RALEIGH, N.C.(WNCN) – Lawmakers in North Carolina’s statehouse are pushing for the legalization of happy hour. The state is one of only a few that block establishments from offering free or reduced-priced drinks for specific hours.
Currently, establishments can only offer happy hour specials on food. Bars and restaurants are not allowed to offer limited hours, ladies’ nights, or 2-for-1 specials. State law restricts free-standing marquees for advertising as well.
House Bill 94, filed Monday, would loosen those restrictions. Sponsored by Representatives Jason Saine (R-Lincoln), Allison A. Dahle (D- Wake), David Willis (R-Union), Zack Hawkins (D-Durham)– the bill moves to allow local governments the option of allowing certain alcohol sales and advertising.
The North Carolina Bar Owners Association has applauded the move thanking four lawmakers in a tweet.
The bill proposes allowing establishments to apply for a $100 happy hour permit. The permit could be granted to bars or restaurants that already hold an alcohol seller’s permit. It would allow businesses to sell an alcoholic beverage at a price that is different from the usual or established price charged for that drink. It would also allow businesses to do 2-for-1 type deals or offer meal and drink specials.
HB 94 would give businesses more options when it comes to advertising drink specials. The bill would allow businesses to advertise outside on signs outside the business, through media sources like a newspaper or radio.
If approved, the bill would be effective July 1, 2023. The Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission would be tasked with updating its rules and procedures to align with new state policies.
While the bill has been filed, it’s unclear when lawmakers will take it up. A first reading of the bill has not been scheduled.