State Supreme Court hears challenge to Costco-backed liquor privatization

May 18, 2012

NEW — 8 a.m. May 18, 2012

Opponents of liquor privatization urged state Supreme Court justices Thursday to overturn Initiative 1183, less than a month before the changeover from a state-run liquor system to entrepreneurs.

If the high court overturns the Costco-backed measure, state-run liquor stores could remain open and retailers could not sell spirits. The changeover is due to occur June 1, and a ruling is expected before then.

Opponents said I-1183 violates the single subject rule for statewide ballot initiatives.

In addition to the liquor privatization language, I-1183 included a section directing $10 million to public safety, in addition to the liquor-privatization language.

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Liquor sales expand in Issaquah, statewide June 1

May 15, 2012

Jeffrey Roh, of Milton, purchased the right to sell spirits at a liquor store under construction in the Klahanie Shopping Center. By Greg Farrar

The availability of liquor in Issaquah is poised to expand beyond a single storefront next month, as major retailers prepare to add spirits to store shelves and the state completes the process to privatize liquor sales.

Bartell Drugs, Fred Meyer, Front Street Market, Rite Aid, Safeway, Target, QFC, Walgreens and Costco received licenses to sell liquor. (QFC received licenses for the Northwest Gilman Boulevard and Klahanie stores.)

Until the transition to liquor privatization is completed, liquor is available only at a state-run store.

In the meantime, entrepreneurs purchased the rights to apply for a retail spirits license at the state-run liquor store along Northwest Gilman Boulevard and a liquor store under construction in the Klahanie Shopping Center.

State records show the right to the Issaquah store sold to Seattle merchant Leon Capelouto for $251,000. The right to the unfinished Klahanie store sold to Milton entrepreneur Jeffrey Roh for $82,100.

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Judge upholds Costco-backed liquor initiative

April 10, 2012

The state can continue to implement the Costco-backed initiative to privatize liquor operations, a judge ruled March 19.

Cowlitz County Superior Court Judge Stephen Warning reversed a March 2 ruling and upheld Initiative 1183.

In the earlier ruling, Warning upheld most of I-1183, but decided the measure violated a state rule prohibiting initiatives from addressing more than a single subject. I-1183 included a section directing $10 million to public safety, in addition to the liquor-privatization language.

The attorneys for the state said the source of funds and the allocation of funds share a close connection, so the section did not violate the single-subject rule.

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Judge upholds Costco-backed liquor-privatization initiative

March 20, 2012

NEW — 7 p.m. March 20, 2012

The state can continue to implement the Costco-backed initiative to privatize liquor operations, a judge ruled Monday.

Cowlitz County Superior Court Judge Stephen Warning reversed a March 2 ruling and upheld I-1183. In the earlier ruling, Warning upheld most of I-1183, but decided the measure violated a state rule prohibiting initiatives from addressing more than a single subject. I-1183 included a section directing $10 million to public safety, in addition to the liquor-privatization language.

The attorneys for the state said the source of funds and the allocation of funds share a close connection, so the section did not violate the single-subject rule.

Issaquah-based Costco — the largest employer in the city — led the push to pass I-1183 last year. Statewide, almost 60 percent of voters supported the liquor-privatization measure. I-1183 garnered lopsided support in the Issaquah area.

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Local voters support liquor, homecare measures; reject tolling

January 3, 2012

In November, voters endorsed better care for senior citizens, halted a measure to change highway tolling, and turned liquor distribution and sales from state government to businesses.

The results in the Issaquah area mirrored the outcome statewide, though the margins differed depending on the legislative district. The information comes from district-level data released by state elections officials Dec. 21.

By the numbers

Issaquah is divided among the 5th, 41st and 48th legislative districts. Local voters’ choices matched the statewide results in the Nov. 8 election.

5th Legislative District

  • Initiative 1125 — 23,775 yes;
  • 26,919 no
  • Initiative 1163 — 31,757 yes;
  • 18,721 no
  • Initiative 1183 — 36,120 yes;
  • 15,916 no
  • Senate Joint Resolution 8205 —
  • 38,162 yes; 10,336 no
  • Senate Joint Resolution 8206 —
  • 33,476 yes; 13,346 no

41st Legislative District

  • I-1125 — 18,280 yes; 27,725 no
  • I-1163 — 25,282 yes; 20,329 no
  • I-1183 — 31,333 yes; 15,505 no
  • SJR 8205 — 36,049 yes; 7,860 no
  • SJR 8206 — 31,729 yes;
  • 10,846 no

48th Legislative District

  • I-1125 — 13,352 yes; 21,674 no
  • I-1163 — 19,015 yes; 15,679 no
  • I-1183 — 23,583 yes; 12,032 no
  • SJR 8205 — 27,925 yes; 5,616 no
  • SJR 8206 — 24,513 yes; 8,010 no

(Issaquah sprawls across the 5th, 41st and 48th legislative districts.)

Initiative 1183 called for state-run liquor stores to close and for the state to get out of the liquor business. The measure also requires the state to license private enterprises to sell and distribute hard liquor, set license fees based on sales and regulate licensees.

Opponents said safety concerns remain about efforts to privatize the system and sell booze at more locations.

Issaquah-based Costco, the largest employer in the city, spent $19 million to promote the initiative.

Tim Eyman’s Initiative 1125 — a measure to require the Legislature to approve tolls rather than the appointed state Transportation Commission — came up short on Election Day.

The electorate approved Initiative 1163 — a measure sponsored by the Service Employees International Union to address homecare workers’ certification and training. Supporters said the measure means better care for senior citizens, although funding the requirements outlined in the initiative poses a challenge for the cash-strapped state.

The electorate also approved the noncontroversial constitutional amendments on the ballot.

Senate Joint Resolution 8205 addressed a residency requirement for presidential voting outlined in the state Constitution. The measure brings state law into synch with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Senate Joint Resolution 8206 called for the state “rainy day” reserve fund to require contribution of a portion of “extraordinary” revenue in the future.

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

Voters toast liquor initiative, shut down tolling measure

November 15, 2011

Statewide ballot initiatives garnered the most attention in a campaign season dominated by local races.

Costco-backed Initiative 1183, a ballot measure to loosen state liquor rules, passed Nov. 8, and liquor sales should start at the Issaquah-based warehouse giant and other retailers in June.

I-1183 calls for state-run liquor stores to close and for the state to get out of the liquor business. The measure also requires the state to license private enterprises to sell and distribute hard liquor, set license fees based on sales and regulate licensees.

Opponents said safety concerns remain about efforts to privatize the system and sell booze at more locations.

Costco, the largest employer in Issaquah, spent more than $20 million to promote the initiative.

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Local students cast ballots in statewide mock election

November 15, 2011

Though most students in primary and secondary schools do not meet the minimum voting age, the under-18 crowd still participated in the November election — sort of.

Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed invited students in kindergarten to 12th grade to participate in the 2011 State Mock Election, a state-sponsored educational effort designed to establish voter participation later in life.

In the Issaquah School District, classes at Sunset and Sunny Hills elementary schools, Pine Lake Middle School and Issaquah High School joined the mock election. The librarian at Sunset Elementary even handed out “I Voted” stickers to students.

Older students voted for the same statewide measures as adults in the real election. Students in kindergarten through fifth grade received more age-appropriate measures.

Issaquah School District students endorsed the liquor privatization measure, Initiative 1183, 58 percent to 42 percent. Local students also backed the tolling measure, Initiative 1125, 60 percent to 40 percent, and the long-term care measure, Initiative 1163, 71 percent to 29 percent.

Statewide, 13,901 students participated in the process.

Costco-backed I-1183 leads, liquor sales start in June

November 8, 2011

NEW — 9 p.m. Nov. 8, 2011

Costco-backed Initiative 1183, a ballot measure to loosen state liquor rules, passed Tuesday night, and liquor sales should start at the Issaquah-based warehouse giant and other retailers in June.

In statewide results released just after 8 p.m., I-1183 captured about 60 percent of the vote in the initial ballot count.

I-1183 calls for state-run liquor stores to close and for the state to get out of the liquor business. The measure also aims to require the state to license private enterprises to sell and distribute hard liquor, set license fees based on sales and regulate licensees.

Still, opponents said safety concerns remain about efforts to privatize the system and sell booze at more locations.

Costco, the largest employer in Issaquah, spent a record $22 million to promote the initiative.

Deadline to postmark, return ballots is hours away

November 6, 2011

NEW — 6 a.m. Nov. 6, 2011

The deadline is approaching to postmark or return ballots.

Tuesday is the last chance for voters to cast ballots in local races — City Council and Issaquah School Board — and statewide ballot measures — including liquor privatization and tolling initiatives. Ballots must postmarked by Tuesday or slipped into a ballot drop box by 8 p.m.

Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed forecast 47 percent statewide for the election. In King County, turnout is expected to crest 50 percent, although the low expectations reflect the lack of major races on the ballot.

County Elections Director Sherril Huff predicts 52 percent turnout countywide — 53 percent in Seattle and 51 percent elsewhere.

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King County Elections projects 52 percent turnout Nov. 8

November 1, 2011

Despite inescapable advertisements for the forces behind and against a liquor initiative, and important local races on ballots throughout the state, Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed predicts less than 50 percent turnout for the November election.

Reed forecast 47 percent statewide for the election. In King County, turnout is expected to crest 50 percent, although the low expectations reflect the lack of major races on the ballot. County Elections Director Sherril Huff predicts 52 percent turnout countywide — 53 percent in Seattle and 51 percent elsewhere.

The liquor measure, Initiative 1183, and Tim Eyman’s tolling measure, Initiative 1125, dominate most discussions about the Nov. 8 election.

Issaquah-based Costco is the major supporter behind I-1183, a push to remove the state from the liquor business. I-1125 aims to change rules to allow state lawmakers, rather than the appointed state Transportation Commission, to set tolls.

No statewide offices appear on the ballot in November.

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