Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Beer Likely at Oktoberfest After Utah Lawmakers Rip Brouhaha

Sodden question: "Are major legislative changes in store for Utah's state-run liquor monopoly?"

Following up on our discouraging earlier WCF articles on the topic, we're delighted to shine the spotlight on the Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret News stories linked below, reporting that it appears that higher-alcohol beer, wine and spirits likely will flow" at this year's Snowbird Resort Oktoberfest, in the aftermath of yesterday's legislative committee hearing:
"If it's not in statute, how did it get there? DABC has been essentially writing law, in conflict or not exactly with what the law says," House Representaive Becky Lockhart asked, referring to the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control's recent "reinterpretation" of single event liquor permit rules.

And check out this humdinger of a comment from conservative GOP Senator Mark Madsen, R-Saratoga Springs, who said lawmakers should re-examine the state's control of liquor sales:

"We need to look at the issue of having the state as the sole purveyor of spirits in the state," Madsen said. "When the government seeks to socially engineer, we run into problems like this and there are all kinds of unintended consequences."
Sodden question: "Are major legislative changes in store for Utah's state-run liquor monopoly?"

We won't hold our breath; but will however remark however that it's encouraging to observe some of Utah's most conservative legislators actively reining in Utah's renegade DABC bureaucrats.


Chris K. said...

Reform won't be possible in Utah as long as Neiderhauser is the Senate Majority leader

Bob Becker said...

The DABC is too right-wing nanny-state loony for the Utah GOP legislature? Wow. That truly pushes the envelope on bat-excrement crazy in Zion.

blackrulon said...

It appears the liquor rules and rulings are too strange even for the state legislature.

AWM said...

I was in Washington state recently visiting a relative who informed me that Cosco spent over $22M lobbying a couple of years back to allow stores with more than 10K sq/Ft to sell liquor. Prior to that the sale of liquor was primarily state controlled in state stores and to privately contracted stores.
While shopping in a crowded Safeway which now sells liquor I came across a bottle of bourbon whiskey for $23 which I buy in Utah for $28. I thought that was a great deal until my relative informed me that's the special "club" price and does not include the taxes. Out of curiosity I checked the price at the check out and if I remember right the cost was around $31 (there were TWO types of additional taxes I believe). I visited another large grocery store while there and like Safeway it had a liquor selection which I would classify as "lacking", particularly in the single malt departments. It was obvious they catered to the undiscerning palate of the masses.
I crossed over one day to Idaho and went into a state owned liquor store. Like Utah stores, it was very clean, not overrun by shopping carts, organized, and carried an exceptionally large selection of quality whiskeys in the single malt range as well as small batch bourbons and microbrews, and again like the stores I frequent in Utah, had generous and easily accessible parking. I came out of the store with a bottle of Glenlivet Nadurra, 16 year old. I paid $58-$60 which I considered reasonable. I concur with many of you that Utah does have some cumbersome laws related to alcohol.
However, be careful when you start talking about having the state leave the liquor business, you just might get what you're asking for. From what I recently saw in Washington that meant less selection with lower quality products in abundance, higher prices, and decreased customer satisfaction and convenience

blackrulon said...

I would suggest you check the prices and variety of liquor available in big box stores and speciality stores in Arizona, Nevada or California. While not familar with pricing in Washington state i have some knowledge of how the private liquor market operates in other states.

Ray said...

AWM and BR are both correct. Idaho has had a boom in border town liquor business at it's state liquor stores in Idaho town near the Washington/Idaho border. That said, I priced a 1.75 liter bottle of Bombay Gin in Utah-nearly $50. In Reno the same bottle was $29 at Costco. So some states handle the private liquor sales in a free market environment. Washington appears to have relinquished state sales and invoked more liquor taxes. In a state that erects the Zion Curtain, I'd expect similar stunts with any change in Utah law. I'd be happy if they allowed "Heavy Beer" sales in regular commercial establishments for starters.

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