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Bill requiring that drinkers serve on Utah liquor commission clears House panel

Published: Friday, Feb. 24 2012 9:38 a.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — An amended bill requiring at least two drinkers serve on the state liquor commission cleared a House committee Friday.

Rep. Brian Doughty, D-Salt Lake, revised HB193 after the House Government Operations Committee put it on hold last week. The amended bill removes the definition of "regular" drinker and the percentage of commissioners that would have to be consumers of alcohol.

Commissioners who drink would still have to sign an affidavit verifying they consumed alcohol for at least one year prior to being appointed. Questioned about the need for an affidavit, Doughty said he's open to eliminating that requirement but wanted a way to prove alcohol consumption "rather than take a shot before each liquor commission meeting."

The measure now calls for two members of the current five-member commission and three members of a seven-member commission to be drinkers. The measure has a coordinating clause with SB66, which proposes to expand the commission to seven members.

"It is my opinion that when we regulate an industry, we should have representation from those who are being regulated," Doughty said.

Rep. Doug Sagers, R-Tooele, said the proposal does not reflect the state's demographics or alcohol consumption rates.

"Why do we need to change the law when nothing appears to be broken?" he said.

The current five-member commission includes two drinkers, one appointed by former Gov. Jon Huntsman and one by Gov. Gary Herbert.

"I just want to ensure going forward that remains," Doughty said.

The bill also would say no more than three commissioners could belong to the same political party and no more than two could have the same occupation. Three of the current commissioners are attorneys.

"I think this is a fascinating concept," said Rep. Kraig Powell, R-Heber City. He said it's not so much a question of demographics as it is qualifications to serve on the commission. Non-consumers might not have the understanding and appreciation for the alcohol business.

Rep. Curt Oda, R-Clearfield, said the commission needs some balance.

HB193 now moves to the House floor for consideration.

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

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