Utah's Libertarian Party has started a citizen petition drive aimed at getting a initiative on the 1992 ballot that would do away with state control of liquor.
Former Libertarian Party Chairman Bob Waldrop said Thursday that a new group, drawn from Libertarian ranks, called SOBER - Society Opposing Bad Entertainment Regulations - will spearhead the petition drive."We couldn't get this (petition) ready for the 1990 ballot. It will take us two years to gather the signatures, but we're dedicated to it," Waldrop said.
SOBER will have to gather the signatures of 69,000 registered voters to get the initiative on the ballot.
Waldrop said the petition will abolish state control of liquor, require that the state divest itself of assets used in distributing liquor and dedicate all proceeds from the sale of liquor facilities to public schools.
Currently, the state controls the sale of hard liquor. No hard liquor can be sold in private stores, and liquor consumption in restaurants and private clubs is licensed and controlled by the state.
In addition, the Libertarian petition would increase penalties for persons who commit crimes while intoxicated and would add a one-year minimum sentence for felony crimes committed under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
The petition also declares a "Drunk Driving Emergency" and deregulates public transportation in order to make more taxicabs available so intoxicated persons don't have to drive their own vehicles, Waldrop said.
Initiative petitions successful at the ballot box change state law. The Legislature could, in either a special session or general session, change the initiative law any way it sees fit. Only Republicans and Democrats have elected representatives in the Legislature. No Libertarians have been elected to the body. Legislators have, in the past, been committed to state control of liquor. Thus, even if the Libertarians' initiative petition were to get 69,000 signatures and pass on the ballot, lawmakers could change the law and reinstitute state control of liquor.