Speaker open to happy hour talks

Boston Statehouse

BOSTON (SHNS) – Speaker Ronald Mariano said Thursday that he is open to discussing a reversal of the state’s ban on happy hour drink promotions, but he stopped short of either supporting or opposing the idea.

In an interview on Bloomberg Radio, Mariano said he is “committed to taking a look” at legislation Rep. Mike Connolly is crafting that would examine a possible revival of happy hours and stressed he does not yet “support it totally.” Beacon Hill banned happy hour specials for alcoholic beverages in 1984 following several high-profile motor vehicle crashes involving impaired drivers.

Asked if allowing promotions could boost restaurants and bars hit hard by the pandemic, Mariano replied, “That remains to be seen.””There has to be a balance between what aid you give to bars and restaurants and the public safety issue that is a real concern for many people, but it is worth giving it thought,” Mariano said.

Seventy percent of Massachusetts residents indicated they would support bringing back happy hour specials for alcoholic beverages, according to a MassINC Polling Group survey released Wednesday. Connolly is developing a restaurant and bar relief bill (HD 3896) that he said will convene a discussion among stakeholders about possibly lifting or updating the ban.

Gov. Charlie Baker said earlier on Thursday that he is skeptical about the prospect, recalling “awful, horrible, terrible experiences on a very regular basis that came with happy hours back in the day” involving drunk drivers.

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