Poll: Half of Utahns Want to Privatize Liquor Sales

Source: Bob Bernick, Utah Policy, October 5, 2016

Half of all Utahns favor the state government getting out of the liquor retail business, a new UtahPolicy poll finds. Don’t expect that to happen any time soon, however. Liquor law changes in Utah historically must get the blessing of leaders of the Mormon Church, and alcohol control has been a hallmark of the church’s liquor policy for years in its home state. In a new UPD poll, Dan Jones & Associates finds that 49 percent of Utahns favor privatizing liquor sales in the state. … You can see from this Utah Taxpayers Association “Fast Tax” pamphlet that in fiscal year 2014-2015 (the latest numbers) that state government took in $8.2 million in the beer tax and $95.4 million in profit from its state liquor stores. Ten percent of liquor sales, or $41 million, automatically goes into public education, by law. The Department of Alcohol Beverage Control has been under fire for several years for poor management, underpaying its store sales staff and other issues. That has led some lawmakers to argue the state should just get out of the alcohol business, and let private entities sell liquor under state licensing and oversight – with the state taxing the sales in some manner. …


State liquor outlets should run more like convenience stores, Utah auditor says
Source: Dennis Romboy, Deseret News, September 27, 2016

Utah’s state-run liquor outlets would better serve customers if they were operated more like convenience stores, according to the state auditor, though he stopped short of calling for privatization. A state audit of the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control released Tuesday shows its management lacks the flexibility, data and tools to reach the “level of operational success we expect,” Auditor John Dougall said. … The audit found:
• Stores could be better staffed to handle customers, especially at peak hours.
• Ordering and stocking products could be improved.
• Wages are lower than other liquor-control states but comparable to convenience stores.
• DABC has inadequate tracking and evaluating of store costs.

Privatization, prices debated at Utah alcohol summit
Source: Dawn House, Salt Lake Tribune, September 06, 2012

Researchers disagreed Thursday on whether states, like Utah, that control alcohol distribution do better at curbing drunken driving, underage drinking and overconsumption, but they agreed on one sure-fire way to reduce such social ills: boost the price of booze.
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