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COLUMN: The Zion curtain should fall

Pierucci’s politics

columnist

Published: Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Updated: Wednesday, January 29, 2014 22:01

The Utah legislative general session has begun.

It’s such an exciting time of the year for a political science nerd such as me. It is also an important time for every citizen of Utah. I encourage everyone to keep updated on the bills discussed for the next month. If an issue comes up that you are passionate about, contact your legislators. Our state representatives and state senators are surprisingly accessible. They sincerely want feedback from their constituents. Please email them or write them, follow them on Twitter and friend them on Facebook. Make your voice heard.

One piece of legislation I am following concerns Utah’s liquor laws. The Zion curtain needs to fall. Now you might be asking yourself, “What in the world is the Zion curtain?” The Zion curtain is not an obscure Cold War Soviet wall, but the strict liquor laws in Utah that require drinks to be made behind partitions in restaurants. Such restrictive laws are harmful to small business owners and create unnecessary contention in our communities.

Rep. Kraig Powell, R-Heber City, has proposed a bill that would tear down the curtain. In addition, his bill would allow customers at restaurants to order alcoholic beverages without having food. Currently, if a patron wants to order an alcoholic beverage at a restaurant, they must also order food. This puts waiters in an awkward position and turns off out-of-state visitors.

Some argue the current laws protect the moral fiber of our society. It’s not like kids can watch people drinking alcohol on television these days; oh wait, they can. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and I don’t drink. I believe alcohol is bad for the body and the soul, but I recognize the fact that there are many people who do not believe the same things I do. Regulations like the Zion curtain only further cultural and religious tensions in Utah. I believe it is far better to allow one to exercise their God-given agency and decide for themselves than to curtail their decision making process through government regulations.

The Zion curtain is also an economic burden upon Utah’s small businesses. For a people who place such a high value on entrepreneurship, we have remained surprisingly silent in the face of such blatant anti-business policies. In addition, Utah’s tourism industry is taking a beating because of the current alcohol laws.

Binge drinking, DUIs, underage drinking, alcoholism: These are serious issues that need to be addressed, but the Zion curtain does nothing to address these problems. Rather than restricting businesses, we should put more resources into education and rehabilitation. Rep. Jack Draxler, R-North Logan, has proposed a bill that would set aside an increased amount of revenues from the beer tax for the purpose of education on issues such as binge drinking and underage drinking. This is a common-sense approach.

If this is an issue you are passionate about, please take action. Email your state representative and state senator. Let them know your thoughts. We as citizens must play an active role in government. The bills discussed and passed for the next month will affect our lives.

– Andy is a senior majoring in political science. He is currently the vice president of USU Pi Sigma Alpha, a member of the GRC, the Secretary of the Utah Federation of College Republicans and president of USU College Republicans.

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