The liquor-reform package was hammered out during weeks of intense negotiations with the governor's staff, legislators and representatives of the hospitality and restaurant industries and the LDS Church.
The compromise legislation would do away with private clubs, replacing them with a scanner verifying the validity of the identification presented by anyone who appears under age 35. Data would be stored on-site for a week. There would be no centralized law-enforcement database
For restaurants that serve alcohol, the bill would do away with the so-called "Zion Curtain," a glass barrier that servers must walk around to distribute drinks to patrons. Under the proposed changes, bartenders would now be able to pass a drink to a patron across the bar.
New restaurants would need a separate area for mixing drinks, away from the view of children. Existing restaurants would be grandfathered, but might qualify for $30,000 in assistance if they chose to renovate to conceal the mixing of drinks.
These demands on new restaurants will create situations in which they are treated differently than existing establishments and might discourage eateries from locating in the state.
Part of the liquor-reform package also would toughen penalties for drunken driving: Repeat offenders could forfeit their vehicles; underage drunken drivers could lose their licenses; and bar owners could face more legal liability if drunken patrons are involved in accidents.
The bill is expected to move quickly through the Legislature, starting in the Senate. If it passes and is signed by the governor, the private-club provisions would kick in July 1; the restaurant changes would take effect May.
Other Liquor related legislation to pass, the tacky and labor intensive D.A.B.C. tax stickers are going away. This will save the state over one million bucks a year. Maybe the money could go into purchasing beer coolers for liquor stores. Hint-hint...
As of this morning, there is no change on the status of HB 349 "the heavy beer on draft bill".
And of course the Utah Homebrew Bill. No longer will you feel like a deviant when making your next batch of "Bourbon Barrel aged-Triple-Imperial-Dry Hopped-Dopple IPA with Brettomyces"!
Well... maybe a little. Cheers!