Zion Curtain Survives Legislative Session
The Zion Curtain - the barrier shielding restaurant customers form the preparation of alcoholic beverages - will stand this year, despite attempts by state House members to tear it down. But some changes to alcohol laws did pass, including the ability for restaurant chains to get a single master liquor license.
Earlier in the session, the House voted by a clear majority to remove the Zion Curtain, but that move was opposed by the Senate, particularly by Republican John Valentine of Orem.
“Our restaurants are family friendly,” said Valentine, “and we don’t want to have the atmosphere that encourages consumption of alcohol.”
Valentine sponsored a new liquor bill, which excluded language about the Zion Curtain. After some negotiations between House and Senate members, the House passed the bill on the final day of the session, but numerous Representatives were disappointed that the Zion Curtain would remain in Utah restaurants, including Republican Spencer Cox of Fairview.
“I have yet to see any data or any study or anything that says that the so-called Zion Curtain has any effect whatsoever on alcohol consumption,” sadi Cox, “It’s illogical, it makes no sense, and I hope we can try again nest year.”
Republican Representative Francis Gibson of Mapleton says the bill at least takes a step forward by allowing restaurant chains to obtain a single license.
“There are things that this bill does not give us, but there are also things that it does. I look at the master license, the ability that it will bring for restaurants, cities and communities to be able to open up and be able to be competitive and serve in those areas,” said Gibson, “We are continuing to evolve. We’re going to make a hole in the iron wall one sledge hammer at a time.”
The bill also allows for tastings of liquor, wine and beer. It now goes to Governor Herbert for approval.