How I will Vote on I-1183

November 4, 2011

Initially, I was for I-1183. Why? Because I was for last year’s failed attempt at I-1100. However, recently, I’ve become more of a fence sitter on how I will vote next Tuesday.

Some say it will allow gas stations to sell hard liquor. Not true per 2g, as a store has to have 10,000 sq ft of enclosed retail space. This pretty much limits the sales to grocery stores. A down side of that is that you wouldn’t see specialty alcohol stores like wine shops or beer bottle shops open up. The only way around that is via Section 103-3-c, which states that a current state liquor store bought at auction may be allowed to continue to operate as a liquor store. According to Jordan Schrader of The Olympianthere is some wiggle room for undefined rural areas go get around the 10,000 sq ft requirement, but I am unsure where that is at in the proposed initiative.

There have been arguments about how this will increase sales to minors, partly because of the scare tactics regarding the before mentioned (impossible) sales at minute marts. The thing is, 2L of the law states that “the standard fines and license suspension penalties for selling liquor to minors twice as strong as the existing fines and penalties…” So really, a business has way more to lose if they sell to underage drinkers, so it is actually in their best efforts not to. However, Schrader does say that statistically, the state run stores are effective at turning away 94.3% of underage drinkers, while private companies have a success rate of only 80.5%, but that includes bars that already sell hard liquor and mini marts that won’t sell it. Though, honestly, a lot of Washington’s underage drinking occurs because somebody of legal age bought the liquor and gave it to somebody underage, and no amount of enforcement is really going to stop that from happening.

Last year,  I looked up various statistics regarding state run systems vs private systems, and the results of switching from one to the other.

Thing is, Costco has pumped $22.5 million dollars into support for this bill. People cry foul over that, but the biggest criers are actually the out of state distributors lobbying in Washington DC, who have raised $11.7 million dollars, reports The Olympian on Oct 22, 2011. My husband said, “Either way, a corporation has bought your vote.”

I think what really has me on the fence, though, is this letter to the Seattle Times written by an Oregon Distiller.  Mind you, last year, another Oregon Distiller wrote in favor of I-1100. Granted, the second distiller has been around for over 20 years and has built up a decent size business, so maybe he isn’t at the same level as the distiller for Dundee.

My husband and I have been debating over how to vote. What I am really focused on is distribution. I don’t like that if I am licensed to make cider that I have to find a distributor in order to have a little shop in my neighborhood sell my cider. I think it is difficult to support a local wine maker, brewer, or even distiller with the distribution laws the way they are. I don’t know how many times I have walked into a restaurant or country store selling wine, and not a single one is from that area, and that is frustrating. But would I-1183 fix that? Melisa Allison wrote in The Seattle Times on October 8, 2011:

I-1183 would let retailers negotiate for volume and other discounts on wine and liquor, and let them store it in their warehouses.

Small wine distributors worry they would not survive in a system that lets retailers play hardball on pricing. They also think they would be pushed off grocery shelves to make room for liquor and wine from big, discount-oriented wineries and large-scale distributors.

“A lot of small wine distributors will go out of business if 1183 passes,” said one Washington wine-distributor executive who asked not to be named.

It is a good article, and even talks about how Costco still uses a distributor in California where they don’t have to use one by law. Don’t get me wrong – I believe distributors are good and necessary in a free market, but sometimes you need the ability to bypass one because they don’t always serve the markets you need them to serve. But would I-1183 be good for me when I’m licensed? I honestly don’t know. And admittedly, refusing to publish your name makes you seem sketchy, like you are lying.

My husband had a few reservations of other types, but he announced to me last night that he thought he was going to vote yes. Part of the thing that seemed to push him over was that he knew both sides were lying, but he felt the no side lied more. He reads more newspapers online than I do, so he is constantly looking for the fact checker articles.

So it sounds like this household will be voting yes on I-1183.


One Response to “How I will Vote on I-1183”

  1. […] said last fall that I was focused on the distribution aspect of I-1183. A few weeks ago, The Olympian wrote an article about how, starting on March 1, Washington bars and […]

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