It's that time of year again - when logical, well meaning people go to Utah's Capitol to plea for law changes to make their little corners of the world a little better.
Every individual has a different interpretation on what "better" is. And as usually happens, those in the minority find out that settling for "adequate" is a close as their gunna get.
That's what we're going to talk about today, adequate beer policy. As much as we bitch about how bad things are beer-wise here in Utah, I think we all know that it could be a hell of a lot worse. We have seen vast improvements in the production and availability of local craft brands as well as a broadening of brands from outside of the state. But things are still just adequate.
It comes to reason that as the beer market expands the infrastructure to manage it's growth must expand as well. The state cannot keep up with the demand that Utah's growing craft beer community is imposing on it.
The state liquor warehouse (even though expanded) is already bursting at the seams. We need to lighten the burden and move the beer end of the socialized liquor monopoly to the private sector, where it can be properly managed by the people who know this side of the business. The Beer Distributors.
This doesn't mean that the state doesn't get it's eighty something percent of the pie. It just means that the state gets it's taxes without the burden of managing the floor space the beer occupies.
If the state trusts Breweries, Wineries and Distilleries with the manufacturing and selling of their products with the class five packaging license, the leap to expand it to the distributors isn't that big.
All this leads to two things. The elimination of the 4.0% cap on draft beer and the saving of millions of dollars a year in an ever expanding beer market.
Last year Rep. Curtis Oda sponsored this very bill (HB349). The 2009 legislative ended without the bill going to a vote in the senate (passed in the House). This year Senate President Michael Whaddoups has already announced he would not hear any alcohol legislation this session. It seems he also sets the agenda on what is heard and not heard. It is beyond absurd that someone has this much power over an issue that he has such strong biases against.
My plea to you is this. If Rep. Oda manages to get this bill heard again, make sure you contact your representative and ask for their support of the bill. If it doesn't make it don't worry, there will still be next year. We don't want this bill to get the reputation as being a annual failure.