Washington Privatize Liquor Distribution, Initiative 1100 (2010)
|Voting on Alcohol|
|Not on ballot|
Text of measure
The ballot title reads:
- 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 [ ]
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.
The proposed measure was filed by Modernize Washington and Washington Citizens for Liquor Reform. 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. 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."
- 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.
- According to reports about three years earlier Costco challenged the current state liquor system in court but failed.
- 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.
In June 2010 Costco Wholesale contributed an estimated $350,000 to Modernize Washington in support of Initiative 1100. According to reports, between May 27 and June 9, the company contributed a total of $535,000 to supporters.
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."
- 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.
- 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%.
|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
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.
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."
The challenge was heard 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 plan to new petitions with the changes immediately.
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.
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."
- Supermarket News,"Costco Collects Signatures for Initiative 1100," June 18, 2010
- Wall Street Journal,"Costco Would Scotch Old Washington State Liquor Laws," June 18, 2010
- Inlander,"Taking Initiative," June 16, 2010
- The News Tribune,"Initiatives: Many are filed, but few are sane," June 1, 2010
- The Spokesman-Review,"New initiatives would privatize liquor sales, outlaw martial arts weapons," May 6, 2010
- Washington Secretary of State: From Our Corner,"Initiatives filed to privatize liquor sales," April 16, 2010
- Washington Secretary of State,"Initiative 1099 and 1100 brief description," retrieved June 3, 2010
- Kitsap Sun,"State's Voters May Get Chance to Privatize Liquor Sales," April 15, 2010
- KPLU,"Initiatives Filed to Privatize State Liquor Stores," April 17, 2010
- Seattle Weekly,"Private Liquor Store Measure Introduced: End of State Stores Coming?," May 6, 2010
- Publicola,"Third Liquor Privatization Initiative Filed," May 6, 2010
- Market Watch,"Costco Supports Initiative 1100, Privatizing Liquor Sales in Washington State," May 24, 2010
- Seattle Post-Intelligencer,"Costco supports getting state out of liquor business," May 25, 2010
- The Seattle Times,"Costco backing state initiative to open up liquor sales," May 25, 2010
- Crosscut,"Costco will make enemies as it goes after liquor sales," May 27, 2010
- The Seattle Times,"Large grocers support measure to open liquor sales, downsize state liquor board," May 26, 2010
- The Seattle Times,"Costco donates $350,000 to liquor initiative," June 3, 2010
- The Seattle Times,"Costco exec thinks liquor-store privatization measure will qualify for ballot," June 17, 2010
- Associated Press,"Wash. initiative would end state liquor monopoly," April 16, 2010
- The Washington Poll, "Issues and Opinions May 2010," May 24, 2010
- The Oregonian,"Washington voters may buy income tax on wealthy, poll shows," May 24, 2010
- Washington Secretary of State: From Our Corner,"WA Poll: Dino-Patty, pot, income tax and more," May 25, 2010
- Seattle Post-Intelligencer,"Booze battles: Liquor privatization proponents duke it out," June 3, 2010
- Seattle Post-Intelligencer,"Happy hour or hangover? Liquor privatization bills spark backlash," June 20, 2010
- Publicola,"Liquor Campaign Challenges Liquor Campaign," June 3, 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
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