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Steven B. Bateman, a Utah native and the chief executive officer of St. Mark's Hospital, has been nominated to fill a vacancy on the seven-member Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission.
"I'm not a drinker," Bateman said Monday, after a hearing before the Senate Business and Labor Confirmation Committee. But with three decades of health care decision-making under his belt, Bateman said he can be "even-handed" and "open-minded" as a member of the sometimes controversial commission that oversees the licensing and regulating of the sale of alcoholic beverages in Utah.
Bateman told members of the committee that, if confirmed, he would work to make Utah's liquor system "efficient and effective" in the area of distribution while "not necessary promoting consumption of alcohol."
Before giving Bateman a unanimous endorsement, committee members asked Bateman his opinion on several pressing liquor issues, from privatization to repealing the Zion Curtain law which requires new restaurants to have barriers between the mixing and pouring area and patrons.
Bateman's answer to privatization was a clear no. "I don't object to those who choose to drink, but I have seen the down side (of overconsumption) and the way the state law is written now is a good thing."
Repealing the Zion Curtain was a maybe. "I've seen the surveys that show the majority of citizens object to it and there seems to be mixed evidence on whether it hinders drinking, and harms tourism, so I'd like to get more informed on it."
Bateman's name now goes before the full Senate for confirmation. A spokeswoman for the DABC said she expected that to happen before the commission's next meeting Jan. 27. The Utah Legislature opens its 2015 session on Jan. 26.
Bateman would replace Dennis Nordfelt, the former superintendent of the Utah Highway Patrol and the former police chief and mayor in West Valley City, who died in September at the age of 71.
Bateman has been the CEO at St. Mark's Hospital for nearly 10 years. Prior to that he was the CEO of Ogden Regional Medical Center and Brigham City Community Hospital. He also has served as CEO of Pioneer Valley Hospital in West Valley City and of West Valley Medical Center in Caldwell, Idaho. He began his administrative career in 1982 as an assistant administrator at Ogden Regional when it was known as St. Benedict's Hospital.
He has a master's degree from Utah State University and a bachelor's from Weber State University.
Sen. Brian Shiozawa, R-Salt Lake, called Bateman "honest, smart and able to fairly deal with complex issues. He has a good perspective and the expertise to serve on this commission."