Our View: Will no Valentine open curtain?

Friday , August 08, 2014 - 3:47 PM

Shelf of liquor bottles (differential focus

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Shelf of liquor bottles (differential focus

Editorial Board

Last week we learned that longtime Utah State Sen. John Valentine, R-Orem, will soon be leaving that legislative body. Utah Gov. Gary Herbert has selected Valentine to be the chairman of the Utah State Tax Commission. Valentine has a distinguished career and a thorough knowledge of our state’s tax system. He’ll probably do a fine job in that capacity.

To us, though, there’s an even bigger significance to Valentine’s legislative exit. It may finally provide the impetus for Utah to tear down its Zion curtain. The exiting senator has used his significant influence, time after time, to keep Utah’s liquor excessively restrictive. He is the main reason that Utah has the embarrassing Zion curtain, in which tender eyes are prevented from viewing alcohol being mixed in state eateries.

Valentine’s influence has also prevented other liquor reform laws from being passed into law, even bipartisan ones. As a result, Utah remains hampered in its efforts to enhance tourism and recreation. People from other states have justifiably low tolerance for silly Zion curtains and other restrictions.

Our hope is that with Valentine’s leaving, the Zion curtain will be opened and Utah’s liquor laws will be appropriately liberalized. It makes no sense to target law-abiding persons who wish to enjoy a drink in Utah with overly moralistic restrictions that make them appear to be unsavory folks. We urge legislators to tear down the curtain and make liquor laws here reflect the rest of the nation.

Valentine has promised to remain, as a former senator, an advocate for the alcohol laws he has always championed. Nevertheless, without his senate seat, his influence will be lessened. We hope there are enough Utah legislators with the independence to finally reform the too-long tolerated restrictions that have flourished in this state. It should be a big priority in the 2015 session.