Food, Beverage and Hospitality Law Alert: Dueling Liquor Privatization Initiatives in Washington State: What do the Initiatives Say and Who are the Players?

More than 396,000 signatures have been submitted to the Washington Secretary of State's office in support of putting an initiative to privatize liquor sales on the general election ballot in Washington State this coming November. That initiative, which is backed by Costco, would transition sales of spirits in Washington State from state operated liquor stores to private retail stores and allow manufacturer to retailer direct sales and volume discounts.

A second initiative backed by distributors would also move spirits sales from state operated stores to private retail stores, but would preserve the role of distributors in a traditional three tier system. The deadline for enough signatures to be submitted to the Secretary of State to get the distributor-backed initiative on the ballot is July 2nd.

A third group is raising money to oppose any attempts to change the current state administered system. Combined contributions of more than $1,742,000 have been reported to the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission in support of and in opposition to privatization.

We have assembled the following information so that you can read the actual initiatives, explore the identity of the proponents and opponents, and form your own opinion.

Initiative No. 1100 was filed by Modernize Washington, is financially backed by big box retailer Costco, and has statements of support from other groups that retail liquor such as the Northwest Grocery Association and the Washington Restaurant Association.

Where to Follow updates: Modernize Washington on Facebook

Reported Contributions: > $900,000

Initiative No. 1105 was filed by Washington Citizens for Liquor Reform and is financially backed by alcohol distributors Young's Market Company and Odem Southern Holdings.

Where to Follow updates: Yes on 1105 on Facebook

Reported Contributions: > $800,000

Keep our Kids Safe is leading efforts to preserve the existing state operated system. Washington Association for Prevention of Substance Abuse filed fund raising reports for Keep our Kids Safe with the Public Disclosure Commission. The reports identify the union that the state liquor store employees belong to, United Food and Commercial Workers, as the source of the funds. UFCW 21, with the endorsement of other organizations, has issued a fact sheet outlining rationales for preserving the current system of state run liquor stores.

Reported Contributions: > $42,000

We will report back in the near future to let you know if one or both privatization initiatives make it to the ballot and the status of efforts to promote preservation of the existing state operated system.

For more information contact:

Susan Johnson
(206) 386-7684

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