Weekend Special: Liquor Initiatives 1100 & 1105

October 17, 2010

On November 2, 2010, Washingtonians will be able to vote on Initiatives 1100 and 1105, which would change how liquor is sold in this state.

What are the initiatives?

Both initiatives would end the state monopoly of liquor sales. Currently, only beer and wine can be sold in licensed grocery stores, while hard alcohol is distributed though the state to state controlled stores.

I-1100 would allow stores that are licensed grocery stores to carry hard alcohol. It would also abandon the practice that all alcohol must be sold to stores and restaurants via a third party distributor. It would allow volume discounts on liquor, beer, and wine. And it would also maintain the state liquor tax. The official Ballot Measure Summary reads:

“This measure would direct the liquor control board to close all state liquor stores; terminate contracts with private stores selling liquor; and authorize the state to issue licenses that allow spirits (hard liquor) to be sold, distributed, and imported by private parties. It would repeal uniform pricing and certain other requirements governing business operations for distributors and producers of beer and wine. Stores that held contracts to sell spirits could convert to liquor retailer licenses.”

I-1105 was born out of the idea that closure of state controlled stores would save the state money, but it still requires third party distributors. It only gives a volume discount on liquor, and it would repeal state liquor taxes. The official Ballot Measure Summary reads:

“This measure would direct the liquor control board to close all state liquor stores and to license qualified private parties as spirits (hard liquor) 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; direct the board to recommend to the legislature a tax to be paid by spirits distributors; and revise other laws concerning spirits.”

Watch this to get a better understanding:

KCTS9 Connects – Liquor Initiatives. Aired October 1, 2010. (approximately 16 minutes)

Vodpod videos no longer available.

It has a nice all around segment and a open discussion among pro I-1100, pro I-1105, and anti I-1100 & I-1105

Further reading:

Some National Liquor Safety Statistics:

Washington is one of 18 control states which have a monopoly on liquor, meaning that there are 32 other licensed states with no such monopolies to make comparisons to.  In fact, those 18 control states have 157 Electoral College votes, while the 32 licensed states have 538 votes, “This means the vast majority of Americans live in states with private liquor sales.”

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism put out a Surveillance Report #87 in September 2009. They show a map of “Total per-capita consumption in gallons of ethanol by State, United States, 2007″. If you look at it, most of the higher states are also control states.

John Pulito & Antony Davies published “Government-Run Liquor Stores: The Social Impact of Privatization” in the October 2009 issue of Policy Brief from the Commonwealth Foundation (Pennsylvania). They found:

  • There is an initial decrease in per-capita alcohol consumption when states changed from controlled to licensed.
  • There is evidence that the population will cross state lines to obtain liquor in licensed states rather than buy in their home control state.
  • “States that have liquor controls experience significantly higher DUI-related fatality rates than states without controls.”
  • There are the same amount of liquor-related deaths regardless of being a control state or licensed state.
  • There is no significant reduction in underage drinking in either type of state.

The report goes on to show how deregulation has affected Iowa and West Virginia, who deregulated in 1987 and 1990. There was no increased alcohol consumption in either state, and individual stores sold less liquor per outlet than state run stores did.

A year later, The Virginia Institute for Public Policy published a study titled, “Impaired Judgment: The Failure of Control States to Reduce Alcohol-Related Problems,” (July 2010). It confirmed that there is almost no difference between control state and license states when it comes to alcohol-related deaths, binge drinking of 12-17 year olds, binge drinking of 18-25 year olds, and drunk-driving fatalities. They conclude, “adult alcohol consumption in control states is statistically no different than it is in license states. In other words, the data suggests that if a state shifts from being a control state to a license state (or vice-versa), that switch will not affect the amount of alcohol consumed, on average, by adults in that state.”

As it is, Washington State has one of the lowest beer consumptions per capita. For instance, Delaware, which does not allow purchase of beer at grocery stores but instead at liquor stores, has a consumption rate of 35.4 gallons per year versus our 27.9 gallons per year, according to the Beer Institute Research. Therefore, they made beer harder to acquire than simply going to a grocery store, and yet consumption is higher.

In fact, The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism puts Washington just slightly below the national average of total per capita alcohol consumption. Of the lowest consuming 10 states, only Alabama, North Carolina, Utah, and West Virginia made the list. That is 4 control states vs. 6 license states competing for the lowest per capita alcohol consumption. It is rumored that Tennessee, which was one of the lowest 10, has twice as many liquor stores per person than Washington, but I have been unable to verify that. If they did, it would follow the trend of Delaware vs. Washington where that easier access to alcohol leads to lower consumption.

Other Stats: Washington’s Monopoly Doesn’t Mean Better Control


4 Responses to “Weekend Special: Liquor Initiatives 1100 & 1105”

  1. […] Weekend Special: Liquor Initiatives 1100 & 1105, also giving my highest use day when it was posted. This posting got over 300 hits in the three weeks leading up to the election and has drawn another 100 views since. […]

  2. […] and some liquor stores in Portland. I didn’t think to ask him at the time his opinion of I-1100 and I-1105, but I imagine the current system for him, as a craft distiller (not a winery or brewery) is quite […]

  3. […] best viewership for a single day was originally set in 2010 when I talked about some Washington State liquor store initiatives. That record for best viewership in a single day was broken when I wrote about the newest […]

  4. […] Washington State now has liquor in grocery stores, my commentary on Initiatives 1100 & 1105 is no longer drawing readers. It went from #2 last year to #14 this year, and I don’t expect it […]

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