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Cheers? Bill Would Revisit Massachusetts' Happy Hour Ban

BOSTON (CBS) -- Is "Happy Hour" about to make a comeback in Massachusetts? One lawmaker is making a legislative push to consider it, as a new poll shows residents are ready to a raise a glass.

State Rep. Mike Connolly, a Democrat representing Somerville and Cambridge, cited a new MassINC poll which showed that 70% of people in the state want to see "discounted after-work drinks" at bars and restaurants.

His bill is called "An Act providing for immediate and long-term relief for restaurants and bars in response to the COVID-19 pandemic."

"This session, I've filed new legislation that will bring stakeholders together to revisit the state's ban on Happy Hour, in place since 1984," he said.

Connolly told WBZ-TV it would be a short and long-term boost for businesses.

"It would make permanent many of the things that emerged out of the pandemic around outdoor dining and caps on delivery fees, and to-go cocktails, etc," said Connolly. "And then, on the topic of happy hour, what the bill proposes is to create a commission that would have a big public conversation to solicit input and see if we could arrive at a consensus on revisiting the prohibition on Happy Hour."

Massachusetts is one of just a handful of states to still have a Happy Hour ban, enacted after car crashes involving drivers who had been overserved during drink promotions.

But Connolly says the MassINC poll showed people were interested in removing the ban.

"When we saw those poll numbers, it gave us further confidence that this is something people are interested in," said Connolly.

Gov. Charlie Baker said back in 2015 that he has no problem with the current ban on Happy Hour and he repeated that Thursday.

"I remember what was going on the roads in Massachusetts when we had Happy Hours, and it was, there were some horrible, awful, horrible, terrible experiences on a very regular basis that came with Happy Hours back in the day," Baker told reporters at an event in Sandwich.

"I know that probably makes me a stick in the mud to say such a thing, but I would start as a skeptic of going back to the way we ran Happy Hours."

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