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Washington’s Quest for Privatized Liquor Sales – Initiative 1183


Washington State Liquor StoreIt’s no surprise that people in Washington state want liquor reform and the privatization of liquor sales, and that is made evident with the support of two initiatives, Costco backed Initiative 1100 and Initiative 1105, both of which failed last year with 53% and 65% of voters voting against them, but with how close I-1100 was is proof that people are tired of the monopoly that the Washington State Liquor Control Board has on liquor within the state. Even with people being tired of that monopoly and wanting privatization, many didn’t agree with the manner in which I-1100 and I-1105 proposed it be done, which is why it may not have passed. Washington Governor Chris Gregoire herself was opposed to both I-1100 and I-1105, but she went on to say “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.”

With that said, sponsors for Initiative 1183 announced today that they estimated they turned in nearly 350,000 signatures to qualify the the new liquor privatization initiative for the November ballot. According to The Seattle Times, “I-1183 would close state liquor stores and sell their assets, including the liquor-distribution center. It would allow private stores to sell liquor and create licensing fees for sale and distribution of liquor based on sales revenues. Costco is the main backer, providing most of the more than $950,000 in cash and in-kind contributions raised so far.” Like last year’s Costco Wholesale Corp. backed I-1100, Costco is promoting I-1183 along with the Washington Restaurant Association, the Northwest Grocery Association and the Washington Retail Association.

As with last year, a group called Protect Our Communities will campaign against the measure and they will use scare tactics and false figures of how readily attainable hard liquor will be for minors and the increased amount of drunk drivers on the road. I’m already looking forward to their campaigns …

Mutineer will be watching this one with interest. Stay tuned.


  1. Chelsey @ Chew with Your Mouth Open | Friday, July 8, 2011

    My fingers are crossed!! Thanks for the update!

  2. Rick Gideon | Friday, July 8, 2011

    Hopefully this initiative fails as well. Nothing but another disguised bill to snuff out competition and allow big box stores to run amok with liquor sales. Initiatives are the wrong way to go about this. Unfortunately our lawmakers have already moved towards privatization, but in the wrong manner.

  3. Steven Linden | Thursday, August 4, 2011

    OK, Brian, read these and have some factual information from the CDC and the U.S. Department of Justice. What you may have read about scare tactics and false figures could actually be very true.

    As you can read, 23 percent of the population drinks 76 percent of the alcohol. 7 percent of the population drinks 45 percent of the alcohol. Most people don’t drink.

    New retailers would have no incentive to lower the price from what drinkers pay now.
    Chances are the prices will rise, and Costco wouldn’t care. Costco selection is other states is very limited. What we have now works, don’t break it, for just a few people.

  4. Brian Kropf | Thursday, August 4, 2011

    Thanks for the comment Steve.

    I feel that Washingtonians have shown that they want privatization. Last year, I think the issue why it failed wasn’t privatization in itself, but how the bills implemented that be done. With some fine tuning to either of those bills, privatization is a reality, keeping in mind that with 1100, 47% of the voters wanted it to pass. I’m not trying to insult your intelligence, but that’s only a 6% difference. Not that big.

    Privatization / liquor reform is coming, and that’s not a bad thing. I grew up living in Washington my entire non (legal)-drinking age life. Alcohol was still easy to get. The only difficulties were the same ones everyone in Washington faces, of trying to work around the liquor stores annoying hours. Now of drinking age, I live in California. Alcohol is readily available at every corner store. I don’t see more drunk people. I don’t see minors trying to buy alcohol. I don’t have minors coming up to me to buy them alcohol. It doesn’t seem like much of an issue here and at the end of the day, I have more selection and a cheaper price than I pay in Washington.

    The scare tactics are just that, scare tactics. Just as in Georgia with their Bill 10 that recently passed. Georgia said if stores were allowed to sell booze on Sunday, there would be more drunk drivers on the road. BUT, it was legal for bars to sell booze on Sunday as if it was any other day. How does people drinking in the privacy of their own home equate to more drunk drivers, but going out to watch the Sunday football game at a bar and drinking for 3 hours is fine? Oh yeah, scare tactic. Congrats on Georgia for passing Bill 10, they can finally be treated like adults.

    For minors having more access to alcohol? First line of defense should be their parents. Their parents should inform them of the potential consequences of drinking. Second, if liquor sales are privatized in Washington, the state should be doing compliance checks. Strike one, a huge fine. Strike two, a bigger fine and your liquor license is pulled. People would get the idea. No matter what the rules are or what the laws are, they will be broken .. and then we hold people accountable.

    Regarding pricing, as mentioned previously, I live in California and prices are way cheaper here. Stores have much more flexibility with pricing and being able to lower them for special deals and to move older product. I can’t say for certain what will happen in Washington, but I foresee greater flexibility in terms of pricing then there currently is now, which is already extremely overpriced.

    I just checked out the Protect Our Communities website and they are already at it, saying things like if this is approved, there will be a “50% increase in consumption” and this “Will Lead to More Underage Drinking and Driving!” and “I-1183 is just another attempt to profit at the expense of our public safety, kids and communities.”

    How does liquor being privatized mean their will be a 50% increase in consumption? More alcohol out there doesn’t mean more alcohol will be consumed.

    How will this lead to more underage drinking and driving? They can still get alcohol and just as easily! Back in my youth, most high school aged people have a 21 year old friend or older sibling who would legally purchase the alcohol for a liquor store or beer that’s available nearly 24/7 from a store. That won’t change.

  5. Steven Linden | Thursday, August 4, 2011

    Thanks for reviewing my post and allowing balanced commentary.
    We shall see what happens and what the future brings.
    Best Regards,

  6. Brian Kropf | Thursday, August 4, 2011

    And thank you for commenting and expressing your thoughts.

    I do agree that privatization is something that needs to be done carefully and not rushed and there are certainly some concerns that need to be voiced regarding it. For me personally, I just get tired of hearing the rants of organizations such as Protect Our Communities. I know they have the community’s best interest at heart, I just get tired of how they approach it.

    Thanks again Steve and thanks for checking out our website.


  7. www_cowgirl | Friday, August 12, 2011

    Brian what you failed to mention is by living in CA is that you pay a state income tax, we here in WA don’t pay a state income tax….yet. The public needs to realize that states who have already privitived alcohol sales pay a state income tax. Sure you might save a few dollars on a bottle of booze but pay hundreds or thousands a year with a state income tax. Why would anyone want to spend a dime to save a nickel?

  8. Daniel | Monday, September 26, 2011

    What people don’t realize is that the benefits of a state controlled monopoly on alcohol generates profit margins that allows us to benefit from having no state income tax.

    If you vote yes on 1183, then over time, WA state will need to resort to state income tax.

    It may not be imminent now, but this is how it all begins.

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