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Combined alcohol bill advances, sans 'Zion Curtain' removal

Published March 13, 2013 10:59 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The Senate passed legislation Wednesday that combines several liquor-law bills that had been progressing through the Legislature — but now excludes eliminating Utah's so-called "Zion Curtain."

It voted 25-1 to pass HB228, and returned it to the House. The House later refused by voice vote to accept Senate changes, so both bodies appointed a conference committee to negotiate changes.

Sponsoring Sen. John Valentine, R-Orem, excluded language to remove the Zion Curtain or Zion Wall, as it is popularly referred to: an opaque, 7-foot-2 barrier that conceals the drink preparation area from dining patrons. Supporters say that seeing drinks poured or prepared can be enticing to children.

The House earlier had voted 63-11 to remove the Zion Curtain, but that move was opposed in the Senate. Valentine said the barrier makes restaurants more family friendly, and helps reduce a "culture of alcohol."

The combined bill would allow restaurant chains to get a single liquor license, instead of getting a new license for each eatery. That is expected to free up a number of restaurant licenses, which are in short demand and, restaurateurs have complained, has stymied expansion.

It also imposes a mandatory fine of $1,500 for retailers that serve alcohol to minors, increasing with each violation and allows so-called "flights," which are tastings of a liquor, wine or beer.

Lee Davidson