SALT LAKE CITY -- The so-called Zion Curtain won't fall for at least another year.

On Tuesday Sen. John Valentine, R-Orem, introduced an omnibus liquor policy bill that brings together multiple liquor-related bills and removes the portion of one bill that sought to tear down the walls erected in restaurants to keep the public from viewing a bartender mixing a drink.

The new bill that will run through the Legislature in the final days of the session will contain language dealing with Valentine's plan to create a master liquor license for restaurant chains and stiffen the enforcement fines for restaurants that serve alcohol to minors.

"This represents a compromise between the House and the Senate for the alcohol bills this session," Valentine said.

While members of the House overwhelmingly approved the provision to tear down the wall, Valentine explained the move gave some members of the Senate heartburn. Those differences forced Valentine to create the omnibus bill to so the Legislature could pass a bill that does contain items both houses can come to terms on this session.

"I'm concerned about the culture of alcohol. And I'm concerned about changing of the atmosphere in our restaurants into bars," Valentine said.

Valentine went on to state that he feels Utahns want family-friendly restaurants and that a removal of those separate preparation areas will hinder restaurants being family-friendly.

House Speaker Becky Lockhart, R-Provo, who has in the past characterized the Zion Curtain as weird, stated that she was disappointed in the Senate's decision to keep the wall. Lockhart stated that she expects the issue will return to the Legislature in the next session.

Valentine's new alcohol bill has been given early approval in the Senate. The Senate will take a final vote on it on Wednesday.

billy-hesterman
-- 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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