Nick Short
Workers at the monitor tests being run on the fully automatic warehouse at the Department of Alcoholic Beverage and Control on Friday, April 25, 2003.

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Senate gave preliminary approval Tuesday to a bill that would overhaul the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

The Senate voted unanimously to move SB66 to a final reading in the Senate. The bill, sponsored by Sen. John Valentine, R-Orem, would increase the membership of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission from five to seven members and require its meetings and subcommittee meetings to be subject to the state's open meeting laws.

SB66 also places more oversight authority in the hands of the governor, who would appoint the commission's chairman. The body would be split into two subcommittees, one to address licensure and compliance and the other to oversee operations and procurement.

The bill also creates an audit committee within the agency and would require hiring an auditor director. A 12-member advisory board of state liquor license holders also would be established.

"No longer will the commission be a rubber stamp as it sometime has been," Valentine said.

Under a new management model, the commission will operate in the "light," which should greatly enhance its accountability, he said.

Marjorie Cortez