And you want it three hours long, but you can’t. Or maybe you don’t want to do Monday night, because your bar or restaurant is packed, because it is a football game, but you have no business Thursdays, so you want to do thirsty Thursdays.”
The fourteen hour weekly maximum would stay in place, even though Payne doesn’t understand the need for it. “After the hearings we held last year, the realization was, this is the best we’re going to be able to do at this time,” he explained. “There are those at the committee that think we shouldn’t be even regulating the 14 hours, and there are those that think the 14 hours is too much. So it was a happy medium.”
The measure would also let restaurants sell wine bottles to customers. Current law bars people from taking unopened bottles home. “You’re sitting there, and you have a good meal and you want to buy that bottle of wine. How many people are going to leave that restaurant – first, at 9 or 10 o’clock at night, the stores are closed. So you have to come back the next day, or a couple days later, to the state store. I hope you wrote down the bottle of wine,” said Payne. “I hope you have the right year and the brand and – it’s just, can we make this any more difficult?”
The Liquor Control Committee approved the bill in February. A full House vote could come this spring.