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Rep. Kraig Powell, R-Heber City, is making another attempt to tear down the "Zion curtain," the opaque barrier that newer restaurants in Utah must have so children can't see alcoholic beverages being mixed or poured.
Powell introduced HB339 on Tuesday to propose a new compromise.
It would require most restaurants serving alcohol to have a separate bar or lounge area where children are not allowed. In return, restaurants could do away with the opaque barrier.
Powell said he has talked with many restaurant owners who feel this proposal will satisfy "those who are concerned about alcohol abuse and exposure to children" by still keeping the mixing of drinks out of their view.
Meanwhile, it would allow removing the Zion curtain, and allow drink-mixing, serving and eating "in a much more normal, comfortable, typical environment."
A new Dan Jones & Associates poll commissioned by utahpolicy.com, found that two-thirds of Utahns favor eliminating the Zion curtain. The sentiment was a majority view across religious and political party lines, according to the online political newsletter.
Before the Legislature convened in 2014, the LDS Church released a statement saying it was happy with current state liquor laws. It said they were balanced and it pushed against any changes. That helped defeat a different Powell proposal last year to do away with the Zion curtain.
Powell said HB339 is "a new concept."
"Because the lines have been drawn so starkly in the past, it's really important to have some new, out-of-the-box thinking to try to have a breakthrough," he said.
Powell said he sees the proposal as an olive branch that restaurants can offer to those who want to keep the Zion curtain.
It would require all restaurants serving alcohol to come up with separate bar areas by 2017. It would exempt only restaurants that are too small have separate bars, essentially those with less than 1,000 square feet of space.
"Like everything else we try in Utah liquor laws, it may sound a little strange to one side or the other," Powell said. He adds it make take more than one year for sides to "get used to the idea" and enact it or something similar.