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Posts Tagged ‘Legislature’

Liquor license limits could increase, as long as it means less people drinking and does not benefit locally-owned businesses.—

The way to woo a legislator, as any lobbyist can attest, is through their stomach. And, apparently, it is even more effective if the food is served up by a national chain that has not opened in Utah.

A House committee passed a substituted version of HB223 that will rejigger population ratios for full-service restaurant licenses, wine & beer restaurant licenses, and tavern licenses. The first two will increase enough to hopefully provide a cushion for the currently maxed-out restaurant licenses, especially liquor, the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Gage Froerer, said. Tavern licenses, which permit a bar to serve only 3.2 beer, will be reduced because there is currently a relatively significant surplus. A side benefit to decreasing tavern licenses is that legislators can crow to their constituents that they actually reduced the amount of potential liquor that could be served in this, ahem, fine state.

The bill will not address private club licenses, because those are licenses to get people drunk. Currently, there are 10 clubs waiting for a license—and some of them have been waiting for months—almost all of which are assuredly owned by locals. You know, Utah’s Own.

Not that helping local businesses actually matters to the Legislature. What really seemed to sell legislators on the committee: Buffalo Wild Wings and Dave & Busters. Multiple developers spoke about both chains, and possibly others, wanting to open in Utah. But with only one full-service liquor license currently available—chains like to open at least a half-dozen places at the same time—they are not willing to risk it.

In fact, Froerer told the committee at the end of the hearing, the revised bill was not even really a liquor bill. Instead, he described it as “jobs bill.” Somehow, even with that reference to one of President Obama’s initiatives, the bill passed the committee and now heads to the House floor.

Maybe, it’s that legislators are actually fans of “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia,” and the sell-out episode of said show convinced them they needed a Dave & Busters. In that case, how about a cold Coors Light, representative?

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Nixing Nicotine

The e-cigarette is touted as the healthier alternative to smoking cigarettes, at least if the marketing is to believed. For at least some current e-cig users, the marketing is not a lie.

Brian Anderson told the House Health and Human Services Committee Tuesday morning that the e-cigs, which are essentially inhaled shots of nicotine, have given him the best shot at escaping cigarettes and their harmful additives.

“I found a way to get away from cigarettes,” he said. “I feel healthier because I’m not getting the tar and carcinogens.”

Anderson and few other citizen activists went to the Legislature Tuesday to testify against HB71, which would ban new tobacco and nicotine products. That includes e-cigarettes and what the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, described as flavored tobacco candies.

Ray said those candies are intended to bring in a new generation of tobacco users, by appealing to kids and teenagers who find smoking distasteful.

At one point, Ray even compared the tobacco companies to terrorist organizations — an analogy that is probably appreciated by all of those legislators who accept political donations from said tobacco organizations, aka Al-Ciga — and said that “if terrorist organizations were killing as many people as tobacco companies in a year, there would be all-out war.”

Note: At this point, it’s probably fair to point out that, in fact, the U.S. is at war with terrorists, and has been for quite a few years. His confusion may understandably have stemmed from the fact that for most of that time, it has been called the “War on Terror.”

The bill eventually passed the committee, with the ban on selling e-cigarettes firmly in place (possession will still be legal). There is a caveat, however, that if the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves the e-cigs, they automatically become legal to buy in Utah.

During public testimony, however, another citizen lobbyist told the committee that the dangers of cigarettes are the chemicals, which e-cigs eliminated. Joyce Mitchell urged them to consider how they could help smokers and others, since e-cigs don’t have nasty side effects like secondhand smoke.

“Nicotine is being horriblized (sic) here. It does reduce aggression and anxiety and improves mood and alertness,” she said during public testimony. “They’re a pharmaceutical that you can take for yourself.”

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