Alcohol-related discussion has become pervasive in our state, particularly as it relates to moral and economic public policies.
Regulating how alcohol is dispensed requires careful consideration, tolerance of the views of others and an open dialogue among stakeholders, including the community at large.
It is also important to note the far-reaching consequences these regulations have on other industries, including tourism, hospitality and restaurants.
Though the majority of issues regarding the use of this controlled beverage are decided on a state legislative level, municipal government plays a key role in shaping how, where and if certain types of alcohol-related commerce can operate. Licensing and zoning are only two examples of how local officials play a role in the oversight of these businesses.
Accompanying state and local alcohol policy is the business and economic development aspect. Impacts on local trade can vary depending on the specific business and its association with the drink. These include, but are not limited to, hotel lounges, restaurants, special events that serve liquor and convenience stores that sell beer.
Government must be aware of the social, fair market and economic ramifications of alcohol legislation. There are many unintended consequences of liquor regulations that should be identified and guarded against.
Government should not be an obstacle to, but rather an efficient economic regulator of, business. An open dialogue among cities, the Department of Alcohol and Beverage Control and the state Legislature is the effective tool needed in applying this concept to alcohol sales.
State elected leadership needs be cognizant of municipal efforts to be business-friendly in accommodating the dining and entertainment industries as it relates to alcohol regulations. The same applies in the consideration of reforms associated with the sale and distribution of the product.
The production side of the industry, such as brew pubs and wineries, must not be neglected as an economic driver either. Local entrepreneurship in manufacturing stimulates the Buy Utah and Buy Local concepts.
While it is difficult to enact laws concerning moral issues, understanding different perspectives about alcohol regulations leads to more informed policy decisions. The social ramifications of alcohol consumption must be understood and considered in determining policy; but there is also a counter-balancing obligation to understand the needs of restaurants, hotels and other businesses to operate in an equitable and productive economic environment.
Steve Curtis is the mayor of Layton. He has also worked as a business consultant and communication specialist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.