Proponents of Initiative 1100, which would virtually eliminate the state's role in liquor distribution and sales, were rebuffed, in large part, by Thurston County Superior Court Judge Thomas McPhee this afternoon.



Initiative 1100 doesn't allow the state to control prices of liquor at any stage in the selling process, which large wholesalers like Costco prefer because it allows them to purchase liquor at volume discounts, and in turn dominate the market. (Costco has backed I-1100 with a $350,000 donation.)

Initiative 1105, on the other hard, allows the state to set price controls, preventing massive volume discounts, which would supposedly benefit smaller retailers. I-1105 also allows the state to set the price of liquor licenses as a percent of volume of liquor sold by a vendor, meaning large stores like Costco would pay more for their licenses than small mom and pops. This aspect of I-1105 would also benefit the state, as it would supposedly gain more revenue through the volume-based license fees. I-1100 sets a flat fee of $1000 for liquor licenses.

Proponents of I-1100 had filed a challenge with the Secretary of State's office just after Memorial Day weekend regarding several aspects of the title and description of Initiative 1105.

Generally, the I-1100 camp complained that: certain language included in I-1100's summary by the Attorney General's office was not also included in I-1105's summary; that language regarding liquor vendor qualifications included in I-1105's summary wasn't thoroughly explained in the initiative and so should not be included in the summary; and that a detail about I-1105's effect on state liquor laws should be included in its title.

Judge McPhee threw out all but one of I-1100's spokeswoman Sharon Gilpin's complaints: that the term "hard liquor," which was included in I-1100's summary, should also be included in I-1105's summary.

He did not agree with Gilpin's contention that the summary of I-1105  does not clearly mention that it would, at least initially, repeal all taxes on liquor.

He also did not agree that the fact that I-1105 would make a recommendation to the Legislature to create a new tax on liquor should be included in the ballot title.

And finally, he did not side with Gilpin's complaint that although I-1105's summary states that private liquor vendors and distributors must be "qualified," the initiative does not define those qualifications. Instead, I-1105 shoulders the Washington State Liquor Control Board with the task, therefore the summary should not include the term "qualified."

"It was just more evidence that there was no basis for [the complaint] and that this was a delay tactic," said Charla Neuman, speaking about the fact that I-1105's campaign could not collect signatures until the dispute was settled (I-1100's campaign has been collecting signatures for over a week now).

Gilpin said her campaign was satisfied with the result, however.

"We felt that it was a prejudicial phrase, 'hard liquor,' and he [the judge] agreed with that," she said. "We’re satisfied."

Neuman said that I-1105 petitions hit the presses as soon as the judge made his decision.