SALT LAKE CITY -- The Zion Curtains will stay, but fines for serving minors will go down in a compromise bill crafted by House and Senate leaders Tuesday.
Sen. John Valentine, R-Orem, introduced an amended version of HB 228, which includes portions of three separate bills, as proposed changes to the state's Alcoholic Beverage Control Act.
Valentine said he met with House leaders, including Rep. Ryan Wilcox, R-North Ogden, to find common ground on the compromise, avoiding a rush on the last day of the session.
As well as fines and the separate area for preparing alcoholic drinks -- known as a Zion Curtain or Zion Wall -- the legislation also addresses master licenses for restaurants.
Since it was implemented, Wilcox said, the Zion Curtain law has unfairly hurt new and small restaurants. He said he ran into stiff resistance on the issue in the Senate.
Valentine is not offering any apologies for leaving the wall provision as it is. He said leaders couldn't come to a compromise on the separate area.
"We're concerned about a culture of alcohol and changing the atmosphere of restaurants into bars. Our restaurants are family friendly, so we'll leave that issue for future debate."
Wilcox said no one has been able to define what the culture of alcohol actually means. He said it is disappointing that new restaurants that serve alcohol are penalized under the restriction. He said it creates an unfair environment for some restaurants to compete in.
The compromise reduces the proposed fines for serving alcohol to minors. Under the new guidelines, restaurants or bars serving minors would face a $1,500 fine for the first offense, a $3,000 fine for the second offense and a $10,000 fine for a third offense.
The bill also addresses new master licenses under the law enforcement quota. Wilcox called the provision a good change.
A final vote on the compromise could happen as early as today.