COLUMBUS — Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) and President Pro Tempore Bob Peterson (R-Washington Court House) today introduced a bill to provide relief to Ohio’s restaurants and bars by repealing the Ohio Liquor Control Commission’s Emergency Rule of July 31, 2020. The rule bans the sale of alcohol past 10 p.m. and the consumption of alcohol past 11 p.m.
“Ohio’s restaurants and bars have suffered immensely from the restrictions placed on their industry during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Obhof. “In order to survive, we have seen them step up during this crisis and find innovative ways to safely serve their customers and keep hundreds of thousands of Ohioans employed. These are our friends, our neighbors, and leaders in our communities, and Senate Bill 374 will help them keep their jobs and their doors open.”
“In all of our communities, these businesses –many of them family-owned– have proven their ability to ensure safe dining and a safe workplace,” said Peterson. “My colleagues and I are firmly committed to removing unnecessary and stifling regulations on those who are responsibly working to provide for their families, employ their fellow Ohioans, and play an important role in our economy’s recovery.”
According to a recent survey by the Ohio Restaurant Association, more than half of all Ohio restaurants anticipate being forced to close down if current restrictions continue. Over 80 percent of such businesses anticipate being unable to break even for the year, and many have already been forced to permanently close.
Senate Bill 374 will protect the existing property and statutory rights of Ohio’s establishments that hold liquor permits, which permit them to conduct sales within the timeframes already laid out in the Ohio Revised Code (Section 4303). The bill will also prevent any disciplinary actions resulting from a permit holder’s alleged violation of the July 31 rule, provided that the business otherwise operates in compliance with their liquor permit.
Senate Bill 374 has strong bipartisan support with 22 state senators signed on as co-sponsors. A copy of the bill can be found at legislature.ohio.gov.