(Crossposted to Saintless.com)
This morning, the Senate Site streamed live video for the Alcohol Policy Press Conference. Kudos to them for keeping those of us at home in the loop! Plenty of us Twittered this live, you can find it under the hashtag #UTAP.
If you don’t want to sift through those, here’s the recap: Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr. opened the presser, but didn’t say much outside of buttering up Senator Valentine, and making sure we knew that Utah’s alcohol laws are quirky, before introducing Senator Greg Hughes. He did give a sneak peak by saying that we will be disposing of membership and fee requirements, and of the glass wall known as the Zion Curtain.
Sen. Hughes had nothing of substance to say. He described Utah’s liquor laws, while avoiding the term “quirky”, but said Utah has a unique approach and he likes it, darn it! He also said that there were lots of stakeholders, and they usually can’t agree on anything, but that they did this. Interestingly, he did say that anyone who had a stake in this were at the table, but I’m wondering why I didn’t get an invite?
Hughes did say something about scanning IDs, and pointed out that he has a big bag of fake IDs, if you don’t believe underage drinking is a problem. He spent most of the time kissing up to people and groups like MADD, before giving the podium to Senator Valentine.
Senator Valentine really got to the meat of what the new laws will be. You notice that there’s no doubt this will pass. This new bill will be a substitute for SB 187.
- There will be no more Zion Curtain.
- Private Clubs will no longer be required, but businesses that wish to can retain that status.
- Anyone appearing under the age of 35 will have to have a scannable ID, and a record of that will be kept for 5 days.
- That record will be made available to law enforcement agencies as needed.
- There will be a flat fee, not a graduated fee for liquor license holders.
- New restaurants cannot have a bar area. Drinks must be prepared in a back room.
- Existing restaurants will be grandfathered.
- Existing restaurants can remove the Zion Curtain.
- Existing restaurants that wish to remodel to remove bar area will get a $30,000 credit to DABC.
- The remodeling will be paid for with Senator Scott McCoy’s SB 106 that removes tags from bottles of alcohol sold in Utah.
- There’s a new Resort License (no further explanation)
- Keeping provision that you can’t look drunk.
That was all the Valentine explained. I’m not sure who the next speaker was, but he let us know that even though he’s from Utah County, he knows alcohol because he’s been to Europe. (As Twitter user @nicktjohnson explained: They also have mass-transit in Europe.)
There will be new, tougher penalties enacted:
- If you drink and drive in Utah, you WILL lose your license.
- Minors that get caught will lose their license until they are 21. No explanation as to what “getting caught” entails. I’m wondering if this means getting caught trying to get into a bar, or getting caught drinking.
- Repeat offenders (I’m assuming DUI) will have penalties doubled.
The Gov took another moment at the mic to explain that this signals the world that we’re keeping pace with change, and that this is an attempt to balance our laws.
The Q&A gave some additional explanation about bars in restaurants. Existing restaurants can take down the Zion curtain, and kids will not be allowed to be seated at the bar areas. The new restaurants can serve alcohol, but cannot have a bar in the facility.
One of the Q&A questions was about the LDS Church, and whether they were one of the stakeholders. I’m not sure if it was Hughes or Valentine that stepped up, but he explained that they were definitely a stakeholder, they gave much input on this new set of laws, and that they will always be an important component of any liquor legislation in Utah.