Booze News

Costco Backs Liquor Privatization Bill

The warehouse chain begins an in-store signature-collecting effort this week.

June 1, 2010

Beginning this week, Costco employees will begin staffing tables set up inside each of the chain’s Washington warehouses, from which they will solicit customers to sign liquor privatization initiative 1100.

If voted into law this November, 1100 will take the state out of the liquor game entirely and immediately, requiring it to sell all its distribution warehouses.

Costco picked 1100 out of three current privatization proposals. Modernize Washington, the group that authored 1100, has withdrawn a second proposal, 1109, which suggested a more gradual departure from the three-tiered system. That leaves 1100 and a third proposal, 1105, sponsored by former Joe Mallahan spokesperson Charla Neuman.

A summary of 1105:
"This measure would direct the liquor control board to close all state liquor stores and to license qualified private parties as spirits retailers or distributors. It would require licensees to pay the state a percentage of their first five years of gross spirits sales; repeal certain taxes on retail spirits sales; and direct the board to recommend to the legislature a tax to be paid by spirits distributors."

Modernize Washington needs 242,000 signatures to get 1100 on the November ballot. Backers of 1105 have not begun signature gathering.

Costco’s stake in this battle should be rather obvious—the Kirkland-based chain hopes to begin selling you 12-packs of family-sized Wild Turkey by this time next year.

Read the full text of 1100 on Modernize Washington’s website.

Read the full text of 1105 here.

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