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Mormon Church Statement on Alcohol Buoys Utah Officials

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A statement suggesting compromise on alcohol regulation from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gives some hope to Utah officials seeking a change in state liquor laws, the Deseret News reported Sept. 17.

The statement avoided specific references to Utah's unusual system of private club membership requirements for regulating alcohol, but stated that there is room for negotiating agreement on “laws and regulations that allow individual freedom of choice.” The church added that it “has always called for reasonable regulations.”

Gov. Jon Huntsman, Jr. has asked lawmakers to amend the regulations in an effort to increase state tourism. The governor's spokesman, Lisa Roskelley, said she was “encouraged by the willingness of all stakeholders to engage in this process.”

“This is huge,” added Lisa Marcy McGarry, legal counsel for the Utah Hospitality Association; she said that a statement from the Church was “what everyone was waiting for.”

A Sept. 29 public hearing will give citizens the opportunity to address the legislature on the topic, with a draft proposal authored by the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control expected to go before the 2009 Legislature.

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