The thirst for Utah liquor licenses continues to grow. The Legislature temporarily relieved the shortage of restaurant licenses in the recent special session, but the state's economy demands a permanent solution. The answer is to adjust the population quotas in the law to allow a steady stream of more licenses.
If the Legislature refuses to do that, it will continue to bang its head on an artificial ceiling on licenses that discourages new restaurants and other businesses in the hospitality industry from opening shop in the Beehive State.
Powerful legislators, including Senate President Michael Waddoups, R-Taylorsville, want to hold a tight rein on licenses in order to prevent overconsumption, alcohol abuse and drunken driving. They are right that alcohol abuse and particularly binge drinking are a serious public health and safety concern. The Legislature acted wisely when it included provisions for more enforcement officers in the bill that created 90 new restaurant licenses.