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Governor to walk into a bar, bring back ‘happy hours’ in Indiana

Happy hour becomes law

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Why will Indiana’s governor walk into a bar Thursday?

To make it “happy hour” again.

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb is planning to turn House Bill 1086, known by some as the “happy hour” bill, into a law during a 2:30 p.m. Thursday visit to the Whistle Stop Inn. The downtown restaurant and bar sits at the corner of South Illinois Street and West South Street, just a block east of Lucas Oil Stadium.

“Happy hour” would return to the state July 1 if Holcomb signs the bill. That would mean the return of reduced drink prices for four hours a day, not to exceed 15 hours per week. The seller would decide the times.

The bill says the four hours per day can be consecutive or nonconsecutive, as determined by the alcohol permit holder. However, price reductions can’t happen from 9 p.m. local time to 3 a.m. local time the following day.

Permit holders also could reduce prices for an entire day. They could also increase prices during, for example, special events or live entertainment.

In another nod to alcohol sellers, the legislature agreed to expand what places can provide alcohol to-go and how to do it in properly sealed and labeled containers.

Finally, the measure would allow hotels to sell alcohol to only registered guests in areas outside the accommodations’ bars.

Indiana banned “happy hour” in 1985 and joined other states that passed laws to stop the selling of cheaper drinks during special hours, usually when most people’s workdays ended. Proponents back then cited a spate of drunken driving incidents, some leading to deaths.

Many of those states that created bans in the mid-’80 have already reversed course. As of last summer, these states still banned “happy hours”: Alaska, Indiana, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Utah and Vermont.

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