If one is to excuse the pun, there was a brew-ha-ha this past June when it appeared that Snowbird Ski Resort might be denied a special event permit for its annual Oktoberfest celebration.
Multiple factors were cited, including confusion from the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (DABC), and questions of whether or not the proper permit had been filed.
Snowbird would eventually receive its permit and Oktoberfest was saved for another year, however those on both sides of the aisle, and those on the DABC itself, agreed that greater clarification from the legislature would be required to prevent future confusion on this particular aspect of Utah’s complex alcohol policy.
To address this, Representative Curt Oda (Republican – Clearfield) has proposed HB 16 – Alcoholic Beverage Event Permit Amendments.
The bill itself is actually quite simple and subtle, but could have a large impact on the approval of special event permits. If the director of the DABC provides an initial decision to issue or deny a special event permit, three or more DABC Commissioners could meet to provide a final decision to approve or deny the permit.
This change does two things: clarify the law, and spreads power out more evenly.
The most obvious change is that the bill states in no uncertain terms, that DABC Commissioners are able to meet in order to approve (or deny) special permits after the director has issued an initial ruling. Currently, the law states that Commissioners may issue a licence; under Oda’s bill, Commissioners will issue a licence unless one or more of several specific and measurable metrics are not met.
The second thing this legislation does is spread power out more evenly among the DABC. By allowing three out of the seven DABC Commissioners to rule, the policy update makes it clear that the final decision rests with the Commission and not become stuck in the legal limbo the state saw earlier this year.
Of course, people and organizations could still be denied special event permits under this legislation, but, again, the key difference is applicants now know who to complain to.
Though narrow in scope, this legislation none the less addresses an issue that caused a black eye for the state. It is narrow enough in scope as to not require a full blown rehaul of alcohol policy – but broad enough to fix a serious flaw in alcohol policy.
To contact Representative Oda, Click Here or call 801-773-9796
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