Utah Lawmakers Approve Stronger Beer Deal
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (AP) — The Latest on the last day of Utah’s legislative session (all times local):
Utah lawmakers are sending to the governor a compromise deal raising the amount of alcohol allowed in beer.
The Utah Senate gave final approval Thursday to a deal that 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. The House approved the measure Wednesday.
Utah limits beer to 3.2 percent alcohol outside of state-owned liquor stores, but large breweries have been discontinuing weak-beer products as other states abandon similar limits.
Republican Sen. Jerry Stevenson originally wanted to raise alcohol limits to 4.8 percent, but The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and several lawmakers opposed that idea.
The state’s predominant faith teaches abstinence from alcohol and was neutral on the compromise.
Utah lawmakers are winding down their annual session after reaching a deal to allow more alcohol in beer, passing a ban on most abortions after 18 weeks and scaling back a voter-approved Medicaid expansion.
Other failed to pass, including a ban on LGBT conversion therapy. The legislative session ends Thursday.
Lawmakers also decided to postpone action on sweeping tax reform, although they wrote fail-safes into the state’s $19 billion budget to ensure that action happens later this year.
Some of the actions sparked protest, such as the move to shrink Medicaid expansion and the failure of the conversion-therapy ban.
Lawmakers say the Medicaid decisions were essential to controlling long-term costs, but on conversion therapy they vowed to continue the conversation.