SALT LAKE CITY, Utah- (ABC4 News) – A bill to bring stronger beer to Utah grocery and convenience stores has fizzled out.
Wednesday morning, it went before the House Health and Human Services Committee and came out with a completely different look.
It was a fiery committee hearing. Senator Jerry Stevenson didn’t hold back about his commerce bill ending up in front of the HHS Committee.
“This bill, I believe, was sent to this committee for one reason, and that’s to kill the bill,” said Stevenson, (R) Layton.
Because of that, Stevenson questioned the need to move on with public testimony.
“I’m just not interested in spending a lot of time here. I’ve got a lot of things to do on the budget that I’m tied with, and if we are going to make this into a long deliberation let’s kill the bill and be done with it,” he said.
Representative Brad Daw followed up with an attempt to do just that.
“Motion to adjourn,” he said.
That motion failed and the debate went on for the bill to allow 4.8 beer in Utah stores.
Conservative advocates worry about what the bill could lead to.
“Please do not increase the alcohol content in the very drink of choice of underage drinkers, in the very places that they get them,” said Laura Bunker with Family Policy Resource.
David Hancock, VP and General Counsel for Maverik says it could mean lost jobs.
“If this bill is not approved, Maverik will lose over $2.5 million in sales and $5 million dollars in combined sales,” said Hancock.
Still, Representative Daw says the state should take a different approach.
He offered a substitute to create a 13 member task force to study the issue.
“Before we go down the road of increased suicides, and increased traffic deaths, and increased violence, and increased discord I’d rather have a good hard look at what we are doing to ourselves,” said Daw, (R) Orem.
Senator Stevenson resisted the motion.
“I don’t believe the amendment does anything but attempt to study this to death. And, I promise you I’ve studied this for three years now and I really believe this is a good bill,” he said.
As Stevenson said in the beginning, the committee voted to kill the bill 7-4, while passing the substitute unanimously.
Stevenson says it’s not over.
“I think they got the message. I don’t think that was a total failure what we did this morning, so I think we are okay,” he said.
The bill still needs to go to the House floor and back to the Senate where it could potentially be changed back to allow for higher alcohol content.
The Senate passed the original bill 27-2.