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Opponents: Liquor privatization bill will clash with initiative

Elaine Thompson
A worker tallies liquor heading to distribution trucks from the Washington State Liquor warehouse in Seattle. The 250,000-square-foot warehouse is the nexus from which all the state's liquor is shipped in, processed, and shipped out.

This week, the state legislature took the first step toward privatizing liquor distribution. The new legislation allows private companies to submit bids to be the sole distributor of liquor in the state. In Olympia, Bryan Buckalew reports not all advocates of privatizing liquor are happy with the development.

Opponents say the bill will clash with a recently filed initiative that has a similar mission. That Costco-backed measure says that multiple private companies should get licenses to distribute liquor – not one company and that’s why Senator Tim Sheldon believes the new legislation could cause problems:

“What could happen is that a new company could be formed. They can sign a contract with the state of Washington to run the distribution center.”

Then he says if the voter initiative passes, it will supersede the bill, and this new company would no longer have rights as the sole distributor.

… and then the taxpayers of the state of Washington are going to have to buy out the ABC company.”

If that scenario happens, it could potentially end up in the courts. Currently, the bill awaits Governor Gregoire’s signature.

Copyright 2011 Northwest News Network

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