Washington Privatize Liquor Distribution, Initiative 1100 (2010)

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The Washington Privatize State Liquor Stores Initiative, also known as I-1099 and I-1100, may appear on the November 2, 2010 ballot in Washington as an Initiative to the People. The proposed measure would close state liquor stores and authorize sale, distribution, and importation by private parties.[1][2]

Text of measure

Title

The ballot title reads:[1]

Statement of Subject: Initiative Measure No. 1100 concerns liquor (beer, wine and spirits).
Concise Description:This measure would close state liquor stores; authorize sale, distribution, and importation of spirits by private parties; and repeal certain requirements that govern the business operations of beer and wine distributers and producers.
Should this measure be enacted into law? Yes [ ] No [ ]

Summary

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; terminate contracts with private stores selling liquor; and authorize the state to issue licenses that allow spirits (hard liquor) to be sold, distributed, and imported by private parties. It would repeal uniform pricing and certain other requirements governing business operations for distributors and producers of beer and wine. Stores that held contracts to sell spirits could convert to liquor retailer licenses.

Support

The proposed measure was filed by Modernize Washington and Washington Citizens for Liquor Reform.[3] Initiative supporters say it will not affect bars and restaurants and will generate an additional $100 million over the next five years through licensing fees and sales taxes.[4] Charla Neuman, spokeswoman for Washingtonians for Liquor Reform, said the initiative wouldn't necessarily make liquor cheaper but would "create more jobs and lots of private business opportunities. It certainly makes shopping more convenient."[5]

Arguments

  • Costco Wholesale Corporation announced on May 24, 2010 that it supports the proposed initiative. "We serve our members in many states and around the world by selling them spirits, beer and wine at competitive prices. We should be able to do so in Washington State too, and other retailers should be able to similarly serve their customers. We are excited that Washington voters will be able to have a direct voice in determining these important policies," said Jim Sinegal, chief executive officer of Costco. According to reports, Costco plans to aid in signature gathering at its Costco warehouses and provide financial assistance.[6][7][8]
    • According to reports about three years earlier Costco challenged the current state liquor system in court but failed.[9]
  • In late May 2010 the Northwest Grocery Association, which represents major chains including QFC and Safeway, announced its support for the proposed initiative. The association cited a report by the state auditor that revealed that privatizing liquor distribution and sales would increase state revenue by approximately $86.8 million between 2012 and 2016.[10]

Donors

In June 2010 Costco Wholesale contributed an estimated $350,000 to Modernize Washington in support of Initiative 1100.[11] According to reports, between May 27 and June 9, the company contributed a total of $535,000 to supporters.[12]

Opposition

Almost immediately following the April 2010 filing of the proposed initiative, an opposition to the effort formed. The opposition is primarily led by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 21. The organizations represent liquor store clerks and assistant managers. Opponents argue that the state's current regulations help "keep liquor out of the hands of minors and also return a good profit to the state."[13]

Arguments

  • Despite support by larger grocers, small grocers said they oppose the proposed measure. Washington Food Industry Association president and chief executive Jan Gee said they worry about the consequences of removing so many controls. "This initiative doesn't just privatize liquor; it deregulates it beyond what any other state has done," said Gee. The association represents independent grocers.[10]

Polls

See also: Polls, 2010 ballot measures
  • During May 3 – May 23, 2010 The Washington Poll conducted a poll of approximately 1,252 registered voters. Of the polled voters, about 52% said they supported the private liquor store initiative, while 37% said they were opposed and 8% said they were undecided. According to the poll there was a margin of error of approximately +/- 2.8%.[14][15][16]


Date of Poll Pollster In favor Opposed Undecided Number polled
May 3-23, 2010 The Washington Poll 52% 37% 8% 1,252
Sept. 9-12, 2010 The Elway Poll 45% 34% 21% 500
October 7-10, 2010 The Elway Poll 42% 44% 14% 400
October 4-14, 2010 The Washington Poll 47% 49% 1% 500
October 24-27, 2010 SurveyUSA 48% 40% 12% 504


Challenge against I-1105

See also: Washington Revise State Liquor Laws, Initiative 1105

On June 1 supporters of I-1100 filed a ballot title and summary challenge against a competing measure - Washington Revise State Liquor Laws, Initiative 1105. According to the filed challenge the ballot language is too vague. I-1100 supporters point to the fact that the language does not reflect that in addition to privatizing state liquor stores the language does 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.[17][18]

Additionally, the complaint goes on to argue that the ballot title, written by the attorney general, does not explain what "qualified" means when explaining that the liquor control board would have to license "qualified private parties" to sell and distribute liquor. Another complaint points to the lack of the phrase "hard liquor" in the description. I-1100 argues that both proposed initiatives should include the phrase "hard liquor." If changed, both initiatives would be "put on the same playing field."[19]

The challenge was heard on June 9.

Court ruling

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 plan to new petitions with the changes immediately.[20][21]

Similar measures

In addition to I-1100 another initiative 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.[19]

Path to the ballot

See also: Washington signature requirements

In order to qualify for the November ballot, supporters are required to submit a minimum of 241,153 valid signatures by July 2, 2010. According to mid-June reports, supporters said they had collected "an adequate number of signatures." Sharon Gilpin, a political consultant who proposed the initiative, said she hopes to collect as many as 300,000 signatures to ensure a "cushion."[12]

See also

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Related measure

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External links

Additional reading

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Washington Secretary of State,"Initiative 1099 and 1100 brief description," retrieved June 3, 2010
  2. Kitsap Sun,"State's Voters May Get Chance to Privatize Liquor Sales," April 15, 2010
  3. KPLU,"Initiatives Filed to Privatize State Liquor Stores," April 17, 2010
  4. Seattle Weekly,"Private Liquor Store Measure Introduced: End of State Stores Coming?," May 6, 2010
  5. Publicola,"Third Liquor Privatization Initiative Filed," May 6, 2010
  6. Market Watch,"Costco Supports Initiative 1100, Privatizing Liquor Sales in Washington State," May 24, 2010
  7. Seattle Post-Intelligencer,"Costco supports getting state out of liquor business," May 25, 2010
  8. The Seattle Times,"Costco backing state initiative to open up liquor sales," May 25, 2010
  9. Crosscut,"Costco will make enemies as it goes after liquor sales," May 27, 2010
  10. 10.0 10.1 The Seattle Times,"Large grocers support measure to open liquor sales, downsize state liquor board," May 26, 2010
  11. The Seattle Times,"Costco donates $350,000 to liquor initiative," June 3, 2010
  12. 12.0 12.1 The Seattle Times,"Costco exec thinks liquor-store privatization measure will qualify for ballot," June 17, 2010
  13. Associated Press,"Wash. initiative would end state liquor monopoly," April 16, 2010
  14. The Washington Poll, "Issues and Opinions May 2010," May 24, 2010
  15. The Oregonian,"Washington voters may buy income tax on wealthy, poll shows," May 24, 2010
  16. Washington Secretary of State: From Our Corner,"WA Poll: Dino-Patty, pot, income tax and more," May 25, 2010
  17. Seattle Post-Intelligencer,"Booze battles: Liquor privatization proponents duke it out," June 3, 2010
  18. Seattle Post-Intelligencer,"Happy hour or hangover? Liquor privatization bills spark backlash," June 20, 2010
  19. 19.0 19.1 Publicola,"Liquor Campaign Challenges Liquor Campaign," June 3, 2010
  20. Seattle Post-Intelligencer,"Term 'hard liquor' will appear on both booze bills," June 9, 2010
  21. Publicola,"Dueling liquor privatization initiatives: I-1100 complaint against I-1105, pretty much flops," June 9, 2010