When Washington voters approved the shift from a state-run to a privately-owned liquor sales and distribution system, there was a primary objective: a more efficient and potentially less expensive system that still provided the state with the same revenue.
For consumers and resellers alike, this new system has not proved to be more cost-effective. A few wrinkles in the implementation process could have been expected; but it would have been difficult to anticipate the Liquor Control Board’s unfortunate approach to the transition.
Initiative 1183, when interpreted as written, is designed to open the free market for competition and to deliver virtually unlimited choice and convenience for customers. So far, 1183 has not been allowed to achieve this. Because of the Liquor Control Board’s decision to unilaterally impose a 24-liter per day cap and 17 percent retail fee on sales by retailers to restaurants, the liquor monopoly was simply shifted from the state-run liquor stores to two out-of-state distributors.
Lawmakers are now considering legislation that would correct these errors in implementation and give Washington the privatized liquor system it approved on the ballot in November of 2011. Let’s urge our lawmakers to approve Senate Bill 5644 and House Bill 1161, to ensure that Washington voters fully experience the benefits of the law they approved.