Washington Revise State Liquor Laws, Initiative 1105 (2010)
According to reports I-1105 supporters filed signatures with the Washington Secretary of State on Friday, July 2. Supporters filed a total of 358,525 signatures, enough to allow a 3 percent random sample check. According to the secretary of state on July 23, of the 10,935 signatures sampled, 9,193 or 81% were accepted. The rejections, state officials said, were because signers were not registered voters. The error rate was 18.55%.
- According to a December 2010 report, Rep. Gary Alexander and Sen. Tim Sheldon planned to reintroduce legislation to reform the Liquor Control Board. Alexander favors making Washington's system more like that Oregon's. In other words, liquor stores would be made private and would be under contract with the state. Sheldon, on the other hand, proposes closing state liquor stores and the state distribution center. Franchise agreements would then be auctioned to the highest bidder.
- On May 21, 2011 a bill to privatize the state's wholesale liquor distribution system was approved by the Senate following a 31-14 vote. If approved by the House, the bill would require the office of Financial Management to seek proposals from companies interested in taking over the state's distribution system.
|Washington Initiative 1105 (Liquor)|
Text of measure
The ballot title read:
According to the description prepared by the Washington Secretary of State:
This measure would direct the liquor control board to close all state liquor stores and to license qualified private parties as spirits retailers or distributors. It would require licensees to pay the state a percentage of their first five years of gross spirits sales; repeal certain taxes on retail spirits sales; and direct the board to recommend to the legislature a tax to be paid by spirits distributors. It would revise other laws concerning spirits.
Supporters of both I-1105 and I-1100 argued that the proposals would allow for lower prices, greater convenience, in addition to cutting government costs.
According to reports in June 2010 Washington Citizens for Liquor Reform received two contributions - one from Young's Market Company (dead link), a Los Angeles-based spirit and wines distributor, and another from Odom Corp., a beverage distributor with offices in Bellevue. Young's Market contributed $300,000, while Odom gave $100,000.
Below is a chart that outlines major cash contributions to the campaign in support of I-1105:.
|Young's Market Company (CA)||$1,469,500|
|Odom Southern Holdings||$1,274,500|
Opponents of I-1105 and I-1100 argued that state and local governments would lose millions of dollars in liquor tax revenue should voters approve the proposed measures. Additionally, they argued that the measures may lead to an increase in minors illegally buying alcohol and more drunk driving incidents.
- John Guadnola, executive director of the Washington Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association said, "We think they're terrible public policy. Whether or not you believe in privatization, this is a horrendous way to do it." In response to arguments that they were afraid of losing part of the market share, Guadnola said they would be willing to compete with sellers but were concerned the proposed measures may eliminate regulations on hard liquor.
- Washington Governor Chris Gregoire was opposed to both I-1100 and I-1105. "Right now, to do what is being proposed by those initiatives would deplete our coffers by about $300 million dollars… so I'm a no vote on both of them. I can't afford the loss of revenue. Do I think that we should reform liquor? Yes. And I would expect the legislature to pick up where the voters left off and still do something important in that area. But at this point in time I just have to go with what I've seen are just heartwrenching cuts to human lives, and I just can't afford to say yes and lose $300 million," she said.
- The Vancouver City Council voted to oppose both I-1100 and I-1105 on October 11, 2010. The resolution passed with 4 in favor and 2 opposed. The city of Vancouver estimated that if I-1100 was approved the city would lose $1.2 million a year. If I-1105 was approved, city officials estimate a loss of $2 million per year.
In late August 2010 the Washington Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association and the National Beer Wholesalers Association each contributed $1 million to Protect Our Communities, a coalition in opposition to both I-1100 and I-1105.
Below is a chart that outlines major cash contributions to the campaign in opposition of I-1105:.
|National Beer Wholesalers Association (VA)||$2,400,000|
|Beer Institute (DC)||$2,400,000|
|Washington Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association PAC||$1,675,000|
|UFCW Local 21-Seattle Area||$550,000|
|Drive Committee (DC)||$75,000|
Reports and analyses
OFM impact report
On August 11, 2010 the Office of Financial Management (OFM) released a financial impact report should Initiative 1100 or Initiative 1105 be approved by voters on November 2. Contrary to an earlier report by the state auditor, the OFM predicted that the state could lose hundreds of millions of dollars. Specifically, the report estimated that I-1100 would reduce state revenues up to $277 million over the next five years and I-1105 could reduce revenues by $730 million. However, the OFM also reported that both measures could increase liquor sales by about 5 percent.
Supporters of the initiatives argued that the OFM's report did not account for additional revenues paid by increased liquor sales.
Budget and Policy Center
The Washington State Budget and Policy Center released an analysis of the several Washington 2010 initiatives, including I-1100 and I-1105. According to the study, the impact of I-1105 to the state's general fund over a 5-year period was estimated at between $513 million and $547 million. The measures, according to the study, could "impose long-term social costs associated with heightened consumption of hard liquor and other alcoholic beverages."
Media editorial positions
- The Seattle Post-Intelligencer was opposed to I-1100 and I-1105. In an editorial, the board said, "Washington's cumbersome state liquor monopoly is overdue for reform...But the peoples' representatives -- our Washington State Legislature -- ought to do the job. Hence, seattlepi.com recommends that voters reject Initiatives 1100 and 1105, liquor privatization measures on the November ballot. The public interest, and public coffers, stand to lose if "reform" takes the form of an initiative or initiatives placed on the ballot and promoted by special interests that stand to make (many) bucks."
- The Seattle Times was opposed to I-1105. In an editorial, the board said, "The Nov. 2, 2010, ballot also has Initiative 1105. It would also close the state liquor stores, but it would keep the anti-competitive rules in beer and wine, and end the state monopoly in spirits by giving it to a private cartel. The Times recommends a yes vote on I-1100 and a no vote on I-1105."
- The Stranger was opposed to the proposed initiative. The editorial board wrote, "It gets rid of both the state's liquor markup and taxes, meaning that if Eyman's I-1053 passes—that's the one that effectively prevents the legislature from raising taxes—the state would lose all liquor-tax revenues for at least two years at a time when money is tight. That would devastate some good programs. It would also require a distributor middleman for all booze sales forever—essentially shifting the monopoly from the state to the hands of private distributors. So vote no on I-1105."
- The Pacific Northwest Inlander was opposed to I-1100 and I-1105. In an editorial, the board said, "To begin with, common sense tells us that expanding the availability of liquor could cause more problems related to alcohol abuse. That alone is a good reason to question the wisdom of these measures. The state has a duty to regulate certain, potentially dangerous businesses. But additionally, by putting the state out of the liquor sales business, as initiatives 1100 and 1105 would do, we would be punching a hole in our state budget to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars...As with other ballot initiatives this season, I-1100 and I-1105 are really about massive corporations attempting to pry open new profit centers."
- The Yakima Herald-Republic opposed I-1105. "Initiative 1105 is less of a deregulation measure and more geared toward the distribution end. It is bankrolled by two large distributors. Like I-1100, it would close all state liquor stores. It would require retailers to purchase hard liquor through distributors, contrasted with I-1100, under which retailers could buy directly from manufacturers. It would institute a fee based on gross sales to be paid by distributors. To us, putting a middleman -- the distributor -- into state statute ensures someone else will always take a financial swig of the booze, just as the state does now. This is another reason to go with 1100," said the editorial board.
- The Bellevue Reporter supported I-1100 but opposed I-1105. In an editorial, the board said, "I-1100 would let retailers buy directly from manufactures. This is where I-1100 and I-1105 differ. I-1105 would keep the middle-men in liquor sales – the distributors – in place, along with the costs they add to the price. Some argue that distributors help the state's small wineries get their wines in stores...The state doesn't need an expensive distribution system to protect what amounts to a alcohol cartel. And it doesn't need to be in the retail sales of alcohol at all. Vote "Yes" on I-1100 and "No" on I-1105."
- Publicola opposed I-1100 and I-1105. "Both of these privatization measures are written to favor big businesses at the expense of consumers, public safety, and basic state services. If voters really feel we need more liquor stores open longer hours, they should put pressure on the legislature to reform our current system. But they should reject both of these poorly written, ill-timed proposals," said the editorial board.
- The Kitsap Sun opposed the measure. "...our board favors I-1100, which would not require “middle man” distributors between liquor manufacturers and businesses. It also may provide for better enforcement of under-age restrictions and other laws by the state Liquor Control Board. And do not vote for both initiatives; if both are approved, they’d go to the Legislature and the courts. Vote “yes” on 1100 and “no” on 1105," said the board.
- See also: Polls, 2010 ballot measures
- A July 7-8, 2010 poll by SurveyUSA/KING5 revealed that an estimated 65% of polled voters "trust state-run liquor stores to sell liquor responsibly," while 56% said they trusted private corporations. The survey did not directly ask about proposed initiatives I-1105 or related initiative I-1100. According to reports, the poll had a 3.4 percent to 3.4 percent margin of error, depending on the question.
- A September 9-12, 2010 poll of 500 likely voters by Elway Poll revealed that 41% supported the proposed measure, while 33% were opposed and 26% were undecided.
- An October 7-10, 2010 poll of 400 likely voters by Elway showed that 36% supported the proposed measure, while 45% opposed it and 18% were undecided.
|Date of Poll||Pollster||In favor||Opposed||Undecided||Number polled|
|Sept. 9-12, 2010||The Elway Poll||41%||33%||26%||500|
|Oct. 7-10, 2010||The Elway Poll||36%||45%||18%||400|
Ballot title challenge
On June 1 supporters of a competing initiative - Washington Privatize State Liquor Stores, Initiative 1100 - filed a ballot title and summary challenge. According to the filed challenge the ballot language was too vague. I-1100 supporters pointed to the fact that the language did not reflect that in addition to privatizing state liquor stores the language did not specifiy thet I-1105 would repeal the existing alcohol tax and require the legislature to create a new tax. Charla Neuman, spokeswoman for I-1105, said the other side was "just playing games" by filing a challenge on the last day they were allowed to.
Additionally, the complaint went on to argue that the ballot title, written by the attorney general, did not explain what "qualified" meant when explaining that the liquor control board would have to license "qualified private parties" to sell and distribute liquor. Another complaint pointed to the lack of the phrase "hard liquor" in the description. I-1100 argued that both proposed initiatives should include the phrase "hard liquor." If changed, both initiatives would be "put on the same playing field."
The challenge was heard in court on June 9.
The case was heard by Judge Thomas McPhee on June 9. Judge McPhee agreed that the term "hard liquor" should appear in both I-1105's and I-1100's ballot language. However, the judge rejected all other complaints by I-1100 supporters. Shortly following the judge's ruling, I-1105 supporters said they planned to print new petitions with the changes immediately.
In addition to I-1105 another initiative, I-1100, was also proposed relating to privatizing state liquor stores. However, unlike I-1100, I-1105 prices liquor licenses based on the volume of liquor sold. I-1100, on the other hand, does not include price controls.
If both measures had been approved by voters, according to attorneys in the state's Elections Division and the Attorney General's office, the question would go to the Washington Legislature and the courts. With a two-thirds vote, the legislature, could find a way to adopt the two laws or adopt one and reject the other. However, both measures would remove the state from the liquor business and allow retailers to sell "hard alcohol."
Path to the ballot
In order to place the proposed measure on the 2010 ballot organizers were required to collect a minimum of 241,153 valid signatures by July 2. According to reports I-1053 supporters filed signatures with the Washington Secretary of State on Friday, July 2.
Supporters filed a total of 358,525 signatures, enough to allow a 3 percent random sample check. According to the secretary of state on July 23, of the 10,935 signatures sampled, 9,193 or 81% were accepted. The rejections, state officials said, were because signers were not registered voters. The error rate was 18.55%.
- Initiative petition deadlines arrive in Oregon and Washington
- Washington liquor initiative challenges similar liquor initiative
- Washington Citizens for Liquor Reform (support)
- The Daily News, "Voters brace for liquor battle," September 25, 2010
- The Olympian, "Spirits industry splits on ballot," September 5, 2010
- The Spokesman Review, "Money pours into initiative campaigns," September 5, 2010
- The News Tribune, "Ballot will shape state budget," August 30, 2010
- The Seattle Times, "Liquor initiatives stir up old dispute," August 21, 2010
- Washington Secretary of State's: From Our Corner, "Here’s your quick guide to WA ballot measures," August 10, 2010
- The Daily Herald, "5 Washington state ballot measures could end up in court," July 18, 2010
- KPLU 88.5,"$8.2M Spent So Far To Get Initiatives On Wash. Ballot," July 15, 2010
- The News Tribune, "Liquor sales ballot measures worry local governments," September 22, 2010
- The Bellingham Herald, "Bellingham council member wants city to oppose liquor store measures," September 20, 2010
- The News Tribune, "Liquor initiatives could cost Pasco $1M each year," September 15, 2010
- Whidbey News Times, "Mix of liquor initiatives add to Island County's budget woes," September 8, 2010
- The Seattle Times, "The state of Washington should get out of the liquor business," April 1, 2011
- PTLeader.com, "Editorial: The perplexing case of two liquor initiatives," September 15, 2010
- Washington Secretary of State, "Initiative 1105 brief description," accessed June 4, 2010
- Washington's: From Our Corner,"`Direct democracy’ — A six-pack for 2010," July 2, 2010
- Washington Secretary of State's: From Our Corner, "Booze on ballot: Make it a double," July 23, 2010
- The Oregonian, "Washington gets shot at ending liquor monopoly," August 1, 2010
- The Columbian, "In Our View: Look at Liquor Again," December 12, 2010
- Kitsap Sun, "Senate OKs bill to explore privatizing wholesale liquor distribution," May 21, 2011
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
- Herald Net, "Foes of liquor sales initiatives get help from beer, wine distributors," August 27, 2010
- Associated Press, "Wash. initiative campaigns draw big campaign cash," August 17, 2010
- Seattle Post-Intelligencer, "Big bucks behind booze initiatives," June 9, 2010
- Publicola, "New contributions for liquor initiative," June 9, 2010
- Washington PDC "Washington Citizens for Liquor Reform-Campaign Detail," accessed October 19, 2010
- The Herald, "Gregoire backs Initiative 1098 but not the liquor measures," October 12, 2010
- The Columbian, "City Council opposes liquor initiatives," October 12, 2010
- Washington PDC "Protect Our Communities-Campaign Detail," accessed October 19, 2010
- The Seattle Times, "Report says state will lose money if liquor initiatives pass," August 12, 2010
- Seattle Post-Intelligencer, "Study: Privatized booze sales could cost state $500 mil," August 11, 2010
- Othello Outlook, "Ballot measures could have significant impacts on state - Washington State Budget and Policy Center," August 24, 2010
- Washington State Budget and Policy Center, "New OFM Analyses Show Potential Costs of 2010 Initiatives," August 11, 2010
- The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, "Seattlepi.com: Vote 'no' I-1100, 1105; Leg should privatize booze," September 9, 2010
- The Seattle Times, "Initiative 1100 best route for Washington state to get out of retail liquor business," September 17, 2010
- The Stranger, "VOTE, BABY, VOTE!," October 13, 2010
- "The Pacific Northwest Inlander,""Decision Time," October 6, 2010
- The Yakima Herald-Republic, "I-1100 better option for privatizing liquor," October 17, 2010
- The Bellevue Reporter, "Liquor initiatives: 'Yes' on I-1100, 'No' on I-1105 | Editorial," October 14, 2010
- Publicola, "PubliCola Picks “No” On Initiatives 1100 and 1105," October 15, 2010
- Kitsap Sun, "OUR VIEW | Sorting Out the Ballot Issues," October 21, 2010
- Seattle Post-Intelligencer, "Booze sales: People trust gov. more than business, poll says," July 11, 2010
- SurveyUSA, "Results of SurveyUSA Election Poll #16795," July 9, 2010
- FireDogLake, "WA Ballot Measures Polling Under 50% – So Much for That Anti-Tax, Less Government Wave," September 16, 2010
- Seattle Post-Intelligencer, "Skeptical public? All initiatives under 50 percent in poll," September 15, 2010
- The Spokesman Review, "Initiative support tepid in poll," September 20, 2010
- Publicola, "Poll: Candy Tax Repeal Gains Ground, Four Initiatives Losing" October 11, 2010
- Seattle Post-Intelligencer, "Booze battles: Liquor privatization proponents duke it out," June 3, 2010
- Publicola, "Liquor Campaign Challenges Liquor Campaign," June 3, 2010
- Seattle Post-Intelligencer, "Happy hour or hangover? Liquor privatization bills spark backlash," June 20, 2010
- Seattle Post-Intelligencer, "Term 'hard liquor' will appear on both booze bills," June 9, 2010
- Publicola, "Dueling liquor privatization initiatives: I-1100 complaint against I-1105, pretty much flops," June 9, 2010
- Washington's: From Our Corner, "What if both liquor initiatives pass?," July 2, 2010
- Washington Secretary of State Blog - From Our Corner,"`Direct democracy’ — A six-pack for 2010," July 2, 2010
- Seattle Post-Intelligencer, "Eyman, second liquor measure ready to turn in signatures," June 28, 2010
- The Port Townsend & Jefferson County Leader, "Initiative 1107 aims to repeal food and beverage tax with Nov. ballot," July 13, 2010
- KNDO, "Another Initiative Makes the November Ballot," July 23, 2010
- Associated Press, "Second liquor-sales measure makes WA ballot," July 23, 2010 (dead link)
- Seattle Post-Intelligencer, "Second booze privatization bill makes fall ballot," July 23, 2010
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