Utah liquor laws will get a second look in the legislature

Posted at 3:59 PM, May 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-03 09:42:56-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah's sometimes "quirky" liquor laws will get scrutinized by legislators in the upcoming interim session, but don't expect them to be loosened.

The senator tasked with overseeing Utah liquor legislation said in a recent interview with FOX 13 that he will be looking at all aspects of alcohol policy, from licensing to "Zion Curtains."

"I don't think there's anything that isn't on the table currently," Sen. Jerry Stevenson, R-Layton, said.

Stevenson told FOX 13 he'd like to see the process to get liquor licenses streamlined, calling the current system "complicated." Earlier this year, Stevenson pushed through a bill that shuffled around some licenses, freeing up dozens of beer/wine and full-service restaurant liquor licenses.

"We wanted to make sure we had great opportunity in the state of Utah for economic development, economic growth," he said. "Certainly a viable restaurant industry is part of that."

Stevenson said club licenses, which are full-service bar licenses, will also be looked at in terms of legislation.

Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City, is expected to propose tearing down the so-called "Zion Curtains" -- the walls that prevent you from seeing drinks being made. Sen. Karen Mayne, D-West Valley City, is also expected to bring forward legislation again that would put more scrutiny on the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control itself, to address morale and money issues.

Just before the last legislative session ended, Stevenson drafted a bill that looked at hard ciders and so-called "alco-pops." It's believed to be in response to the return of drinks like "Mike's Hard Lemonade" that changed their formula to get out of liquor stores and back into grocery and convenience stores. Stevenson said he'd like to see those products be limited to the beer aisle in a grocery store.

"They need to be in an area where alcohol sells in the store and not all over the store," he said.