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Utah Senate Leaders Say Changes to Liquor Laws Unlikely

Brian Grimmett

On the first day of the 2014 legislative session, Republican leaders in the Utah Senate say there is little support for changing Utah’s liquor laws this year— specifically those laws dealing with the so-called “Zion Curtain” and a requirement that restaurant patrons announce their intent to eat food before ordering alcoholic beverages.

It’s not that Utah republicans in general are opposed to eliminating such requirements. Republican Representative Kraig Powell is sponsoring House Bill 285, which would do away with both the seven-feet-tall partition separating diners from bartenders as well as that “intent to dine” mandate. And House GOP lawmaker Ryan Wilcox sponsored a bill last year to eliminate the “Zion Curtain", which passed the House with a strong majority, but the Senate never considered it. 

Senate President Wayne Niederhauser says it doesn’t appear Senate leaders have changed their minds about either issue, although, at the time, he said he had yet to see the bill. 

“A restaurant is a place where the least amount of problems happen because they’re partaking food at the same time, so I feel and I think most of our Senate Majority Caucus would feel that we don’t need to change that,” Niederhauser says. 

Senate Majority Whip Stuart Adams says the state has already made sweeping reforms over the last few years to loosen liquor laws.

“You keep moving the ball," Adams says. "I think you need to look to see what you’ve got and give it some time to find out if there is a problem or how it’s functioning.”

Opponents of the status quo say these laws are an unreasonable burden on many business owners.

Leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently released a statement supporting the current laws and discouraging any attempts to change them. 

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
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