Saturday, May 31, 2014

Interesting New Developments in the Snowbird Oktoberfest Matter

Sodden question: Will our state legislature act to rein in this latest DABC exhibition of  Utah-style "nanny government?"

As a followup to Wednesday's WCF writeup, wherein we announced that this year's Snowbird Oktoberfest event stands in jeopardy, due to a quirky DABC re-interpretation of Utah "special event" adeministrative liquor license rules, we'll note a few interesting developments, which we've dredged up whilst googling.

First, this strong editorial from the Salt Lake Tribune, laden with some pretty decent legal analysis:
That's right, folks, the DABC's new threshhold criterion "for the common good" is found nowhere within the State's enabling statutes, but is instead a concept which an overzealous regulatory agency has pulled straight out of its... hat.  

Next, although tongue-in cheek, X96 Radio presents this intriguing and amusing spoof, which illuminates the slippery slope upon which Utahs find themselves perched, as our renegade State liquor regulatory bureaucracy cavalierly, unilaterally (and mindlessly) "tightens up" its rules:
"Are we going to be required to have a temple recommend before we can purchase alcohol too?" one perplexed reader asks.

And last but not least, and back on Capitol Hill, we learn of this promising "background" remedial legislative activity, via State Senator Jim Dabakis:
Friday night. I am a bit scarily consumed by DABC policy regarding OkertFest at Snowbird "No Beer at...". The event draws 60,000 people and has been creating memories since the mid-1970's. This and many, many other single permit licenses issued to so many non-profits across the state have been thrown into chaos by herky jerky DABC policy changes. 
I formally ask that the Legislature's joint Administrative Rules Review Committee 'request' the presence of the DABC executive director, compliance director and other senior staff to address the following issues about their administrative rulemaking. I believe that Co-Chairs Senator Stephenson and Rep Oda will see the need to address the issues as soon as possible.
The customers of the DABC deserve the respect of a consistent, reasonable rulemaking process open to a full, complete public comment. Without fear of retribution and done with well thought out policies that do not end up regularly on the pages of the worlds newspapers relegating Utah to scorn and ridicule. Hurting both economic development and tourism.
DABC seems prone to an annoying pattern, regularly doing one or both of the following: 
1. Changing a long-standing practice that significantly alters how it implements a rule, but then decides not to amend the rule because it has determined that the new practice more accurately implements the intent of the rule; or,
2. Amended a rule in a way that significantly alters how it implements the rule. In these cases, the agency has sometimes pointed out that the changes made were still within the scope of the statutory authority it was granted to regulate by rule. However, I contend the following points are applicable:
a. changing a long-standing rule in a way that significantly alters its implementation can cause significant disruption within the regulated community that increases in severity the more the amendments depart from the previous rule language; and b. because rules have the effect of law, rule language, particularly long-standing rule language, comes to represent the state’s public policy, and changing it should involve more discussion and review than can usually occur when a rule change proposal is simply made public. 
The current DABC scenario more closely follows #1 above because the agency has not amended its rule but changed its practice. DABC’s changes to its practice more accurately reflect the implicit intent of the rule, but detailing the changes in practice in a rule change, filed with and published by the Division of Administrative Rules, would have provided notice of the changes to the public and the regulated community and created the opportunity for public input.
Will our state legislature act to rein in this latest DABC exhibition of  Utah-style nanny government?"

The ball's in the legislature's court, wethink.


Janet V. said...

well...I'm glad I agree with somebody who knows what they're talking about..

Bob Becker said...

But...but...but... if we permit beer at Oktoberfests and crawfish boils, next thing you know, some demon-driven soul will want to have wine at wine-tasteings, and then will want to sell whiskey in bars. Where will it all end? Think of the children!

blackrulon said...

would it be permissable to allow liquor at these type of event if those who have a drink promised not to enjoy themselves?

Bob Becker said...

Rudi: not sure how promising that background capitol hill activity is. Jim D asked, that's all. Nobody's said "ok" yet. Jim asks for sane and sensible action from our wingnut Eaglet Forum legisature all the time. Not much of it happens in the end.

AWM said...

Why not worry about the impact closer to home?I would think that the same problem faces O-towns HOF Winterfest (which the last time attended can best be described as a wanna be biker rally cross-bred with a Wal-Mart Black Friday Sale)

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