- Associated Press - Friday, June 5, 2015

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Happy hour drink specials have been banned in Illinois since the late 1980s, but they could make a comeback under a measure awaiting the governor’s signature.

The Culinary and Hospitality Modernization Act sponsored by Democratic Rep. Sara Feigenholtz would restrict the deals to four hours a day and prohibit them after 10 p.m. The bill still would ban volume specials, such as two-for-one deals.

The measure passed the state House and Senate and now needs the approval of Gov. Bruce Rauner to become law. A representative with Rauner’s office told the News-Gazette and The Associated Press that he’ll “carefully consider” any legislation that’s sent to him.

Supporters of the measure, such as the Illinois Restaurant Association, say the happy hours will produce more tax revenue for state and local governments through increased alcohol sales.

Illinois is just one of a dozen states that ban the specials. Over the years, bar owners across the state have found ways to offer specials on drinks without violating the 1989 law, which outlawed the happy hours over concerns about excessive drinking and drunk driving.

Some have offered discounted beer pitchers on certain days of the week - as long as the specials are offered all day, they’re legal. Others have eliminated cover charges on specific days or offered free or discounted food to attract customers.

Julie Raines, who owns a tavern in Streator, told The Daily Journal that anything to help boost sales for struggling businesses is a good thing.

“Allowing bars to offer specials for two or three hours a day might bring out more people,” she said. “With the smoking ban and so many other restrictions the state has made on bars, I’m for anything that helps us out.”

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