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Could Utah restaurants soon be required to keep alcohol out of sight so minors can't see it, or even see it being poured? That's what legislators talked about this afternoon.
At Red Rock Brewery it's no big deal to get a drink and dinner if you're over 21. "A lot of adults like to enjoy a beverage," said Red Rock Brewery Manager Lynn Allison.
But how that drink is poured could change. At least one Republican senator would like to see bottles of booze hidden from public view and drinks poured out of sight of minors. Senate President Michael Waddoups, R-Taylorsville, said, "They're enticed by the glamour of it in some instances. They're enticed by it because it's made to look like a fun exciting stimulating product."
Allison disagrees. She says, "From our standpoint, it lacks any sense. I think it shines a bad light on our state."
Gov. Jon Huntsman has said Utah needs to do away with the private club requirement. Waddoups indicated last month that Senate Republicans won't look at any changes in regard to that issue.
It was a blow to bar and club owners who'd felt encouraged by the governor's words. Greg Arata, owner of Junior's Tavern, said, "The time has come for it to change. It doesn't really do anything to protect the public regardless of what the legislators and MADD [Mothers Against Drunk Driving] say."
But Waddoups believes stricter laws do make a difference, and he thinks new changes could reinforce the message that underage drinking is dangerous. Waddoups says, "We're trying to protect children who don't have the capability of making a wise decision."
No decisions were made in today's meeting, just a lot of question raised. Lawmakers and the Alcoholic Beverage Commission are going to try to answer those questions and plan to meet again for further discussion on the issue.