State Senator Bob Hedlund co-sponsored an amendment asking the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission to conduct a year-long review of the ‘Happy Hour Regulation’ and the ABCC has been doing just that, holding the fourth public hearing out of five on Tuesday.
Currently, the regulation prohibits restaurants from having one-day drink specials as well as increasing the alcohol volume in a drink without proportionally raising the price.
Hedlund says the regulation is misunderstood by most restaurants in the state, “In one particular community on the South Shore there were just fifteen minor violation cited for little things like the unit price not matching what a bucket special price is, for instance, where there’s an increment of fifty cents off.”
Hedlund asserted that he doesn’t want happy hour to return but rather he wants the regulation to be reviewed and possibly updated in order to clear up confusion.
“Somehow this has been turned into a referendum on ‘Happy Hour’ which in people minds is the Wild West situation we had in the late 70’s, early 80’s where we had a lot of problems and no one is suggesting a return to that,” says the Republican State Senator.
The Massachusetts Restaurant Association opposes any changes, fearing that an alteration in the regulation would loosen the rules for restaurants and bars and create problems.
“Liquor liability insurance is now mandatory so that cost will go up. Restaurants, they actually have a good name, they employ 10% of the workforce, they’re an economic engine for the Commonwealth,” says Stephen Clark, MRA Director of Government Affairs.
According to Clark, almost all restaurateurs who attended Tuesday’s hearing in Boston fully oppose any changes to the law.
Hedlund’s request for a review comes after lawmakers voted in favor of allowing new casinos in the state to distribute free alcoholic drinks to gamers. The State Senator voted against the bill.