Maryland legislators were handed a mixed tray of alcohol-related bills yesterday, including proposals to ban two-for-one "happy hour" specials and drink sales during the last quarter of sports events and to create one-day alcohol licenses for wine-tasting clubs.
Del. M. Albert Morningstar (D-Frederick), who failed last year in his effort to ban happy hours, told members of the House Economic Matters Committee that two-for-one specials often mean handing a customer a drink that the customer does not want and did not ask for.
"This is not a bill to in any way ban happy hour," he assured members of the House Economic Matters Committee, saying that although bars would not be able to give customers two drinks when they order one, they would still be able to sell drinks at half price. " . . . It's an anti-drunk driving measure."
Lobbyists for liquor distributors and breweries urged the committee to reject the bill. Legislators should "concentrate on the problem and not the product," said Joseph A. Schwartz III of the Maryland State Licensed Beverage Association.
"It's not the bartenders pushing it on the customer. The customer made a choice."
Lobbyists also attacked a bill that would ban alcohol sales during the last quarter of sports events, saying it would just encourage people to stock up before the bars closed. The Capital Centre and Memorial Stadium already restrict alcohol sales near the end of sports events. Supporters of the bill said it would help combat drunk driving.