Lawmakers Gear Up To Restructure State Liquor Business

(KCPW News) With the 2012 legislative session drawing closer, Utah lawmakers are pushing up their sleeves to tackle the state’s liquor troubles. The Democrat-led Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control Review Committee held a Twitter town hall Thursday to solicit public input on what changes should be made to the DABC. Matthew Weinstein is coordinating the committee, which is made up of restaurant owners and business leaders.

“There’s a lot of concern about the corruption that we’ve seen at the DABC and the money that’s gone missing.” He says. “There’s also a concern about whether the taxpayers are getting the best bang for the buck from the alcohol control system in Utah, whether the system of retailing has been as cost-effective as it should be.”

Ogden State Representative Ryan Wilcox, a Republican, is sponsoring two bills aimed at restructuring the DABC, including one to privatize retail sale of liquor. He says he shares most of the sentiments that were expressed during the Twitter town hall, but didn’t participate because he wasn’t invited.

“If the legislature doesn’t address some of the issues that have come out that have been so prevalent, the corruption issues, the transparency issues in particular that we aren’t being responsible stewards.” He says. “On that side of it, I’m thrilled that I have some colleagues on the other side of the aisle as well who’ve recognized that this is a problem that we have a responsibility to deal with it. It’s not something that we can just put off again.”

House Minority Leader David Litvack and Senate Minority Leader Ross Romero established the committee. A recent legislative audit of the DABC revealed waste, abuse and alleged illegal activity within the agency. The Democratic Party’s DABC Review Committee will hold a public hearing next Tuesday at 2 p.m. in the Salt Lake City Main Library’s 4th floor conference room.

  1. Allen Klinefelter

    I can only hope that Utah comes around to more modern alcohol laws. I still think alcohol sales and wholesale should be done in the private sector with the state regualting. I know this will not happen for a while, but I can hope at least that beer sold in retail stores can be regular beer not 3.2 and that kegs at bars be full bodied as well. If we have to keep the state store system then it should be able to advertize and be more availible to the public.

    The resturants that apply for liquor licenses should be up to the local jurisdiction through zoning and the State should issue the license while the local government issues the business license.

  2. Jason Vance

    After reading the transcript of the twitter town hall meeting #DABCReview the only thing that they are going to do is to restructure the DABC. The lawmakers are not going to do anything that is Pro Consumer or Pro Free Market. They are doing what every government does when they have problems with their bureaucracy They solve government problems with “Better Government”. Not one of them wants to take a stand and say that the reason why the UTAH DABC is in such a poor position is the fact that they should not be in the business of selling alchohol.