Proposed changes to Utah liquor laws drawing many voices

Published: Friday, Jan. 27 2012 8:00 p.m. MST

It recommends lawmakers consider splitting DABC's regulatory and sales functions. An independent commission under the Utah Department of Commerce would continue to oversee licensing and rulemaking, while the "skilled" professionals would run the wholesale and retail operations and report directly to the governor.

State liquor outlets should be run more like a grocery or convenience store chain by people who know the retailing business, Hatch said.

Romero said he is pleased with the report and looks forward to turning its proposals into bills.

Bird, who coordinates stopalcoholderegulation.org and intends testify on Capitol Hill when alcohol-related legislation comes up, attended one of the committee's town hall meetings.

"Everybody on the board was business-oriented. They didn't bring anyone in who was public health and public safety oriented," he said. "This is no ordinary commodity."

Bird said increased availability brings not only more drinking but excessive drinking, which leads to a host of social ills that effect drinkers and non-drinkers.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with whom lawmakers often consult before altering alcohol policies, has held those concerns for years. It continues to focus on public health and safety issues.

While the LDS Church teaches its members to avoid alcohol altogether, it acknowledges that alcoholic beverages are available to the public. It continues to call for reasonable regulations to limit overconsumption, reduce impaired driving and work to eliminate underage drinking.

The Democrats' review committee also recognizes those concerns, and its report criticizes DABC for not being focused enough on education about those issues. Schubach said the committee favors expanding prevention efforts beyond the $1.5 million the agency reported spending last year.

Contributing: Marjorie Cortez

E-mail: romboy@desnews.com, Twitter: dennisromboy

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