Gov. Gregoire should veto bizarre liquor bill
Gov. Chris Gregoire should veto a bill that would set up a bizarre system of selling liquor in Washington state. The bill is shortsighted and not a good deal for Washington.
BEFORE going home, the Legislature passed out a liquor bill that sets up a system bizarre in the extreme. Like a bottle of unlabeled moonshine, this bill now sits on Gov. Chris Gregoire's desk, ready for her rejection. She should do it.
Since 1934, Washington has sold bottled liquor in state monopoly stores or its licensees. Two proposals were on the ballot last November to end the state monopoly. This page supported the proposal backed by Costco Wholesale, which narrowly failed.
Each of the two systems for liquor — government monopoly and private competition — has an argument for it, though the arguments are not equally good. But there is no respectable argument for the state to keep its liquor stores and create a private monopoly to buy from.
The state would raise some short-term money from doing this, but the money is not needed for the budget.
Why do it, then? The reason we have heard is political.
Costco has a new measure for private liquor stores, Initiative 1183. It changes some of the things the public opposed last year, and voters are likely to go for it. By all appearances, the liquor bill on Gregoire's desk is an effort to short-circuit the people's vote on I-1183 by putting part of the state monopoly into private hands before Election Day.
The evidence for this is that the bill, ESSB 5942, has an emergency clause, baldly stating that creating a private liquor monopoly at wholesale "is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety, or support of the state government and its existing public institutions."
This statement is a lie, of course. There is no liquor emergency. But by declaring one, the Legislature allows the bill to go into effect immediately, with no public right of referendum.
Gregoire should veto the bill. Failing that, she should strike out the emergency clause, which is being used here to pre-empt the public's choice.
Trending on seattletimes.com
Most viewed photo galleries
The Morning Memo
The Morning Memo jump starts your day with weather, traffic and news
Autos news and research