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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The End of an Era!!! Thank God.

Most of you have probably heard that Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. announced a deal Monday that would make the most sweeping changes in decades to Utah's liquor laws, including an end to the state's one-of-a-kind private-club law.

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!


Anonymous said...

Great news all around.

The "hidden bar" thing is obviously silly. Ah well -- guess when I go to a new restaurant, I'll just have to find another way to "destroy families" besides ordering a drink with my dinner.

Anonymous said...

I want an update on the 3.2% law! I'm on pins and needles here. This is mostly good news...I think we can be cautiously exuberant about these changes.
Also...what's the limit again on how much homebrew I can transport? Am I going to be arrested at my wedding for having multiple kegs of homebrewed Nuptials Nut Brown, Ball & Chain Baltic, and White Dress Weiss for my guests at my private wedding party?

Mikey said...

I've been checking every day for movement on the 3.2 bill. Still nothing. I haven't had time to read the final version of the homebrew bill. For now I'd just slap some Coca-Cola stickers on your kegs. Problem solved. :)

Anonymous said...

My purse is going to get so much lighter without all those cards!!

Anonymous said...

My (admittedly limited) understanding of the homebrew law and other alcohol laws:

Limit on transport: for something other than a tasting event, you can transport up to 72oz at a time. For a tasting event you can transport up to 72oz per category you enter, with a maximum of 3 categories.

Kegs: Not legal, regardless of percentage, as far as I understand it. I say this based upon laws about alcohol in general, not the homebrew bill. I'm pretty sure a private citizen is not allowed to have kegs of anything, unless you get a limited time permit (or some such other nonsense).

The other thing I wonder is that I don't think the law allows you to give the alcohol to friends. It says "personal and family use". This could prove interesting, esp. in the case of "tasting events" where I don't know if anyone but the judges would technically be allowed to drink it.

Now, obviously, homebrewers have been giving the beer to friends for a long time without trouble. And I think that will continue. I don't see major enforcement crackdowns being instituted any time soon.

Again: Limited understanding. Probably need a lawyer to help us out here...

Anonymous said...

Good news in all. Like evolution, we are slowly progressing toward a better beer market. Cheers.