Top Republican lawmakers have introduced a bill that aims to generate revenue by privatizing Washington's wholesale liquor distribution.
The measure unveiled Thursday would establish a competitive bidding process for the right to handle the distribution side of the state-run liquor business. The winner would pay the state an undetermined up-front sum, followed by profit-sharing over the course of the contract.
The bill by Senate Republican Leader Mike Hewitt and Sen. Joseph Zarelli, the GOP's budget negotiator, doesn't specify how long the public-private partnership would last.
House lawmakers on Saturday approved their version of the next two-year budget, which includes a liquor privatization plan.
Supporters say privatization would modernize liquor distribution while helping address Washington's looming $5 billion deficit for 2011-2013.
But skeptics, including Gov. Chris Gregoire, question its long-term fiscal benefits.
The Senate bill now goes to the Ways and Means Committee.