2023 Bills

HB 223: Increased Drug Enforcement by Police

This bill passed both chambers of the legislature unanimously. Review our tracker for more information.

Libertas Institute opposes this bill

Staff review of this legislation finds that it violates our principles and must therefore be opposed.

In Utah, liquor is sold in state-owned stores. A portion of the revenue funds the school lunch program, a portion goes to the Department of Public Safety to fund alcohol-related law enforcement officers, and a portion goes to the General Fund.

House Bill 223 would increase the amount of funding allocated to alcohol-related law enforcement officers and require ten officers to focus primarily on drug enforcement.

While enforcing the “Alcoholic Beverage Control Act” makes sense — no one wants minors getting access to alcohol — increasing the number of officers doing this job is not necessary. The number of alcohol enforcement officers is already keyed to the number of businesses selling alcohol, and there is no evidence that this has been insufficient.

Furthermore, there is no need for additional resources to enforce drug-related offenses. Local law enforcement agencies already enforce drug laws as do four state-supported, multi-jurisdictional task forces that focus primarily on drug enforcement.  

Person crimes — crimes in which an actual victim is harmed — have been on the rise in Utah. And yet fewer than half of violent crimes and a quarter of property crimes are cleared in Utah. If we are doing such a poor job of solving more serious crimes, why are additional resources being thrown at enforcing drug laws and alcohol regulations?

Resource allocation should track priorities. If we value public safety, resources should be spent apprehending and punishing those who violate the bodily integrity and property rights of others.