Cowlitz County court to take first case to block successful liquor initiative
King County Judge Palmer Robinson rules that the Cowlitz decision should happen first. Both lawsuits question the constitutionality of I-1183, saying it violates a rule requiring voter initiatives to address just one subject.
Seattle Times business reporter
A lawsuit in King County Superior Court that would stop implementation of Initiative 1183, which privatizes the state's liquor business, will not move forward until a similar lawsuit in Cowlitz County is decided.
Judge Palmer Robinson ruled Friday that the Cowlitz decision should happen first.
Both lawsuits question the constitutionality of I-1183, saying it violates a rule requiring voter initiatives to address just one subject.
In December, Cowlitz Judge Stephen Warning rejected a request to temporarily stop the rollout of I-1183 while it moves through the courts. He said the final decision on whether I-1183 is constitutional will likely come from the state Supreme Court.
Oral arguments in the Cowlitz case are scheduled for March 2.
That's cutting it close if the courts decide to kill I-1183 and keep Washington's current retail and distribution system.
Under I-1183, large grocery stores such as Safeway will start selling liquor on June 1, and the state will be out of the business. It has a year after that to auction off state-run liquor stores.
The King County lawsuit was filed by unions representing nearly 1,000 state workers expected to lose their jobs because of I-1183, which 59 percent of Washington voters approved in November.
The Cowlitz County lawsuit was brought by the Washington Association for Substance Abuse and Violence Prevention and entrepreneurs who say their businesses would be hurt by the measure.
It is being argued by Michael Subit, an attorney at Frank Freed Subit & Thomas in Seattle who successfully made the single-subject argument against a Tim Eyman initiative more than a decade ago.
Melissa Allison: 206-464-3312 or email@example.com. On Twitter @AllisonSeattle.