Legislature Questions DABC About Permitting Changes

Jun 16, 2014

Members of the Utah legislature questioned the director of the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control Monday over the board’s decision to change the way they review single event permit applications.

Recently the DABC announced that they would be looking closer at applications being made for single event alcohol permits, including Snowbird resort’s Oktoberfest. At the time, DABC officials said statute requires them to favor applicants that are non-profits, and that Oktoberfest might not qualify under the renewed scrutiny. The backlash from the decision made worldwide headlines and prompted the administrative rules committee to call DABC Director Salvador Petilos to appear for questioning. Democratic Senator Jim Dabakis says he can’t understand why the department continues to make decisions that shed a poor light on the state and its businesses.

“It just seems as though we’re shooting ourselves in the foot," Dabakis says. "And I hope, after intent to dine, and now with no beer at Oktoberfest, I hope that we’re not six months down the road bringing you in again saying, ‘why is this happening?’”

John Nielsen is a member of the DABC. He says the controversy over Oktoberfest was exaggerated and that it arose mostly over confusion about how to interpret state law.

“We will do our best to try and keep the state out of these kinds of issues, but as long as you’ve got liquor laws and the interpretation of those laws, and as long as you’ve got people who don’t like them, I’m afraid we’re going to continue to have these kinds of issues come to the floor," Nielsen says. "But, we will do our best and we’d ask you to help us.”

Nielsen says the commission plans on readdressing the rules regarding single event licenses this week and that the commission does not intend to deny someone a license solely on the basis that they’re a for profit organization.