Initiative 1105 – which would have privatized the sale of spirits in Washington State, required a distributor to sell spirits, altered taxation, and made other changes – was, as expected, resoundingly defeated on election night. It took another twenty four hours to be announced, but Initiative 1100 – which would have also privatized the sales of spirits but made other sweeping changes to the state’s liquor laws – was also defeated. With 72% of precincts reporting, ‘No’ votes led ‘Yes’ votes 52% to 48% on Initiative 1100. ‘No’ votes led ‘Yes votes’ 64% to 36% on 1105. Both margins were considered decisive. So what now?
As I wrote previously, the desire to privatize liquor sales is near universal in Washington State. The reason these bills failed is that they were about much more than that. Will the large percentage of ‘Yes’ votes for Initiative 1100 serve as a long overdue call to action? Will the state legislature finally act on this issue or will it continue to be seen as obstructionist, ineffective, and simply fall back into complacency?
While I did not support either Initiative 1100 or Initiative 1105, I do believe that the state must privatize liquor sales. It is in the state’s best interest, it is in citizen’s best interests, and it is in the restaurant and liquor industry’s best interests. This is an across the board win. It can be done in a way that is revenue positive or neutral. It can be done in a way that does not negatively affect public safety. While some state workers would be affected, this is far from a reason to not do it.
Personally, I would like to see all parties who worked for and against initiatives 1100 and 1105 work together to pressure the legislature to produce a bill that privatizes liquor sales – a simple bill. A bill that we can all get behind. I have to believe that if some of the $26.5 million dollars that was spent in these two initiatives was put toward that effort, we might already have that outcome.
To Washington State legislators I say, time to get it done. Before another initiative comes along and does it for you in a manner even worse for the state than these ones. This is your wake-up call.