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Liquor privatization headed toward ballot

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on July 8, 2011 at 9:38 am with 13 Comments »
July 8, 2011 11:32 am

Washington voters are all but certain to be asked for a second year in a row to close all state liquor stores and let private companies sell booze.

The Initiative 1183 campaign hauled boxes of petitions into state elections headquarters this morning, saying they had signed more than 354,300 supporters in less than three weeks. Officials will count to make sure they have at least the 241,000 valid signatures needed for the November ballot.

Some 150,000 of the signatures came just from customers of Costco, which has carried the campaign on its back with $950,000 worth of contributions.

Voters rejected two ballot measures last year to privatize liquor. Advocates from industry say this year one’s different: A year after jumping on board with an initiative written by an advocate for their cause, this year businesses wrote their own measure, which addresses key complaints from last year:

  • That privatization would lead to the sale of liquor in every gas station and 7-Eleven, increasing alcohol abuse and drunk driving. This year’s measure limits sales to big box outlets and other stores with at least 10,000 square feet of space, with some exceptions. It could still lead to a fivefold increase in the number of retail stores selling spirits, advocates estimate.
  • That local governments would lose revenue. They would gain money under this initiative, industry promises. Advocates estimate $200 million up front for state and local governments from licensing fees and the sales of government stores and facilities, and “tens of millions” more every year.
  • That beer distributors would lose their spot as a key middleman between manufacturers and retailers. Beer interests bankrolled last year’s campaign, determined to keep their legal status. I-1183 doesn’t touch them, its promoters say. So unions and other opponents will have to find funding elsewhere.

UPDATE 11:30 a.m.: Advocates expect about 1,500 stores would be eligible to apply for a license.

Leave a comment Comments → 13
  1. tree_guy says:

    This is a baby step towards privatization but it’s a good start and I recommend the voters take advantage.

  2. DubyaFTW says:

    Oh, good. I wouldn’t want a small business to benefit from this legislation, only the big box stores. What a bunch of idiots we have for voters. It’s like we instinctively do everything possible to interfere with the biggest potential hiring group in the nation, small business! I voted yes for the last one’s, but not this time.

  3. And just another chance do lay off many current state employees who really don’t need to eat or earn a living. Bad choice. You know this will end badly for tax payers in this state. It always starts out as a good idea the 5 years down the road people wonder why we are paying more for everything. Sorry I could never support this one.

  4. wadsbrau says:

    @ald48: Why would we be paying more if liquor was available at various stores? You know the ones that offer various prices to attract people? What if you could only buy beer at Liquor Stores? You would not be able to get that deal for a 12 pack of Heiniken at Safeway or Costco when it’s on sale. With privatization, you could have this with liquor too. Capitolism = the American monetary system. BTW, do some research on how beer distribution works. It’s very close to a mafia organization. In some places in the states it actually is.

  5. wadsbrau says:

    I meant capitalism

  6. Why are people so willing to be led around by big business? Huge national corporations like Costco use our initiative process to dictate what they want Washington to be, not what’s best for the citizens of Washington state. Is it right to run an initiative that cuts a deal with the state and big box stores, but leaves out all small businesses? What about all the people with living wage jobs that will be out of work ; what about the increase in underage drinking? There’s a reason Washington state has not had the problem with underage drinking that so many other states have: we have trained, well compensated employees doing their job. That won’t happen with another 1500 more liquor stores out there. This is wrong in so many ways.

  7. nwcolorist says:

    The key issue for many would be bringing down the high markup that we see with the state run system. I think this is a move in the right direction.

  8. salmonhead says:

    I hope this passes this time. It really is about time to get our inefficient government out this business.

  9. steilacoomtaxpayer says:

    Not long until the state employee unions deploy scare tactics to promote fear in voters who don’t see the benefits of cutting gubbamint employment, retirement fund draw downs, L+I claims, payment of rent , etc. Long about August it will be a flurry of public afety issues as it was last time.

  10. ltkeffer says:

    The state needs to get out of this business.

  11. pungentsound says:

    A baby step to privatization? Yahoo, go for it. The government has more to do then run liquor stores. It won’t be cheaper just more convenient for most people why drive miles out of your way for something you could get at one stop shopping. Plus for the state employees displaced you may get a better paying job with your knowledge. You do have a skill!

  12. truthbusterguy says:

    I will be voting YES. The state doesn’t need to be in the booze business. A few less state slugs on the payroll is a good idea too.

    Let them work for the private market like the rest of us.

  13. dster420 says:

    YES!!! Let’s make alcohol so cheap and easy to get that all our kids can get their hands on it.. Think about it- when the parents have lost their jobs, and the allowences have dried up, the kids can just run up to Safeway and snatch a couple bottles of Bacardi!! Yeah…GREAT idea…

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