‘Massive’ liquor reform bill addresses Zion Curtain, licenses, pricing, more

Image composite, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — With only nine days left in the 2017 general session of the Utah Legislature, state House Majority Leader Brad Wilson, R-Layton, released a liquor reform bill Monday that, among other overhauls, would restrict licensing, increase pricing and potentially replace the controversial “Zion Curtain” with another alternative.

Titled simply Alcohol Amendments and designated as HB 442 this session, the bill includes several new potential roadblocks for serving liquor and, in some cases, outright dead-ends service for businesses that can’t meet the new stipulations.

At its introduction to the House Monday, the Alcohol Amendments bill clocked in at 4,432 lines – approximate 144 pages.

In a text to St. George News, Rep. Jon Stanard, R-St. George, called the bill “massive.”

Read the entire bill here.

One aspect of the bill that would affect businesses – both current and potential – that want to sell alcohol would be the elimination of one of the types of liquor licenses. Wilson’s bill proposes removing the “club” license, resulting in only a general license designation for a “bar” or “restaurant” license.

According to the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, the club license Wilson’s bill seeks to eliminate may currently be issued to:

  • Equity clubs, such as country clubs.
  • Fraternal clubs that may serve mutual benefit or patriotic associations, often organized under a lodge system.
  • Dining club with dining facilities and that maintains at least 60 percent of sales from food.
  • Social club that does less than 60 percent of sales from food.

Besides the club license, there is also a restaurant license, which has designations for “beer only,” “full service” or “limited service.” All restaurant licenses specify that the establishment must have at least 70 percent of sales from food and designate more restricted hours of serving alcohol than clubs.

If the proposed law is enacted, current and future establishments would have to choose between either a bar license or one of the restaurant licenses, which would make those with food sales below the 70 percent mark adjust how they are running their business.

Another change would allow restaurants to choose between the current “Zion Curtain,” a 7-foot barrier preventing patrons from seeing the preparation or service of alcohol, and a newly proposed 10-foot perimeter around the bar area where no children may be seated.

When it was established, the Zion Curtain regulation only applied to new businesses seeking a liquor license.

However, Wilson’s bill would eliminate any “grandfathering in” of businesses; as of 2018, all businesses will be required to choose between erecting the curtain or enforcing the perimeter barrier.

When it comes to smaller restaurants working with size constraints, the changes, if enacted, would essentially mean no choice at all; a 10-foot barrier could potentially eliminate family seating in a majority of the restaurant’s space.

Another concern with the proposed reforms would be a 2 percent increase in the state markup for alcohol pricing. Currently, liquor is sold at a cost-plus-86 percent markup. The bill proposes to increase the markup to cost-plus-88 percent. For “heavy” beer sold in liquor stores, the markup would go from 64.5 to 66.5 percent.

Wilson said this additional revenue will help fund some of the programs also included in the bill that are aimed at preventing underage drinking. These programs would be geared toward students in eighth and 10 grades.

Stanard told St. George News he is “generally supportive” of the bill but that he is still looking into all of the details.

Gov. Gary Herbert also expressed general support for the legislation during his annual “State of the State” address Jan. 26, even though the bill hadn’t officially been released yet.

“I believe that government regulations are designed to level playing fields and to protect the public,” Herbert said. “The results have been strong, as attested by Utah’s low DUI fatalities, our low underage consumption, our low binge drinking rate and our enviable public safety record. But there is room for improvement.”

Read more: Governor on Zion Curtain laws, education and taxes

In addition to the licenses, barriers, pricing and prevention amendments, Wilson’s bill also proposes the following points of interest:

  • Reduction in restricted zone.

Currently a business serving alcohol is prohibited within 600 feet (measured by the shortest pedestrian path) of a school, church, park or library. The proposed amendments reduce that restricted zone to 450 feet.

  • Electronic age verification.

The amendments would require electronic age verification for anyone seated in a “dispensary area.” The proposed amendments authorize the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission to create an e-verify program for individuals to present proof of age. Such proof would display any or all of the following: name; age; number assigned by the issuing authority; birth date; gender; and status and expiration of the proof of age.

  • Increased training, tracking of underage sale violations.

The amendments would increase training for servers, bartenders, managers and owners of bars and restaurants where alcohol is served, as well as create a program to track underage alcohol sale violations.

Monday, the bill had its first reading in the House and is currently in the House Rules Committee, of which Stanard is the vice president. It is also on the agenda for the House Business and Labor Standing Committee schedule for Wednesday.

Wilson said he is fine if the bill doesn’t pass this session, and co-sponsor Sen. Jerry Stevenson, R-Layton, said this scale of legislation may take more than one year.

“If this isn’t the right policy,” Wilson told reporters Monday, “we’ll abandon it today and move onto other issues.”


Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.


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  • Real Life February 28, 2017 at 12:08 pm

    The Nazis that run this state are on a roll.

    • high5 February 28, 2017 at 1:11 pm

      Greedy Drunk Basterds LMAO

    • The Truth February 28, 2017 at 5:15 pm

      More like the Mormon Church. Lmao they need to get booted out. Seperation between chruch and state is a thing!

      • Utahguns February 28, 2017 at 6:23 pm

        Mormons want the Zion curtain to be protected from the evils of alcohol, yet do nothing to stop the evils of prescription medication abuse.
        Translation: Alcohol bad, Prescription drugs…Oh that’s OK.

        • high5 March 1, 2017 at 7:57 am

          Yeah, They otta add the question ” Do You Take more than The Prescribed Dose of Percocet” to their temple Recommend questions. This is so Sick! lmao

      • aviatormh February 28, 2017 at 11:15 pm

        Separation of church and state is a thing. A good thing. So is of the people, by the people and for the people. If voters agree with what’s being done by their representatives we all win. If it’s not, voters can replace them with people who will change things to match the will of the people. It sounds to me like your blaming the church because too many Utah voters don’t agree with you. You seem to have the impression that the church runs the state. They don’t. People do. They do it as a representative of their district not as a representative of any church. If it’s the will of the people in their district why would you have a problem with that. Isn’t this the fundamental principle of what makes America a great country? I don’t see where you find that there is no separation of church and state. Help me out here and tell me what I’m missing.

        • ladybugavenger March 1, 2017 at 6:43 am

          Exactly, good point, and I’ll use it to make my point….get over it democrats, the people in their districts voted and Trump won….

          And to all of you that oppose this alcohol law: if you don’t drink and drive it shouldn’t be a problem….if you do: get a taxi, take the bus, find a person that doesn’t drink to drive you….it’s simple. Don’t drink and drive and you won’t be affected.

          • ladybugavenger March 1, 2017 at 6:50 am

            If I have a sip of alcohol, I will not drive, for the simple fact if I got pulled over and I smell like alcohol a lot things can go wrong. If I smell like alcohol while in the drivers seat I open up a world of trouble, cops can lie, can make my life miserable, there can be a malfunction in breathalyzer and I get thrown in jail….then I have to fight a corrupt system then I would feel abused by the system, and I’d feel like a victim…..a bunch of troubles, so I won’t do it.

            That’s why I don’t drink and drive. I pass that on to you, just don’t do it! Don’t get involved in a corrupt system.

          • ladybugavenger March 1, 2017 at 5:43 pm

            And.by the way, ladybug doesn’t stop at one sip ;)….love me some reds strawberry ? ale and my Mexican friend Jose Cuervo. But I hate being drunk, so I don’t do that. But the law won’t let me and Jose drive together and that’s ok. I’m not saying we haven’t driven together in my 20’s and early 30’s, we did and we didn’t get a DUI. Times have changed and I’m a light weight now. And I hate jail!

    • .... February 28, 2017 at 11:21 pm

      Get a life

      • Real Life March 1, 2017 at 11:07 pm

        Get a job, and some help for your split personalities, r2dumb2.

  • theone February 28, 2017 at 1:21 pm

    Protect the public my a$$, this is the Neanderthal doctrine forcing it’s blurred moral compass on the public. Regulate those pesky corporations paying poverty wages if you want to really protect the public! Oh, and while you’re at it garner some funds toward Utah’s prescription addiction problem instead of running small business’s out of town. Stupid stupid stupid all day long!!!

  • wilbur February 28, 2017 at 3:42 pm

    I see yet more runs to Lee’s Discount Liquor in our St. George future.

  • r2d2 February 28, 2017 at 3:54 pm

    I really don’t fill sorry for people that can’t eat without a drink. I fill really sorry for people that drink and don’t eat. Everyone fills sorry when someone who drinks kills someone on the road. Vote dry state!

    • The Truth February 28, 2017 at 5:12 pm

      I feel sorry for you. You can’t even spell, and your ignorance towards alcohol is unreal. Educate yourself before you make statements like that. They tried to get rid of it once, and even if they did again, people are still gonna drink no matter what.

    • comments February 28, 2017 at 6:10 pm

      I “FILL” sorry for him too. Must be a product of our failing public schools.

      • comments February 28, 2017 at 6:14 pm

        I fill so bad for him someone pls fill me drink so i can fill better

    • Chris February 28, 2017 at 6:37 pm

      fillfeel Could you have made a bigger fool of yourself?

      • .... February 28, 2017 at 11:24 pm

        That just Bob’s showing how stupid he truly is

        • ladybugavenger March 1, 2017 at 1:25 pm

          Ok r2d2/Dot LOL…..are your personalities talking to eachother? ?

  • r2d2 February 28, 2017 at 6:28 pm

    As far as spelling, I’m a redneck. What can I say. I quit drinking when I grew up. I said I aint GONNA drink no mo.

    • Badshitzoo March 1, 2017 at 1:53 am

      It’s always inspiring to hear one take pride in their own stupidity; however, I have numerous friends that are both Rednecks, and some of the smartest people I know. Don’t confuse the two, and don’t try and blame one on the other. Just shut up next time you have something to say!

  • r2d2 February 28, 2017 at 9:21 pm

    Sorry about the spelling. I was drunk at the time. How is that for an excuse? Now you have to forgive me.

    • Real Life March 1, 2017 at 11:02 pm

      We forgive you party boy.

  • Rainbow Dash February 28, 2017 at 10:11 pm

    Only in Utah

    Get an abortion, get SHUNNED! Bake your baby in a car, GET A FUNDRAISER!
    Drink a beer every so often? SINNER!! Take over a Bird sanctuary in Oregon? PATRIOT!
    Blindly follow every word of an old white man because he says he talks to God? GOOD GIRL! Dare to question him? SINNER!

    Only in Utah.

  • darkgoddess March 1, 2017 at 5:27 am

    It has been my experience, having lived the majority of my life in the Southern bible belt, those kids who were “sheltered” from alcohol (not exposed to it growing up) were the ones that were getting beer from the bootlegger and getting drunk on the weekends once they were old enough to drive. I assume it is much the same with a lot of LDS children who are also sheltered. Making something “taboo” just increases curiosity. I was raised in a Catholic household, and my parents would let me have a taste of their drink if I asked (alcohol was around for special occasions). Once I became a teen, I had no desire to go out and drink/get drunk like a lot of my peers, as I already knew what alcohol tasted like. Of course, as a young adult, I did my share of partying, but that phase was short lived. My opinion, stop trying so hard to hide alcohol. Parents just need to do their jobs and educate their children.

  • DRT March 1, 2017 at 10:37 am

    I firmly believe that the draconian alcohol laws in Utah, were the primary factor in the Outdoor Retailer deciding to go elsewhere. However, they didn’t have the huevos to say so. They felt that would really hurt their LDS clientele. So they used this national monument farce as an excuse.
    If the lawmakers in Utah were not complete imbeciles, they would loosen the liquor laws, approve recreational marijuana use, and tax the heck out of it and open the state up for lotteries. But no, they want to stay in their tiny cocoons and plead poor when it comes to funding anything they don’t feel is important. Such as education.

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