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Critics blast senate bill to restrict daily beer specials

by Eric S. Peterson
- Posted // 2011-03-08 -

Critics of a senate bill that would prohibit bars and clubs from offering daily beer specials say the legislation hurt’s Utah’s tourism and hospitality business.

Senate Bill 314, sponsored by Sen. John Valentine, R-Orem has passed the Senate and looks to clear its final hurdle in the House today or tomorrow. The bill includes provisions adding new liquor and beer licenses for restaurants and creates a mechanism to hire more public safety officers proportional to the number of liquor licenses out there.

(For more on SB314 read City Weekly’s previous coverage here.)

But it’s a one-word change in a substitute draft of the bill that’s got a spokesperson for the Utah Hospitality Association upset. One line changes a previous law that forbid daily discounted “liquor” to prohibit daily discounted “alcoholic products” this change would make it so that bars and clubs can no longer advertise or offer discounted beer specials. The change is aimed at curbing “overconsumption” according to bill sponsor Valentine.

According to representatives of the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, the change would mean bars would only be able to offer a beer special if they only offered that brand of beer on that particular day. If the same product is offered other days it would have to be at the same price.

Such laws make the state “appear intolerant toward non-Utahns, making them reluctant to invest in us,” says Lisa Marcie, spokesperson for the Utah Hospitality Association. “Such attitudes repel, or at least, reduce, economic growth and recovery.”

She’s also critical of the lack of input her association—which advocates for normalized liquor laws—had in the process.

“The UHA asked for a meeting during the legislative session with Senator Valentine and Governor Herbert to discuss the proposed amendments. For the second time, Mr. Valentine ignored the written inquiry. The governor, however, did respond and listen to the concerns of the UHA,” Marie writes in an e-mail. “Any laws that are secretly drafted, then passed with little or no input, should concern all Utahns.”

Brian Earls a bartender at Salt Lake City’s O’Shucks Bar and Grill, for one was surprised to hear the law might eliminate beer specials. He says his bar currently draws a lot of business Wednesday nights for sushi specials and discounted draft beer specials, including its famous $3 schooners.

“As long as it’s served responsibly and everybody drinks responsibly I don’t see a problem,” Earls says.

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