2016 Bills

SB 141: Tearing Down 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.

Senate Bill 141, sponsored by Senator Jim Dabakis, repeals the language requiring restaurants to pour and mix alcoholic drinks behind a “solid, translucent, permanent structural barrier” such that the alcohol storage and dispensing equipment are “not readily visible to a patron,” “not accessible by a patron,” and separated from the dining area of the restaurant.

Libertas Institute previously interviewed a small restaurant owner who explained how onerous and costly this law can be.

Senator Dabakis’s proposal is different from a related one by Representative Kraig Powell that would allow restaurants to “opt out” of the Zion Curtain law by disclosing to patrons on their front door that alcoholic drinks are dispensed within.

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.