Legislative leaders and Utah Gov. Gary Herbert's spokeswoman said Wednesday they remain opposed to lifting the cap on the number of establishments that can serve liquor, but that might not be the case next year.
In Utah, the number of liquor licenses is tied to the state's population.
As recently as Tuesday, some business owners who met all other state requirements were unable to get liquor licenses because of the quota system. They will have to wait until someone else goes out of business before they can set up shop.
A bill that would increase the number of licenses available to restaurants cleared a legislative committee Wednesday, but it would do nothing to expand the number of licenses available to bars where the biggest backlogs are. It would also reduce the number of licenses available to taverns where beer is sold that some bar owners are counting on getting when they don't get liquor licenses. And even its fate is uncertain on the House floor and in the more alcohol-resistant Senate.