Excerpts of Group Wants Mormon Church Blocked From Future Liquor Law Debates, Fox News
A trade group for bars and restaurants is asking a federal judge to block Utah legislators from considering input from the Mormon church when drafting future liquor laws.
The Utah Hospitality Association contends that considering the views of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is unconstitutional under federal laws separating church and state.
The claim is part of an amended lawsuit filed last week in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City.
"We know the LDS church wields a lot of influence with the Legislature, especially as to liquor policies in this state," association board spokesman Kenneth Wynn said on Tuesday. "I think we've felt this for a long time. The church ought to butt out of state business ... we're just bringing it to the forefront."
The Mormon church is not a defendant, but the lawsuit cites examples of the Utah-based church's influence with lawmakers, including remarks from Sen. John Valentine, R-Orem, who sponsored SB314, about the church's support for the bill.
The lawsuit also contends that a pair of church lobbyists had "warned" lawmakers that "there would be repercussions" if they disagreed with the church's position on the legislation. Court papers don't specify what those repercussions would be.
The majority of Utah's lawmakers are Mormon and Wynn, who was a director of the Department of Alcohol and Beverage Control Commission for 30 years, suggests the affiliation unfairly biases lawmakers in decision making.
Church spokesman Eric Hawkins declined to comment on the lawsuit on Tuesday .