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THE POST | News | Sports | Culture | Business | Free Forum

The Post  
Pennsylvania Happy Hour Laws Changing?
  by: Rebel - Havertown, PA
started: 06/23/11 12:27 pm | updated: 06/23/11 12:27 pm
Under legislation that received final House passage on Wednesday, bars and restaurants will get more flexibility to schedule the times they sell cheap drinks each week.

Bars would still have to comply with the total 14-hour-a-week happy-hour limit, but the bill increases the happy-hour period from two hours to four hours a day.

Rep. John Payne (R., Dauphin) said he introduced the bill because it baffled him that the state had such control over business owners' ability to set schedules.


"Why are we as a state dictating hours?" Payne asked. "Let restaurants and taverns pick when they want happy hour - when it's slow on a Thursday, say, rather than on a Monday night when football brings in a crowd."

Gov. Corbett will review the bill but is inclined to sign it, said a spokesman, Eric Shirk.

"We are thrilled with the Senate vote yesterday and thrilled with the House concurrence today," said Amy Christie, executive director of the Pennsylvania Tavern Owners Association. "We're confident the governor is going to sign on and bring our state's liquor laws another step into the 21st century."

A happy hour is defined as the time a bar is legally allowed to temporarily lower the price of alcoholic beverages, which under the liquor code must be set at a regular menu price and cannot be changed arbitrarily without changing the menu, Christie said.

The New Jersey Alcohol and Beverage Control Handbook contains no rules regarding happy hour scheduling.

Also in the bill is a bonus for frequent fliers arriving in Pennsylvania airports from different time zones. The measure would allow airports to sell liquor starting at 7 a.m.

Lawmakers - after heavy lobbying by state liquor stores - scrapped a provision in Payne's original bill that would have allowed customers to buy up to three unopened bottles of wine from a restaurant to take home.

That disappointed restaurateurs who wanted to be able to provide wines not available in State Stores.

Payne pledged to continue to try to get that provision approved in the fall.

For now, to legally leave with wine, diners have to open the bottle they purchase, take a sip, and recork it before heading home.

But they had better not be driving - the motor vehicle code prohibits traveling with open alcohol containers.
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