Former Utah legislator Stephen Handy takes on new role as DABS commissioner

UTAH — Former Utah state legislator Stephen Handy was appointed as a commissioner of the state’s liquor commission in August 2023, as confirmed by the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Services (DABS).

Appointed by Gov. Spencer Cox, Handy’s service period is four years, succeeding the departure of Stan Parrish from the board in July.

“Commissioners are part-time volunteer commissioners,” said Tiffany Clason, executive director of DABS. “The governor has done a great job at appointing a really diverse selection of commissioners; in the past, the commission has been lawyer or CEO heavy, and while that is great, it is not necessarily ideal to have that be the majority of your board. With the current commission, given that they are a volunteer, community-based commission, it is great that the people they are serving have this representation of all different perspectives; I think it rounds out a really good commission.”

The DABS commission holds authority over the implementation of Utah’s liquor policies. This includes determining liquor license recipients and deciding on repercussions, such as license forfeitures, for businesses that violate liquor laws.

“The governor asked me [to join the commission], his office called, and his deputy said, ‘Steve, you’ve been voting on alcohol policies the 12 years you’ve been in the legislature, and we hope you’re available; we need someone who understands alcohol policy,” Handy said.

Handy, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, joins two other commissioners, Jacquelyn Orton and Natalie Randall, who also do not consume alcohol. The remaining four board members, including chairwoman Tara Thue, and members Juliette Tennert, Jennifer Tarazon, and Thomas Jacobsen, make up the majority of the seven-member board who partake in alcohol consumption.

“Utah is one of 18 control states, we have been since the end of prohibition, and it works pretty well in the state of Utah, they try and keep a balance of the seven commissioners, imbibers, and non-imbibers,” Handy stated. “I respect people as individuals to drink responsibly and I appreciate and acknowledge the fact that alcohol sales are an economic powerhouse in Utah.”

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