liquor privatization

Bill Would Gradually Lower Liquor Taxes

Feb 26, 2014
AP Photo

Republican and Democrat lawmakers are introducing a measure on Wednesday that would gradually lower liquor taxes.

Backers say lowering taxes would spur more purchases in Washington state and the revenue to the state would eventually be at the same levels prior to privatization.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Fewer teenagers in Washington say drinking alcohol is wrong, according to a survey taken after the state privatized liquor sales by two Northwest public health researchers.

The finding comes as Oregon voters are being asked to sign petitions for a similar liquor sales privatization.

Associated Press

State lawmakers extended a lifeline this year to small liquor stores who had struggled under the new privatization rules, but that change has also opened the door for large retailers to ask for the same break next year.

In one of the final votes taken by the Legislature before adjournment last month, lawmakers agreed to limit the fees paid by the smaller stores that used to handle liquor sales when the state controlled the market. Those outlets will no longer have to pay a 17 percent fee for sales to bars and restaurants.

Saturday marks the one-year anniversary of private retail liquor sales in Washington. According to the Liquor Control Board, 1,680 retailers now stock vodka, whiskey, and other spirits.

Dean Hasegawa, manager of the Red Apple supermarkets on Seattle’s Beacon Hill and in the Central Area, says the biggest problem for him and other retailers has been theft. 

"That was an expensive learning curve, I’m going to tell you," said Hasegawa, reflecting on the past year.

VANCOUVER, Wash. – Washington state officials say sales of hard liquor have increased since the state privatized liquor sales.

The Washington Liquor Control Board auctions off 15,000 cases of alcohol Thursday to the highest bidder with a liquor license.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Statewide liquor sales in Washington are up since privatization took effect in June. But business is down dramatically at some former state-owned liquor stores.

At Rainier Park Liquor, it used to take two clerks during the day. Three at peak times. Now manager Kevin Dziedzic says one person can mind the store most of the time. Business is so slow he even had to lay-off the owner’s brother.

“Definitely just have to be wiser with the money we spend,” Dziedzic says.

Jake Ellison / KPLU

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington liquor sales are showing signs of continued strength after the state moved to a privatized system.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington liquor sales picked back up in July, the second month people were able to buy liquor in Washington grocery stores and other markets. Sales were up 15.4 percent compared to July 2011.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Washington liquor prices were 17 percent higher on average in June, compared to the same month a year ago.

The state Department of Revenue also reported sales declined in the first month private retailers could sell spirits in Washington.

Hannah Jacobson / For KPLU

Liquor in a hardware store? Mini’s at the checkout stand? Mega-stores around the corner?

Woman on the street: “My parents actually needed a gift for a friend of ours, and they were able to buy it at a convenience store – like a nice bottle of liquor. I think it’s convenient!”

Now that Washington State is out of the liquor sales business, bottles of booze are showing up in some unexpected places.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

"It's a buying frenzy. That's why I came - I wanted to see it on the first day. How could I miss it?" - Kyle Johnson outside a Costco in Seattle

The state of Washington has officially bid good riddance to its state-run liquor stores. About five times as many stores will now sell hard liquor, and the new law that went into effect today means shoppers can head to supermarkets to buy vodka or rum. It’s a welcome change for some people, like Alyssa Royse.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

A huge shift takes place tomorrow when we’ll be able to walk into a Fred Meyer or Safeway and walk out with a bottle of gin. But if you walk out without paying, beware. You may trigger an alarm. 

It's just like when you buy a pair of jeans and the clerk snaps off a security tag so you don’t beep when you exit the store. Now when you go buy a bottle of booze, you may see something similar. The device is like a thick plastic sheath that covers the top of the bottle, and it’s designed to make thieves think twice.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Washington Supreme Court has upheld a voter-approved initiative privatizing liquor sales, one day before the initiative takes effect.

Washington retailers are getting ready for the 78-year-old state monopoly on liquor sales to end this Friday. It’s not yet clear what privatization will do to the price of alcohol in Washington. One entity with a big stake in the matter … is the state of Idaho.

Some of Idaho’s most profitable state-run liquor stores just happen to be along its northwestern border.

LACEY, Wash. – An online auction to privatize Washington state liquor stores netted nearly $31 million . It's all gravy for the state budget.

State Liquor Control Board business director Pat McLaughlin said today that nothing was penciled in for anticipated auction proceeds. But McLaughlin says he expected the bidding to be fierce. And it was.

YAKIMA, Wash. — Washington officials are announcing the results Monday of Friday's online auction of state-run liquor stores. The sale of the rights to 167 stores is estimated at more than $20 million. The auction was the result of a state vote to get the state out of the retail liquor business and to privatize sales.

OLYMPIA, Wash. - State officials in Olympia are verifying bids this weekend from a very successful online auction of liquor stores. Private entrepreneurs collectively shelled out well in excess of $13 million for the rights to take over specific state-run liquor stores.

A voter-approved ballot measure is forcing Washington state to privatize the liquor business. Going, going, gone are licenses to operate 167 state-run liquor outlets.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington liquor stores are on their way to privatization. But don’t expect a clearance sale on the booze that’s left over when the stores close in May.

Representatives from the state Liquor Control Board gave an update Tuesday to the state lawmakers in Olympia on the privatization approved by voters.

Charla Bear / KPLU

Now that voters have kicked the state out of the liquor store business, some people are looking forward to changes in how they buy booze. Others, though, say the decision is not cause for celebration. 

OLYMPIA, Wash. — State officials say two proposed bids that would privatize Washington's liquor distribution system are not financially beneficial.

Statewide initiatives on the Washington ballot have many people here still studying up and wondering how to vote. Registered voters have about a week left to make up their minds. Two of the most talked about issues are whether to get rid of state-run liquor stores and on how highway tolls can be spent. A survey of voters, done by researchers at the University of Washington, offers some insight into what voters might decide after all the votes are tallied.

The statewide Washington Poll, put together by UW political science Professor Matt Barreto, says the liquor privatization measure, I-1183, will likely pass because it has the hit the crucial tipping point of 50 percent. Barreto's poll says only 43 percent of those surveyed opposed the measure.

Three groups seeking to get initiatives on this year's ballot appear to have plenty of signatures to qualify.

Elaine Thompson / AP

This week, the state legislature took the first step toward privatizing liquor distribution. The new legislation allows private companies to submit bids to be the sole distributor of liquor in the state. In Olympia, Bryan Buckalew reports not all advocates of privatizing liquor are happy with the development.