Most Utah liquor laws are confusing, says Sen. Robert Steiner, D-Salt Lake. The laws governing when liquor can be sold in restaurants are also "maddening."

Steiner's colleagues agreed, voting Tuesday 22-5 in favor of a bill that would allow restaurants to begin serving alcohol at noon instead of the current 1 p.m. starting time. The bill, if approved by the House, would place restaurants on the same footing with private clubs, which already begin serving alcohol before noon.Restaurants have argued that the 1 p.m. starting time for alcohol sales serves no purpose other than to perpetuate Utah's quirky image among out-of-state visitors. They say very little liquor is sold during the afternoon and passage of the bill would not result in significantly more sales.

Under current Utah law, private clubs can sell alcohol of any kind at noon, while restaurants with liquor licenses can begin selling beer at noon, but wine and hard liquor cannot be sold until 1 p.m. "Trying to explain this (to out-of-state visitors) is a handicap for our restaurants," Steiner said.

The House, meanwhile, approved a law clarifying when liquor can be sold on primary and general election days.