As it turns out, liquor sales are a source of revenue the state of Utah can reliably count on every year. This year alone, profits from liquor going directly into the state's general fund totaled nearly $60 million. And when school-lunch subsidies and sales taxes are added from liquor sales, the amount swells to more than $100 million.
As lawmakers this session struggle to make ends meet, you'd think this would be a no-brainer to help stimulate growth while adding to much needed dollars to the general fund.
Well common sense doesn't come easy in Utah. As full service liquor licenses dwindle and more businesses are looking at Utah to expand, you'd think think that those who have the responsibility to ensure our economic growth would jump at the chance to keep growth alive. But they're not.
Steven Bogden, managing director of Coldwell Banker Commercial said his firm represents the chain Buffalo Wild Wings, which is considering opening a dozen restaurants in Utah over the next four years.
If they do, they would hire 1,000 full- and part-time workers, with an anticipated sales base of $42 million a year, on top of all the contractors and laborers to build the restaurants and vendors who sell them merchandise.
They won't come, he said, if they can't get the liquor permits.
"If they can't get their business plan, let's go to Sacramento. If they jump over Salt Lake, let's go to Portland or somewhere else and we've missed it," said Bogden. "And it's got nothing to do with alcohol. It's about economic development, jobs and growth."
HB223, sponsored by Rep. Gage Froerer, would take 40 unused tavern licenses, which allow only service of low-alcohol beer, and convert them into restaurant licenses. Twenty would be limited licenses that allow service of beer and wine and 20 would be full licenses, which allow service of beer, wine and distilled spirits.
The potential economic boon was persuasive for members of the House Business and Labor Committee, who passed the bill out on a 9-1 vote.
But the prospects the bill will ultimately pass the Legislature remain slim, in large part because of the opposition from Senate President Michael Waddoups, R-Taylorsville. Waddoups said he doesn't want to make any changes to Utah's liquor laws, which were significantly overhauled last year.
Mayor Russ Wall of Waddoups' hometown of Taylorsville disagrees, saying the city formula allows for up to 11 restaurants that serve alcohol and it currently has three, but can't persuade any more restaurants to open because there are no licenses.
Why would anyone want to expand their business in Utah with such an immature playground pissing match going on.
source Salt Lake Tribune