Massachusetts: Happy Hour Bill Put On Back Burner

Senators Recommend Spending Year Evaluating Alcohol Regs

November 3, 2011
A proposal to allow bars and restaurants in Massachusetts to sell discounted drinks is on hold, according to its two backers.

Senators James Timilty (D-Walpole) and Robert Hedlund (R-Weymouth), who sponsored the so-called "Happy Hour" amendment, told the State House News Service they are recommending a conference committee spend the next year evaluating current alcohol regulations.

The amendment, passed in October, was attached to the bill that would legalize casinos in Massachusetts.

Critics, including Ron Bersani, claim bringing back "Happy Hours" would encourage drunken driving. Bersani, whose granddaughter was killed by a drunken driver, said the change would widen the availability of alcohol.

"If the drinks are free, the chances are, they'll be drinking more," said Bersani.

Bill supporters disagree.

"I'm not so sure having promotional drinks or free drinks is any major inducement to drunk driving," said Sen. Stephen Brewer (D-Barre), chairman of the Ways and Means committee.

Sens. Timility and Hedlund say the original ban on drink discounts, enacted in 1984, did not cause any measurable change in the number of drunken driving-related crashes in Massachusetts.