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Move to lease state liquor distribution alive again

Washington would have the option to privatize the state’s liquor distribution system under a measure that passed the state Senate Saturday. It’s the latest compromise in a long-running debate over the future of Washington’s liquor system.

It’s more “we’ll see if it’s a good deal” option than anything else. The state would solicit bids to see if it could earn money by leasing the state’s liquor distribution facilities. If none of the bids work to Washington’s favor, distribution would continue as a state-run system. Republican Senator Joe Zarelli helped broker the deal.

“What I’m interested in is making sure it’s beneficial for the state, and that we bring in a private sector contractor who can run the system, make it more efficient, and at the same time provide more growth in revenue on a month to month annualized basis than it would get on its own.”

The bill comes a day after retail giant Costco filed a new initiative for the November ballot. It would fully privatize both distribution and the sale of liquor in Washington state. Voters rejected two similar initiatives last November.

Copyright 2011 Northwest News Network

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