ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

cloudy-day
54°
Clear
H 62° L 42°
  • cloudy-day
    54°
    Current Conditions
    Clear. H 62° L 42°
  • clear-night
    54°
    Evening
    Clear. H 62° L 42°
  • clear-night
    43°
    Morning
    Clear. H 67° L 48°
LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest top stories

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest traffic report

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest forecast

00:00 | 00:00

Utah bill loosens who sees booze poured but keeps barriers

In heavily Mormon Utah, a lawmaker introduced a proposal Monday allowing restaurants to stop using walls or backrooms known as "Zion Curtains" that block customers from seeing alcoholic drinks being made. Supporters say the longtime requirement helps curb underage drinking by hiding the glamour of bartending.

In exchange, restaurants in the state with some of the nation's strictest alcohol laws would be required to install a buffer zone around bars or areas where drinks are poured. A buffer zone extending 10 feet from the bar would be off-limits to those under 21. But the area could still be in full view of the rest of the restaurant, bill sponsor Republican Rep. Brad Wilson clarified Monday night.

Wilson said he's working on a change to allow a third option to create a smaller 5- to 6-foot buffer zone that's partitioned off by a half wall about 3.5 feet tall.

Customers who enter the buffer zones that appear to be under 35 years old would have their IDs scanned. Those seated in the dining room could still drink alcohol, but depending on the restaurant, they may or may not be able to see it prepared.

Restaurants that don't create a buffer area would have to keep or put in Zion Curtains, a reference to Utah's teetotaler Mormon population. They are often visual barriers like frosted glass panels atop counters or a separate back room for making drinks.

The Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which plays a big role in the state's liquor laws, appears to support the measure.

Church spokesman Eric Hawkins said in a statement that the bill appears to make "an admirable attempt" to address concerns about underage drinking and alcohol abuse and includes appropriate protections.

The Salt Lake Area Restaurant Association criticized the plan, warning that the buffer zones would be impossible for small restaurants, reaching to the front door of some small spaces and limiting where they could seat families.

"It's going to put some of them out of business," executive director Michele Corigliano said. "It's going to make Utah look ridiculous."

Wilson told reporters earlier Monday that at least a dozen states require restaurants to have something like a 21-and-older bar area. He said Utah, like those other states, wants to keep children from sitting in bars.

He acknowledged that the changes may be tough for some restaurants, saying, "There are a few where it's a little tricky to figure it out, so we're trying to work through that."

This is the latest attempt to address the controversial barriers, which have been required for decades in some form and were preserved despite a major loosening of the state's liquor laws in 2009. Restaurants built before 2009 are generally exempt.

The Utah Restaurant Association says most of the state's 4,000 restaurants are grandfathered in and don't have the barriers, but the rule puts newer establishments at a disadvantage.

Wilson's bill currently requires all restaurants to choose by summer 2018 to have barriers or install a buffer zone, meaning older restaurants will have to make changes.

But Wilson said Monday night he's working on a change that would allow a five-year grace period for those older restaurants or restaurants holding a particular type of dining license that currently allows them to make more money from the sale of alcohol than food alone.

Corigliano of the Salt Lake Area Restaurant Association said Monday night that Wilson has made helpful changes but her group wants to see the latest adjustments in writing and still has other concerns. She said if they can't be addressed, her group, representing 89 restaurants, would rather see Utah's liquor laws left alone.

The proposal has not yet had a hearing. Republican Gov. Gary Herbert said in January that he supports the work Wilson is doing on the bill, but his office said Monday that he had not yet reviewed it.

___

This story has been updated to correct that the current proposal would allow restaurants to choose a walled-off Zion Curtain or 10-foot, open buffer zone, while yet-to-be-released changes would allow for a walled-off buffer. An earlier version referred to all buffer zones as walled-off.

___

Follow Michelle L. Price at https://twitter.com/michellelprice .

Read More

The Latest News Headlines

  • The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office is welcoming back K9 Officer Jeremy Mason, nearly 18 months after he was shot in the face while chasing a robbery and carjacking suspect. The shooting happened in July 2017, when police were called to 103rd Street and Old Middleburg Road, after community tips led them to believe a bank robbery suspect was in that area. Police say that suspect- since identified as 28-year-old Michael Harris- carjacked and kidnapped a woman there by getting in her car and forcing her to drive off. JSO says Mason was shot in the ensuing chase, but continued to pursue the suspect. The suspect vehicle got in a crash with a civilian car, and Mason and a detective ultimately fatally shot Harris when he refused to disarm, according to police. Mason has undergone 12 surgeries through his recovery, according to JSO. Today marks the first day back on the job for Mason and K9 Echo.
  • With a partial government shutdown showing no signs of being resolved, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday basically ‘disinvited’ President Donald Trump from a scheduled January 29 State of the Union Address, saying that the Secret Service and Homeland Security Department should not be tasked with such a major event while they are in a shutdown status. “Sadly, given the security concerns and unless government re-opens this week, I suggest that we work together to determine another suitable date after government has re-opened,” Pelosi wrote in a letter sent to the President on Wednesday morning. There was no immediate reaction from the White House or the President. The President gives the State of the Union at the invitation of the Congress, as the House and Senate must agree to use the House chamber for such an event. The reaction in Congress split down party lines. “It is very ironic that Democrats reference security concerns in their latest grandstanding tactic, delaying the State of the Union, but will not address the security concerns that are creating a humanitarian crisis at the border,” said Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN). “We know the state of our union,” said Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), as Democrats said there should be no speech from the President while the partial shutdown continues. In an interview with NBC News, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said the President had been “disinvited” by Pelosi.
  • Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi asked President Donald Trump on Wednesday to postpone his State of the Union address as the partial government shutdown that started Dec. 22 continues. >> Read more trending news Earlier this month, Pelosi invited Trump to deliver the annual State of the Union address on Jan. 29. However, the California Democrat said Wednesday that the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Secret Service -- the agency tasked with coordinating and implementing security for certain special events, including the State of the Union address -- have not been paid for 26 days. >> State of the Union 2019: What day, what time, who will be there? “Given the security concerns and unless government re-opens this week, I suggest that we work together to determine another suitable date after government has re-opened for this address or for you to consider delivering your State of the Union address in writing to the Congress on January 29th,” Pelosi said. Pelosi noted that State of the Union addresses were routinely brought to Congress in writing up until the presidency of Woodrow Wilson in 1913. >> Who is Nancy Pelosi? California Democrat elected as House speaker 'Since the start of modern budgeting in Fiscal Year 1977, a State of the Union address has never been delivered during a government shutdown,' Pelosi said. Several federal agencies have been closed and thousands of government employees have been compelled to wok without pay since last month, when lawmakers failed to approve of a budget to keep the federal government running. >> From Cox Media Group’s Jamie Dupree: Coast Guard misses paychecks as partial shutdown reaches Day 25 At issue is funding for a proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border that Democrats have opposed. Trump has signaled that he’ll refuse to sign any budget passed by lawmakers that fails to include $5.7 billion to build the wall.
  • Police in California are hoping the public can help them identify a toddler found dead nearly 15 years ago. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's 'Help ID Me' page, hikers discovered the remains of the boy, known as 'Baby Doe,' in May 2004 near the Rancho Bernardo Community Park in San Diego. >> Read more trending news  'The remains were found by two hikers who noticed a green padded winter-type coat lying over a green and white duffel bag,' read the Facebook post shared Tuesday. 'When they removed the coat and looked in the bag, they saw a human skull and bones.' The 2 1/2- to 3 1/2-year-old boy likely died at least a year before he was discovered, authorities said. He had been 'wearing red warm-up pants, gray-tan socks, a blue vest and two sweatshirts,' the Facebook post said. Investigators also released sketches of what the child may have looked like. >> See the images here Forensic tests showed that the boy's mother 'likely spent time in the Southeast while pregnant and may have lived in Texas shortly after the child was born before ultimately moving to the southern California area,' the post said. >> Watch the video here If you have information about the case, please call 1-800-THE-LOST.
  • The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office is interviewing witnesses and trying to speak to victims after six people were shot in the Spring Park area.  Officers believe the scene happened around the Spring Park and Emerson area.  According to JSO, a Chevy Tahoe with multiple bullet holes pulled up to Memorial Hospital around 2:00 am with the victims inside. One person died, the others have injuries ranging from minor to critical. None of the victims are children. Police say the victims are between their 20’s and 40’s. Details are very limited about the person who died, all police were able to say is that the person is 25-years-old.  During the briefing, police were unable to say what exactly led up to the shooting and they’re not even sure if someone called 911.  The Sheriff’s Office does not have any type of suspect information. They are asking anyone with information to call them or Crime Stoppers. This is a developing story and will be updated throughout the morning. 

The Latest News Videos