AP

Increasing alcohol limits in Utah beer gets Senate support

Feb 26, 2019, 5:41 AM
Murray liquor store COVID-19...
The liquor store in Murray has closed because an employee was diagnosed with COVID-19. Photo credit: Steven Breinholt, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A proposal to raise low alcohol limits for beer sold at Utah grocery and convenience stores easily got a first nod of approval from the state Senate on Monday, despite opposition from the influential Utah church and a number of local brewers.

The vote comes as most other states shed the limits, spurring some large brewers to stop making lower-alcohol products for a diminished market.

Republican sponsor Sen. Jerry Stevenson said that’s bad news for many business owners, especially in rural areas where beer sales make up a large part of convenience-store revenues.

“I don’t believe we’re changing the paradigm here. People who are going to be irresponsible are going to do that anyway,” he said.

His bill would have to pass one more vote in the Senate before it can go to the House of Representatives.

The proposal would increase the alcohol limit from 3.2 percent to 4.8 percent by weight, the amount in most standard production-line beers.

It would take some sales away from state-owned liquor stores that sell higher-alcohol products, but Stevenson said the stores will fill the space with other products, limiting the dent in sales and programs that benefit, like school lunches.

Local brewers, though, are concerned that the proposal unfairly upends a business model designed with the 3.2 limits in mind.

Republican Sen. Todd Weiler said one of his constituents stands to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in labeling and packaging material that’s already been ordered. He asked why the law couldn’t be phased in more slowly to allow those adjustments.

Stevenson said the law is set to go into effect in October, leaving several months for businesses to adjust.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, meanwhile, has expressed concern that the new limits are too high. Close to 90 percent of lawmakers are Mormon.

Republican Sen. Lyle Hillyard echoed that on Monday, wondering whether the change could lead to wine in grocery stores.

“I think were inviting problems in the state, and I don’t care what other states do,” he said.

In the past, several states had similar low-alcohol laws and large breweries made weaker products to sell there. But the limits have been abandoned in recent in years by Oklahoma, Colorado and Kansas, leaving a market of just two states: Utah and Minnesota.

That’s meant it doesn’t make as much economic sense for companies like Anheuser-Busch to continue making the weaker brews, and shelves have begun to lose variety in Utah. Convenience stores

and chains like Wal-Mart have encouraged customers to urge lawmakers to make a change.
___
This story has been corrected to show the bill must pass one more Senate vote before going to the House of Representatives.

Today’s Top Stories

AP

A memorial is pictured near the scene of the Colorado shooting at Club Q...
COLLEEN SLEVIN Associated Press

Colorado gay club shooting suspect charged with hate crimes

Investigators say Anderson Lee Aldrich entered Club Q, a sanctuary for the LGBTQ community in this mostly conservative city, just before midnight on Nov. 19.
1 day ago
DOHA, QATAR - NOVEMBER 25: A giant flag of IR Iran on the pitch prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2...
ALI ABDUL-HASSAN and ABBY SEWELL Associated Press

US-Iran match reflects a regional rivalry for many Arab fans

The U.S. team’s must-win World Cup match against Iran will be closely watched across the Middle East, where the two nations have been engaged in a cold war for over four decades and where many blame one or both for the region’s woes.
8 days ago
Irene Cara in 'Fame' (Photo courtesy of Mgm/Kobal, Shutterstock)...
MARK KENNEDY, AP Entertainment Writer

‘Fame’ and ‘Flashdance’ singer-actor Irene Cara dies at 63

singer-actress Irene Cara, who starred and sang the title cut from the 1980 hit movie “Fame” and then belted out the era-defining hit “Flashdance ... What a Feeling” from 1983's “Flashdance,” has died. She was 63.
10 days ago
The U.S. Coast Guard ship Bernard C. Webber, leaves the coast guard base, Monday, July 19, 2021, in...
Associated Press

‘Miracle’: Missing cruise ship passenger found OK in water

The U.S. Coast Guard says a passenger who went overboard from a cruise ship in the Gulf of Mexico was rescued on Thanksgiving after likely being in the water for hours.
11 days ago
FILE - A Montana man was sentenced to three years in prison for his role in the Capitol riot. (AP P...
The Associated Press

Montana man gets 3 years in prison for role in Capitol riot

A Montana man will spend three years in federal prison for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S Capitol.
12 days ago
Debbie, left, and Chet Barnett place flowers at a memorial outside of the Chesapeake, Va., Walmart ...
The Associated Press

Walmart shooter left ‘death note,’ bought gun day of killing

According to authorities in Virginia, the Walmart shooter bought his gun just hours prior to killing six employees.
12 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 game day snacks for the whole family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...
Sorenson

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
Increasing alcohol limits in Utah beer gets Senate support