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Washington State Supreme Court Thursday will release ruling on challenge to liquor privatization initiative

Post by Peter Callaghan / The News Tribune on May 30, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
May 30, 2012 4:36 pm

That’s a pretty quick turnaround but the entire case has been expedited to get a ruling on the constitutional challenge before private liquor sale begin Friday.

The court usually posts on its websites the cases that will be released the following morning. Thursday is the normal day for rulings to be released and in this case also is the last day before the initiative kicks in.

Initiative 1183 passed with nearly 58 percent of the vote last November. It would end the state’s control of all liquor distribution and end its monopoly on sales of liquor by the bottle. Opponents of the initiative argued that it violates a constitutional provision that proposed legislation only have one subject. That prevents legislation, including initiatives, from containing unrelated provisions that might either slip by or pass due to the popularity of another provision.

Opponents tried to show that the initiative privatized liquor but also imposed taxes to support local governments and public safety. It also changed how the state regulates the sale of wine.

They also argued that a ballot title misled voters by calling new taxes imposed by the initiative “fees.”

State attorneys argued that there has been a historic link between liquor proceeds and support for local governments.

The court heard arguments on the case May 17. A ruling against the initiative would create confusion in liquor sales. State stores are set to close Thursday and many already have. Many grocery stores are ready to start liquor sales Friday morning.

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