Agreement reached to increase alcohol limits on beer in Utah - InfoNews

Current Conditions


Agreement reached to increase alcohol limits on beer in Utah

FILE - In this Jan. 28, 2019, file photo, Republican Sen. Jerry Stevenson, looks on during a news conference, in Salt Lake City. Utah lawmakers have reached a compromise deal to increase the amount of alcohol available in beer. Jerry Stevenson said Wednesday, March 13, 2019, the agreement would raise alcohol limits to 4 percent, which is still relatively low but would allow for most production-line beers to be sold in grocery and convenience stores. It must still be approved by the state Legislature. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
March 13, 2019 - 2:49 PM

SALT LAKE CITY - Alcohol limits for beer at Utah grocery stores inched closer to the rest of the country Wednesday under a legislative compromise in the state where the predominant faith teaches abstinence from alcohol.

The agreement would raise alcohol limits to 4 per cent starting in November, a level that's still lower than almost all other states but would allow beers like Bud Light and Corona to be sold, Republican Sen. Jerry Stevenson said.

The deal must still be approved by the full Legislature, but Stevenson expressed confidence that would happen.

The agreement breaks a stalemate over a proposed larger increase that was supported by big retailers like Wal-Mart but opposed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which counts most lawmakers as members.

The 4-per cent-by-weight limit would allow most, but not all, regular-strength beers in private stores and on tap, said Kate Bradshaw, a lobbyist with the Responsible Beer Choice Coalition, a group of manufacturers, distributers and sellers.

"It's the biggest change in Utah alcohol history in 86 years, since prohibition ended," she said. A task force would also be assigned to study whether to raise the limits again. Higher-strength beer, wine and spirits are only available at state-owned liquor stores in Utah.

The compromise is palatable for the church as well. Marty Stephens, director of government relations, said the faith still had concerns but considers the compromise an improvement and won't oppose it.

Utah now limits beer to 3.2 per cent alcohol at grocery and convenience stores, which stock weaker versions of popular beers. Large breweries have been discontinuing those products, though, because the market is shrinking as other states like Oklahoma, Colorado and Kansas abandon similar limits.

The emptier shelves are difficult for stores that depend on revenue from beer sales, Stevenson has said. He originally wanted to raise alcohol limits to 4.8 per cent, but The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints opposed the idea. The state Senate passed it anyway, but it stalled in the House amid concern about the potential side effects.

If passed, the deal would also avoid the possibility of a ballot initiative seeking the approval of higher alcohol limits from voters who have bucked state lawmakers on other hot-button issues like medical marijuana and Medicaid expansion.

Utah also hosts an active microbrewery community, and many brewers had opposed the incremental 4.8 increase that they said would benefit big companies over locals.

The Utah Brewers Guild did not take a position on the compromise deal.

News from © The Associated Press, 2019
The Associated Press

  • Popular kelowna News
  • Comments
  • Rewards for missing pets occupy legal grey zone
    KELOWNA - John Brooke was walking in the woods near Glenrosa two weeks ago when his dog Gus went missing. Brooke said he lost sight of his dog and spent the next two hours whistling for him to no
  • UPDATE: No injuries in Trans-Canada Highway avalanche
    REVELSTOKE — The Trans-Canada Highway near Revelstoke is currently closed after an avalanche hit this afternoon. A small natural avalanche occurred 46 km east of Revelstoke at about 1
  • Salmon Arm man fined $3,000 for poaching cow moose
    SALMON ARM - A Salmon Arm man has been fined $3,000 and had two firearms confiscated for poaching a cow moose out of season. B.C. Conservation Officer Service spokesperson Tanner Beck said t
  • TRENDING NOW: Voice actress trolls scammer
    %%nodefaultimage%% Rosie Okumura is a California-based artist who likes to have a little fun with scammers. In the first part of the video she explains the scam that targets film indus
  • Sunny and warm in the Okanagan this week
    KELOWNA  - It looks like spring has arrived with a vengeance in the Okanagan a couple of days before the official date. Environment Canada is offering a simple forecast for the ent
View Site in: Desktop | Mobile