AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – In many states, Friday night happy hour is a popular event. You round out a long work week with friends at your favorite local water hole where drink specials are abound.
But not in Massachusetts, because state liquor laws technically prohibit happy hour and there have been several attempts to lift the ban, but all have failed.
“I think that people around here kind of already drink and drive it might be a little more concerning if it did come back into play,” said Ashley Sicard, Assistant General Manager of Johnny’s Tavern in Amherst.
Could happy hour make a comeback in Massachusetts? The popular discount drink special was banned back in the 1980’s. Advocates of the ban cited an increase drunk driving. Over the years some lawmakers and local residents have sought to bring back happy hour in a new and safe way.
“I’m not opposed to them trying it again and see how it goes. If it’s something that becomes a problem and people are starting to get in accidents then it would need to be revsisted,” said Vinny from Sunderland.
This past December voters lost their opportunity to reinstate the three decade long ban, after supporters were not able to gather petition signatures. The general manager of Johnny’s Tavern in Amherst can see both sides of the argument.
“There would be a lot more liability you know liquor licensing in mass is something that not everyone takes really seriously, a lot is on the line by even serving alcohol,” said Sicard.
For now, the ban stays in place. This week, the committee for Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure ordered a new study of the happy hour bill, and to re-evaluate the ban and its policies.
“The only way to find out is to give it a shot and then rather quickly they’ll know.” said Vinny.
Sending a bill to study effectively kills it. But there’s still chance a new bill could make its way to Beacon Hill later this year.