It's been almost a year since Initiative 1183, which privatized the sales of hard alcohol and removed other alcohol regulations, was approved by Washington voters. So, what has been happening in the past year?
Recently, I've attended several meetings, both local and on the state level, during which a hot topic was the amount of hard alcohol that is being shoplifted from grocery stores. Here is a news report with an example of what is happening across the state.
Increased enforcement needs with less enforcement capacity
Since I-1183 was approved, the Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB) lost over 1,000 full time employees, according to a report given during the September meeting of the WSLCB Business Advisory Council.
Since I-1183 did not direct more funding for the WSLCB Enforcement division, despite an increase in the number of liquor licensees, there are 290 liquor licensees for every Enforcement officer. The Education and Enforcement division officer staffing is down 15% with an increase of retail licensees of 23%.
Business representatives reported that many of them have plans to ask the Washington legislature to remove or reduce fees that were included in I-1183. These fees were included in the initiative to ensure that the state would not lose revenue due to liquor privatization.
In addition to the more than 80 businesses that sell alcohol (not just hard alcohol) for off-premise consumption in NE Seattle, a new big box liquor store will soon be opening on Lake City Way right next door to a marijuana dispensary.
This video, produced by the UFCW, discusses liquor privatization in our state as a way to educate Pennsylvania voters as they consider privatizing the sale of liquor.