Senate passes liquor license expansion

Liquor • Lawmakers make it clear that restaurant patrons can sip a drink while browsing menu.
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O Restaurants could get a round of liquor licenses freed up under a bill that received preliminary approval from the state Senate on Monday.

SB167, sponsored by Sen. John Valentine, R-Orem, would allow restaurant chains to get one master liquor license instead of having to get a separate license for each eatery.

That would free up a number of restaurant licenses, which are in short supply now. Restaurateurs have complained in recent years that the shortage of licenses has prevented them from expanding in the state.

The master license would be more expensive, Valentine said, but offers predictability, because a chain that wants to grow won't have to worry about whether a license would be available.

Senators voted 27-1 to move SB167 to a final vote, likely later this week. Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, cast the only dissenting vote.

— Robert Gehrke