SALT LAKE CITY – Democrats in the Utah Legislature and members of the Review Committee of the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control held a public forum at the City’s Main Library on Tuesday. They expected about 50 members of the public to come and give their opinions about Utah’s liquor laws. About 150 showed up to express their frustration.
The bottom line: People think Utah’s liquor business is over-controlled and over-taxed. People questioned why a state that is run by a political party that professes to believe in a free market won’t allow businesses to be run by business owners, not the state. They want to know why decisions about controlling liquor are made by non-drinkers, making regulation iron-fisted instead of user friendly.
Trent David of the Utah Hospitality Association said, “They (business owners) should be able to control their own business model. You need to let drink specials back and let owners run their business like they’re supposed to.”
Others took issue with the Zion Curtain – a law that requires alcohol preparations to be made out of public view. During an interview on KXRK Radio last August, liquor legislation sponsor Senator John Valentine-R, Orem maintained the purpose of the law is to provide a defining factor between a restaurant and a bar. He also said “the law reflects the values of this state.” Opponents maintain it is not business friendly, tourist friendly, and treats adult citizens like children.
Other issues such as possible privatization, the problems found in the DABC legislative audit, possible store closures, and a lawsuit filed by the Utah Hospitality Association to stop lobbying by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when it comes to liquor laws will make this a hot topic on Capitol Hill. The suggestions and problems brought up in the meeting will also be presented to the legislature. The session begins at the State Capitol on Monday, January 23.
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Source: KXRK Radio, FOX13 News, Salt Lake Tribune