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Front Page » June 3, 2014 » Opinion » Venues may be in trouble with new booze regs
Published 91 days ago

Venues may be in trouble with new booze regs


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By RICHARD SHAW
Sun Advocate publisher

I'm not sure if Utah is neurotic or psychotic, but your state government is sure something.

Recent reports concerning decisions of the Division of Alcohol and Beverage Control, which is citing more laws that our legislature passed last session, may eliminate the sale of beer at one-time events by not granting licenses for such celebrations. That means the 40-year-old Oktoberfest celebration at Snowbird could sell a lot of stuff outside this fall, but not beer, which is part of a real German tradition.

For many of you this may be meaningless until you understand that this kind of thinking might apply to all one-time venues, including the beer and wine garden at the Helper Art Festival. Having worked with the festival for many years I know that the beer garden is one of the main generators of funds to run the festival each year.

This could mean trouble for those kinds of events, but the very basis of the kind of thinking that comes out of the legislature is even more troubling.

Snowbird has 19 liquor licenses they can use in conjunction with their restaurants and beer sales, but none of those can be used to sell beer at their outdoor plaza. They must get that special license and it looks to be a no go this year.

Utahns like to gripe about the federal government and its control of Utah lands, energy and resources. However they seem to ignore the fact that the state also regulates many things and takes away and gives just like the national government does. The whining about the feds actions is so loud that it drowns out the heavy handed actions of our own state representatives.When it comes to restricting and taking away freedoms this state government we have works with any whim that comes along, as long as it is advanced by those that wield the real power over our state representation.

There is a lot of talk about true freedom, about states rights, about leaving people alone to live as they want to. That is, of course, unless it is a different kind of living from those that make the rules.

If Utahns are all for so much freedom, then why do we try to make people do the bidding of others through ridiculous regulations?

Examples? They abound. Utah does not allow gambling in any form. It charges higher taxes on cigarettes than almost any other state in the union, largely to keep people from smoking. It treats drinkers like lepers, making those that want spirits to either put up with the weakest alcohol content beer sold anywhere in the nation or they are forced to go to what amounts to a Utah "company store" to get their booze.

And Carbon residents understand all too well what company stores do. They gouge you and you have no choice as to where to go to get what you want. In this case it is illegal to possess any alcohol that is not sold here.

This state also wants to decide who you will love and marry. You can certainly get married if you fit their idea of what is a "normal" relationship.

I could find more examples, but time and space keeps me from doing that. It's hypocritical to cry about individual rights in some areas when our state government is so restrictive in others.

Maybe Utahns don't care about how the rest of the nation looks at us, but they should. It affects a lot of things, including tourism.

I was once on an airplane in the late 1990s coming back from a business trip to New York and a guy on the plane seated next to me kept ordering cups of coffee. He finally looked at me and said "I need to get my coffee quota because you know there will be none when we get to Salt Lake. I have to spend three days of hell there this week. "

I explained to him that coffee was legal in Utah and was sold in almost every convenience store. He looked surprised.

"I was told nothing that is fun was legal there," he retorted.

Utah has come a long way in making inroads in dispelling many of the misconceptions about the state, but legislation like the new regulations that affect one time liquor licenses takes our state back three steps from the one step ahead we made during the Winter Olympics in 2002.

Our leaders in this state always talk about how well the state is managed and how efficient it is. They call us the best managed state in the union. Well that may be true.

But that is also true of many totalitarian governments in the past and in those that exist today. Those governments control everything so it is easy to make those claims.

I wonder when grocery stores will need a license to sell green jello.

With all that sugar in it, it's got to be the next thing on the list you know.

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June 3, 2014
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