I&R Makes Way for Liquor Store Privatization in WA

Washington, one of 24 states that enjoy initiative and referendum – a reform that allows citizens to place issues on the ballot – is expecting its November election ballot to include two separate initiative bills to privatize state liquor stores.

  • The first of the initiatives received almost 400,000 petition signatures. If passed it would eliminate all state-run liquor stores and allow alcohol to be purchased in bulk directly from manufacturers (e.g. Costco).
  • The second initiative is expected to get the 241,000 signatures required to make it on the ballot before the election. This bill, while still privatizing alcohol sales, would allow the state to maintain authority over liquor prices, continuing its ban on volume discounts. As Michelle Minton reported, this is ideal for distributors who “fear that they’ll have nothing to offer in the open market” and need government to “protect their industry.”

The beautiful thing is these initiatives will be on the ballots for the Washington citizens to decide. CF supports empowering citizens through initiative & referendum, a reform Pennsylvania should gladly adopt.

Also, check out A Taxpayer’s Budget 2010: Responsible Spending for Pennsylvania to learn how state liquor store privatization could generate $350 million annually and an estimated $1.7 billion in a one-time influx of funds, and our policy brief highlighting the lack of any social impacts from liquor privatization.