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The majority of Utah residents belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which teaches members to abstain from alcohol.

Powell brings the bill after visiting restaurants and other businesses in his district, which include high-end ski resorts along the Wasatch Mountains. He points to state data showing that 9 percent of alcohol consumption occurs in restaurants as opposed to bars, homes or elsewhere as evidence that the eateries have little effect on drinking rates.

“Guess what,” he told the committee in a heated moment. “There are many people in this world and many people in Utah that when they eat, it is customary for them drink alcohol.”

Hans Fuegi of Park City’s Grub Steak Restaurant counseled lawmakers Tuesday that customers already use bars and restaurants for different purposes.

“It’s very clear,” he said. “Nobody goes to a restaurant to binge drink.”

The existing barriers may conceal theft and often make diners question whether they’re getting quality drinks, said restaurant owner Joel La Salle.

The barriers strike Rep. Jake Anderegg, R-Lehi, as bizarre but necessary. “I look at the Zion curtain through adult eyes,” he said, and “it’s the dumbest thing in the world.” But they’re worth it to prevent liquor from alluring youngsters, he said.

Heather Deuel, of Ogden, told lawmakers the rule makes little sense.

Deuel said she doesn’t drink but she thinks teens would more likely take up alcohol due to movies, TV, and peer pressure rather than restaurant protocol.

Powell’s proposal would require restaurants choosing to take down partitions to post a sign out front and on menus, indicating they pour liquor in public view. It would also bar minors in restaurants from coming a certain distance within bar seating.

Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, praised those provisions as a good tool for parents concerned about underage drinking.