So I got curious and decided I wanted to find out what all the “hubbub” was about in regards to the new WA Liquor Initiative – 1183. Apparently this isn’t the FIRST time that I-1183 has been proposed. In fact it had been proposed last year but voters voted “No” on I-1183’s predecessor. The overall proposal of I-1183 seems like a GREAT idea in theory on paper, but what some people are missing is how some parts of 1183 play into the “Bigger picture” or Grand Scheme of things.
One of my biggest concerns in regards to I-1183 was increased access of Hard Liquor to minors. I was happy to see that on the “Vote Yes on I-1183” that they said the proposal would ensure:
Initiative 1183 will allow a limited number of grocery and retail stores to get licenses to sell liquor, if they meet certain strict requirements and are approved by the Liquor Control Board. Eligible stores must have 10,000 square feet or more of fully enclosed retail space or, in areas where larger stores are absent, meet certain other requirements set by the Liquor Control Board. The initiative prevents liquor from being sold at gas stations and small convenience stores. – Vote Yes I-1183
However, what they FAIL to tell you is that there is a “Loophole” in all this which is:
I- 1183 Section 103 (c) states the Liquor Control Board “shall not deny” a liquor license to stores under 10,000 if there is no other liquor retailer in the “trade area.” The initiative does not provide a definition of “trade area” ( No on I-1183). And back to “Square 1” we go again.
“I-1183 gets the state government out of the business of distributing and selling liquor – I-1183 will end the state’s monopoly and lower the cost of liquor…” – Facts on 1183
I think that’s a GREAT idea because it would be awesome to see all that extra State spending go where it is most required, but technically for BIG businesses around the state it’s kind of bad thing because they’ll be paying a new tax to hold their new Liquor License and this goes for small businesses (Which this would hurt them worst of all) as well. It would “Require private distributes to distribute liquor to pay 10% of their gross spirits revenue to the state during the first 2 years and 5% of their gross spirits revenue to the state after the first two years.” It goes on to say: Require private retailers who get licenses to sell liquor to pay 17% of their spirits revenue to the state.
I can see where businesses like Wal-Mart, Safeway and other chains who meet the qualifications would actually take this tax and pass it on to the consumers purchasing the alcohol. Yes; it would create competitiveness in the liquor department but I know it will also increase the access of the liquor to minors state-wide. I can also see now why small business owners would be upset about this proposed initiative if they, overall after you do the math, have to pay a 27% new tax. Even after the initial first two years are up business owners would still have to pay a 22% tax increase. That sucks! In this recession, the last thing I feel any of us require now is another TAX on something.
“I-1183 provides vitally needed new revenues for state and local public services” –Facts on 1183
This means programs supposedly such as health care, education, and public safety would get increased revenues to pull from, but again what they don’t tell you is that, “The Office of Financial Management report notes, this doesn’t take into account the medical and legal costs associated with a rapid expansion of liquor sales” ( No on I-1183).
I feel THAT is a VERY true statement. The rapid expansion of passing this law again would mean increase access to minors and no matter HOW strict you make the rules – I truly do not feel this will STOP or put much of a “crimp” in underage alcohol consumption. Probably the best way to try and detour young people from even thinking about trying to swipe some alcohol would be to get two cops posted on either end of the Liquor isle like “Guard Dogs” and they have to look “real mean” for intimidation factor. THAT might actually work but would possibly be a bit costly. Not to mention the increased rate of “fatalities” of minors under the influence of alcohol or drunk driving in general.
I-1183 will prevent underage drinking and improves public safety… – Facts on I-1183
Apparently even the sponsors themselves said last year their proposal is/was flawed so they KNOW that this measure can’t completely prevent this kind of thing from happening as I have been saying. On the “No on I-1183” site they say: The fact is I-1183 does not provide any additional funds to the Liquor Control Board for enforcement despite creating more than four times as many outlets that sell liquor. In Washington kids are successful buying alcohol in grocery and convenience stores 1 in 4 times while our state liquor stores have a 95% enforcement rate—one of the best in the country. With state and local governments already cutting our public safety budgets the last thing we need are laws that further increase the burden on our police and firefighters.
I really feel this argument overall speaks for itself. Having the state-run liquor stores really does A-LOT to help control minor alcohol consumption. If anyone’s ever been in a State-run liquor store you know what they look like. They are typically of a fair size, have one to two people running the store, but they have a pretty good overall view of the interior. This makes it difficult for anyone, unless they are wearing a trench coat, to walk into a store and try to STEAL any liquor from the store without the shop owner noticing. Take away this factor and implement the idea of allowing regular retail stores to sell liquor and you no longer have the excellent surveillance. It’s not a small space but a LARGE space and it might make it difficult to catch someone stealing alcohol if you have to chase them all over a 10,000 sq/ft store that has more than one exit. This would be especially truer when it’s night-time and you have stores like Wal-Mart Super-centers that are open 24/7 with skeleton crews that are busy stocking the shelves.
So where do I stand in all this? Am I for or against this thing or not, right? By the tone of the overall piece it probably sounds like I’m very much “against” but the truth is – I’m not sure yet. Right now I see that initially while 1183 seems like a GREAT idea on paper – there are still some MAJOR flaws in the initiative that desperately require some “ironing out“. When it comes time to vote, most likely I will vote “No” on 1183 keeping in mind what I feel is most important and in the best interest of all. “What is right is not always popular and what is popular is not always right.” – Albert Einstein
For those out-of-state and in-state thanks for reading! I hope this helps if not a little in providing SOME clarity.
~Peace and blessings, Namaste~
Facts on 1183 Official Website
Official PDF file of I-1183 – Read it for yourself and get the REAL facts.