LOS ANGELES - TO BELLY up to a bar for a drink in devoutly religious Utah has long meant being a dues-paying, card-carrying member of a private club.
But that historical quirk may change if the Republican governor of this predominantly Mormon state has his way.
Governor John Huntsman told a press conference in Salt Lake City he will back a bill that would end the practice of restricting the consumption of alcohol to 'private clubs' licensed to serve only dues-paying members.
'We're moving toward much greater normalisation today of our alcohol policy,' he said.
Mr Huntsman, who has worked to relax the law since he took office in 2005, says the rules are a barrier to tourism revenue in a state blessed with stunning natural beauty.
Sitting astride the Rocky Mountains, Utah is home to numerous national parks that showcase the region's unique geology, such as Arches, Canyon lands and Zion.
But the bill's supporters say many tourists who come to the area for hiking and skiing vacations visit neighbouring states such as Colorado instead because of the alcohol rules.
To lift the private club rule, Utah bars would have to retain for a week information from ID cards for patrons who appear to be younger than 35. The national legal age for alcohol consumption in the United States is 21.
As part of the deal for liberalisation, state lawmakers would impose stricter rules for drink driving, where offenders under 21 would automatically lose their licence.
The bill, the subject of intense legislative dealing in the state, is set for a final vote later this week.