Today, the Washington State Liquor Control Board denied the City of Seattle's request to open rule-making regarding hours of alcohol service. In Washington, liquor sales will continue to be prohibited between the hours of 2-6:00 a.m.
The two Board members who voted to deny the City of Seattle's request cited concerns about public health and safety. For instance, the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs recently took a position against extended hours. Community substance abuse prevention advocates pointed to the National Prevention Strategy that recommends reducing hours of alcohol sales as a proven way to reduce excessive drinking.
In his public statement, the one Board member who voted to move forward with the City of Seattle's request states, "Our decision today begs the question of what exactly is the role of this three-person Board in the wake of Initiative 1183? If it is not to oversee a healthy and public dialogue on complex, contentious issues that deal with alcohol access, what is it? That's not for me to answer here today, but I do believe it is a conversation that will begin in the near future, and our inaction today is as good a starting point as any."
While I think that the Board did, in fact, oversee a healthy and public dialogue about a complex, contentious issue over the past few months, I also think he makes a good point about the role of the Board post-liquor privatization. I think he's right when he says that the role of the Board and the role of alcohol regulations in our state are part of a conversation that needs to continue. Those of us concerned with public health and safety should be ready for it.
Statements from each of the Board members may be viewed through the Liquor Control Board website.