OLCC and Happy Hours

Portland takes its happy hours seriously. We are a city that does sleep, so a post-work pint is ideal for our schedules--not to mention wallets. The Oregonian, sensing the seriousness of the topic, put a story about happy hour advertising on the front page of today's paper.

Happy hours are booming in Oregon restaurants and bars in tough economic times, but no one is very happy with the way the state regulates them -- including state officials.

That's why the Oregon Liquor Control Commission today will consider revamping or tossing a rule adopted 24 years ago that bans the advertising of discounted alcoholic drinks.

I'm all for it. I wasn't actually even aware that such a law existed and further, I'm so insensitive to advertisements that I would never have noticed this was illegal. I did learn about it a month or so ago, thanks to Twitter. A friend pointed out that certain establishments were tweeting happy hour deals there, and he wondered if this ran afoul of the OLCC's rule. Turns out the loopholes are pretty substantial. So long as you're not advertising the price of drinks, you can use the word "happy hour." You can also promote other events not called happy hour, too, like ladies nights.

But now the problem that that pre-brewpub law was supposed to address is suspect:
The law was adopted to prevent happy hours from promoting binge drinking, but Linda Ignowski, OLCC regulatory director, said in her 14 years, she has seen no connection between happy hours, which are usually earlier in the evening, and excessive drinking. Intoxication usually comes later at night, she said.
The OLCC has no particular info on this meeting, though it's possible that this is it (.pdf agenda). Needless to say, I'm all for scrapping this law. The OLCC should be regulating alcohol, not advertising. It's a stupid law and they're right to consider scrapping it.