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The Olympian: Legislators Continue Lobbying Gregoire on Liquor Bill

By Andrew Calkins June 10, 2011

Writing for The Olympian yesterday, Brad Shannon reports on a letter sent by Sen. Tim Sheldon (D-35, Potlach) urging Governor Christine Gregoire to veto a Republican proposal that would allow the Office of Financial Management to accept bids from private companies to run the state's liquor warehousing and distribution system. Sheldon, a member of Olympia's conservative coalition of moderate Democrats, the so-called Roadkill Caucus, fought tirelessly during the session to produce a full liquor privatization measure, to no avail.

In his letter, he urges Gregoire to veto the bill because it doesn't go far enough, and would confuse voters when asked to vote on future privatization measures:
...It has been widely reported that a coalition of interests are proposing an initiative to privatize the entire wholesale and retail system for liquor sales in the state. This approach could generate significant new resources to support critical state and local government services, as well as other benefits for our citizens. The voters deserve an opportunity to fully consider and decide on this approach without any confusion or constraints that would be created by SB 5942.

Shannon also notes a push by legislators on the other side of the debate, who are lobbying Gregoire to move forward with the bill:
Rep. Sam Hunt, the Olympia Democrat, said he and more than 20 other House Democrats led by Rep. Timm Ormsby signed a letter to Gregoire, urging her to sign the liquor bill. And Jim Justin, Gregoire’s legislative director, said she’d received letters from Republican House and Senate lawmakers, too. Many are arguing pro and con over an emergency clause that speeds action on the proposal.

Yesterday, Josh followed up on a story at the Washington Wire that got to the crux of the liquor lobbying: "The reason supporters of Costco’s measure want the governor to pass on signing the distribution bill (she has until June 15) is this: They think it will dilute the public’s enthusiasm for full on privatization."

Costco is running its own liquor initiative this year that would privatize state stores as well as distribution.
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