2016 Bills

HB76: Removing the Zion Curtain

This bill was not considered by the legislature.

Libertas Institute supports this bill.

One of Utah’s infamously odd liquor laws is the so-called “Zion Curtain”—a requirement that restaurants serving alcohol may only dispense, mix, or pour alcoholic drinks outside of public view by at least constructing an opaque partition obstructing the view of the dispensing of adult libations from restaurant patrons. This bill would make some common sense changes to the law that begin to tear down this bizarre wall.

House Bill 76, sponsored by Representative Kraig Powell, allows licensed alcohol establishments to opt-out of the “zion curtain” rules if their alcohol dispensing takes place in a separate bar or lounge area as long as the restaurant furnishes a public notice warning patrons that alcoholic beverages are dispensed in public view lest some unwitting customer is subjected to seeing an alcoholic beverage come in contact with a glass. Such rules have harmed small business owners in Utah and are arbitrary mandates that create unreasonable financial burdens on businesses. An interview we conducted with one Utah restaurant owner shows the problems associated with these laws.

The original intent of the law by its supporters was to shield children from the sight of an alcoholic beverage, thereby minimizing the allure of drinking. There is no data to support this asserted causal relationship.

Because we support free enterprise, we support this bill as a step in the right direction. Of course, we do not desire to see children enticed by alcohol nor do we want a “culture of alcohol” to become prevalent in the state. We believe, however, that these ideals we share with many conservatives should be attained through persuasion and the market—not through silly mandates that violate property rights and impose unreasonable constraints upon consensual commercial relationships between a business owner and their patrons.