OUR VIEW: More liquor licenses needed

Feb 8 2012 - 5:29pm

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State Rep. Gage Froerer, R-Huntsville, is one of the more sensible pols in the Top of Utah. He has attempted more than once to undo legislative damage created by his colleagues in the majority party. Froerer's latest cleanup attempt is House Bill 270, which would significantly increase the number of liquor licenses provided to Utah restaurants.

We urge the Legislature to pass HB270 quickly and hope Gov. Gary Herbert signs it into law. It's always been a source of embarrassment and shame that members of the dominant political party have set the quota of liquor licenses allowed to Utah restaurants so low. The number of licenses is based on state population. Froerer's bill changes that so more licenses can be issued.

Because so few licenses are issued, there are many businesses that can't get licenses. This decreases the number of new restaurants that might be initiated in areas outside of Salt Lake City. Entrepreneurs are less likely to start restaurants here if they can't have a liquor license so persons enjoying a meal can have the right to enjoy an alcoholic drink.

Utah's liquor laws cost our state scores of millions of dollars, in everything from construction, to tourism, to sales taxes, and more. There is no legitimate reason to have so many restrictions on access to liquor. With these kinds of laws, legislators demonstrate their lack of tolerance for residents they serve. Having a glass of wine with a meal is something that should not be so excessively regulated.

Frankly, there should be no quotas on liquor licenses for restaurants, but HB270 is a good first step toward fixing Utah's dysfunctional quotas.

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