Costco-backed liquor initiative floats
November 9, 2010
By Warren Kagarise
Costco Wholesale poured millions to a campaign to loosen state liquor regulations, only to come up dry on Election Day.
Issaquah-based Costco backed Initiative 1100, a liquor privatization measure. The initiative aimed to close state-run liquor outlets and roll back Prohibition-era policies to allow hard liquor to be sold in grocery stores, gas stations and elsewhere. In Issaquah, the measure could have allowed liquor sales at up to 22 businesses.
The initiative also aimed to allow volume discounts on alcohol and eliminate the state markup on hard liquor.
The electorate defeated I-1100 and the other liquor privatization measure on the ballot, Initiative 1105.
I-1100 trailed statewide — about 53 percent to 47 percent. I-1105 received only 35 percent of the vote.
Costco has not announced plans to follow up the failed initiative. Ashley Bach, a spokesman for the Yes on I-1100 campaign, said although the initiative failed, voters sent a message nonetheless.
“While I-1100 will not become law, a large percentage of voters have registered their dissatisfaction with how the state runs its liquor business,” he said in a statement released Nov. 8. “We’re confident this will send a strong message that liquor reform is something the public wants.”
Bach said the I-1100 campaign had not started to discuss future plans for privatization efforts.
The anti-privatization campaign, Protect Our Communities — a coalition of beer and wine distributors and public safety officials — said passage of either measure could lead to hard liquor at every grocery store and gas station, not to mention increased drunken driving and underage drinking.
“A large percentage of voters want the state out of the liquor business, and that’s encouraging,” Bach said. “While I-1100 is not going to pass, voters still made a strong statement that the current system doesn’t work.”
Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.