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Utah lawmakers are considering clarifications to the state law that allows alcohol at special events — the move could help avoid a debacle like the one that occurred last summer with Snowbird Ski Resort's annual Oktoberfest.

HB16 cleans up the language "and keeps it from being arbitrary," Rep. Curt Oda, R-Clearfield, told members of the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice committee on Wednesday. As the law stands now it is "too vague and there's too much chance for subjectivity" when it comes to granting permits. The committee endorsed the changes and the bill now will be considered by the full House.

If approved, special event permits would be granted to any business or group that meets all the standards required by the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (DABC.) Requirements include strict security at events to prevent underage consumption and overconsumption of alcohol.

Under the current language an entity could meet all the DABC requirements but still could be denied a special permit by the state liquor commission.

In May, the commission sparked a frenzy after it told Snowbird officials that the resort might not receive a single-event permit for its annual Oktoberfest. At the time, commission and staff at the DABC had begun using a stricter interpretation of state law when granting the single-event permits — namely favoring a "civic or community group that promoted a common good" over a for-profit business that already had other state liquor licenses.

The negative publicity created heartburn among Utah lawmakers who expressed their displeasure with the commission's actions. After that, liquor leaders agreed not use non-profit and for-profit status as a factor in granting permits.