SALT LAKE CITY -- The Senate Business and Labor Committee approved a proposal on Thursday that would increase the number of liquor licenses available in the state.

The committee approved Sen. John Valentine's plan that would create a master liquor license. Restaurant owners would be able to purchase one liquor license for all of the restaurants they own within the state.

The license would cost $10,000. Valentine, R-Orem, explained to the committee that master license requesters would need to own five or more places of business for the license to apply to them; if they owned fewer they would still need to purchase an individual license for each location.

The bill calls for two types of master licenses. One would be a full-service license, which allows for liquor to be served in a restaurant. The other master license would be a limited service license, which allows for beer and wine to be served on the premises.

One organization voiced concern when the bill was presented before the committee. Mothers Against Drunk Driving expressed concern that the Legislature opened up 90 new licenses one year ago and now are looking at legislation that would open up more licenses to the public without studying the effects of alcohol density throughout the state.

"Before you start dumping whole new licenses in the state, you should see what is happening already," Jaynie Brown of MADD said.

Valentine's proposal has the support from both sides of the aisle. Sen. Gene Davis, D-Salt Lake City, explained that he supports the bill because it favors local businesses. He said the master licenses will open up more licenses for local entrepreneurs who wish to open up a restaurant because out-of-state restaurant chains more than likely will opt to purchase the master license instead of a single license.

Valentine's bill now moves forward to be considered by the full body of the Senate.

-- Billy Hesterman covers the Utah State Legislature and local politics for the Daily Herald. You can follow him on Twitter at: @billyhesterman
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