Initiative 1183 passed Nov. 8 by a 59.74 percent yes vote. The initiative requires the mandatory shutting down of state liquor stores by no later than June 1, 2012, and allows stores occupying 10,000 square feet or more to obtain liquor licenses.
The liquor board believes that nearly 1,400 businesses will start selling liquor, said Brian Smith, communication director for the Washington State Liquor Control Board.
“We feel hurt and pretty disappointed by the outcome of this initiative,” Smith said.
More than 900 to a thousand liquor store workers will lose their jobs when state liquor stores close, Smith said.
The bill requires state liquor stores to auction off the property to the highest
bidder according to section 101 subsection 2 part c. However, some stores are leased by the state and the board does not own them, Smith said.
Also, if a restaurant sells to a minor or gives alcohol away for free the distributor, can be held accountable, said Linda L. Greene, owner Palouse Falls Brewing Co.
Issues like this will have to be decided by the courts, Smith said.
This process will cut the department down by three-fourths of its original size, but not save the state any money, he said. The board depended on the revenues it obtained from selling liquor to function and yet the state and local budgets still received $425 million in profits last year, he said. Now while sale taxes will remain, businesses will receive the profits that the states once obtained.
Supporters of 1183 contend that the state will still receive the same revenues due to a 10 percent tax on all liquor sales according to section 105 subsection 3 part i of 1183. But, after two years, this tax decreases to 5 percent.
The price of liquor won’t decrease and might even rise, Smith said. The state marked up liquor 51.9 percent from the original price when buying from the distillers, but businesses, unlike the government, are interested in profit and therefore may mark up prices more, Smith said.
Community safety will also be a problem, Smith said. The Liquor Control Board took not selling to minors very seriously and had a 94 percent safety rating, while restaurants only received a 77 percent safety rating. The board therefore estimates that consumption after June 1 will increase by 5 percent and studies show a link between consumption and increased societal harm, he said.
“There is a lot of unknown,” Smith said.
The local Dissmores representatives declined to comment on the changes that would occur to the store after the passing of 1183. Patrick Merry, the owner of the local Merry Cellars, was unavailable for comment.