Bill to make Happy Hour legal in North Carolina introduced in the state House

Bill to make Happy Hour legal in North Carolina introduced in the state House

February 13th, 2023

Despite relaxing some booze regulations in recent year, North Carolina still has some of the nation’s strictest laws on alcohol. A bill introduced Monday in the General Assembly would roll back another of the state’s laws that some call “antiquated”.

House Bill 94, ABC Laws/Local Sales Option, is a measure with a bipartisan backing that would make Happy Hour legal at bars and restaurants across the state.

But the proposal, which failed to gain approval last year, gives local cities and counties the final say about Happy Hour. And it would require establishments to obtain a $100 permit.

The bill would allow bars and restaurants to sell drinks “at a price that is different from the usual or established price” and allow specials like “two-for-one” deals.

Establishments could also offer discount coupons for drinks and offer a meal and a drink for a single total price “whether or not the total price reflects a reduced price of the alcoholic beverage.

Advertising of Happy Hours with details such as drink prices and the type of beverage on signs outside the establishment, on radio, television, in print and online would also become legal.

The bill’s primary sponsors include Republican House Conference Chair Rep. Jason Saine of Lincoln County, Democratic Rep. Allison Dahle of Wake County, Rep. David Willis (R-Union) and Rep. Zack Hawkins (D-Durham).

““The restaurant and bar owners certainly want it,” Saine told WRAL-TV. “With North Carolina growing like we have … you end up with people from many different places who are just used to having happy hour. It’s just part of the culture.”

If approved by the House and Senate and signed by Gov. Roy Cooper, the new law would go into effect at the end of July.

Last summer, new laws ended the requirement of establishments that didn’t sell more than 30 percent food from requiring patrons to pay a membership fee and sign a log, clarified regulations for social districts where people can walk from one bar or restaurant to another while carrying an open container, ended a rule on the transfer of ABC licenses, and let 15-year-olds work in restaurants that sell alcohol.

The Brunch Bill approved siz years ago allowed the sale of alcohol at restaurants and stores at 10 a.m. on Sunday while also giving local governments the final say like the Happy Hour bill.

The same 2017 law let distilleries sell up to five bottles of their product to a customer, legalized 32-ounce “crowler” cans, let farm breweries sell beer even in dry counties, and home brewers and wineries to give out samples at events.

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