State Legislature Relaxes Happy Hour Laws

This summer state legislators loosened happy hour restrictions. Previously, happy hour had a limit of two hours per day and 14 hours per week, not exactly providing flexibility for bar and restaurant owners.

Thanks to State Rep. John Payne licensed establishments can now serve discount beverages for up to four hours a day, while there is still a weekly maximum of 14 hours. The bill passed by a vote of 174-24 in July. It’s good to see the Legislature had its priorities straight.

Since the bill was passed in July, State College bars haven’t taken advantage of the new perk. Perhaps because extending happy hour for longer on one day of the week would reduce it or eliminate it for another.

A quick look at the State College Bar Tour and you can see that bars discount drinks all day anyway. As long as it’s not considered a “Happy Hour” and prices aren’t cut in half, they are in the clear. But if a happy hour is defined as a period of time where drinks are sold at reduced prices, how is that different from a drink special?  Well, it’s really not.

We will see if bars look to utilize the new regulations at all throughout the year, but for now nothing has changed and nothing appears to. In State College, alcohol is inelastic and even without the existence of happy hours, bars would not have an issue making money.

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